Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Sacramento, California along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Sacramento is the capital of California and sits on the confluence of the American River and the Sacramento River. The area was originally inhabited by Maidu, Nisenan, and other indigenous peoples of California before the Spanish arrived.
By mid-1800, gold was discovered in Sacramento at Sutter’s Mill. In 1850, the city of Sacramento was incorporated and later chartered in 1920. Today, it’s one of the largest cities in California as well as one of the fastest-growing cities in “The Golden State”.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the best places to visit in Sacramento along with interesting facts and attractions that shouldn’t be missed while visiting.
California State Railroad Museum
California State Railroad Museum is one of the top-destinations in Sacramento and welcomes a staggering 500,000 visitors a year, making it one of the most popular museums in California.
This museum consists of nearly 21,000 m² of exhibition space and is home to many preserved railroad cars and locomotives as well as exhibits documenting the railroad history of California.
Many enthusiastic docents are available at the site and will do their utmost to answer all the visitors’ questions and share their wealth of knowledge. The museum also highlights how the railroads impacted the culture of the region and how the lives of the people have changed because of it.
Cathedral Of The Blessed Sacrament
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament with its 66 m tower is one of the landmarks of Sacramento and a stunning example of the Italian Renaissance style of architecture.
This church is also one of the biggest west of the Mississippi and sometimes used for official events (such as the funeral of Pat Brown, a former Governor of California).
The interior of the cathedral is very spacious and serves as a great congregation space for weekly services. A visit to this gorgeous religious building shouldn’t be missed when coming to Sacramento.
Golden 1 Center (Sacramento Kings)
The Golden 1 Center is an indoor arena that serves as the new home of the Sacramento Kings, a local NBA basketball team that has many loyal fans. The Kings have a long history dating to 1948 and welcomed many great players in their ranks.
Basketball fans should not miss a chance to attend one of the Kings’ home games. They are always a great spectacle and a memorable experience.
Apart from the Basketball games, there are also plenty of concerts, conventions, and other events held at the Golden 1 Center. The venue was inaugurated in 2016 and is very modern with its futuristic design and state-of-the-art facilities.
Old Sacramento State Historic Park
The Sacramento State Historic Park is characterized by its many 19th century commercial buildings that include the 1849 Eagle Theater and the 1853 Hastings buildings.
The park highlights Sacramento’s historic significance as it was the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad, telegraph, and postal system. In 1965 the historic park was declared a National Historic Landmark and shouldn’t be missed when visiting Sacramento.
Crocker Art Museum
Crocker Art Museum is considered the first public art museum in the Western United States and is still one of the best art museums of the modern age.
The museum is particularly known for its amazing collection of international ceramics but also offers a great display of sculptures and also modern works by contemporary Californian artists.
Crocker Art Museum is a very state-of-the-art facility and also caters to children. The Tot Land and the Story Trail are engaging for young visitors and display art in a playful way.
California State Capitol Museum
Since its construction in 1874, the California State Capitol is the political heart of Sacramento. Its neoclassical architecture and dome make it a classic example of an American Capitol building.
The Capitol’s museum is a popular tourist destination as it teaches a lot about California’s history and also allows insights into the beautiful interior of the structure.
Visiting the Capitol is surprisingly child friendly as it offers a section of the museum that is specially designed for young visitors. The admission is free, and no prior reservations are needed.
Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
The Leland Stanford Mansion is one of the most impressive examples of the Victorian era in California and has recently been opened as a museum after receiving extensive renovation work.
The mansion has a size of around 19,000 square-foot and offers impressive 17-foot ceilings, gilded mirrors, fantastic woodwork, and many historic paintings. Another draw of the estate is its beautifully kept gardens.
The contrast between the modern architecture of downtown Sacramento and the classic architecture of the Leland Stanford Mansion makes this site even more interesting.
Sutters’ Fort was initially used as an agricultural estate built by a Swiss immigrant. This purpose was soon interrupted by the mining boom that brought many miners here and caused the estate to decay.
Soon only the fort remained. Today the site and its namesake historic park are open for self-guided tours. The fort has been restored and acts as a real-life museum making its visitors relive its past.
Fairytale Town is a great spot for families with children. It’s a story-themed amusement park that is run as a non-profit organization and focuses exclusively on kids.
Visiting the park is one of the best things to do in Sacramento with kids. Besides entertainment, it also offers educational value as the Fairytale Town uses an interesting concept to teach its young visitors about animals, gardens, and farms.
Highlights of the amusement park include an adventurous pirate ship, a castle, and the beautiful Sherwood Forest.
The Crest Theatre is Sacramento’s premier music venue with a rich history dating to 1912 when the building was inaugurated. The venue is known for its flawless acoustics and the many great festivals that take place here every year.
Some of the highlights are the French Film Festival, the Jewish Film Festival, and the Sacramento Music and Film Festival. Only in 1995, the Crest Theatre received a one-million-dollar restoration, making it a modern yet historic venue for elegant evenings.
The family waterpark Raging Waters is located in the heart of Cal Expo and offers 25 family-friendly attractions. These include over 20 water slides, a 245 m lazy river, and one of the oldest wave pools in California.
Adrenaline-junkies shouldn’t miss the Hurricane Bay Slide that leads through six stages in complete darkness. The park also offers special events and interesting family dining options.
Sacramento’s Tower Bridge leads across the namesake river and belongs to the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was inaugurated in 1935 and is one of the landmarks of the city, and shares the same name as the famous Tower Bridge in London (UK).
The bridge has a separate pedestrian lane which means crossing it on foot is easy and enjoying the scenic views from the top of the bridge is a comfortable experience.
The bridge is known for its golden shimmer and looks even more magnificent at night when it is lit up by many floodlights.
Sacramento History museum
Sacramento’s History Museum is the best place in town to learn about the history of the region and in particular the Californian gold rush that transformed the city into a big metropolis.
This history museum is a replica of the former City Hall built in 1854 and consists of two stories built of natural brick.
The history also touches on the Nisenan and Maidu Indian Nations that used to prosper here. Additionally, learning about the fur trapping, agriculture, and cultural heritage of these nations is both eye-opening and fascinating.
Cycle the American River Bike Trail
The American River Bike Trail winds from Folsom to Sacramento, stretching over a total of 51,5 km. The trail starts at the Discovery Park and later crosses into the Folsom State Recreation area.
Beals Point is where the beautiful bike trail ends, offering everyone who made it here great views over Lake Folsom and its surroundings. The level of difficulty is relatively low on this trail which makes it suitable for all levels of cyclists.
Visit the Dive Bar
The Dive Bar is one of Sacramento’s most interesting venues as it features swimming mermaids in a large water aquarium above the bar. The venue also offers DJ performances and dazzling light shows.
Visitors looking for a unique place to spend the night should not miss the Dive Bar as it offers a nightlife-experience that you will never have experienced before.
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