Sacramento Guide

Like many towns in California, Sacramento was forged out of gold. Not literally, of course; only a lucky handful of people got actual gold during the Gold Rush. But in their quest to find the precious metal in nearby Coloma, prospectors created a makeshift settlement along the Sacramento River that would soon became the capital of the Golden State. Today, Sacramento has a noteworthy farm-to-table dining scene and lovely park land, and you still can get a glimpse of what 19th-century life was like in historic Old Sacramento.

Old Sacramento

Cobblestone streets punctuated by old-fashioned hitching posts wind through Old Sacramento, a relic of the Gold Rush era. It’s a designated National Historic Landmark, with a wealth of preserved 19th-century buildings.

  • Sacramento History Museum: Check out a historic print shop and interactive exhibits on the gold rush, and take an underground tour of the original city before it was raised up as a precaution against flooding.
  • California State Railroad Museum: The highlight? Twenty-one restored locomotives, some of which date back to the Civil War.
  • Old-timey shops: Pop into the River City Saloon for a pint of sarsaparilla beer, or pick from wooden barrels filled with candy at Munchies Salt Water Taffy.

Food and Drink

Sacramento bills itself as America’s farm-to-fork capital. A whopping 1.5 million acres of active farmland surround the city, and more than 50 farmers’ markets are within a short drive, which makes it easy for restaurants to obtain the freshest local ingredients.

  • Sacramento Farmers’ Market: The largest certified farmers' market in California; that is, the farmers here actually must grow or make the foods they sell. More than 100 local farmers set up shop here each Sunday morning, right underneath Highway 50.
  • Farm-to-Fork Celebration: Each September, the city hosts this two-week event that showcases local chefs and restaurants with special menus, wine tastings, and cooking demos.
  • 200 wineries live in the surrounding wine-making regions, which include the Yolo, El Dorado, and Amador Counties. Amador County, known for its top-notch Zinfandel, has more than 30 vineyards, many of which date to the 1800s.

Outdoor Fun

Downtown Sacramento is situated right where the American River flows into the Sacramento, and has a wealth of green space.

  • Sutter’s Landing Regional Park: Keep your eyes peeled for great blue herons, common mergansers, and Swainson’s hawks at this riverfront park, which is also popular for kayaking.
  • American River Parkway: Bicyclists and joggers take to this 31.5-mile paved trail, which hugs the American River. You can also rent a bike in Old Sacramento and take a spin on the city’s green-painted bicycling zones.
  • Whitewater rafting: The American River has class III, IV, and IV+ rapids, making it good for beginning, intermediate, and advanced rafters.

Where to Stay

  • For easy access to the airport: Homewood Suites by Hilton Sacramento Airport-Natomas hotel is just 5 miles from Sacramento International and runs a free 24-hour shuttle to and from the terminals.
  • If you want to stay right downtown: The Citizen Hotel has a rooftop patio with sweeping views of the California state capitol.
  • For views of the river: Delta King Hotel, built inside an old riverboat docked on the Sacramento River, features two restaurants and a mystery-dinner theater.
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Market Picks

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