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What to do and How to Spend Your Time if You’re Visiting Sacramento

Have you ever wondered why so many people visit Sacramento each year? This city is a place where history and modernity blend seamlessly. From its early days as a pivotal center during the Gold Rush to its current status as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sacramento has always had a story to tell.

Sacramento’s charm lies in its diverse attractions, catering to history buffs, art enthusiasts, foodies, and outdoor adventurers alike. Whether you’re strolling through the historic streets of Old Sacramento, exploring world-class museums, or enjoying the lush landscapes along the American and Sacramento Rivers, there’s an undeniable vibrancy that pulses through the city. With over 230 days of sunshine annually, it beckons travelers to explore its beauty and bounty.


Let’s explore what makes this city uniquely captivating to over 500,000 residents and countless visitors each year, and what you can do if you’re visiting for a few days.

Stepping Back in Time in Historic Old Sacramento

If you want to uncover some of Sacramento’s past, visit Historic Old Sacramento – a 28-acre living history museum along the scenic Sacramento River that transports visitors back to the Gold Rush era. This is a national historic landmark district. It has preserved and restored buildings dating back to the early 19th century and offers a vibrant collection of museums, shops, and restaurants – all set against the backdrop of cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages. The California State Railroad Museum also stands out as a highlight, offering a glimpse into the transformative impact of the railroad through engaging exhibits and historic train rides.

The Old Sacramento Waterfront, once the hub of commercial activity during the Gold Rush, now serves as a picturesque spot for dining, entertainment, and leisure, offering riverboat cruises and waterfront dining options. Specialty shops and smaller museums dot the area, each providing a unique perspective on California’s history.

A Cultural Journey Through Sacramento’s Arts Scene

Sacramento’s arts scene is a very vibrant place. It reflects the city’s rich cultural heritage and contemporary creativity, making it a central aspect of the city’s identity. The Crocker Art Museum, the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River, serves as the cornerstone of this artistic abundance. With a collection that spans the globe from European masterworks to notable California and American art, as well as Asian, African, and Oceanic pieces, the museum attracts over 250,000 visitors annually.

The streets of Sacramento themselves are very interesting, thanks to the Wide Open Walls mural festival. The festival transforms the city into an open-air gallery, featuring works by local and international artists. This annual event, drawing artists and spectators from around the world, vividly illustrates the city’s dynamic and evolving art scene. Beyond the festival, numerous galleries and monthly art walks in districts such as Midtown and Downtown offer locals and visitors alike a glimpse into the innovative spirit of Sacramento’s artists.

Savoring Sacramento – A Culinary Capital

Sacramento proudly wears the title of America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, a testament to its deep-rooted connection to the surrounding agricultural bounty and a culinary scene that emphasizes sustainability, freshness, and local ingredients. With over 1.5 million acres of farmland in the Sacramento region producing a diverse range of crops—from fruits and vegetables to nuts and grains—the city offers an unparalleled farm-to-table dining experience.

Many of the city’s restaurants, including the renowned Prelude Kitchen & Bar, take great pride in using products from nearby farmers and producers. The commitment to local sourcing isn’t just a trend but a way of life, supported by a network of over 40 farmers markets, including the famed Midtown Farmers Market. These markets not only provide a direct link between farmers and consumers, but also serve as community gathering spaces, attracting thousands of visitors each week who come to sample and discover the freshest local flavors.

Beyond its farm-to-table restaurants and vibrant farmers markets, Sacramento’s culinary scene is complemented by a thriving wine and craft beer culture. Nestled within the larger Northern California wine region, Sacramento is minutes away from over 200 wineries, making it an ideal base for exploring the diverse wine landscapes of the Sierra Foothills, Clarksburg, and beyond. The city’s craft beer scene has similarly blossomed, with over 60 breweries in the region offering everything from traditional lagers to experimental ales.

Sacramento’s culinary identity is a dynamic fusion of innovation, tradition, and community, offering a taste of California’s heartland that is both rich in flavor and grounded in the values of sustainability and collaboration.

Outdoor Adventures in and Around Sacramento

Sacramento’s natural landscape offers a plethora of outdoor adventures, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and active travelers alike. The city’s mild climate, with over 230 days of sunshine a year, invites year-round outdoor activities, from leisurely walks to adrenaline-fueled adventures. A standout feature is the American River Parkway, a 23-mile stretch that serves as the city’s recreational lifeline. The Parkway, which includes the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, attracts over 5 million visitors annually with its paved paths that cater to cyclists, runners, and families out for a scenic stroll. This greenbelt is not just a trail, it’s a gateway to fishing spots, picnic areas, and wildlife habitats, underscoring Sacramento’s blend of urban and natural landscapes.

Venturing onto the Sacramento River provides a unique perspective on the region. River cruises offer a leisurely way to see the city from a different angle, with options ranging from historical tours to sunset dinners. These cruises draw thousands of visitors each year, keen to experience the tranquility of the river while soaking in views of the Sacramento skyline and the lush riverbanks. Beyond the city limits, the surrounding areas boast a variety of outdoor pursuits, from kayaking in the Delta to hiking in the nearby Sierra Nevada foothills.

Planning Your Visit

Planning your visit to Sacramento requires a bit of insight to fully capture the essence of the city. The best time to explore Sacramento is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) months when the weather is most pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F. These seasons boast mild weather, fewer crowds, and a plethora of events, reflecting the city’s dynamic cultural landscape. However, Sacramento’s Mediterranean climate means it’s a year-round destination, with over 230 days of sunshine annually, allowing visitors to enjoy outdoor activities and explore the city’s rich history and culinary scene at any time.

Getting around Sacramento is convenient, thanks to its walkable downtown area and the extensive network of bike trails and lanes, making bicycles a popular mode of transportation among both locals and visitors. Public transportation options include the Sacramento Regional Transit District, which offers light rail and bus services covering the metropolitan area. If you’re looking to explore beyond the city limits, renting a car might be the best option, offering flexibility to visit nearby attractions such as the vineyards of the Sierra Foothills or the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe.

Accommodations in Sacramento cater to a wide range of preferences and budgets, from luxury hotels and historic inns located downtown to budget-friendly options and vacation rentals in quieter neighborhoods. Planning your visit with this in mind will ensure a comfortable, enjoyable, and enriching experience in California’s capital city!

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