Sacramento is the state capital of California in the United States. With a population of 525,000 (2020), the city serves as the regional center for the Greater Sacramento metropolitan area, which dominates much of the surrounding Sacramento Valley and stretches into parts of Gold Country.
Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California, settled between the confluences of the Sacramento and American rivers. The city has been the site of many important historic events that have shaped California and U.S. history, most notably the California Gold Rush and location of the original terminus of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Much of this historical legacy has been preserved, especially in the historic Old Sacramento district, where buildings and railroads from that era continue to attract visitors.
However, Sacramento is not a city that is stuck in the past. As the capital of the most populous U.S. state and the country's largest economy, it has emerged as a major metropolitan area since the turn of the millennium. What was once considered a "cow town" surrounded by sleepy suburbs and farmland is transforming into a political and educational hub buzzing with policymakers and institutions from the political, economic, and healthcare sectors. While often overshadowed by the metropolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco, Sacramento has developed its fair share of attractions, shopping and dining options, and nightlife, with a more relaxed pace of life than the other major urban centers of the state.
Sacramento is known among locals as the "City of Trees", and it has a higher density of shade trees than any other major city of the U.S., so walking the city streets sometimes feels like walking through a park. A short drive from the city into the surrounding areas also provides opportunities to experience places of natural beauty such as Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Sacramento is located in the southern Sacramento Valley, the northern half of the vast 450-mile (720 km) long California Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural areas. While the Central Valley is mostly rural, Sacramento and its urban area seemingly arise abruptly from the surrounding farmland, a sight that is particularly notable to those driving from the west on Interstate 80 or from the south on Interstate 5 or Highway 99. Once considered a typical Central Valley backwater with the distinction of hosting the state capitol, Sacramento's growth has skyrocketed since the late 20th century due increased investment from both local and state governments to bring related jobs to the city, which in turn has attracted think tanks and other research-related sectors such as healthcare and food science.
The city has a population of about 520,000 as of the 2020 U.S. census and almost 2.7 million in the metropolitan area. Besides Sacramento County, the metropolitan area also includes the counties of Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, Sutter, Yuba, and Nevada.
The pace of life is somewhat slower than in other large Californian cities, and the people are generally warm and friendly. According to Time magazine, Sacramento is the most diverse city in the USA. The city used to be an affordable place, but it suffered from the San Francisco Bay Area's dot com rise and fall, and real estate went from undervalued to overvalued. The market is correcting itself, so property values in most neighborhoods have leveled off while others are dropping to more reasonable valuations.
Sacramento was founded in 1839 as New Helvetia (Nueva Helvetia in Spanish) by Swiss pioneer John Sutter, having been granted permission by the Mexican government to develop a rancho settlement to bring European settlement to the Sacramento Valley area. The settlement eventually developed into Sutter's Fort, a key agricultural and trading post for settlers arriving in California after crossing the Sierra Nevada. It remained a farming community until 1848, when gold was discovered in nearby Coloma. This discovery caused Sacramento to experience explosive growth as a boomtown.
With the California Gold Rush bringing in waves of migrants into the city on a seemingly daily basis, the original portion of the city (present-day Old Sacramento) popped up along the shores of the Sacramento and American Rivers. The city became the first incorporated community in the state when a city charter was enacted in 1849, with the town taking on its current name. Devastating floods in 1850, 1852, and 1862 wiped out much of the city. Stronger levees were constructed and the town was raised 15 feet (4.57 meters) to prevent further damage. Remnants of the original ground level of Sacramento can still be accessed via underground tunnels in the old city today.
In 1854, the California State Capitol was moved to Sacramento after brief stints in San Jose, Vallejo, and Benicia. After the catastrophic 1862 flood, it was moved to San Francisco, then the largest city and financial hub for not only California, but the entire West Coast. Nevertheless, a state constitutional convention in 1879 permanently designated Sacramento once again as the state capital.
With its status as state capital solidified, Sacramento continued to grow quickly as gold gave way to agriculture and trade as the state's economic engine. Sacramento's strategic location between the port of San Francisco and Sierra Nevada mountains, where pioneers from the east arrived in California, led to the city being host to national communications and infrastructure projects. The city served as the western terminus for the Pony Express and in 1869, the western terminus of the First Transcontinental Railroad.
The city was a major center of food processing throughout much of the late 19th and 20th centuries, with crops and other products being conveniently brought in from nearby farms. With the rise of the technology industry in the nearby Bay Area in the 1990s, Sacramento and its western suburbs in Yolo County became popular (and much cheaper) locations for a handful of professionals to buy homes. The arrival of these "super-commuters" foreshadowed the abrupt growth that the city and its metropolitan area would experience shortly after.
The California state government's consolidation of offices to be as close to the capital and local city government's efforts to bring in federal agencies led to the first wave of growth as civil servants and their families arrived. Government continues to be largest employment sector, but education, healthcare, and research have also become attracted to the city, as are businesses interested in setting up in California but away from the astronomical prices found in the state's other major cities. Tourism has also started to become a major sector, capitalizing on the city's rich history and central location in scenic Northern California.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Sacramento has a Mediterranean-type climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Being further inland than most of the other major California cities, Sacramento is subject to more temperature variation. Winter high temperatures are commonly in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit (10–20 °C), and at night the temperature drops below freezing every so often. The summer heat can be intense, with temperatures exceeding 100 °F (37.7 °C) not unusual. Generally speaking, the warmer it gets, the drier it gets, so even the most intense Sacramento heat is easily alleviated by a quick dip in the swimming pool.
Sacramento's hot, dry summers are mitigated by a phenomenon locals call "the delta breeze." Heat waves rarely last more than three to five days, because as hot air builds over California's interior valleys, cold ocean air is sucked inland through the Sacramento river delta, acting as natural air conditioning and dropping the temperature sharply. The delta breeze tends to hit the westernmost areas of Sacramento late in the afternoon and travel east–northeast at ten to fifteen miles per hour, so the hour at which your neighborhood cools depends on your proximity to the river delta or how far west or south you reside.
Most rain falls from around fall to mid-spring and occasionally early summer. Generally speaking, however, you can count on dry and sunny days from the middle of April until at least the middle of October. Winter is known not only for its rain but also for its dense fog, which can hamper driving conditions and reduce visibility to 100 feet (30 m) at times. Snow is rare, but once every 5 to 10 years a light dusting occurs, and some light accumulation away from the city. In the foothills not far east of the city, snow is much more common, and the Tahoe-area ski resorts are within easy reach of the Sacramento metropolitan area. Sacramento's location in the heart of California's agricultural interior gives it a blossom-laden spring as a profusion of fruit trees bloom and flowers fill the grassland. It also experiences a "foliage fall": autumn color without the severe weather that accompanies brilliant color in other parts of the nation.
Severe weather is rare in Sacramento, with the primary concern being heat in summer and local flooding in winter. Occasional summer thunderstorms and even tornadoes can occur, but they are extremely rare. Sacramento is not in a known earthquake zone.
Smoking is prohibited by state law at all restaurants and bars, most workplaces (workplaces with five or fewer employees are exempt from the ban as long as all workers consent), and all public buildings. It's also banned within 20 feet (6 m) of any entrance, window, or exit to a public place.
The Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau offer maps, brochures and other information.
- 1 Visitor Center, 1002 2nd St, ☏ +1 916-442-7644. Daily 10AM-5PM.
- 2 Main Office, 1608 I St, toll-free: +1-800-292-2334. M-F 8AM-5PM.
- 1 Sacramento International Airport (SMF IATA). is the main airport for Sacramento, located 10.5 mi (16.8 km or 15 minutes) northwest of downtown along Interstate 5 at the Airport Boulevard exit (Exit #528). Non-stop air service is available from Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, and all regions of the United States including intrastate flights from all major airports in Southern California.
Nonstop flights are available with:
- Terminal A: Air Canada Express, American/American Eagle, Delta/Delta Connection, JetBlue & United/United Express.
- Terminal B: Aeromexico, Alaska/Horizon Air, Boutique, Contour, Frontier, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country, & Volaris.
Taxis from the airport to downtown are estimated at $34 one-way. Bus service to downtown (from Yolobus) runs hourly from 5:30AM to 10:20PM weekdays and 8:20AM to 10:20PM weekends. The fare is $2.25 and the buses do not make change. 42A runs clockwise and 42B runs counterclockwise. Be sure to get on the correct bus: 42A goes to Sacramento, 42B comes from Sacramento and goes to Davis via Woodland.In August 2021, SacRT introduced express service to the airport with Route 142 providing service every 30 minutes to and from Downtown Sacramento.
For international flights, you may be better off flying into or connecting from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). From there, take the BART subway to Oakland and then Greyhound, Amtrak or Flixbus to Sacramento.
Amtrak runs two long-distance trains and two regional trains through Sacramento. 2 Sacramento Valley Station is located at 401 I St, within walking distance from downtown and several hotels, and is the busiest train station west of the Mississippi River. Transit connections from the station include light rail (the Gold Line, running through downtown), local buses, and taxis. Train passengers can get a free transfer to the light rail - consult the ticket collector on the train for details.
- The Coast Starlight runs daily from Seattle and Portland through Sacramento to San Francisco (via Emeryville), Oakland, San Jose, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.
- The California Zephyr runs daily from San Francisco (via Emeryville) through Sacramento to Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, and Chicago.
- The Capitol Corridor is a regional train that runs multiple times a day from the Bay Area to Sacramento making major stops in Martinez, Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, Fremont, and San Jose.
- The San Joaquins is a regional train that runs from Sacramento south into the San Joaquin Valley making major stops in Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield.
Sacramento is conveniently located at the intersection of Interstate 5 (a north-south route) and Interstate 80 (an east-west route). It is also located at the western terminus of U.S. Route 50.
- From the San Francisco Bay Area, take Interstate 80 east. (2 hours from San Francisco and 30 minutes by plane from SFO)
- From Reno and North Lake Tahoe, take Interstate 80 west. (2 hours from Reno)
- From South Lake Tahoe, take U.S. Route 50 west. (2 hours)
- From Redding and the Pacific Northwest, take Interstate 5 south. (2 hours 30 minutes from Redding & 4 hours 30 minutes from the Oregon/California border)
- From the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, take Interstate 5 or State Route 99 north. (about 6 hours from downtown Los Angeles and 1 hour 15 minutes by plane)
3 Mundo Americano Travel at 5385 S Franklin Blvd Suite E serves as a ticket agent for several hispanic intercity bus companies bound for Mexico via San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles and San Ysidro. The buses are in the 4 Autozone Parking lot next to 1 Jimboy's Tacos and 1 AutoZone at Franklin Blvd & Fruitridge Rd with the following:
- Autobus Coordinados de Nayrit (ACN), Mundo Americano Travel at 5385 Franklin Blvd, ☏ +521 664 299-0487. Connects from their own bus station in Tijuana & from the Tijuana airport to Sacramento through San Ysidro, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Delano,Goshen, Fresno, Madera, Stockton, Lodi. Passengers transfer in Tijuana to continue further south into Mexico.
- Rapid Connections LLC, (bus stop) Autozone Parking Lot @ 5385 Franklin Blvd (Franklin & Fruitridge Rd, next to Jimboy's Tacos), ☏ +1 559 442-3000. Buses from Tijuana via Lodi, Madera, Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, San Fernando, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Ysidro and several other places along SR-99/I-5.
- Tres Estrellas de Oro (TEO), Mundo Americano Travel at 5385 Franklin Blvd, ☏ +1 559 474-9545.
- Tufesa, (bus stop) Autozone Parking Lot @ 5385 Franklin Blvd (Franklin & Fruitridge Rd, next to Jimboy's Tacos), ☏ +1 213 489-8079. Buses from Los Angeles (via Bakersfield, Fresno, etc., along SR-99 corridor). Some buses start from San Ysidro and Tijuana.
The following are located in different locations around town:
- 5 FlixBus, (bus stop) Midtown Sac on 29th & K St (Bus will board on the underpass Bus Loading Zone curbside on K St, between 29th St and 30th St.). Buses from the SF Bay Area & Reno along the I-80 corridor and towards Stockton and Southern California along the I-5 corridor. Bus will board on the underpass Bus Loading Zone curbside on K St, between 29th St and 30th St. The other stop is at Baker & Hamilton on 961 2nd St. Check tickets.
- 6 Greyhound Lines, (bus station) 420 Richards Blvd (SE of the intersection of Richards Blvd & Sequoia Pacific Blvd, NW of downtown, Green Line light rail terminates here), ☏ +1 916 444-5655, toll-free: +1-800-231-2222. Greyhound travels primarily on Interstate 5 (Portland-Sacramento & Los Angeles-Sacramento on two routes. Some buses run contiguously between Seattle and Los Angeles); 80 (San Francisco-Reno-Salt Lake City); & CA-99 (Sacramento-Fresno-Bakersfield-Los Angeles) Passengers transfer to other buses in San Francisco, Reno, Bakersfield, Oakland, Merced, Fresno and/or Los Angeles to get to other cities & towns.
- 7 Hoang Express, (bus stop) Huoang Lan Sandwich @ 6930 65th St, Suite #109 (east side of Shun Fat (SF) Supermarket, 65th St & Stockton Blvd), ☏ +1 408 729-7885, toll-free: +1-888-834-9336. Buses from SoCal (San Diego, El Monte, Los Angeles, Westminster) $80 from Southern California.
The following operate as public transportation with commuter and/or local routes into Sacramento from surrounding cities in adjacent counties:
- FAST Transit. Regional bus service from Solano County: Dixon, Vacaville and Fairfield, including Richmond and Pleasant Hill BART.
- Yolobus. Operates commuter & express buses to downtown Sacramento, the airport, Cache Creek Casino and the airport from Davis, West Sacramento & Woodland in neighboring Yolo County to the west. They also operate local buses in Yolo County, western part of Sacramento County and the northeastern part of Solano County.
Many nearby cities provide service to Downtown Sacramento, but it's largely limited to weekday rush hours.
Sacramento is fairly easy to navigate due to the numbered and lettered streets, especially in the central district which is laid out in a grid. Numbered streets run north and south while lettered streets run east and west. South of the city center (bounded by Broadway, Front Street, and Alhambra Boulevard), the streets are named "Avenue" when the lettered streets run out.
Historic Old Sacramento, the Riverfront, and the California State Railroad Museum are all within an easy 5-minute walk of the train station. The Capitol building is a pleasant 15-minute walk from Old Sacramento. Sacramento has been called the tree city, due to the density of street trees present. This makes for a pleasant walk anyone in Central Sacramento.
The wide, flat, tree-lined streets make cycling a relaxing way to get around Downtown and Midtown Sacramento. Most streets in the grid have bike lanes, and bike routes through the city are clearly marked. Traveling by bike also means avoiding expensive and hard-to-find parking. Additionally, the region is connected with the American River Bike Trail, one of the gems of outdoor recreation for the city. For more information about bike infrastructure and advocacy in Sacramento, check out the SABA website.
While many bike rental options exist in the city, the region officially supports private bike share rentals by Lime bike. Usage is as easy as downloading the app and locating the nearest bike.
For nearly all other getting around, you will want a car.
Sacramento Regional Transit is the major provider of transit service in Sacramento with connections to other inter-urban buses and the surrounding area.
- Light rail - there are three lines (Gold, Blue, Green) which share tracks through downtown. Buy a ticket before boarding. Remember to press the button to open the train door, they do not open automatically. The lines radiate out of downtown to Folsom, Elk Grove and Watt/I-80.
- Buses - Buses serve the City of Sacramento, but generally get weaker the further you are from downtown.
Many other regional agencies provide rapid or express service to downtown, but check the schedule as they are mostly limited to rush hour.
Sacramento has about 500 taxis and a taxi meter fare system regulated by the City of Sacramento. The standard taxi fare in Sacramento is $4.00 flag drop, $3.00 each additional mile, and $28.00 per hour of waiting time. Sacramento has 5 major taxi companies: Sacramento Taxi Yellow Cab, Kmm Cab, orange cab, Sitoa, Yellow Cab Sacramento. Taxis are waiting at the train station, hotels and major attractions. It's decently easy to hail a cab downtown, but for all other locations, you'll want to call in advance.
- 1 California State Capitol, 10th and L Streets, ☏ +1 916 324-0333. M–F 8AM–5PM, Sa Su 9AM–5PM. The California State Capitol Museum includes the historical state capitol building and the surrounding 16 square city blocks, known as Capitol Park. Inside, tours of the capitol, its legislative chambers, and its restored historic offices are available daily. Outside, the public is free to visit the many gardens, memorials, and monuments located throughout the 40-acre park's grounds. You can get a view up to the Capitol from the Tower Bridge at the southern end of Old Sacramento. Despite what the official website says, as of 2017 it is possible to enter the building carrying large bags (they must go through airport-style security though). Free.
- 2 Sutter's Fort, 2701 L St, ☏ +1 916 445-4422. Tu–Su 10AM–5PM. Sutter's Fort State Historic Park is the oldest restored fort in the United States. Built by John Sutter in 1840s, the fort now hosts a collection of pioneer and early California artifacts. Self-guided audio tours are available. Adults: $5. Youth: $3. Children 5 & under: free.
- 3 State Indian Museum, 2618 K St (next to Sutter's Fort), ☏ +1 916 324-0971. 10AM–5PM. Contains displays of Native Californian basketry, beadwork, clothing and exhibits about the ongoing traditions of various California Indian tribes. Adults $3, youth $2, children 5 & under free.
- 4 Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St (an easy 20-minute walk west from the Capitol building or 15-minute walk south from Old Sacramento), ☏ +1 916 808-7000, [email protected]. W–Su 10AM–5PM, Th 10AM–9PM. The oldest continuously operating museum in the West, home to a premier collection of California art. $15.
- 5 Cesar Chavez Park. Formerly known as Plaza Park, Cesar Chavez Park is a scenic park in the middle of downtown Sacramento that adjoins historic City Hall, the Public Library and Sacramento's Citizen Hotel. Great place to take photos of the Sacramento skyline. During the summer on Fridays, it is used as an outdoor concert venue known as Concerts in the Park.
- 6 Sacramento Zoo. A mid-size zoo located in William Land Park. A combination ticket with Fairy Tale Town makes for a fun day for families with young children.
- 7 California Museum, 1020 O St, ☏ +1 916 653-7524. Tu–Sa 10AM–5PM, Su noon–5PM. Museum dedicated to California's cultural heritage with a walk of fame and numerous rotating exhibits. $10, Students/seniors/children $8, 5 and under free.
- 8 Leland Stanford Mansion, 800 N St. 19,000 sq. ft. Victorian mansion built in 1856 that is now a California State Park. Over California's history, the mansion had been central to government operations in the state.
- 9 California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front St, ☏ +1 916 442 6802. W–M 10AM–5PM. Unique museum focused on the automobile and its legacy in California. Includes many classic cars and rotating exhibits. Adults $10, Senior/Military/Student $9, Youths $5, Under age 6 Free.
Once the original, thriving riverfront pioneer town, Old Sacramento is now primarily a living historic district and tourist destination. The boardwalk style sidewalks and horse-drawn stagecoaches give this small section of town a unique Western flavor. Old Sacramento contains several museums, restaurants, and the usual assortment of souvenir shops and ice cream parlors, all within walking distance of each other. Attractions in the Old Town area also include the Delta King Riverboat, a working hotel with restaurant. The California State Railroad Museum's Sacramento Southern Railroad is a private line extension providing riverside rides on a steam locomotive that departs from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot, carriage rides as well as annual city event and functions. Best of all, it's a five-minute walk from the Amtrak station. It's best visited in the morning and early evenings, especially during the hot summers. Parking can be scarce, so be sure to utilize the reasonably priced parking structures in the K Street Mall. There's a nice, short, safe walkway between K Street Mall and Old Sacramento.
For fine dining, the Firehouse Restaurant is an old and well-established city favorite known for its food and ambiance. Also of note is the Pilothouse Restaurant aboard the Delta King Riverboat with its grand staircase, river views and fine food. A newer selection for fine dining is Ten22. Locally owned Frank Fat's Fat City Bar & Cafe is one several eateries in the mid- to high-end pricing, but a family can also find the Round Table Pizza buffet with salad bar for an affordable price while visiting. Locals and tourist enjoy Fanny Ann's Saloon and restaurant for the rustic interior with mid-range pricing.
- 10 California State Railroad Museum, 111 I Street, ☏ +1 916 323-9280. A huge museum of railroad history with a large collection of old yet well-preserved trains and equipment. If possible, take Amtrak to the Sacramento station to get into a trainy mood for it. The museum also features a large majestic model train layout on the 3rd floor in 3-rail O-scale. $12 adults, $6 ages 6–17, 5 and under free.
- 11 Steam train rides, Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot (just south of the Railroad Museum). Hourly, on weekends April through September. Operated by the Railroad Museum, these 40-minute excursions are pulled by a historic steam locomotive along the nearby river levees. $8 adults, $3 ages 6–17, 5 and under free.
- 12 Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St, ☏ +1 916 808-7059. 10AM–5PM. The Sacramento History Museum explores the region's history from the days before the Gold Rush to the present throughout the museum's two stories of interactive galleries. The museum also offers the perfect starting point for exploring the Old Sacramento State Historic Park! $8/adult, $5/child, 5 and under free.
- 13 B. F. Hastings Building (Pony Express Terminus), 1006 2nd St. Was the western endpoint of the Pony Express. The building is a National Historic Landmark and now contains the visitor center and a Wells Fargo Museum.
- 14 Visitor Center, 1002 2nd St, ☏ +1 916-808-7644. Great starting point for excursions throughout the Sacramento region. free.
- 15 Wells Fargo History Museum, 1000 2nd St, ☏ +1 916-440-4263. 10AM-5PM. Explore the technology of the late 1800s that shrank the world and propelled Wells Fargo into the legendary company it is today. free.
- 16 River City Saloon, 916 2nd St, ☏ +1 916-443-6852. 11:30AM-2AM, 21 and over after 9PM. The "last old west saloon" has sarsaparilla for $0.25 for the first glass brewed by River City Brewing Co exclusively for River City Saloon. They also have deli style sandwiches, free wifi and free peanuts whose shells can be thrown on the floor.
- 1 Certified Farmers' Market, ☏ +1 916-688-0100. The bounty of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley can be found at various certified farmers' markets throughout the metropolitan region. Each venue is unique, with some selling dairy, meat, and seafood in addition to produce, crafts, and artisan items.
- Second Saturdays Art Walk (monthly). Art galleries in midtown Sacramento open on the second Saturday of each month from 6PM to 9PM Garage parking is available for $2 on 17th Street between Capitol and L Street, and local restaurants stay open a little late for the art walk crowd.
- Concerts in the Park (weekly, May through August). Each summer, a free outdoor concert is held on Friday nights from 5PM to 9PM at Cesar Chavez Park, located at 10th and J Streets.
- Sacramento Jazz Festival & Jubilee (late May). An annual affair over the Memorial Day weekend. Bands come from all over the world to play this gig. You can hear everything from Billie Holiday to Scott Joplin to Paco Gatsby in venues set up throughout Sacramento. Venues are concentrated in Old Sacramento and in hotels near the Convention Center.
- River rafting. late May through September. In the heat of the summer, self-guided raft trips along the Lower American River are popular (this is leisurely floating, not whitewater rapids). Inflatable rafts can be rented from companies along Sunrise Boulevard and floated down to River Bend Park, a 6-mile trip that takes 3 to 4 hours depending on river flows. Shuttle service is available to return rafters to the start point. Rafts sizes vary from 4 to 12 person, and rental fees range from $50 to $150. State law prohibits alcoholic drinks on the river during the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.
- Sacramento Pride Festival and Parade (June). First celebrated in 1984 as the Sacramento Freedom Fair, Sacramento Pride Festival and Parade has become an annual LGBT Pride Month tradition, attracting nearly 10,000 visitors from throughout Northern and Central California.
- 2 California State Fair (mid-July through early August). The Cal Expo fairgrounds come alive every summer as the State Fair becomes a "city within a city" that hosts nearly one million visitors. Folks come from near and far for the memorable delights of this extravaganza that began in 1854. It includes exciting exhibits, amazing attractions, live entertainment, and the Magnificent Midway.
- Sacramento Gold Rush Days (early September). Every Labor Day weekend, Sacramento trucks dirt into its historic Old Sacramento area in downtown, where the stuff is unloaded onto the streets, the first step in setting the scene for this annual event. Music, food, and stories accompany shows and reenactments of life in the Old West for days of fun.
- Sacramento Kings NBA basketball. October through April. The Kings are the local basketball team, and they have been growing steadily in popularity. If you're able to obtain tickets to a Kings game, the experience will be a memorable one, as Golden 1 Center, where the Kings play, is widely known to be one of the loudest NBA venues in the country.
- American River Bike Trail. Officially known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, the American River Bike Trail is a world-class bike path between Sacramento and Folsom, California. Beginning at Discovery Park in Sacramento, the trail is a 32-mile (51 km) stretch of automobile-free pavement running along lush parkland beside the Sacramento River, past Lake Natoma and ending at Folsom Lake. Plenty of picnic-spotted parks offer water and shade, convenient parking, and you may spot the occasional deer or wild turkey. The trip from Folsom to Sacramento is slightly downhill, making the return trip fairly easy. If riding after dusk, be alert in the area of the bridges near downtown. There are walkers and joggers all along the trail so it's bad manners to ride too fast.
- 3 Fairytale Town. ,
- 4 Funderland Amusement Park. ,
- 5 Scandia.
- Sacramento River Cats, 400 Ballpark Dr, ☏ +1 916-376-4700. The local Triple-A West minor league baseball team plays at 6 Sutter Health Park (formerly Raley Field). From $13 to $73.
- Underground Tours, 101 I St. Apr-Dec. Historical tour that takes you underground to see and learn how Sacramento lifted itself up out of the flood waters during the 1860s and 1870s. Tours leave from the Sacramento History Museum and no photography is allowed underground. $15/adult, $10/child, 5 and under free.
- 7 Southside Park, 2115 6th St. Park with inclusive playground. Separate areas for babies, young children, and older children offer playground equipment for climbing, spinning, swinging, and rocking. Wheelchair access with ramps and handrails. Picnic areas, restrooms, swimming pool, lake with fishing piers, and tennis courts nearby. Fence along street. Free.
- 3 California State University (CSUS), 6000 J Street. This is a major, four-year public university in the Sacramento area with 28,000 students.
- 4 University of California, Davis (UCD), One Shields Avenue, Davis. The nearest University of California campus to Sacramento. It is located 16 miles (23 km) west of Sacramento with a satellite campus (UC Davis Extension) in midtown Sacramento.
- Los Rios Community College District is the regions major two-year public college system enrolling 73,000 students with four campuses in the surrounding area. Its campuses include Sacramento City College, American River College, Cosumnes River College, and Folsom Lake College along with five satellite centers.
As the capital of California, many state agencies are located in Sacramento. The State of California continues to be the largest employer in the Sacramento region.
- 2 Sacramento Downtown Plaza, 405 K St (in a 4 block area bounded between L & J St (north & south) and 4 & 5th Ave (east & west) net to I-5 in downtown), ☏ +1 916-273-8124. It contains a Macy's department store, and numerous smaller shops.
- 3 Shop the Grid, Midtown Sacramento (area surrounding 24th and J Streets). More than 50 boutique shops in Sacramento's original street "grid" cater to a variety of interests, including fashion, beauty, gifts, specialty items, home furnishings, antiques, sporting goods, health and wellness. Shops are located throughout the Downtown and Midtown areas, but the largest cluster of shops are located within a few blocks of the intersection of 24th and J Streets.
- 4 Arden Fair Mall, 1689 Arden Way (Arden Way & Alta Arden Expressway). M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-7PM; restaurant hours vary. Anchored by Nordstrom, Macy's, JCPenney, and Sears, Arden Fair Mall is home to more than 165 national retail shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The adjacent Market Square at Arden Fair is home to additional shopping and restaurants, including a movie theater and a Cheesecake Factory.
- 5 Country Club Plaza Mall, 2310 Watt Ave. (between I-80 and Hwy 50 at Watt Avenue and El Camino), ☏ +1 916-481-6716. Macy's, Ross, Sport Chalet, and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse.
- 6 Sunrise Mall, 6041 Sunrise Blvd. (in the Citrus Heights and Orangevale suburbs). It is surrounded by many chain stores and restaurants.
- 7 Westfield Galleria at Roseville, 1151 Galleria Blvd (20 miles northeast of downtown Sacramento). Largest mall in the metropolitan area. Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Juicy Couture, True Religion, Lacoste, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Apple.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
The diversity of Sacramento is not only reflected in its various neighborhoods but also in the food choices you can find here. The places in the central district tend to be more trendy and hip while food establishments in their respective neighborhoods reflect the tastes of their residents. Finding unique fare in suburban Sacramento, northeast of the city limits, can be difficult as many of the establishments are dominated by national or large regional chains.
- 2 Jack's Urban Eats, 1230 20th St (Midtown at 20th Street and Capitol Avenue), ☏ +1 916 444-0307. A modern-day diner with a retro feel, Jack's grills and roasts meats for sandwiches and salads and offers comfort food side dishes like mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, and garlic fries. Additional locations in the greater metropolitan area.
- 3 Luigi's Pizza Parlor, 3800 Stockton Blvd, Oak Park, ☏ +1 916 456-0641. A long-time Sac institution, still churning out tasty pizzas. Pizzas $12-20.
- 4 Crepeville, 1730 L St, ☏ +1 916 444-1100. Serves a unique menu of fresh, delicious, and healthy alternatives to fast-food. Other locations in the Curtis Park neighborhood and outlaying Davis.
- 5 Pieces Pizza by the Slice, 1309 21st St (near the corner of 21st and Capitol), ☏ +1 916 441-1949. A tiny little place with extraordinary stuffed-crust pizza. Open until 2:30AM on weekends, Pieces is a very popular spot to load up on carbs after a late-night weekend pub crawl. Several different combinations are offered, and the staff is also happy to build your pizza to order. The vegetarian pesto pizza, with sundried tomato and feta cheese, is especially good. They also offer several excellent beers on tap, including (usually) Arrogant Bastard. The decor isn't much, but the people are friendly and the food is delicious. $5-10.
- 6 Rick's Dessert Diner, 2401 J St, ☏ +1 916 444-0969. Tu-Th 10AM–midnight; F Sa 10AM-1AM; Su noon-11PM; M 10AM-11PM. Designed as a retro 1950s style diner, Rick's is a popular and award-winning Midtown destination for dessert lovers. Open late for post-dinner date sugar cravings.
- 7 Chando's Taqueria, 863 Arden Way, ☏ +1 916-641-8226. Quintessential Sacramento taqueria known for tacos, burritos, mulitas and more. Multiple locations in the region. An absolute must-try if looking for Mexican food in town.
- 8 Corti Brothers, 5810 Folsom Blvd, ☏ +1 916 736-3800. 9AM–7PM M–Sat; 10AM–6PM Sun. A family-owned independent grocery store with a famous deli counter and an emphasis on Italian foods. They claim, not entirely without justification, that their ravioli are the oldest continuously produced food product in Sacramento, and that one of the founder's sons is almost single-handedly responsible for America's love of balsamic vinegar. Get sandwiches made for your picnic ($10 each). Not the cheapest grocery store in town, but possibly one of the best if you are looking for an unusual or special treat.
- 9 Andy Nguyen's, 2007 Broadway, ☏ +1 916 736-1157. Quality vegan and vegetarian Southeast Asian dishes.
- 10 Centro Cocina Mexicana, 2730 J St, ☏ +1 916 442-2552. M-F lunch, dinner; Sa Su dinner. A staple in the Sacramento dining scene for over 15 years, Centro Cocina Mexicana offers the finest regional Mexican cuisine in a festive and colorful atmosphere.
- 11 Joe's Crab Shack, 1210 Front St, ☏ +1 916 553-4249. Joe's Crab Shack offers a variety of favorites from all parts of the sea and shore.
- 12 Star India Curry and Grill, 1728 Broadway, ☏ +1 916 441-2172. Serves excellent Indian and Nepalese food—the Mismas Tarkari thali is delicious. Most dishes hover around $10-12.
- 13 Tapa the World, 2115 J St, ☏ +1 916 442-4353. Daily 11:30AM-midnight. An old favorite serving up tasty Spanish tapas and delicious sangria. Live music on most nights, and open late.
- 14 Tower Cafe, 1518 Broadway, ☏ +1 916 441-0222. Su-Th 8AM-11PM, F Sa 8AM-midnight. A great breakfast spot, busy at any time of day. There's sometimes a line, but absolutely worth it. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Breakfast served 8-11AM, Monday through Friday. Brunch served 8AM-2PM, Satuday and Sunday. Voted Best Breakfast and Best Sunday Brunch in the 2009 Sacramento magazine readers poll. Voted Best Outdoor Dining and Best Breakfast in the 2008 Sacramento News & Review readers poll. Located in a historic and very interesting building, with lots of art from around the world. International, eclectic menu.
- 15 Zócalo, 1801 Capitol Ave, ☏ +1 916 441-0303. M-W 11AM-10PM, Th 11AM-11PM, F 11AM-midnight, Sa 9AM-midnight, Su 9AM-10PM. A Mexican restaurant affiliated with the legendary Ernesto's, the food is great and the place is usually busy.
- 16 Asian Pearl Restaurant, 6821 Stockton Blvd, Ste 165, ☏ +1 916 391-8881. Sa Su 10AM-10PM, M-F 11AM-10PM. Fast becoming the place to go for dim sum bypassing stalwarts New Canton and Rice Bowl. They also serve authentic Hong Kong and new style Cantonese food.
- 17 Morton's Steakhouse, 621 Capitol mall, ☏ +1 916 442-5091. High-scale restaurant that is perfect for taking that special someone or take the whole family to celebrate any occasion. They pride themselves on cooking the most tender steak, but don't count out their seafood portion of the menu as this place has delicious food with excellent dessert! Fun fact: instead of menus, the waiter brings out a tray of all the raw meat and fish (even crab that is still alive) and explains in detail what the meat or fish is and what the dish comes with.
- 18 Ella Dining Room & Bar, 1131 K St., ☏ +1 916 443-3772. Ella serves its fabulous food, family-style and encourages diners to share. Their great bar serves fantastic concoctions like home made gin and tonics and "limeade," making for a perfect place for friends and family alike. The fabulous interior was created by award winning design firm, UXUS.
- 19 Yue Huang, 3860 Truxel Rd, ☏ +1 916 621-3737. Chinese dimsum, received a nod from Michelin in 2020.
Nightlife in Sacramento is vibrant if you know where to look. Stay in Downtown or Midtown. This is where most tourists are anyway. The upscale clubs and lounges tend to be on or near J Street. Directly across from the Capitol grounds is the Park which is the premiere Sacramento nightclub. The dress code and cover charges tend to be stiff.
Just around the corner is the Capitol Garage which typically has guest DJs on Saturday and a $5 cover in a laid back atmosphere.
Nearby is the Crest Theater, an independent historic movie theater that boasts art deco design. In the summer you can catch the French Film Festival here as well as the Trash Film Orgy, an all-night spectacle of old B movie flicks where locals gather in their cheesiest costumes.
On most days of the year, however, the Crest is the place to catch foreign and independent films as well as traveling stand-up comedy and music acts. On 16th and R Street. you'll find the popular bar R15. This is a trendy bar/restaurant (Cafe Bernardo is attached) that has an urban industrial feel. Despite being trendy the prices are very affordable with $2 Pabst on tap and $1 pool tables. They also boast couches and big screens where you can play Xbox for free with a couple of friends.
R Street corridor offers Shady Lady Saloon, R15 Bar, and restaurants.
Another popular club is Mix Downtown with stiff cover charges and dress code as well, but Mix attracts an older crowd than District 30 and less pretentious crowd than the Park. On 10th and S Street, you'll find the popular indie-rock venue Old Ironsides. Local and traveling indie-rock talent showcase their music here. Every Tuesday you can catch Lipstick, a popular indie-rock dance party where you'll find mostly hip Midtown locals. Every first Saturday of the month you can catch After Dark which is like Lipstick only on a Saturday so it attracts a more varied metropolitan crowd.
The Press Club on 21st and P Street is popular with the college crowd with its $5 cover charges and cheap $3 24 oz. of Pabst. It's known for playing 1980s dance music and the best nights to go are Wednesdays or Thursdays as it is a small club and, on weekends, gets unbearably overcrowded.
- 1 The Depot, 2001 K St (corner of K and 20th downtown.). Gay-friendly video bar, two coin-op pool tables, covered smoking area.
- 2 Faces, 2000 K St (Corner of K and 20th), ☏ +1 916-448-7798. Faces is a popular gay-friendly club. Pricey cover, but the good strong drinks can quickly make up the difference. Faces has now doubled in size with an upstairs and a pool in the back. Plays R&B on video floor and House on other dance floor.
- 3 The Mercantile Saloon, 1928 L St (20th & L St). This is a gay-friendly bar to go to get your night started—cheap, big, strong drinks!
- 4 Badlands, 2003 K St (corner of K and 20th downtown), ☏ +1 916-448-8790. This a gay-friendly club and is an offshoot of Badlands in San Francisco. It has three stories and an outdoor patio.
- 5 Benny's (Q Street Bar), 2013 Q St (21 St and Q St, across from the Sacramento Bee). Casual and often-crowded dive not far from midtown. Large back area provides extra room. On busy nights, a bartender will operate in back as well. Great place for drinks, and the Mexican food next door is a popular after-the-bar stopoff.
- 6 Streets Pub and Grub, 1804 J Street (18th and J), ☏ +1 916-498-1388. Trendy "upscale dive" right in the heart of Sac's midtown nightlife. Not really big enough to compensate for its popularity anymore. Drinks are average range. Quieter with a more laid-back vibe on weeknights. Worth a stop, but not exactly an institution.
- 7 Pine Cove Tavern, 502 29th St (29th and E). Classic dive, possibly the best in Sacramento. Has gotten massively popular on weekends, but manages not to become unpleasant or lose its "divey" feel. Decently priced. Darts and pitchers make for a laid-back time. Avoid the popcorn machine; rumors abound about its level of sanitation. Karaoke two nights a week draws quite a crowd.
- 8 Blue Cue, 1004 28th St (28th and J), ☏ +1 916-441-6810. Terrific bar with an upscale sports-bar feel mismatched with its unbeatable prices on food and drinks; nightly specials keep savvy locals coming back. Billiard tables rented hourly. Most major sporting events will be played (or, the staff is laid-back enough that they will change the channel upon request). The food, made in the kitchen of the delicious downstairs restaurant, is leagues away from typical "bar food". Drink prices are average, but the specials can and will yield incredible deals.
- 9 Back Door Lounge, 1112 Firehouse Alley, ☏ +1 916-442-5751. A basement bar in Old Sacramento that is a relic of a different era. Black ceilings, medieval chandeliers, and strong drinks make this dive bar worth visiting in Old Sacramento.
Visitors to Sacramento should be aware that hotels in the downtown area charge more on weekday and major event stays than weekends as a lot of business travelers come during the weekdays close to the central business district.
- 1 Greens Hotel, 1700 Del Paso Blvd. Eco-conscious and environmentally-friendly green products and housekeeping practices, and event meeting space.
- 2 HI Sacramento, 925 H St (at 10th St), ☏ +1 916 668-6632, [email protected]. Dormitory beds start at $28 for adults, $10 for children under 18. Private rooms start at $57.
- 3 Homewood Suites by Hilton, 3001 Advantage Way, ☏ +1 916 263-9510. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. An all-suite hotel with fully-equipped kitchens. Complimentary hot breakfast daily, dinner with beer and wine Monday-Thursday, and high-speed Internet.
- 4 TownePlace Suites (Sacramento Suites), 1784 Tribute Rd, ☏ +1 916 920-5400.
- 5 Vagabond Inn Executive Sacramento (Old Town), 909 Third St. (Right across I street from the train station.), ☏ +1 916 446-1481, fax: +1 916 448-0364. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Architecture is a bit institutional, but rooms are comfortable with microwaves and refrigerators throughout. Complimentary breakfast is quite extensive (self-service waffle irons), and the people are nice. Ideal location for rail travelers and those interested in Old Sac. Across the street from the Amtrak and Gold Line light rail station. Complimentary WiFi and lobby business center (limited hours) with two Internet-connected computers. Prices somewhat higher (and availability very limited) during annual jazz festival. $79 and up.
- 6 Larkspur Landing Sacramento, 555 Howe Avenue, ☏ +1 916 646-1212, toll-free: +1-877-527-5778, fax: +1 916 646-1216, [email protected]. Close proximity to the Cal Expo and the Sacramento County Fairgrounds. Includes breakfast, fitness center, outdoor whirlpool spa, complimentary self-laundry facility and 24-hour business center. from $95.
- 7 The Citizen Hotel, Autograph Collection, 926 J St (J & 10th Sts), ☏ +1 916-447-2700. No two rooms are exactly alike. Pets are welcome at no additional cost. $200.
- 8 Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, 1230 J St (Corner of J & 13th Sts), ☏ +1 916 447-1700.
- 9 The Westin Sacramento, 4350 Riverside Blvd, ☏ +1 916-443-8400, toll-free: +1-800-323-7500.
All branches of the Sacramento Public Library system offer free internet access, via public terminals and wireless. The most centrally located branch is the large Central Library located at 9th and I Streets but there are branch libraries in every part of the Sacramento metropolitan area. Only the Central Library and the regional Carmichael Library are open on Sundays.
916 is the area code for most of the Sacramento metropolitan area with 530 used in outlying areas.
Downtown has a lot of one-way streets which can be confusing and are not always well marked so look at the direction in which cars are parked.
Sacramento is generally a safe place to visit. As with any other urban area, no matter where you are, stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings, lock your car doors, don't carry a large amount of cash, and don't wear flashy clothing or jewelry.
As with other large metropolitan areas, there are neighborhoods that deserve more caution than others at night. Be cautious while in the following areas:
- South Sacramento Area—especially at night. It has been cleaned up but there are still rough patches especially around Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Fruitridge Road, Franklin Boulevard, Mack Road, and Meadowview Road.
- North Highlands—at night, prostitutes are usually strolling Watt Avenue between Roseville Road and I-80. The motels at Longview Drive and I-80 are some of the worst in the north Sacramento area. Avoid them if at all possible.
- Del Paso Heights used to be of the worst crime infested areas in the Sacramento Region, but has attracted numerous galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Stay safe, but there's no reason to avoid it.
- Mexico, 1010 8th St, ☏ +1 916 441-3287, fax: +1 916 441-3147.
- New Zealand (Honorary), 44733 N El Macero Dr, El Macero, ☏ +1 530 756-8013, fax: +1 530 756-7032.
Part of the beauty of Sacramento is its central location. It's sometimes possible to go skiing in the morning and surfing in the afternoon. All within a couple hours by car:
- 17 Folsom Lake. One of Northern California's largest lakes, Folsom Lake is where many local Sacramentans go fishing, biking, sailing, kayaking or jet-skiing during the summer. It is 30 minutes east of downtown Sacramento off Highway 50 in suburban Folsom.
- Several eastern suburbs of Sacramento are part of Gold Country, a concentration of numerous small towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills that were the site of the California Gold Rush, with Coloma being the site of the original gold discovery.
- Truckee and Donner Pass, about 100 miles east of Sacramento on I-80. Be prepared in wintertime, as the elevation is over 7,000 ft. This also includes Reno/Tahoe (below), which are further east via I-80.
- Lake Tahoe, a gorgeous lake on the Nevada border, popular for outdoor activities year-round (skiing and snowboarding in winter, swimming and hiking in summer).
- Reno, a little bit o' gambling just over the border in Nevada. Accessible by Amtrak, Greyhound, or Flixbus.
- San Francisco, the cultural and financial center of Northern California, is approximately 85 miles to the west. An approximately 2 hour drive on Interstate 80 without traffic. It is also accessible by Amtrak, Greyhound, or Flixbus. Those with the money to spare or an aversion to driving can also take one of the handful of daily flights to the city (30 minute flight time, although the actual trip will probably be just as long as driving time given check-in and security checks).
- Napa Valley and the California Wine Country, gorgeous landscape and the most famous wine-tasting in the States.
|Routes through Sacramento|
|Emeryville ← Davis ←||W E||→ Roseville → Salt Lake City|
|Auburn ← Roseville ←||N S||→ Davis → Emeryville|
|END ←||N S||→ Lodi → Bakersfield|
|Redding ← Woodland ←||N S||→ Elk Grove → Los Angeles|
|San Francisco ← West Sacramento ←||W E||→ North Highlands → Reno|
|Red Bluff ← Yuba City ←||N S||→ Elk Grove → Fresno|
|Antioch ← Isleton ←||S N||→ END|
|END ← West Sacramento ←||W E||→ Rancho Cordova → Carson City|