Many people believe that Sacramento is a small agricultural town that is not even worth a visit. But that’s just an out-of-dated prejudice. In reality, Sacramento is a large and contemporary city that is packed with all sort of tourist attractions, starting from art galleries and science museums to a unique historic district. Visit it and see that for yourself.
Here are top 15 must-visit places in Sacramento for you to have an idea where to go first of all:
1. Old Sacramento
Old Sacramento is the historic part of the city that has been preserved till our days. It comprises 53 buildings that represent the life of the city in the 19th century.
In the past this district served as the center of Sacramento, but over the course of its growth and development it was transformed in the place that was inhabited by the poor mainly.
Later, it was decided to transform it into a tourist attraction ― a historic district where people will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the past of the region in an exciting and entertaining way.
During your tour around Old Sacramento, you can see dozens of museums and other places of interest, including:
- Sacramento History Museum;
- California State Railroad Museum
- Sutter’s Fort
- State Indian Museum
- The Crocker Art Museum
- Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum
- The Big Four Building.
We will discuss some of them in detail below. The point is that Old Sacramento is not about museums only. That’s a little historic town inside modern Sacramento. Even if you are not a museum fan, it is worth a trip. You can just walk along its streets, watch people wearing historic costumes, visit shops and cafes that attract your attention (most of them can boast vintage interior) and enjoy the unique and charming atmosphere of Sacramento of the 19th century around you. You can also hire a real cab or get aboard a renovated paddlewheeler and see the district from another angle.
2. California State Railroad Museum
The name of this place may sound boring, but, when you get there, you will be astonished. It can be justly called the most famous museum in Sacramento.
Its collection comprises about 20 locomotives that have been preserved since the 19–20th centuries. You can get inside cars and study their luxurious interior in detail. Do you want to feel like a wealthy traveller in the 20th century? Then go to the museum and try it.
More to the point, you can make a trip around Old Sacramento in the car pulled by a vintage locomotive. That sounds romantic and intriguing, doesn’t it?
And on holidays they offer rides by festive trains, for example, by a polar express. Be sure, to take your kid to such an event!
3. Sacramento History Museum
It is noteworthy that is the only museum, where you can learn about the rich history of Sacramento that contains many exciting pages.
The first settlement in this area was established as an agricultural colony, and, due to the advantageous location and a gifter governor, it managed to get prosperous enough.
But then workers found gold, and the situation changed dramatically. People got obsessed with the idea of making a fortune within the short period of time and abandoned agricultural work.
They founded a new town nearby and named it Sacramento. Sure, over some time, most former gold hunters got disillusioned with the idea of searching the precious metal and got back their agricultural activities.
In Sacramento History Museum you can learn about every period of the development of the city and even see the exhibits of people’s life and routine. There is also a large collection of varied mechanisms from the past, for example, a printing unit that is currently used to make “Wanted” posters with visitors.
4. The underground part of Old Sacramento
In Sacramento, there are abandoned premises that are hidden underground, and you can go and see them.
Soon after the city had been established, it turned out that its location possessed a serious disadvantage. It was built too close to the River Sacramento, and, as a result, it was severely damaged by a series of floods over several years (the authorities hesitated before taking decisive steps, since that required much money). In the end they moved the level of the city higher by filling premises, located at the lowest level, with dust. And today there is a system of secret streets and buildings under Old Sacramento, and you can see that with your own eyes during the excursion.
The museum guide will lead you around this mysterious place and tell you lots of exciting facts about that legendary period in the history of Sacramento.
5. Sutter’s Fort
That’s one more place where you can see the life of the colonists that settled within the territory of California. John Sutter was the founder of the first colony that later gave birth to the city of Sacramento.
As it was mentioned before, the territory of today’s Sacramento witnessed a series of dramatic events in the past, that’s why, in the fort, there is only one building that survived till our days. All the other constructions were rebuilt in detail.
Mind that to get acquainted with all the premises displayed in the fort, you will need at least a couple of hours. You will definitely take a decision to study every detail: every room there looks as if its owners have left it just several minutes ago. You will be shown furniture, household utensils, weapons, jointer’s tools, kitchen equipment, as well as all sort of mechanisms used in the 19th century.
They also conduct all sort of costumed educational and entertainment shows for both children and adults.
In case you are interested in art, you are likely to visit it again and again. That’s one of the most well-known museums in Sacramento that combines treasures of the past and masterpieces created by modern painters and sculptors. And you will notice that at first glance without even entering its halls, the exterior of the museums effectively conveys that idea.
The museum was established as a place to display the unique collection of Californian art, as well as other masterpieces presented to Sacramento by the Crockers ― the wealthy family of businessmen living in the city. One should note that the collection was transferred into the ownership of the local community together with the mansion. It is used as a museum till our days.
Over the time the collection of the museum was significantly increased, so, the authorities made a decision to construct an additional building. Today, it is used for displaying exhibits of the modern artists.
It is noteworthy that exhibits are regularly changed, so, every time you come to Sacramento, you can be sure that you will see something new in the museum.
7. Delta King Paddlewheeler in Old Sacramento
Have you ever stayed in a real vintage stateroom? If you go to Sacramento, you will have such an opportunity. Here you can stay at the hotel, which is situated aboard a real renovated peddle wheeler. You may choose a stateroom with a beautiful view over the historic district of the city or over the Sacramento River. You can even book the luxurious two-storey captain’s quarters with a real wheelhouse.
You will not have to leave the ship in order to have dinner or breakfast. There is a cozy fine-dining restaurant onboard. And, if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, you can enjoy a cocktail and some snacks in the bar.
One more opportunity to consider ― joining the Suspects dinner. This event is popular among both Sacramento citizens and tourists. It combines a delicious dinner and a funny interactive costumed show that will make your day.
8. Sacramento Fairytale Town & Funderland Amusement Park
In case you plan to stay in Sacramento together with your kids, do not miss the opportunity to have fun in William Land Park. Within its territory, there are two popular children’s locations ― Fairytale Town and Funderland Amusement Park.
The first mentioned one comprises 25 playgrounds decorated in accordance with popular children’s rhymes and fairytales. There are all sort of slides, webs, tunnels, ladders, mazes, huts, sculptures and other equipment for active games. There are also fairytale gardens and a small farm, where children can see real animals and interact with them.
As for Funderland Amusement Park, it includes about a dozen fairytale rides.
9. Sacramento Zoo
Visiting a zoo is a great way to spend family time. So, why not to use this opportunity during your trip to Sacramento?
Within the territory of the local zoo, you can see about 150 species! The general number of animals living there has exceeded 500! Here you can see lions, zebras, giraffes, kangaroos, otters, anteaters, reptiles, fish and other interesting representatives of the world fauna.
10. The California State Capitol
This beautiful neoclassical building opened in 19th century serves as the workplace for the Californian government. But that doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to get inside: after you study its exterior, you can have a guided tour, visit the local museum and even watch historic films here.
11. Sacramento Tower Bridge
At first glance it may seem to be a usual bridge. But this art-deco construction possesses historic value. When it was opened in 1934, it was the only vertical lift bridge within the territory of the state.
As of now, it is used by automobiles and pedestrians only, but there is a chance that trolley lines will also be installed there.
In case you want to see the bridge in all its glory, visit it after the sunset, when it is illuminated with bright lights.
12. Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail
The citizens of Sacramento are crazy about sports. Due to the mild climate, they have the opportunity to spend much time outdoors all year round and use it to the full.
Locals practice varied sports, but there are activities that are particularly widespread, since they do not require special skills or equipment. And these are hiking and jogging.
More to the point, there is a large number of equipped trails that are laid within the territory of Sacramento and in the suburbs. The one that enjoys the highest popularity is Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. Its length is 32 miles. It runs along the picturesque bank of the American River and can be access from many city parks. In addition, it is provided with public bathrooms and small shops and cafes for hikers to have the opportunity to take some rest and to reboost the energy.
13. McKinley Park
When you come to Sacramento, you will see that this city is very green and shady, which is a huge plus taking into account the hot climate. In fact, there are over 200 parks in the city. And McKinley Park is one of the most famous recreation zones in the city. It is best known for its beautiful rose garden that comprises 1200 bushes. It was opened due to the help of ordinary citizens of Sacramento.
Another popular site in the park is a picturesque lake with a fountain.
As for the activities available, there is a community center, a library, tennis courts and alleys for waking, hiking and jogging.
14. Sacramento Farmers’ Markets
That doesn’t sound like a tourist attraction, but Sacramento is America’s Farm-to-Fork capital, and fresh vegetables and fruit are an indispensable part of the local culture.
The citizens of Sacramento take nutrition issues seriously, they pay much attention to the selection of products for homemade culinary masterpieces.
And one should admit that eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit all year round is a healthy habit worth trying. So, when you come to Sacramento, be sure to visit a farmer`s market at least once. There you will see a large assortment of yummy and healthy products and will not be able to resist buying at least a couple of kilos. And that’s where a proper lifestyle begins.
15. California State Fair
This annual event attracts thousands of tourists and Sacramento citizens every year. It takes place in the city since 1854. It was established as a show to demonstrate current achievements of the farmers living and working near Sacramento.
But today it resembles a family festival. Children can have fun in a special zone with rides, and adults can watch automobile and sport show, as well as listen to all sort of live music.
If you are lucky to schedule your vacation in Sacramento for the time when the fair is organized, you can safely take all your family, including children and elderly parents, and head towards its site. You will surely like that.
No doubt, there are dozens of other tourist attractions that reflect the most exciting aspects of life in Sacramento. When you cope with visiting the places from the list above, you can start exploring the city by yourself. But keep in mind that is not advisable to go far from the city center, since, close to the outskirts of Sacramento, there is a number of high crime areas.
By the way, you can always ask the kocak citizens for advice. People in Sacramento are open and friendly, so, they will be happy to tell you about the secret attractions in the city.
To sum up, Sacramento can be justly called the cultural, historic and sport center of the state. This city has huge potential for tourist development, that’s not a question of if but when. So, do not miss the opportunity to spend your next vacation exploring this amazing place. You will surely enjoy it and get back every year.