7 Cool Things To Do in Sacramento

If you're going to northern California, be sure to pass through the state capital and discover what makes Sacramento so uniquely charming.

If you’re planning a trip to California, narrowing down points of interest can be pretty difficult. After all, the Golden State is endlessly beautiful, so you’ll never run out of worthwhile cities to visit. And let me just say, there’s something special about Sacramento.

The locals will be the first to tell you that it can be hard to put one’s finger on the source of “Sactown’s” distinctive charm. That’s why doing a little exploring in this agriculturally-rich and historically-vibrant city is essential.

The first thing I noticed about Sacramento was a magical feeling in the air. While it is undoubtedly a big city, this eclectic and welcoming metropolis has held onto its small-town feel. Laidback and lively, it just might have everything one could ask for in a hustling, bustling capital, offering locals and tourists the best of both worlds.

Here’s what to know and where to go when you’re visiting Sacramento.

Spend an Afternoon Strolling Around Capital Park

California State Capitol, State Capitol Park.

“The City of Trees” isn’t the only U.S. capital with a notable, city-centric park. But this is by far one of the most stunning on the map. In 1863, California Governor Leland Stanford dreamed up this Sacramento-surrounding, Victorian garden “with a beauty and luxuriousness that no other capitol can boast.”

Today, it has elegantly held onto everything it was built to be, and then some. Brimming with historic and natural beauty, Capital Park is full of native plants, memorials, and important monuments to help you really get a feel for Sacramento’s story and sensibilities.

Do yourself a favor and explore the fragrant and flourishing World Peace Garden, A living reminder that peace begins within the hearts of each one of us – in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. Daily each one of us has an opportunity to make our world a better place.”

Explore the Old Sacramento Waterfront

Old Sacramento view by bridge

Paying homage to California’s beginnings, this 28-acre, National Historic Landmark District was the site of tragedy and natural disaster followed by the Gold Rush. It’s home to the founding of the Transcontinental Railroad and California’s first business district.

In “The River City,” you’ll find world-renowned museums, local restaurants, tons of shopping options, the entertainment district, the stunning Sacramento River, and a 19th-century Sacramento aesthetic.

Stay at a Historic Hotel

low angle view of a historic Sacramento hotel

Sacramento has tons of unusual and unique hotels to choose from. It’s also home to some of the oldest hotels in the entire state. And why not stay at a stunning, historic landmark in the heart of the city?

Located in Old Sacramento, the Union Lofts is a fantastic historic option. Built in the mid-1800s, this boutique hotel was originally called The Union Hotel. It’s recently been given a refined facelift, whilst holding onto its original detail and historic significance.

If you’re on a strict budget, give the HI Sacramento Hostel a try. This 1885 hotel is an exceptional option for a plethora of reasons. The New York Times noted, “it’s just blocks from downtown’s César Chávez Plaza, where there are concerts in the park during the summer, a bed in a shared dorm costs just $32, while private rooms start at $56, breakfast included.”

Read More: 10 Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in California

Don’t Miss Out on Some Truly Amazing Museums

modern building of the Crocker Art Museum next to the old one

Thanks to its historical diversity, you’ll find some of the most impressive museums in all of California here. From Sutter’s Fort to the Crocker Art Museum and the California State Railroad, there’s something for every type of museum-goer in “The Camellia Capital.” Start your exploration by browsing the Sacramento Association of Museums website.

Second Saturdays

Guitarist on stage for background, soft and blur concept

While Sacramento is lively during the day, it’s become a happening hub for urban nightlife and evening art events in recent years. Thanks to this culturally, artistically, and musically vibrant scene, there’s even more to do when the sun sets on Sacramento.

On the second Saturday of every month, local galleries and local businesses open their doors to the public, starting at 5:30 pm and lasting until 9 or 10. “2nd Saturdays” celebrate the art scene and local nightlife in midtown and downtown Sacramento.

It’s also worth noting that Sacramento takes its sports scene quite seriously.

Don’t Skip Brunch

Restaurant under the famous Tower Theatre

The votes are in. When it comes to brunch in “The Big Tomato”, the Tahoe Park Neighborhood is the place to be. Most notably, be sure to dine at Bacon & Butter. The seasonal menu continuously evolves, but it’s always worth a taste. All in all, grabbing a bite in Sacramento is an absolute must. Frequently dubbed “the farm to fork capital” of the United States, this city is where you need to try local cuisine.

If you want the feel of a home-cooked meal in the middle of everything, Cafeteria 15L comes highly recommended. And for a casual, farm-to-fork brunch spot with endless flavor and flare, Cafe Bernardo can’t be beaten.

Stop at Local Coffee Shops

Interior Of Coffee Shop With Customers Using Digital Devices

We all have our points of interest when we travel. For me, exploring the coffee scene is always a must. While I expected to find a brilliant brewing scene in places like Seattle and Portland, I was pleasantly surprised by how wonderfully dedicated and diverse the local coffee shop/coffee roasting scene is Sacramento really is. In fact, it’s award-winning.

Here’s a local guide to seven must-sip coffee shops in Sacramento. If you only have time for one, stop by Temple. Local and featuring ethically-sourced beans, this award-winning brewhouse has been a local favorite for over 15 years.

Read More: 9 Best Coffee Shops in San Diego

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