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30 Best Things to Do in Sacramento, California

30 Best Things to Do in Sacramento, California

Sacramento has been known as the “City of Trees” since the 1850s because of its lush tree canopy, and it’s also known for its Gold Rush history. In addition to being the state’s capital and home to a thriving farm-to-table foodie scene, Sacramento is also a place of regional importance.

Because of its roots in the Gold Rush era, you’ll see clear evidence of that history throughout Old Sacramento. Wooden sidewalks, historic buildings, and museums dictate the area’s saga through time.

Even if world-class museums and historical places aren’t your favorite, there is plenty more to enjoy here. This is a top choice, particularly for outdoorsy visitors – the Sacramento and American rivers, parks and nature preserves, and the hundreds of miles of trails to explore in the city.

What We Cover

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmarkState Capitol
  • Park to visit – William Land
  • Free activity – Sacramento Downtown
  • Activity for kids – Sacramento Children’s Museum
  • Activity for adults – Rose Garden
  • Place to eat – Sunflower Drive-In
  • Nightlife – Mix Downtown
  • Place to stayKimpton Sawyer Hotel

Things to do in Sacramento, California

1. Visit the California State Railroad Museum

California State Railroad Museum
Dariusz Jemielniak  / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 125 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814

In addition to being the state capital and home to so much Gold Rush history, Sacramento is also rich in railroad history. So, it makes sense that the city is home to the California State Railroad Museum.

The museum is one of the world’s largest railway museums and boasts an impressive collection of over 200 locomotives and cars, some of which date back to 1862.

The California State Railroad Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in trains or Californian history. Its exhibits trace the state’s railway developments from humble beginnings in the 1850s to its present-day status as a vital part of the economy.

One of the most popular exhibits at the California State Railroad Museum is the Polar Express Train Ride. This ride takes visitors on an imaginative journey to the North Pole on a replica of the famous train from the book and movie.

The California State Railroad Museum is also home to the world’s largest steam locomotive, the Union Pacific “Big Boy.” This massive engine weighs 1.2 million pounds and is over 140 feet long. You can also experience a working steam train from afar or aboard, as well as a restored historic depot.

One fun way to enjoy this museum is to visit it at the end of Sacramento’s Midtown Walking Food Tour.

See Related: Museums in the US You Need to Visit

2. Stroll the Old Sacramento Waterfront

Old Sacramento Waterfront with boats
Alita Xander / Shutterstock

Address: 1014 2nd St #200, Sacramento, CA 95814

Experience the history of the city up close at the Old Sacramento Waterfront. The area is also home to over 125 shops, restaurants, and venues for everyone to enjoy.

Numerous events and festivals occur here throughout the year, including the annual Old Sacramento Spring Festival. This festival is a way to celebrate a new springtime, dance around a May Pole, and partake in family-friendly activities as the weather welcomes another spring renewal.

The Old Sacramento Waterfront is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. It stretches along the Sacramento River from Front Street to Broadway and was once home to Gold Rush-era buildings and businesses.

Get a riverside waterfront view by taking the Sacramento Historic River Cruise on the Sacramento River.

See Related: Things to Do in Northern California

3. Shop at the Sacramento Farmers Market

Sacramento Farmer's Markets visitors and vendors
Mekong Photography / Shutterstock

Address: 20th between J & L, Sacramento, CA 95814

The Sacramento Farmers Markets are a set of weekly farmers’ markets throughout the city. Farmers from all over the region come to sell their produce, meats, cheeses, and other products on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

These markets have been great places to buy certified fresh, local, and seasonal produce from Sacramento County farmers since 1980.

They offer an opportunity to support small farmers and vendors while getting high-quality food. Not only that, but these farmers’ markets are also a great place to meet new people and explore different parts of the city.

You can find seasonal farmers’ markets and other markets open year-round. Remember that you should bring cash and reusable bags to carry your goodies around so you don’t run out of carrying space.

See Related: Road Trip Ideas in California

4. Admire the Works of the Crocker Art Museum

Crocker Art Museum interior
Kit Leong / Shutterstock

Address: 216 O St, Sacramento, CA 95814

The Crocker Art Museum is home to the world’s best public display of California art and is renowned for its collection of European master drawings and international ceramics.

It is also the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi. Housed in a historic Italianate mansion redone at Judge Edwin B. Crocker’s request by local architect Seth Babson, the building is artwork on its own.

In addition to its permanent collections, the Crocker Art Museum also hosts temporary exhibits. Some of the Crocker Museum’s past exhibitions have included Lee Alexander McQueen & Ann Ray, The Edge of Elegance, Monet to Matisse, and The Splendor of Germany.

The Crocker Museum is the only art museum in Sacramento accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. That accreditation has only been given to a fraction of the country’s museums, so you know the Crocker Museum is something special.

See Related: Day Trips from San Francisco

5. Celebrate at the California State Fair and Food Festival

California State Fair Aerial View
The Image Party / Shutterstock

Address: 1600 Exposition Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95815

If you visit Sacramento in July, you must attend the State Fair for tasty treats and festival fun. This two-week festival celebrates the state’s agriculture and food industry in California’s capital.

Visitors can learn about different aspects of agriculture and food production, taste unique foods from across the state, and enjoy live music or other performances. If you’re looking forward to the fair for its delectable dining, you can buy a meal pass to dine to your heart’s content — but don’t forget to save room for the amusement park rides!

The community also joins to participate in competitions like the Save Mart cooking challenges. These challenges encourage the million-plus fair visitors to think about cooking differently.

If you still aren’t done eating your way through Sacramento after the fair, you can also book the Downtown Sacramento Historical Food Tour to experience some great foodie fun. There is no shortage of delicious activities in this city.

See Related: Things to Do in Long Beach

6. Dine Fine at the Farm-to-Fork Festival

Farm-to-Fork Festival
Farm to Fork Capital of America / Facebook

Address: Capitol Mall & 7th Street, Sacramento, CA 95815

The Farm-to-Fork Festival in downtown Sacramento celebrates the city’s role as the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the Country. This Sacramento food and music festival is an annual event that welcomes more than 25,000 people.

This free, family-friendly event features local food trucks and vendors, live music on three stages, a kid’s zone, cooking demonstrations, and more. Since 2013, this Sacramento music festival has brought the city to life and shed much due light on its role in American agriculture and food culture.

Farm-to-Fork is not just this festival, however. They host various events, like the Street Festival, the Tower Bridge Dinner, and the Festival of Wine.

If you’re looking for a more intimate musical experience in Sacramento, you can also book a private concert cruise and forego the crowded festival experience.

Should you need a hotel to rest in between festival adventures, the nearby Kimpton Sawyer Hotel would be a perfect place to call home. This pet-friendly downtown hotel also has a restaurant and bar for those off-festival hour libations.

See Related: Things to Do in San Jose

7. Catch Up on History and Happenings at the California State Capitol

California State Capitol Building

Address: 1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

The California State Capitol in Sacramento serves as both the home to the California state legislature as well as the California State Capitol Museum. Finished in 1860, the Neoclassically-designed capitol building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and is visited by millions annually.

Outside of visiting the state capitol, you should pay a visit to the California State Capitol Museum inside. Some exhibits include a working model of the Liberty Bell, a replica of the state’s first bear flag, and a collection of 19th-century paintings.

These capitol grounds are in the Old Sacramento area of the city. They also have several monuments and sculptures, including the Civil War Memorial Fountain and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Guided tours of the Capitol are also available, allowing one to learn about California’s political history and the state legislature’s inner workings.

Stop by the Statehouse Eatery in the West Wing when you’re done perusing the California State Capitol Museum. History makes one hungry.

See Related: Places to Visit in Southern California & Things to Do

8. Enjoy Sunshine at William Land Park

William Land Park
Tony Webster / Flickr

Address: 3800 W Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822

William Land Regional Park, also referred to simply as Land Park, is Sacramento’s premier natural destination. It was named after William Land, who built the city’s Western Hotel in 1875 and donated the park’s land to the city in 1909.

This park has many scenic trails and beautiful landscaping features, making it a pleasant place to walk around or ride your bike. There is also a golf course in the park in addition to softball, baseball, basketball, and soccer fields.

The Rock Garden is another popular feature of the park. It is a large area filled with rocks of all sizes. Land Park is also home to the Sacramento Zoo, Funderland, and Fairytale Town.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Calabasas

9. Respect the Past at Maidu Museum and Historic Park

Maidu Museum interior
Maidu Museum / Roseville.ca.us

Address: 1970 Johnson Ranch Dr, Roseville, CA 95661

Just a half-hour outside of Sacramento in Roseville, the Maidu Museum and Historic Park is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the area’s native Maidu people. It’s located where the Nisenan Maidu people lived for thousands of years.

The Maidu people are a native Californian tribe from the Central Valley region divided into several smaller groups, each with a distinct culture and language. Maidu people were known for their hunting and gathering skills, as well as their basket-weaving abilities.

This National Historic Landmark museum has a variety of exhibits that focus on different aspects of Maidu life. These include acorn processing, how the Maidu lived with the land and their tribal traditions.

Besides the museum’s entrance fee, you can also meander the site’s walking trail, home to ancient petroglyphs, native flora and fauna, and bedrock mortars. Access to the trail is free to the public.

See Related: Things to Do in Roseville

10. Play at the Sacramento Children’s Museum

Sacramento Children’s Museum light exhibit
Sacramento Children’s Museum / Facebook

Address: 2701 Prospect Park Dr, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

The Sacramento Children’s Museum in neighboring Rancho Cordova is a great place to take your kids. At just 20 minutes outside of Sacramento, this museum is an easy jaunt for a fun-filled day for the whole family.

Opened in 2011, the museum contains interactive exhibits that teach kids about science, art, and history. It also has a playground where kids can run around and have fun. In addition to its exhibits, the museum hosts family-friendly events like story time.

These hands-on exhibits, like CityWays and Camp Rancho, are primarily designed for children up to age eight and their parents. The museum also has a café and a gift shop. It is the only museum specifically for children in Sacramento.

If you’d like to stay nearby, we highly recommend a stay at the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova. With a kiddo-friendly pool, lounge areas for the parents, and an on-site Italian restaurant and bar, this hotel offers access to the museum as well as nearby Sacramento.

See Related: 14 Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Kids

11. Get Creative at the Museum of Science and Curiosity

Museum of Science and Curiosity exhibit
Museum of Science and Curiosity / Facebook

Address: 400 Jibboom St, Sacramento, CA 95811

Unlike other Sacramento museums focused on the area’s history, the Museum of Science and Curiosity (MOSAC) is dedicated to promoting creativity. MOSAC’s interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and events are appropriate for all ages, from the youngest learners to the oldest. Your only limitation is your imagination.

Home to over 100 exhibits, MOSAC covers topics like Energy, Water, Life Science, Earth Science, Space Science, and Physical Science. Its hands-on exhibits allow visitors to experience the scientific process firsthand.

The most popular part of MOSAC is definitely its planetarium. In the UC Davis Multiverse Theater, visitors can be surrounded by space, engulfed in documentary topics, or experience educational movies in a truly immersive experience.

See Related: Best Museums in San Diego

12. Enjoy the Exhibits at Verge Center for the Arts

Verge Center for the Arts Building
Verge Center for the Arts / Facebook

Address: 625 S St, Sacramento, CA 95811

The Verge Center for the Arts is a contemporary art center in the Southside Park neighborhood. It is located near the convention center and many other popular Sacramento attractions downtown.

Verge Center is dedicated to promoting contemporary art and artists in the Sacramento region, primarily art created within the last ten years over a range of mediums.

The center also offers a variety of low- and no-cost workshops for artists. In addition, the building has a printmaking facility, two gallery spaces, a classroom, and 36 artist studios.

If you are looking for a place to see some contemporary art, or if you are an artist, then the Verge Center for the Arts is worth checking out. You may also enjoy booking a mural walking tour to experience art in a more Sacramento-focused way.

See Related: Best Travel Posters: Vintage, Retro & Modern Options

13. Play Pretend at Fairytale Town

Fairytale Town, one of the most family-friendly things to do in Sacramento
Fairytale Town / fairytaletown.org

Address: 3901 Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822

Fairytale Town is a three-and-a-half-acre park located inside William Land Regional Park. It was a gift from the Junior League of Sacramento and opened in 1959. The initial inspiration was Disney World, and the city of Sacramento’s mission is to provide an affordable and family-friendly storybook world.

The park features 25 play sets and several small gardens representing a range of traditional fairy tales kiddos will love to explore. More than 230,000 guests visit Fairytale Town every year. These exhibits help promote literacy, and admission is a small fee to make it more accessible for everyone.

Fairytale Town is also home to several events throughout the year, including the Easter Eggstravaganza, Mother Goose Day, and Wizard School Week. It is a nonprofit with a mission of enriching the lives of children.

If you plan on spending much of your time at William Land Regional Park, staying nearby may be a good idea. In this case, one of the closest hotels is The Westin Sacramento. This family-friendly hotel has a heated outdoor pool, spa amenities, and an on-site restaurant.

See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

14. Have a Sweet Time at the Jelly Belly Visitor Center and Museum

Jelly Belly Museum entrance
Jelly Belly / jellybelly.com

Address: One Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, CA 94533

Looking for a sweet day trip from Sacramento? Jelly Belly has you covered.

The Jelly Belly Visitor Center is a fun place where you can learn everything there is to know about the making of Jelly Belly jelly beans. From the self-guided factory tour to visiting the museum, tasting your way through the café, or indulging in the Chocolate and Wine experience, there’s a lot to cover.

After all, a journey through the Jelly Belly Museum brings you back to 1869, when the sugary adventure began. This interactive museum was built to be enjoyable for all ages, so kids should enjoy this experience just as much as any sweet-toothed adult.

More than 500,000 visitors learn about America’s favorite jelly bean right here every year.

See Related: 18 Things to Do in Fairfield

15. Take to the Skies at the Aerospace Museum of California

Interior of the Aerospace Museum of California
ZikG / Shutterstock

Address: 3200 Freedom Park Dr, McClellan Park, CA 95652

The Aerospace Museum of California is located in neighboring McClellan Park, just half an hour down Interstate 80 from Sacramento. Dedicated to the history and preservation of both aircraft and spacecraft, the Aerospace Museum houses dozens of historic vehicles.

Some exhibits include the history of the Wright brothers, the Apollo program, and the Space Shuttle. You also have the chance to see both a US Navy Blue Angels fighter jet and an F-14 Tomcat, a la Top Gun.

Founded on the former site of McClellan Air Force Base, this four-acre museum showcases the macro experiences surrounding this aircraft down to the micro, like how their engines work. While it’s probably more interesting for aviation fans, even folks who just dabble in aviation history can have just as much fun.

See Related: Best Alternatives to Flying to Know

16. Go for a Walk through Discovery Park

A bike path in the Discovery park
JohnMichael / AdobeStock

Address: 1600 Garden Hwy, Sacramento, CA 95833

A 275-acre park that converges where the American River and Sacramento River join together, Discovery Park is an oasis amongst the hectic city life.

Throughout the park, you’ll uncover 23 miles of trails and ample space for fishing, canoeing, and other non-motorized water sports. Not to mention the various landscapes, including bluffs, streams, and open meadows to admire.

From time to time, tens of thousands of concertgoers gather for live performances in Discovery Park. These events have general admission tickets, though if you’re a big fan, there are frequent VIP options to get you closer to the action.

This park is also part of the 32-mile American River Parkway, which winds through the city. If you’re looking to see the city through a natural lens, it doesn’t get much better than this American River trail, which encompasses so much of Sacramento.

17. Thank a Farmer at the California Agriculture Museum

California Agriculture Museum
Larry D / TripAdvisor

Address: 1958 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA 95776

Just west of Sacramento International Airport, along the I-5, in nearby Woodland, the California Agriculture Museum commemorates the history of agriculture. It has one of the country’s most unique collections of tractors and farming artifacts dating back to the 1930s.

The museum, founded in 1995, has over 45,000 square feet of exhibits. On-site guides will also teach visitors about wagons, harvesters, and tractors. The museum’s 100-plus tractors tell the story of the state from the California Gold Rush onward.

Some permanent exhibits include California Agriculture Feeds the World in the 1800s, Early Barns and Livestock, and Kid’s Corner, where children can enjoy equipment-inspired playsets. (Don’t forget that kids five and under get into the museum for free!)

If you want to maintain that countryside serenity during your Sacramento vacation, we suggest staying at the Freeport Wine Country Inn. Enjoy cozy amenities, the on-site restaurant and bar, live music, and the peace of California Wine Country. Perhaps sample an array of local wines — to appreciate Californian agriculture, of course.

See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit

18. Be Inspired by the State Capitol Park World Peace Rose Garden

State Capitol Park World Peace Rose Garden Roses
Frank Schulenburg / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 1317 15th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

The World Peace Rose Garden is located in the State Capitol Park and is one of the ten total World Peace Rose Gardens worldwide. State Capitol Park’s garden features over 3,000 rose bushes that span more than 150 types of roses. This garden is open to the public from May through October and is a popular spot for weddings and other special events.

The World Peace Rose Garden was established in 1988 by the California legislature to commemorate the United Nations International Year of Peace. It sits on a small lot and is designed in a Victorian garden style. It has a small courtyard, a fountain, and a Peace Pavilion.

Throughout the garden are 44 engraved plaques with messages from young people worldwide. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset for peaceful perusal.

See Related: Beautiful Gardens in Europe to Visit

19. Catch a Show at B Street Theatre

The Sofia, Home of B Street Theatre
B Street Theatre / Facebook

Address: 2700 Capitol Ave, Sacramento, CA 95816

Founded by actor Timothy Busfield in 1986 as Theatre for Children Inc., B Street Theatre has been bringing the performing arts to the Sacramento community for decades. You may remember Busfield for roles such as Mark from Field of Dreams, Danny Concannon in The West Wing, or his dozens of other acting or directing roles.

Millions of Californian children have witnessed the shows by B Street Theatre School Tour, which produces twelve shows a week for 38 weeks of the year. B Street also produces several shows yearly in their home, The Sofia.

Over the years, the B Street Theatre has been named the Best Live Theatre in Sacramento and regularly performs for tens of thousands of patrons yearly.

Keep an eye on their performance calendar to see if your trip to Sacramento overlaps with one of their acclaimed performances. If you want another creative outlet for your trip, be sure to sign up for a city-wide scavenger hunt.

See Related: Things to Do in Palm Springs

20. Enjoy the Decor at Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

Le Land Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
babyoscar530 / TripAdvisor

Address: 800 N St, Sacramento, CA 95814

This state historic park is more commonly known as the Leland Stanford Mansion. It’s regularly a reception space for welcoming world leaders and dignitaries.

Built in 1856 by California Gold Rush merchant Sheldon Fogus, this stunning 19,000-square-foot mansion has been a state park since 1978. Following Fogus’ ownership, it became known as Stanford Mansion because California Governor Leland Stanford purchased it for his family.

If the name Stanford sounds familiar to you, it should. Stanford also founded Stanford University and served as a United States senator.

Throughout this former home, you’ll see some of the Stanfords’ home furnishings, historical paintings, carved moldings, and Victorian-era fixtures. Elsewhere on the property, there are also 19th-century-style gardens for you to wander.

21. Rock Out at Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 523 Mrak Hall Dr, Davis, CA 95616

Just a short drive from Sacramento, The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts is part of the University of California Davis’s campus. It was a $53.5 million undertaking funded in 2001 by the winemaking Mondavi family.

This center has three venues: a 1,800-seat concert hall, a 500-seat experimental theater, and an outdoor amphitheater. The Mondavi Center is known for its acoustics and has hosted many world-renowned performers, including Yo-Yo Ma and Andrea Bocelli.

In addition to hosting performances, the Mondavi Center is home to the UC Davis Department of Music and the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra. This performing arts center is a vital part of UC Davis’s commitment to the arts which provides students as well as community members with a place to experience the power of music.

Staying nearby after a late-night concert is easy enough, with the Hyatt Place UC Davis just a few minutes away. A moderately-priced accommodation that fits the whole family, the Hyatt Place has a pool, on-site restaurant, and bar and is pet-friendly.

See Related: 20 Things to Do in The Bay Area

22. Sway to the Sounds of the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra

Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra Members
Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra Alumni Association / Facebook

Address: 4025 Bridge St, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

The Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra provides a creative outlet for 150-plus singers and 55 professional musicians from seven counties. Together, they perform a wide variety of choral music and promote an appreciation of this art form.

In addition to their member artists, the society frequently partners with several other regional arts organizations. This includes the Sacramento Symphony, Folsom Lake Symphony, Capital Stage Company, the Sacramento Children’s Chorus, and other local choral groups.

What makes the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra unique from the 12,000 other community choirs around the country is its relation to its musicians. This chorus is the only one with a collective bargaining agreement with its professional orchestra.

See Related: 35 Inspiring Songs About Traveling for Your Next Trip

23. Stuff Your Face at Sunflower Drive-In

Sunflower Drive-In meal on table
Sunflower Drive-In / Sunflower Drive-In

Address: 10344 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Sunflower Drive-In takes the midcentury notion of drive-in experiences and turns it veggie-friendly. Serving vegan and vegetarian Mediterranean meals, Sunflower prides itself on its in-home products, including soups and salad dressings.

Try their meatless burgers if you’re craving a more traditional drive-in meal. With a range of burger options, you’re bound to find something for even the most carnivorous palate.

Established in 1978, it’s been a community favorite for decades. You can find this foodie haven in the nearby Fair Oaks, and it’s open in the late morning and early afternoon. If you want more food exploration, we recommend a Sacramento food and art tour.

See Related: Food Tips Travel Guide

24. Spend Time at the Sacramento History Museum

Front of the Sacramento History Museum
Sacramento History Museum / Facebook

Address: 101 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Although the history museum isn’t in the original town hall, it is housed in a reproduction of the 1854 City Hall and Waterworks building. In addition to the city offices, this building, in its original form, also housed the fire department, city jail, and police court.

Besides experiencing this recreated piece of Sacramento’s history, you can learn about life for folks in the city throughout its history and the region. A few of their exhibits include Sacramento Through Your Lens, Century Cookbook 1894, and Ryzon Baking Book 1912.

Should you find yourself in Old Sacramento on the second Saturday of the month, you may see members of the history museum wandering the streets. This is part of the museum’s Living History program, where costumed actors recreate historical figures and moments in Sacramento’s history.

See Related: Things to Do in Malibu

25. Learn Local History at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
Ian Howard / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 2701 L St, Sacramento, CA 95816

Sacramento museums largely encompass the area’s colonial past and its ties to military frontier times and beyond. Such is the case, too, for Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park in Midtown, Sacramento.

From 1839 to 1849, Sutter’s Fort was the economic center of one of California’s first European colonial settlements for a decade. It was the first for the Central Valley. It was named for its founder, John Sutter, a Swiss immigrant who originally named his land in the area New Helvetia.

Like many other areas of European colonization in the United States, development leaned heavily on the Native people who originally called the land home. In this case, the Nisenan people were exploited in developing the fort and the areas around It.

Nonetheless, Sutter’s Fort became an essential stop for settlers heading west. It was also a haven for Native Americans and mountain men. It was the site of the Bear Flag Revolt, which led to California becoming part of the United States.

The fort changed hands several times over the years. Finally, California purchased the fort and turned it into a state park. By visiting the historic park, you will better understand how life was during the colonial period of California’s history.

See Related: Best Things to Do on the West Coast, USA

26. See the Past at Old Sacramento State Historic Park

Buildings along the road in Old Sacramento State Historic Park
Sharon Hitman / AdobeStock

Address: 111 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Housing over 50 historical buildings from the Gold Rush era, the Old Sacramento State Historic Park is like a living time capsule turned one of the state’s premier tourist attractions. One of California’s and the country’s National Historic Landmarks, the state historic park remains a place showcasing the region’s unique history.

Among the historic buildings are the 1849 Eagle Theater, the B.F. Hastings Building housed the former California Supreme Court and even a statue dedicated to the city’s place in the Pony Express.

In Old Sacramento, the state historic park actually takes up over a third of the land mass of the district. The majority of the buildings in this California historical landmark date back to the 1800s or have been recreated as they would have been in their day.

Ask yourself what this bustling business district would’ve been like in the days of the Pony Express and the beginnings of the railroad heydays. This living California museum will transport you back to the glistening (and dusty) Gold Rush days.

See Related: Most Famous Historic Landmarks in the USA

27. Ride through History at the California Automobile Museum

California Automobile Museum Exhibit
Dariusz Jemielniak / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 2200 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95818

The California Automobile Museum is a gearhead haven in Sacramento. Housing 130 vintage cars and motorcycles, this California museum is made for enthusiasts of both the four-wheeled and two-wheeled varieties.

Located in downtown Sacramento, it opened to the public under the Towe Ford Museum in 1987. At the time, it had the world’s most extensive collection of Fords. By 1997, the museum was renamed the Towe Auto Museum, and then it was renamed the California Automobile Museum again in 2009.

The first car it ever had on display was a 1938 Buick Sedan, which you can still see today. From there, its collection includes an 1886 Benz Motorwagon replica, a 1900 Locomobile Steam Car, a 1932 Ford Hot Rod Roadster, and even Marilyn Monroe’s 1951 Nash Rambler Convertible.

Beyond that, the California Automobile Museum also houses modern cars, though the vintage ones often get the most attention.

Vintage beauties are especially popular during the museum’s Sunday Drives events when vintage cars take to the streets to make their way around Sacramento in style.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Los Angeles?

28. Step Back in Time at the California State Indian Museum

Exterior of the California State Indian Museum
California State Indian Museum / Facebook

Address: 2618 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816

Since it first opened in 1940, the California State Indian Museum has set out to preserve the history and cultures of native peoples around what is now considered California. Namely, it encompasses three main focal points: Nature, Spirit, and Family.

Some items, particularly photographs, found throughout the museum can be traced back to families who have donated them. There is even a wall of photographs dedicated to the California Elders.

Among the artifacts, you will see some of the smallest traditional baskets in the world, hunting and fishing tools that date thousands of years back, as well as examples of intricate beadwork. You can also experience an exhibit focused on Ishi, believed to be the last survivor of the Yahi tribe.

Above all, the museum has to tell us how people lived on the land long before colonizers settled here. Moreover, how detrimental colonialism is to the land and the native people who inhabit it whenever it comes knocking.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in California: SoCal & NorCal Spots

29. Catch a Game at Golden 1 Center Sacramento

Golden 1 Center Sacramento Building

Address: 500 David J Stern Walk, Sacramento, CA 95814

Golden 1 Center is the home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and serves as an all-American sports and entertainment complex. It also serves as a venue for concerts and other events.

The innovatively designed center was inspired by the concept of “indoor-outdoor” venues. You can see this in the building’s exterior, which features a glass façade that allows natural light to enter. Meanwhile, the interior features an open concourse that offers views of downtown Sacramento.

Golden 1 Center is said to be one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the world. A fitting title for an arena that houses royalty!

See Related: Things to Do in Temecula

30. Search for Dinosaurs at the Sacramento Zoo

Chigüiro the Capybara at the Sacramento Zoo
Sacramento Zoo / Sacramento Zoo

Address: 701 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

When it opened in 1927, the Sacramento Zoo was lovingly called “the little zoo in the park.” Still housed in William Land, it was formerly known as the William Land Park Zoo. Now, it’s not so little, and its name reflects that!

What started as a zoo of 40 animals has blossomed over nearly a century into a place of learning that houses over 400 animals. From the big cats, aviaries, and reptiles to creatures that roam the savannahs of Africa, the zoo showcases a variety of big and small species.

You can even meander the zoo on a dinosaur safari to locate all the different kinds of dinos hanging out among the exhibits. Keep an eye out for the Quetzalcoatlus — you’ll spot him right near the entrance.

Don’t think the fun is all for the kids, either. The zoo hosts frequent after-hours, 21+ happy hour events. They are frequently held on Thursdays, so if you’re in town, check it out!

See Related: 18 Best Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site

Tours in Sacramento

1. Downtown Sacramento Historical Food Tour Top Recommendation

This 3-hour guided tour takes you on a trip through Downtown Sacramento. From the mid-1800s to present day, you’ll learn about the history of Sacramento as you savor flavors from different eateries and specialties from local vendors. The tour showcases important landmarks and hidden gems that are seldom seen by tourists.

2. Sacramento: Pedal Bar Tour with 2 Stops

Celebrate the vibrant nightlife in Sacramento and experience local bar culture at its best with this pedal pub tour. Set out from Midtown Sacramento on a moving party bike and make your way to two of the biggest bar hotspots - all while sipping on drinks you brought yourself!

3. Sacramento: Historic Gold Rush River Cruise

Sacramento is California's capital city, and is located in the northernmost part of the state. This historic city was once a bustling mining town during the Gold Rush, but today it is one of the most diverse cities in California. Imagine yourself on a relaxing cruise down the Sacramento River as you take in all of its scenery.

FAQ

What are the must-see attractions in Sacramento?

Downtown Sacramento is where you’ll find many popular things to do, including the Old Sacramento historic district. That’s particularly interesting if you’re into California history. Also, spending time along the Sacramento River and American River areas is lovely, especially during the spring months.

What are some family-friendly activities to do in Sacramento?

Some popular things to do with the whole family in Sacramento include visiting the Sacramento Zoo, visiting the state capitol, and taking a riverboat cruise. Sacramento also has several museums, including the Crocker Art Museum and the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Families can enjoy the city’s many parks, such as William Land Park and Fairytale Town.

What is the best time of year to visit Sacramento?

Spring and autumn months will be the nicest times to visit Sacramento. The weather will be the mildest and driest, so you can enjoy the various outdoor areas of the different California museum campuses with their outdoor experiences and explore Sacramento to its fullest.

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