If you are anything like us, you know next to nothing about Sacramento. So having just arrived in the California State Capital of “Sac” you’re now thinking “what on earth can I do here?!”
We were only in Sacramento for a few days and some of that time we spent not really doing a lot, whilst staying in a motel in West Sacramento. By way of explanation, our rental car needed to be returned to the airport and we wanted to be fairly close to avoid any last minute panics and a long early morning drive. So we don’t claim to know all there is to know about Cali’s star on the map, and I am sure that some of you are screaming out in frustration at us having missed some obvious gems, but this is just a small selection of what there is to do, a taster of the best if you will….
The Capitol Building
You can’t go to Sacramento and not visit the capitol. Sitting in the middle of capitol park, the beautiful building houses a living museum and the state government. Originally constructed in the mid to late 1800’s and restored in 1976 to ensure it is earthquake proof, it was built specifically for the purpose of giving the legislature a permanent home.
Free guided tours are available on the hour every hour and the knowledgeable guide not only provides history of the building itself, but gives you the historical background to Sacramento becoming the state capital. We also got to visit the Assembly gallery (unfortunately the Senate gallery was closed) but no photos were allowed.
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
If you’re looking for a great way to delve into Sacramento’s local history and something for kids of all ages (even 26yr olds!) to enjoy, you should definitely head to Sutter’s Fort. Built in 1839 and known as “New Helvetia” by its builder, John Sutter, it acted as an agricultural and trade colony.However, following the onset of the gold rush it soon became abandoned and later fell to ruin.
There is a self guided tour and kids quizzes to complete (yeah, we did!) as you read the information boards; you can listen to voice clips and look at the various rooms which have all been restored to reflect how they would have been at the time. In addition to the museum aspect, the fort also runs events and overnight stays with dressing up etc. We had a great time and you will too.
There is a small part of the city, known as Old Sacramento (it’s a state historic park) that feels like you have walked into an old western movie. Wooden buildings line dusty streets; boardwalks instead of pavements creak underfoot; hanging shop signs on outstretched posts sway in the wind; and horse and carriage drivers tout for business, all adding to the Wild West illusion. An old steamer boat moored on the river is now a hotel and the Californsitsuseum Railroad Museum sits alongside the train tracks. If you’re in town, head on over and strut down the road pretending to be Billy the Kid or Butch Cassidy.
We most definitely did not make the most of this part of our trip. We were only there for about an hour or so and therefore missed on some amazing activities. An old school house has been created and is free to look round and there are a number of candy shops, all which offer free samples to entice you in. A cute sci-fi toy store has a Dr Who Tardis as its entrance.Thai Food
Sacramento is a hotbed of Thai cuisine and there are loads of Thai restaurants to choose from. We had dinner at Bangkok @ 12, a simple and not too heavily “themed” place on the corner of 12th street and I. The food was delicious, the service was quick and the bill was not too hard on the wallet. Overall a lovely dinner and very vegetarian friendly.
A Simple Burger Joint
If you are looking for somewhere, not too fancy or expensive to grab a burger and chips, then the Burger Inn is the place for you. A canteen style establishment, where the food is served in a plastic basket andthe drinks are self serve in polystyrene cups. Not the classiest but the food was very tasty and filling and just what we needed after a morning of strolling round Sacramento in the sun.
The Dive Bar
Nowadays bars and restaurants need to have that added spark or quirk, that separates them from their competitors in order to bring in the crowds of thirsty/hungry people. And boy oh boy does the Dive Bar have one! Where else would you find a fish tank above the bar with not just live tropical fish, but also mermaids that swim and blow kisses to the customers sipping drinks. With a decent happy hour, piscine themed food and live music, this place has it all. So naturally we went there twice in the few days we were in Sacramento.Minor League Baseball
Okay, so we must confess we didn’t actually make it to this but we would have loved to. Across the Sacramento River in the west o the city, is the home of the River Cats. On Tuesdays they have family special days with reduced prices for snacks and drinks.
We would love to hear about your trip to Sacramento, if you made it to any of the above places or what other gems you discovered. Get in touch below.