By the late 1940s, the world of customized cars was truly in its golden age, so it's not surprising that those enterprising mechanics wanted someplace to show off their hard work. Enter the Sacramento Autorama, which began bringing together the community of custom-car builders in 1951. Now one of the longest-running indoor car shows in the world, the Autorama continues to bolster Sacramento's status as one of the world's custom car capitals. Over the years, the show has showcased hot rods, muscle cars, and chrome creations from master designers ranging from George and Sam Barris to Boyd Coddington. This year's edition will be no different; hundreds of show vehicles will compete for show honors including the coveted Custom d’Elegance and King of Kustoms prizes and the "Big B" awards, which reward engineering ingenuity while honoring the memory of Sacramento customizers from years past.
The Western States Horse Expo is one of the country's leading equestrian events, sure to pique the interest of any horse enthusiast. Like a horse's opinion of being painted into a picture with Napoleon, the schedule changes day-to-day. The line-up includes horsemanship demonstrations, breeders' showcases, and an art show, as well as special events such as the Magnificent 7 Stock Horse Championship. In this event, 17 of the country's top horse and rider combos compete in four events: herd work, rein work, steer stopping, and fence work. If the well-trained stock horses inspire you to improve your horsemanship skills, you can attend one of the many expo clinics that focus on a variety of topics including rider confidence, reining, colt starting, dressage, and driving.
Each summer, Sacramento becomes home to a giant dragon, slumbering deep in its lair. Anyone who steps inside vanishes from sight, and plummets through five stories of total darkness before reaching the mist-filled depths of a splash pool.
That wet, wild warren?known as the Den of the Dragon?is just one of more than 25 water attractions that sprawl across Raging Waters' grounds. The best way to survey all the options: drop a tube into Calypso Cooler, a lazy river that winds around the park's center in an 800-foot loop. From here, families can scope the landscape and plan out an exciting itinerary. For example:
Some additional tips for first-time visitors: come before 1 p.m. for shorter lines; be sure to stop for a burger and fries at Coral Cove; and play a couple of games at the on-site volleyball court.
Fright Planet Haunted Theme Park's outdoor theme park acts as a library of the world's most potent phobias. Every year, cast members reimagine its catalog of haunted environs, crafting new sets, props, and characters to prey on guests. Its dedication to genuine scares calls for only the best actors and the most grisly scenery, which is constructed with the help of a former Disneyland artist and a bulldozer possessed by the soul of a 1700s architect.
The lineup includes 10 attractions, headlined by the ScreamMax 3-D movie theater. Though the houses all have distinct themes and decor, they share two factors: a richly painted backstory and a population of live, ghoulish denizens. Staring toys line the shelves at H?bart's Doll Factory, tight passageways put the squeeze on those brave enough to enter Jatinga: The Forbidden Temple, and cornstalks bear bloodstains on Podunk Farms. Other experiences play on claustrophobic fears?for example, Buried Alive: The Ride shuts patrons into a coffin where they endure a simulated hearse ride, burial, and the chilling sound of worms calling dibs on their body parts.
There's something timeless about a classic county fair. There are the attractions such as antique cars and horse carriages, rodeos and livestock exhibitions. And, of course, there are the carnival rides. Midway of Fun makes sure that county fairs all over California stay stocked with the kind of flashing, whirling, fun that families have enjoyed for generations. A safety-focused team of pros sets up rides that range from sweet (the Berry Go Round and the Dragon Wagon) to nail-biting (the Viper and the Ranger). Fairgoers can also compete to win a stuffed toy or a term as mayor of next year's fair at games such as break-a-bottle and baseball toss.
Fans of Mario Kart know Rainbow Road as a glow-in-the-dark racecourse in outer space. So do fans of ABC's The Bachelor, only theirs is located on earth and strewn with more celebrities than turtle shells. To them, it's the series of inflatable arches that flashed hypnotically around Juan Pablo and Kat as they hurtled through the Electric Run. Seth Rogen, Carmen Electra, and a pink-wigged Vanessa Hudgens have also been spotted among the global event's hordes of runners and walkers.
Rainbow Road is just one of many "lands" that make up Electric Run's luminescent 5K. Any given Electric Run course contains five to seven of these brightly lit zones, each decorated according to its theme with neon trees, hanging umbrellas, phosphorescent cacti, and cascading fountains. Each land also matches the surroundings with its own soundtrack: upbeat and energizing for the wilder areas, calming and melodic for the surreal ones. Once the sun sets, participants travel through them all at their preferred pace. Everyone arrives at the same final destination, however?a DJ-propelled afterparty that keeps the night illuminated until the thunderous ka-chunk of the sun's timecard.