Sacramento is the capital of California and a city that is rich with history, culture and countless things to impress you!
The famous saying from Sacramento is that “California begins here” and after spending a little bit of time here you will understand why. It is a city that has never forgotten its past and one that continues to remember the Gold Rush.
It is one of the easiest cities to fall in love with so let’s take a look at the best things to do in Sacramento.
1. Take A Visit To Old Sacramento State Historic Park
Old Sacramento Historic Park covers the entire area of the 1850’s business district and became a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
The buildings were built at the beginning of the Gold Rush and there are many historic buildings including the Eagle Theater.
Throughout the years the waterfront in this area has seen both tragedy including fire and floods, to the success of raising the streets. The area now attracts visitors from across the globe who are keen to check out these fantastic 28 acres of park.
2. Step Back In Time At The California State Railroad Museum
One of the most popular museums in Sacramento is the California State Railroad Museum. Each year over 500,000 people flock to this museum to step back in time and discover the history of the railroad. There are six buildings at the museum that cover an area of 225,000 square feet.
You will find many restored railroad cars and locomotives that were originally used throughout the state. Here you will see how the railroad has shaped California as well as its economy. One of the highlights of the museum is the Railway Post Office that visitors can step aboard to get a real experience of the past.
3. Feel Inspired At Crocker Art Museum
Originally this fine establishment was known as the E.B Crocker Art Gallery, it has since changed its name and is the longest continuously operating art museum in the west of America. There are a lot of works of art in the museum, dating from the Gold Rush to today.
The museum opened its doors in 1871 and houses one of the largest collections of international ceramics in the U.S as well as much work from Asia, Africa and Europe. There is much to see and experience here and you easily spend an entire day wandering around the beautiful pieces.
4. Meet The Animals At Sacramento Zoo
The history of the Sacramento Zoo is fascinating as it shows how the zoo went from being “the little zoo in the park” to the large, impressive zoo that you will get to experience today. Initially the zoo was very small and housed about 40 animals that were collected from local parks.
Now the zoo has 400 animals from all corners of the globe and focuses its energy on education, recreation and conservation. There is so much to see and experience here and the children especially, will thoroughly enjoy meeting all the animals.
5. See The Abandoned Sutter’s Fort
Before the Gold Rush that changed the face of California forever, the community focused around Sutter’s Fort. Created by John Sutter in 1839 the fort was a hive of activity until James W. Marshall an employee of the fort discovered the gold (about 45 miles east of the fort) that started the Californian Gold Rush, after this the fort was abandoned and left as it was.
The fort has now been completely restored to its former glory and placed on the register of National Historic Landmarks. The main building of the fort is the two storey adobe structure, it was in that very building that the first gold was found that started the Gold Rush.
6. See The Old With The New At California State Capitol Museum
Sitting right in the heart of Sacramento is the California State Capitol Museum, here you can see the best of California’s history as well as its current active government buildings.
You can get a guided tour around the museum as part of a group or you can walk around unaided, whichever suits you better.
The whole building is stated as a museum but it is the basement and first floor where you will see the most interesting things.
7. Enjoy The California Automobile Museum
The California Automobile Museum was founded by a group of volunteers in 1982, the story behind the forming of the museum is quite interesting in itself. A group of volunteers were at a meeting when one pulled out a $100 note and asked who would match him, five others came forward and that was the starting funds from where the non-profit museum was founded.
The museums first collection was to house the largest collection of Fords in the world and as the years went by the museum began to seek other makes of car. Today you can enjoy a truly diverse and exciting collection of cars.
8. See A Show At The B Street Theatre
The B Street Theatre has become something of an institution in Sacramento and the critics keep coming back for more great shows. The mission of the theater is to promote both education and literacy, they do this by creating shows that are of the highest quality.
The theater has been going strong for nearly 30 years and in that time the traveling part of the theater has performed in front of approximately 3.6 million students from California. The Sacramento News has awarded this place the ‘Best Live Theatre’ 14 years in a row. Photo is of the yet-to-be built new and relocated B Street Theatre.
9. Admire The Beauty Of The Cathedral Of The Blessed Sacrament
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is the mother church of the Catholic faith in Sacramento. This means that the church serves nearly one million Catholics and encompasses 99 churches. The cathedral was built in 1887 and has stood proud for all these years, recent renovations have made sure the cathedral continues to serve its people whilst looking spectacular.
The cathedral has an interior dome which is a sight to behold and stands at 34m high, another impressive feature is the 13 foot crucifix that has a 14 foot crown overhead, the weight of the crucifix and crown is nearly one ton.
10. Watch The Kings At The Sleep Train Arena
Whenever a city is home to an NBA team it is always worth trying to catch a game. The Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento is home to the Sacramento Kings and has been since 1988. The Kings are the longest running NBA franchise and although not the most successful of the franchises out there they have nonetheless won the NBA title in the past.
Since 2013 the team has been under new ownership with a technology entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley paying a record $535 million. Beginning in Fall 2016, the Sacramento Kings will no longer be playing at Sleep Train Arena, but at the new Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.
11. Learn About Indian Life At California State Indian Museum
In 1940 the California State Indian Museum opened its door to the public with the mission of showing of three different themes to the public. The themes reflect all that is important to the Indian life; Spirit, family and nature. The museum is full of photographs and artifacts that show off how the Indians prospered in California for thousands of years.
You will get to see many traditional items that have been donated by the native Indians as well as an exhibition focused on Ishi. Ishi is reported to have been the last survivor of the Yahi tribe.
12. Spend A Night Out At Crest Theatre
The Crest Theatre first opened its doors over a hundred years ago in 1912 with the name Empress Theatre. Throughout the years the theater has had more than its fair share of drama both on the stage as well as off. None more famous than in 1946 when a marquee fell from the building a killed a bystander.
The Theatre nowadays holds regular events, live shows and classic or specialty films. There is an annual even called The Trash Film Orgy which lasts for six weeks each summer where cult cinema and local films are played.
13. Get Soaked At Raging Waters
The largest waterpark in Sacramento is called Raging Water and features over 25 water rides, slides and pools. The park is right in the centre of Sacramento and it has something to suit you regardless of your mood.
If after a while you are exhausted from all of the running around and having fun then you can stop at the family friendly restaurant for something to eat. Due to the extreme nature of some of the rides there is a height and weight limit like any other theme park.
14. Feel Inspired At The California Museum
In downtown Sacramento you will find The California Museum, the museum is home to the California Hall of Fame. From the moment you step into the building you will feel inspired as you look at some of the amazing things that people from California have achieved in the past.
The museum also remembers to honor the Native Americans and is a real place of learning and one cannot help but come away feeling energized and refreshed by the great people they have learned about.
15. Take A Trip Over Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge which is also known as The Sacramento River Bridge connects West Sacramento in Yolo County to the Sacramento County in the East. The bridge itself was built in 1935 and upon its opening 100 homing pigeons were sent across the state to deliver the news to the people.
Throughout the years the bridge has seen many renovations but a lot of the original bridge equipment still exists. Up until the 1960 the railroad used the bridge but this was made redundant so that the increased flow of traffic could be handled.
16. See The End Of The Pony Express
The Pony Express Terminal in Sacramento was the end point of the Pony Express. It was also the building that was first used as the California Supreme Court.
The building has been officially named a National Historic Landmark and is home to the Wells Fargo History Museum.
You can learn a lot about the Gold Rush here and there is a recreation of a 19th century Wells Fargo Express Company office as well as plenty of artifacts from the time.
17. Stop Off At The Eagle Theatre
The Eagle Theatre in Sacramento was the very first permanent theater the state of California had seen. It was built in 1849 out of a wooden frame and a canvas covered roof. At the time of opening the crowd would have been made up of gold miners from the local area enjoying a night out.
The theater is said to be haunted and has featured in the TV show Ghost Adventures, it was during the filming of this show that the team was said to have caught an image of a rocking chair rocking itself. The theater is now owned by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and is on the California Historical Landmark Register.
18. Take A Tour Around The Old City Cemetery
The Old City Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Sacramento, established in 1849 it has become the final resting place for many a great Californian over the decades. Buried in these grounds are previous Sacramento mayors, Californian governors and also victims of the cholera epidemic of 1850.
The cemetery has been set out as a beautiful Victorian garden and you can take a lantern led tour of the graves to experience and learn about the rich history of the people here. The grounds are mainly looked after by volunteers now, the volunteers adopt a plot and look after the gardening duties that would have previously been completed by relatives.
19. Learn The History Of Sacramento
When people think about Sacramento it is always the Gold Rush that comes to mind, but there is so much more to this great city than that. The Sacramento History Museum delves into the past of this city and showcases the area’s first inhabitants, how farm life was and much more.
The museum is very interactive and the way the museum is presented really makes you feel like you were there living among the people all those years ago. The museum has employed guides that will show you around and they manage to bring every situation to life. If you want to learn about how the city lifted itself up from the floods of the 1860’s and 70’s then this is a great place to start.
20. Watch The Sacramento State Hornets Football Team
Although not the most successful of college football teams the State Hornets are well worth a watch when in town. They play their home games at the Hornet Stadium and always have a strong following. The stadium holds over 21,000 people so you can always guarantee a great atmosphere. E
ach year the Hornets play their local arch rivals, the UC Davis Aggies. The two teams are separated by Tower Bridge and the game is usually held on the last day of the regular season. The teams fight it out for the Causeway Classic which was named after the bridge that separates them.
21. Cycle The American River Bike Trail
The American River Bike Trail is also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail and it runs for 32 miles between Discovery Park in Old Sacramento and Beal’s Point. The trail is a beautiful ride as it is completely paved and has two operational lanes.
There are plenty of amenities along the way such as restroom’s, water fountains and public telephones. If you are hungry then there are plenty of places you can stop at along the way to have a bite to eat and a rest before continuing.
22. Escape Into A Fairytale
Fairytale Town is a 2.5 acre play area and children’s museum in Sacramento. The museum has been designed to bring all of your favorite nursery rhymes and fairytale’s to life. There are more than 25 different areas to play in, each reflecting a children’s story that can be brought to life with a little imagination.
There are also various animals dotted throughout the park such as Peter Rabbit or the sheep that Mary had. Fairytale Town is a great place to go back and reminisce over your childhood whatever age you may be.
23. Take A Ride On The Sac Brew Bike
The Sac Brew Bike is perfect for groups that want to spend their time doing something different. Here you and your friends can jump aboard this multi-person bike and go for a group cycle around some of Sacramento’s best drinking and eating spots.
You all jump on and get peddling whilst the driver operates the steering to make sure you are still going in the right direction after a few drinks. A completely unique experience to the city and one that is worth doing as it is not often you can exercise and have fun at the same time.
24. Eat At The Kitchen
If you are looking for somewhere to go for a special occasion or just want to treat yourself then you might want to consider The Kitchen restaurant. The restaurant was formed in 1991 by a husband and wife team who wanted to stick to the concept of “Farm-To-Fork” dining.
Everything in the restaurant is from locally sourced farmers and producers and the restaurant has been a sell out nightly for more than 20 years! It is not a cheap place to dine at but for a one of special occasion and it is worth every cent.
25. Be Amazed At The Dive Bar
Sometimes seeing is really believing and if you want something completely extraordinary then you should stop off for a pint at The Dive Bar. Above the bar is a tank that holds 7,500 gallons of water, in the tank are mermaids and mermen swimming around for your pleasure.
The bar is available for private parties as well as the casual drinker who just wants to chill out for a while. The bar is truly unique and a great place to see a once in a lifetime experience.