Each April, a tear in the space-time continuum opens up along the Sacramento River. Through it rolls a first-class locomotive right out of the 1940s and 50s. For 45 minutes, passengers in the train's coach and luxury first class car soak in the sights of California's fruit-growing deltas as the vintage diesel engine carries them into another time.
The California State Railroad Museum conducts these scenic, historic train rides. The excursions play a crucial role in the museum's mission to chronicle California's railroad history from the early days of the Gold Rush to modern agricultural transports and the proposed railroad to Mars. Spanning centuries, 21 restored locomotives and train cars blanket the museum's 225,000 square feet of exhibit space. A Pullman-style sleeping car and a dining car filled with fine china both sit on display, while the museum's Sierra Scene places a vintage steam locomotive next to a breathtaking mural of snow-dusted mountains. The popular Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains exhibit currently commands the second floor, and with hundreds of examples of early electric toy trains and accessories such as stations, signals, tunnels, and bridges, it should delight even the most discerning miniature conductor.
Behind the Victorian columns of Crocker Art Museum?s 126-year-old gallery building, ornate chambers house works that span six continents and several centuries. Established in 1885, it remains the first art museum in the Western United States, boasting collections that pay homage to the region?s cultural lineage with a robust Californian collection.
The museum updated its look and tripled both its exhibit space and running time for games of hide-and-seek in 2010 with the addition of the Teel Family Pavilion, a 125,000-square-foot building that boasts geometric designs and sunlit rooms. The expanded gallery furthers the museum?s mission to function as a community hub by hosting Art Mix, social events that feature live music, djs and a cash bar on the 2nd Thursday of every month. Studio-art classes keep adults informed, and children?s programs inspire young artists to commit their creativity to canvas, rather than living-room walls or ephemeral Mr. Potato Heads.
Largely self-taught, Shannon Jane Morgan has spent the last 19 years firing up her furnaces and creating delicate, one-of-a-kind works of glass art as the owner and founder of Girl Glass. Her pieces include gracefully curved vases; pigment-dappled paperweights; and whimsical, translucent pumpkins. During classes, Morgan shares her years of carefully cultivated expertise with students, delving into the nuances of molten glass with blowing and shaping tutorials.
Home to a vast inventory of beautifully crafted earthenware, Panama Pottery provides vessel-seeking visitors with a stunning spectrum of handmade local treasures and glazed, technicolored imports. Peruse the historic studio space and score an 18-inch terra-cotta fluted leg bowl ($21), sculpted by hand on the premises. Or, save yourself a plane trip and snatch up an authentic and colorful Chinese drip pot ($60 for 20”x16”), perfect for containing falling water, plants, or a smaller Chinese drip pot ($10 for 8”x9”). Today’s Groupon can also be applied to a clay or mosaic class, where artists of all abilities can learn under one of Panama’s ceramic specialists. Guests who score today’s deal will also receive a complimentary bag of potting soil, which allows plants to grow better than encasing them in amber.
Deep Art and Yoga helps muscles express themselves in a full schedule of Kundalini and Yin yoga classes. Reinforce the basics and shock chakras into shape with Yoga 101. Students perform slow-paced, muscle-stretching movements in Yin yoga, which employs extended poses to promote connective-tissue healing.
The Sacramento History Museum recounts the narrative of Sacramento through insightful exhibitions of antiquities and accompanying anecdotes. The current offering of Gold, Greed & Speculation: The Beginnings of Sacramento City tells the tale of Sacramento’s first 50 years, delving into the birth of a city with a story much more complex than modern gold miners would have us believe. Headlining this exhibit is an interactive, computer-augmented mural, as well as more than $1 million worth of gold specimens, including a golden replica of an Olympic bronze medal that secretly contains chocolate. For a broader perspective of Sacramento, check out the Community Gallery, a chronological re-telling of events and traditions from the relics of the Nisenan and Maidu Native Americans to artifacts from modernity, such as objects and accounts from the city during World War II. The Agricultural Gallery shows how ingenious innovations in farming technology sprang from the fertile fields of the Central Valley, much like birds springing from a recently smashed cuckoo clock.