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    Sacramento: attractions and places of interest in the capital of California

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    If we consider the dimensions and spaces in the States, distances of 2 or 3 hours by car are very little; for this reason, after visiting and shopping in San Francisco, the opportunity is more than good to go and get to know the capital of California, Sacramento.

    In this destination, not always among the most popular for international tourism, we were attracted by the western flavor of its Old Town, from the epic of the gold rush, its museums and numerous other points of interest, the sumptuousness of the Capitol Building and livability. When visiting the San Francisco, Yosemite or Lake Tahoe area let's not forget this destination.


    • Origin and history of the city
    • The climate of Sacramento
    • What to see in Sacramento
      • Old Town
      • The museums of the city
      • Historic buildings and attractions
      • Tower Bridge e West Sacramento
      • Cathedral
      • The zoo
    • Attending an NBA game: the Sacramento Kings
    • Recommended excursions
    • Where to shop
    • Events in the city
    • Where to eat
    • Where sleeping in Sacramento
    • Where it is and how to reach it

    Origin and history of the city

    Sac, as it is affectionately called, has developed in a valley about 1 hour and a half from San Francisco in a north-easterly direction and the two rivers that surround it and which have played an important role in the commercial and therefore growth of the city are the Sacramento that flows into the San Francisco Bay and theAmerican, one of its tributaries. Sacramento played an important role as a railroad terminus during the "gold rush" period from 1848 to 1855, a particularly significant epic for the area. Subsequently, from 1860 to 1861, Sacramento was the terminal of the pony express, the famous postal service that western cinema has made us widely known.

    The climate of Sacramento

    The city and its area are characterized by hot summers and the remaining months with mild and more humid climate. The fog is mainly present in December and January and in this regard we mention the phenomenon called tule fog which consists of a thin low haze that forms following significant rains especially from late autumn to early spring. If you want some more general information on the state's weather, take a look at our in-depth study on California's climate.

    What to see in Sacramento

    Camera, comfortable shoes and notes in hand, we are ready to explore Sacramento, the sixth largest city in California.

    Old Town

    We begin the visit from the most famous area of ​​the city, the Old Town Sacramento State Historic Park, an area that encompasses 8 downtown blocks. Among the streets that we are going to explore we will focus in particular on 2nd Street and Front Street. What characterizes this neighborhood is the Victorian architecture dating back to the gold digger era with multi-story buildings, large arched entrances, windows with iron balconies and arcades that create the atmosphere of the last century.

    We flank shops and restaurants and walking we notice memorials in honor of the founders of the city and California and others dedicated to means of transport such as the transcontinental railroad and the pony express that meant so much to Sacramento and the whole area. It is good to take into account not to be in a hurry, to have at least a few hours available here in the Old Town because it deserves.

    As always it is advisable to walk as much as possible but they can also be done carriage rides, river tours and at certain times of the year special tours are organized: to meet ghosts (October), to retrace the epic of the gold rush (March-October) and to enter underground tunnels (April-December) at the discovery of what was the street level more than a hundred years ago before repeated floods led to the decision to raise the street level to the current one.

    At 925 Front Street the lower case Eagle Theatre it is the reconstruction of the first theater in California built in 1849 and destroyed by a flood. Admission is free and it is good to inquire about opening times in the Old Town. Periodically there are shows and programs related to the history of the old Sacramento and its simple wooden structure, almost a hut, takes you back in time.

    Not far away, on the waterfront along the Sacramento River, is the Delta King (1000 Front St.), a steamboat that has various functions: accommodation, refreshment and entertainment point. The rooms, equipped with wi-fi, have breakfast included in the rate which varies according to the room and the season. Of course the restaurants have a river view. Always on the boat, at the Delta Bar & Grill, open for lunch and dinner, the Irish evening takes place on Thursdays, while at the weekend you can listen to live music. The Pilothouse, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Suspects Mystery Dinner Theater is a pleasant option (which is spreading more and more in the world) that combines dinner and show, where the show is a mystery to be solved, a crime to put the face of the killer. In this theater, however, other performances of various kinds are also held. The boat is an ideal location for weddings and there are also eight rooms for private events. Parking the car means using the valet service at a cost of $ 25.

    The museums of the city

    Returning to the mainland we point out the museums of the Old Town, two of which in our opinion not to be missed dedicated to fundamental means of transport. The California State Railroad Museum (125 I St.) exhibits locomotives, carriages, objects and images that have made the history of that means of transport. Among various options, it is possible to experience aboard an old train with a route is 45 minutes along the Sacramento River on Tuesdays at 11.00 or 13.00 from February to April and in October. Departure is from the Central Pacific Railroad in Old Sacramento (on Front Street between J and K Streets). Tickets cost $ 12 for adults and $ 6 for 6-17 year olds and are purchased at 10.30am on the day of departure.

    Il California Automobile Museum (2200 Front St.) is a riot of cars from various eras, an exciting site for enthusiasts, and not only, where exhibitions and sector events are also organized. For a souvenir of the visit, you can visit the gift shop. The museum is open from 10 to 17 with last admission at 16 and is closed on Tuesdays; in July and August it is open from 9am to 16pm. Tickets cost $ 10 for adults, $ 9 for seniors, students and military, and $ 5 for ages 5-17.

    Il Wells Fargo History Museum (1000 2nd St.) is dedicated to the services of the famous company linked since its origins in 1852 to the world of finance, transport and communications via pony express or telegraph, but also steamships and railways even if what many of us have in mind are the warm and golden colored carriages pulled by six horses carrying gold, documents and valuables, the symbol of the banking company. Inside the museum we find objects, documents, photographs, exhibitions and even a carriage which is the subject of continuous photographic shots. Here, too, there is an interactive section where you can have fun sending messages by telegraph or dressing up as a Wells Fargo messenger! Open daily from 10am to 17pm, tickets cost $ 12 for adults and $ 6 for ages 6-17.

    But if you have some time left, why not visit two other museums? The Sacramento History Museum (101 I St.) is the reproduction of the town hall of 1854, an interesting site as it gives the opportunity to deepen the historical knowledge of the city and the period of the gold rush. Exhibitions, objects, demonstrations and interactive activities take place in the museum open every day from 10 to 17 with last admission at 16.30. Admission is $ 8 for adults and $ 5 for ages 6-17.

    Finally it Schoolhouse Museum (120p Front St.) is a replica of a traditional 800th century school where tours of the building, activities and events take place. It is accessible free of charge from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 16pm and on Sunday from 12pm to 16pm. Visitor Center (1002 2nd St.) is a great landmark. When you arrive by car, you can to park at the Old Sacramento Garage (200 I St.) for $ 1.5 for 30 minutes and $ 13 for 24 hours. History, beautiful buildings, riverside walk, shopping and good food; the Old Town undoubtedly deserves a thorough visit, it is the focal point of the city that introduces us to the roots of Sacramento.

    The downtown is home to three other museums. If you love art the Crocker Art Museum (216 O St.) is worth visiting. Its imposing white structure, however interesting from an architectural point of view, does not make you perceive what is inside in terms of rooms and works: Californian works, from the gold rush to modern times with the precious addition of collections of art from the world. One of the largest pottery exhibits in the United States is also located here. The opening hours are from Monday to Sunday from 10 to 17, Thursdays with extended hours until 21. Tickets cost for adults $ 12, seniors and university students $ 8, children from 6 to 17 years $ 6.

    A short distance from the State Capitol the California Museum (1020 O. St.) tells the rich history of California with a blend of art, culture and exhibits. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 17pm and Sunday from 12pm to 17pm. The cost is $ 19 for adults, $ 7.50 for students, seniors aged 65 and over and $ 6.50 for ages 6 to 17. We conclude this artistic tour with the State Indian Museum (26th & K Sts.) Where we find exhibits of objects and photos of California natives. Indian items can also be found in the museum store. Open every day from 10am to 17pm at a cost of $ 5 for adults and $ 3 for ages 6 to 17.

    Historic buildings and attractions

    Outside the old city, but still downtown, we move to the part where the government symbol, lo, dominates State Capitol (10th & L. Sts.), The building that represents the capital of each state. Even here in Sacramento the structure is in a neoclassical style, imposing, with the characteristic white color, the dome, the colonnades and the stairways. In the museum inside you can breathe the rich historical past of this land among paintings, sculptures and California flags. The building can be visited from Monday to Friday from 7.30 to 18 and on weekends from 9 to 15. Tours are available from 9 to 16. On the ground floor there is the inevitable gift shop.

    A splendid green area develops around the State Capitol, the Capitol Park with trees and flowers and in this regard we point out the Rose Garden. The park is also the right location for some memorials and of course the view of the State Capitol from here is privileged. Public parking spaces are available around Capitol Park. From here it starts Capitol Mall, a tree-lined avenue, the main artery of the city that connects the State Capitol to West Sacramento via the river of the same name. Along this street, at number 400, there is another Wells Fargo Center building in the tallest building in the city that reaches 130 meters.

    Still on the subject of historical buildings, we continue the visit with the Governor’s Mansion (1526 H. St.), the governor's splendid white villa built in 1877 in a Victorian style. Inside there are 30 rooms on 3 floors. The building was uninhabited from 1967 to 2015 but since then it has been the official residence of the governor, surrounded by a garden with flowers and plants; it is part of the register of historic landmarks due to its historical and architectural significance. As it is no longer open to visitors, it can only be observed from the outside.

    In the midtown area we recommend the Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (2701 L. St.) which in its reconstruction traces the times of the gold rush and the first pioneers in California. You can see objects belonging to John Sutter (founder of Fort Sutter and Sacramento), James Marshall (worker at John Sutter's mill and discoverer of gold) and some pioneers who came from Missouri to California and were later helped by Sutter. The trade & gift store, open from 10 to 16.30, offers books, handicrafts and collectibles. (open daily from 10am to 17pm - the last ticket is sold at 16.30pm). The cost is $ 5 for adults and $ 3 for ages 6-17.

    Tower Bridge e West Sacramento

    At the end of the avenue we meet the Tower Bridge (342 L. St.), the yellow car and pedestrian bridge across the Sacramento River, dated 1935 and built in a style that emphasizes curves and horizontal lines. The bridge stands out; it is 225 meters long, 16 wide, 49 high and the carriageway is 30 meters from the water. We are pleased to cross it and so with a small detour from the center we arrive in 5 minutes at West Sacramento, a town on the other side of the river on whose banks the pyramid shape of the The Ziggurat it is quite evident (707 3rd St).

    It's the home of the California Department of General Services but, honestly, we just wanted to take a closer look at its particular shape. The building is 48 meters high and in front of the entrance a round concrete sculpture resting on a circular base recreates the state seal with the inscription The Great Seal of the State of California, the Eureka exclamation and other symbols of the state: the goddess Minerva, the bear and grapes.


    One of the most beautiful and largest cathedrals west of the Mississippi River is here in downtown Sacramento; and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (1017 11th St.) dating back to 1886. We can only confirm the appreciation from the first external look at the structure which is in Renaissance style with a dome and three slender spiers.

    The Victorian interior has many decorations and paintings on the windows. In the area of ​​the altar we immediately notice the crucifix. We point out the baptismal font in marble, octagonal in shape and with decorative mosaics. Given the size, funeral ceremonies of the California governors were held here. This church is definitely worth a visit.

    The zoo

    Further south, at 3930 West Land Park Drive in the Land Park neighborhood, lo Zoo it is the place that brings together young and old. Here, endemic, rare and exotic species are housed, cared for and preserved, such as jaguars, lynxes, giraffes, monkeys, red kangaroos and red pandas. Operational all year from 9 to 16 except in November, December and January when opening is postponed by one hour. (Adults $ 14.95, seniors $ 13.95, kids ages 2-11 $ 9.95).

    Attending an NBA game: the Sacramento Kings

    Sacramento is a city that can also make your dream of watching an NBA game live. In fact, at the Golden 1 Center arena (500 David J. Stern Walk) in the heart of Downtown Sacramento Kings, what better occasion to savor the unique experience that this sport can offer?

    Thanks to a discount code dedicated to ForTravelAdviceLovers readers you will also have the opportunity to save 10 € on the ticket price. Click on the link below to find out if there are any matches scheduled during your visit to the city.

    NBA Sacramento King Tickets

    insert the code TRAVEL to get 10 euros discount on a minimum purchase of 150 euros

    Recommended excursions

    We report the excursion aboard the Sacramento River Train (100 N. Harbor Blvd.-W. Sacramento and 341 Industrial Way-Woodland). The journey, on a diesel engine train, can be done from one of the two locations. The tour takes a 3-hour tour, between farms and nature, returning from the starting point. Events related to wine and beer are held but other very popular themes are the "train robbery" and a "murder case" to be solved. Drinks, snacks and light meals are available on board the train as it is not possible to bring your own food. Only in open carriages is it possible to bring dogs with a maximum of five in total.

    More info on train tours

    Following the sinuosity of the American river north of Sacramento, theAmerican River Bike Trail (known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail) is an “officially” 51-kilometer bike ride. We gather at the riverfront of the Old Town where you can rent two wheels if you don't have your own vehicle; the trail formally begins at nearby Discovery Park (1600 Garden Hwy) and ends at Beal's Point in Folsom Lake State Park, further west.

    Most of the route develops through lightly wooded areas with spectacular views of the American river, with little traffic and not demanding, practically flat and only in the last 7 kilometers you climb a little. The route can be accessed from most of the parks along the American River Parkway and from those in Folsom.

    Where to shop

    Between one attraction and another we are pleasantly tempted by Shopping especially while we visit the Old Town. There are lots of little shops to shop or just have a look. From souvenir shops to gift items, from jewelry to Christmas decorations, from photographs to sporting items without forgetting to enter a characteristic general store or trading post. Shops usually open at 10 and close early in the evening. Each is independently managed and has their own schedules.

    We especially liked theHuntington Hopkins & Co. Hardware Store (111 I St.) which reproduces a small 19th century hardware store with tools and machinery of the time, an exhibition that is a sort of museum operating from Thursday to Sunday from 11 to 16, but it is also a shop for all effects. We also report a classic shopping center, Arden Fair (1689 Arden Way) open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 21pm and Sunday from 11am to 17pm.

    Events in the city

    Various events take place throughout the year, some of which are noteworthy. In March in the Old Town takes place the St. Patrick Day Parade, a parade of Irish dancers, bagpipe musicians, drumming bands and costumed characters. The event is free. At the Cesar Chavez Park (910 I St.) in August takes place Sactown Nachos Festival, event focused on nachos, a tortilla covered with cheese sauce. It is a feast for the palate. More elaborate versions also include beans, limes, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, and ground beef. In the context of the event you can listen to live music and shop among the stalls. Access costs $ 10 and a portion of the proceeds are donated to a charity.

    Various events take place at the California Automobile Museum (2200 Front St.), in particular the Sacramento Donut Festival which takes place in September when the famous donut is tasted at the vendors' stalls. There is also a competition where a jury made up of visitors also votes for the best donut. The $ 26 admission ticket also includes a visit to the automobile museum.

    Every 3rd Monday of the month the California Automobile Museum (2200 Front St.) is again the protagonist, which allows you to make exciting rides in vintage cars with the purchase of the admission ticket to the museum in the event called Downtown Sunday Drives. A different model is chosen each month. The Christmas holidays are celebrated in the Old Town with the named event Theatre of Lights among a multitude of sounds, colors and lights that create a suggestive Christmas atmosphere.

    Where to eat

    You shouldn't leave the city without tasting the local cuisine and in this regard we suggest a few restaurants. In the Old Town the Rio City Cafes (1110 Front St.) is a river view venue. You can come here, in a friendly atmosphere, for brunch, lunch and dinner, enjoying Californian cuisine at low prices with the addition of ethnic ingredients that create delicious variations. Celebrities, politicians and athletes occasionally flock to the venue.

    In midtown, the Paragary's (1401 28th St.) offers dinner and brunch (weekends only) at medium to high prices. You can eat in the lovely patio with waterfalls, a fireplace and olive trees. The interior rooms have a style that combines modern elements with others more traditional. The restaurant offers dishes such as pasta, salads, meat and fish prepared according to contemporary American cuisine with the use of products from the Sacramento region. Try the lemon parfait with meringue, strawberries and pistachio and also the cinnamon roll with maple glaze. Smart-casual attire is recommended.

    In the Natomas district we point out the Black Bear Diner (2700 El Centro Rd.) With its wooden furniture and statues of the same material depicting bears. The medium-high priced venue is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers popular dishes such as pancakes, waffles, barbeque ribs, grilled salmon, pesto pasta with grilled chicken, tomatoes and burgers with cheese and bacon. Try the triple chocolate cake and the bread pudding with cream, vanilla plus pecan sauce.

    If you love sandwiches and are looking for a place with reasonable prices, we recommend In-n-out (3501 Truxel Rd. / 2001 Alta Arden Expy.). This place belongs to a chain famous for its 100% American fresh meat burgers and also known for its ingredients without additives and preservatives. When hunger is great you can be tempted by the Double Double burger with double meat and double cheese, Triple Triple with triple meat and triple cheese and Quad Quad with quadruple meat and quadruple cheese! Also try the vanilla, strawberry and chocolate smoothies.

    Where sleeping in Sacramento

    Sheraton Grand Sacramento

    For an overnight stay in the city we recommend a few accommodation. In downtown lo Sheraton Grand Sacramento (1230 J St.) is within walking distance of the State Capitol and close to the Old Town. The rooms and suites, overlooking the city, have a mini fridge, tea and coffee making facilities. At guests' disposal there are a fitness center, heated outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and parking. The property is pet friendly.

    Affordable and within walking distance of the Old Town, the Sacramento River and the State Capitol, is a beautiful, refined 1885 Victorian house that houses theHI Sacramento Hostel (925 H St.). As in all hostels, most of the accommodation is shared, with shared facilities, but there are also private rooms, one of which has in-room facilities. The property offers free wi-fi, on-site parking, meeting space, spacious kitchen, dining room, outdoor patio with fountain, barbeque and tables with umbrella.

    About 20 minutes by car from the State Capitol we point out the Larkspur Landing Sacramento (555 Howe Ave.) featuring classic-style suites with full kitchens and wi-fi. Breakfast is included in the price. The property features a front desk and a 24-hour business center, wi-fi in the common areas, meeting space, fitness center and laundry. The hotel is pet friendly.

    THEHilton Garden Inn (2540 Ventura Oaks Way) is located in Natomas, a primarily residential neighborhood, where the city airport and the Sleep Train Arena home of the NBA's Sacramento Kings are located. The classic-style rooms and suites are equipped with microwaves, mini-fridges, coffeemakers and free wi-fi. The hotel features a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, 24 hour business center, meeting room, outdoor swimming pool, fitness room and laundry service.

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    Where it is and how to reach it

    Sacramento can be reached via theSan Francisco International Airport (Hwy 101) in particular for flights from overseas or you can refer to the city one (6900 Airport Blvd.). If you are with your rental car you can get to the city via the I-80 connecting Sacramento to San Francisco and Reno in neighboring Nevada. There Amtrak train station is at 401 I Street while that of Greyhound bus is at 420 Richards Boulevard. And let's not forget that the city can be appreciated with a pleasant and healthy use of the bicycle.

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