If one day you find yourself in Folsom town, California, and think that you are in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing to do, let us convince you that there are plenty of activities you can select. Surprisingly, this moderate town with a population of about 78,000 residents can offer marvelous opportunities for leisure.
This review will help you not to get bored in Folsom, pick things you would like to do the most, and plan your day or two here. We will go through the best attractions and, of course, mention some eateries, coffee places, and bars where you can stop for a fulfilling meal, a cup of flavorful coffee, or a glass of local beer.
While Folsom is a rather small city, it stands on the Folsom lake, which makes it more attractive for tourists and California residents who wish to find a decent place to live in. Some landmarks we will tell about come from this lake.
Besides, we will also mention the most popular museums and the nicest spot where you can enjoy watching animals. Keep reading to find out what you can do when having a trip to Folsom or living there.
1. Enjoy your day hiking on trails and walking in parks
Fans of hiking and cycling around breathtaking views and sceneries will feel blissfully in Folsom. The town offers its guests and residents more than a hundred miles of well-maintained trails and parks where one can enjoy their walk or cycling routine on a sunny and bright day.
Among the most popular trails is the Johnny Cash Trail , named after a famous musician after he had two performances in the prison of Folsom back in 1968. Besides fantastic nature scenes, hikers will learn something new about the musician from the expositions made in memorial of him. The trail is less than three miles, so it would be a great choice if you ask how to spend a couple of hours in Folsom.
Another remarkable trail in the Folsom area is the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. It starts from Beals Point at Folsom lake (that we will mention further for sure) and has a total length of over 30 miles. It fits for both walking and cycling, and every year it welcomes up to five million visitors. The trail was named after a hunter and transcontinental pioneer, Jedediah Smith, who did his research in the Sacramento area. He founded the trail in the 19 th century, but then it was abandoned until the middle of the 20 th century when locals restored it and turned it into a fantastic place for walking and cycling.
One of the largest parks in town is Mississippi Bar, where you can spend the whole day watching beautiful landscapes. Besides having a walk and spending blissful minutes staring at a river, you can also ride a horse here. According to reviews, visitors consider this one of their best experiences ever.
Another enormous park in Folsom is Mormon Island Wetlands State Park which includes Browns Ravine Recreation Area and amazing lake views. Locals say it is a perfect place to visit on the weekend with your family and dogs (if you have some). Here, you can have a nice picnic, try fishing, or just chill on a nice day.
Also, there is a Beals Point Recreation Area that welcomes campers and offers fantastic views and well-organized zones for chilling and grilling meat. You can access the spot by car (but please note that the parking is not free) or by bike (via the American River trail, which is a part of Jedediah Smith trail and leads right there).
2. Check out the two main Folsom lakes
If you love spending hours down by the water and want to feel this vibe again, Folsom is a great place for you because it is also famous for its two lakes (Folsom and Natoma) and recreation zones placed nearby.
Natoma is a moderate lake that is surrounded by trails where you can, again, walk, cycle, and enjoy fantastic views during the whole walk. The above-mentioned Mississippi Bar includes this lake. Visitors also like moving around on boats (only if those boats don’t have motors inside).
Folsom is a couple of times bigger than Natoma and has various beaches and recreation spots on almost all its coasts. The most notable spot here is the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area which is praised by locals and tourists for an opportunity to get away from the atmosphere of big cities, spend a day breathing the freshest air and sunbathing or barbecuing.
3. Learn something new from visiting the local museums
Trails and green areas are not the only things that attract people to Folsom. It is also famous for a couple of its unique museums where you can find something that you won’t find anywhere else.
Don’t miss out on the Folsom Prison Museum, where you’ll learn about the highlights of the local prison, which still holds criminals. Even though the idea of visiting a museum in jail may sound creepy for some of our readers, believe us, you will find plenty of interesting artifacts and photos there. The collection was gathered from the beginning of the prison’s history at the end of the 19 th century. You can access the museum via the above-mentioned Johnny Cash trail and thus combine a visit to an extraordinary museum with a nice walk.
If you are generally charmed by the Folsom area and willing to know more about it, your choice would be the Folsom History Museum. Its collection lets visitors explore the local history and learn about the area’s features and most famous facts. This also includes information on the California Gold Rush period in the middle of the 19 th century, which had a strong impact on the future town of Folsom.
4. Go to the zoo with the cutest animals rescued by locals
Here is an amazing idea if you don’t know where to spend your day off or where to go during your vacation in Folsom. It will also work if you travel with kids (or a resident with kids who is bored and wants to experience something new and nice at the same time). The Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary is a fantastic place where you can see dozens of different animals and birds and be impressed by the local fauna.
The zoo treats animals extremely well: no selling, exchanging, or breeding; only helping those who won’t make it in the woods. After a long walk accompanied by animals watching, you will be able to grab a bite in the café right there and to purchase the cutest souvenirs for your friends and family.
5. Visit a performance in Harris Center
The most significant cultural events in Folsom are held in Harris Center which was founded more than 10 years ago as a spot for students. Years passed and it has become the main place where locals and city guests can catch some performing arts that include dance, theater, music, and movies.
Residents might be interested in various classes offered by the center: one can find the info on the official website. There, every user can also obtain details on upcoming events.
6. Go to one of the first powerhouses in the country
Another fantastic thing you do in town is to plan an extraordinary trip to the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park. The landmark’s workers do their best to preserve it which helps it to remain almost the same as it was over a century ago, at the end of the 1890s.
Order a guided tour to find out everything about this historical attraction and you won’t regret it. The place is a part of the American NRHP (National Register of Historic Places) so it is truly exquisite.
7. Watch fishes and other underwater species in the local SeaQuest oceanarium
This attraction is especially popular among families, and you can also organize an outstanding birthday party for your child here. SeaQuest Folsom is a gigantic center where you can enjoy watching different creatures that live underwater. And besides simple watching, you and your kids will be able to interact with some animals: feed and touch them.
Among the animals and creatures you can find here are various fishes, turtles, frogs, otters, and many others. The visit here is not only impressive because of all the things you see but also quite knowledgeable thanks to the aquarium’s staff that explains details about this or that animal.
Besides regular visits, the oceanarium offers some ultimate experiences: from snorkeling with stingrays to sleeping with sharks. You can check the spot’s website in advance to check out the calendar and book an activity that interests you or your kids the most.
After you pay a visit to SeaQuest, you can visit the neighboring shopping center, Palladio, where you can go to the movies, have a quick meal, or purchase something in numerous shops .
8.Go to a shopping outlet with more than 50 stores
Speaking of shopping, Palladio is not the only place where you can go to get something new and update your wardrobe. Probably the most popular shopping mall in town is Folsom Premium Outlets. As you can see from the name, this place suggests multiple outlet shops where you can find fantastic deals and attractive prices on the top brands’ products.
Among stores you can visit here are Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Guess, Nike, Vans, Ralph Lauren, and many others. In total, 60 stores are located in this mall. So, if you consider buying something new to improve your looks, this is a wonderful place to do it and get benefits from it.
9. Chill in the aquatic center on a sunny day
When the weather gets warmer in Folsom, the Steve Miklos Aquatic Center opens its doors for visitors of all ages. It has a set of pools and water attractions where both kids and adults can have a lot of fun and enjoy the day.
Again, if you have a kid and feel confused about their upcoming birthday celebration, consider organizing a party here. Visitors in reviews note that the place is well-maintained, clean, and spacious, and the staff is extremely nice and friendly.
10. Take a trip to local railroads
If you are interested in the topic of trains and railways, Folsom has two places to offer you: Folsom Valley Railway and Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad. Both these spots offer interesting facts about the railway transport in the region and train rides with views.
The first place we’ve mentioned is a unique object because there, you will see the one and only 12-inch railroad left in the United States. The second location organizes trips for more than 10 miles where you can enjoy all the magnificent nature of the area. Both these objects are worth visiting even if you don’t think of being a train enthusiast.
11. Visit extraordinary breweries
There are two notable breweries in Folsom; while one of them produces various beers, another one specializes in sake. Yes, it might be hard to believe but Gekkeikan Sake brewery is a place where you can try the real sake and feel the Japanese traditions. The brand has existed since the 17 th century, and this specific brewery has worked since the end of the 1980s.
Beer lovers will appreciate a visit to the Red Bus brewery, a cozy spot that opened in 2018 and already won the hearts of locals and guests. Here, you can find various beer kinds, including IPA, ale, sour, stout, and classic lager. The spot welcomes families and pets, so you can visit it during your long walk with a dog and have a glass of cold and delicious beer.
12. Enjoy delicious breakfast, brunch, and dinner in one of Folsom’s top eateries
Of course, we couldn’t skip this essential point. Whether you are a local in Folsom who wants to have breakfast or brunch in a nice place and take your partner to a fancy dinner or a tourist who rents a place without a kitchen, this information can be useful for you.
To have a fancy Italian dinner, you should go to Visconti's Ristorante. For Japanese cuisine, visit the highly recommended Hasu restaurant. If you are looking for a Mexican place with delicious tacos and burritos, opt for Lolita’s Authentic Cuisine. Mediterranean dishes are well-represented in Folsom Pizza and Kabob eatery.
Lastly, for something truly American, head to Cheesesteak & Grill Stop or That Dam Place, where you will try delicious local dishes. And for a nice breakfast or brunch with your family or friends, consider Julian's Patisserie and Café, Mimi's Café, or The Waffle Experience.
13. Have a drink or two in the greatest bars
After having a nutritious meal, why wouldn’t you visit one of the best local bars and have a drink? Folsom also has something to offer here.
Wine lovers will definitely be satisfied after visiting Citizen Vine Folsom. Here, besides different wines, you can have a fantastic dinner and listen to live music on certain dates — you can check the schedule on the place’s webpage.
Another place to have a glass of wine is Merlo Family Vineyards which is located nearby. Guests who have been here especially enjoyed the interior, atmosphere, and service.
For a glass of beer accompanied by great food and live music, you should visit Powerhouse Pub. In Folsom State Slickers, besides ordering beers, you are welcome to play darts or spend blissful moments by the working fireplace. Also, in Doyle's Pub and Taproom, you can choose from dozens of beers and order tasty appetizers.
14. Walk around the Folsom Historic District
Another point of our top-15 list would be a charming area in the center of Folsom: its Historic District. It has been developing since the middle of the 19 th century and attracts tourists with its cute shops and eateries. Here, you can easily find treasures in vintage stores, have a cup of coffee in a nice coffee shop, and visit one of the eateries mentioned above.
15. Begin your day in the coziest coffee places
Those who cannot imagine their days without a great cup of coffee will be glad to visit one of the nicest coffee shops in town. Most of them are located in the Historic District, which we have just mentioned. Among the top spots are Sociology Coffee Bar, Reset: Café By Day, and Karen’s Bakery .
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do in Folsom. If you are a guest, most likely, after you visit these attractions and places, you will wish to get back there someday. And if you live here, hopefully, you will have a fresh look at your town after this review.