Sacramento, California’s capital, can be a fun vacation spot for you and yours. Sacramento’s history relates to the mad years of the Gold Rush and the lives of the 49ers. It was the gold that originally drew men and women there, but Sacramento’s best-kept secret is that today it is rich in year-round activities.
The Gold Rush may have made Sacramento famous, but its history begins even earlier as Sutter’s Fort. Sutter’s Fort, now called Sacramento, was, in fact, the first place in the frontier West to become a town. Later, the town was the western terminus for the short-lived Pony Express and the longer-lived transcontinental railway.
Sacramento’s lusty history and modern charms make the city both a fun historical and active destination. This combination of education and physical options are always a good mix when traveling. It is wonderful to combine an afternoon at a museum with a morning walking in the park. Happily, Sacramento offers plenty of opportunities for both on any sunny day.
Getting to Sacramento is a 90-mile drive from San Francisco. If you drive, it is relatively easy to find your way around the city. If you want to leave your car back at the hotel, there are plenty of transportation options serving the droves of working men and women doing business in the State’s capitol (many with convenient stops at historical locations of interest).
Activities in Sacramento will generally require some form of transportation since they are grouped in distinct areas: Downtown/Capitol; Cal Expo; and, the Rivers. However, the city is small enough that you can visit several areas in a day. Old Sacramento is at the edge of downtown and the Capitol is only about 10 minutes away by car. If you are in particularly good shape (or are bringing kids with lots of energy to burn), you could even walk from Old Sacramento to the Capitol (although due to the busy streets on a mid-day, mid-week, this might be worrisome with several children in tow).
The area known today as Old Town was originally the new riverboat landing for Sutter’s Fort, and is now an historical park. The area has been meticulously restored to include original buildings, museums, trains, shops, wooden walkways and cobblestone streets. You can easily spend the majority of a day exploring and touching early California history in Old Sacramento.
The downtown and Capitol area includes the Historic Governor’s Mansion, Sutter’s Fort, and tours of the Capitol building. You can’t miss the Capitol at 10th and L streets, where you can visit the State Capitol Museum for free tours. For adults, and older kids who have studied government or state capitals (generally 4th grades and up), the tours will provide a good insight into government workings.
Cal Expo is the place you’ll be heading if you are in Sacramento for the California State Fair. The State Fair, a grand exposition of all that is good in California, attracts visitors from all over the Golden State (almost 1 million visitors each year). This is an enjoyable day for young and old alike if you are seeking lively crowds, livelier entertainment, carnival rides, fun foods and innumerable displays. In addition to the traditional State Fair Midway, you’ll find competitions and free entertainment. There are also daily horse shows, horse racing, rodeos, motorsports, and top name concerts. This is definitely one of the biggest and best Fairs you’ll ever see!
The American and Sacramento Rivers are the place to go for outdoor recreation. The city’s famous bicycle trail is more than 30 miles long and is located along the American River Parkway. The Parkway itself is a wonderful place for a stroll. The bike trail covers some of the most beautiful areas of Sacramento. Other relaxing river-based activities include fishing, houseboating, river rafting, and river cruises on the Sacramento River.
Finding good restaurant and hotel choices is easy anywhere in Sacramento. Due to the constant influx of business travelers and vacationing families, each area of the city provides plenty of options for every budget and taste. You will not find a shortage of choices in town.
You should visit the State Capitol for a real connection to California. Ultimately, you are sure to find Sacramento a golden destination, just as others have for generations.
You may want to consider riding the rails to Sacramento from San Francisco. A train ride can be an easy way to relax and enjoy the trip from beginning to end. Best of all, train travel can be a real vacation since there’s no driving. Check Amtrak for train schedules. Once in Sacramento, take advantage of the city’s good public transportation system to get around.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
SACRAMENTO CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU: http://www.visitsacramento.com/
Click here to check out the Old Town Slideshow in the Travel Log