Sacramento is often overlooked when planning a California getaway. After all, it’s in between two tourist hot spots, San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. However, Sacramento is a hidden gem in the Central Valley.
Sacramento is famous for being both the “City of Trees” and the “Farm-to-Fork” capital. It’s known for historical sites such as the State Capitol, Capitol Park, Old Town, Sutter’s Fort, and the Railroad Museum. The city is becoming increasingly hip with breweries and top-rated restaurants.
If you haven’t visited California’s capital, read on to get a sneak peek of what to expect. And if you have, let us know what you’d add to the list!
1. City of Trees
Sacramento has been dubbed the “City of Trees” because of its dense canopies- which come in handy during those bakingly hot, sunny summers.
During the Gold Rush, settlers planted a bunch of trees to provide shade for this reason. The city embraced the idea ever since, and residents gave themselves the title. While it is not the city’s official slogan, it is still something locals take pride in.
2. Old Sacramento
Old Sacramento Historic Park is a neighborhood reminiscent of the Gold Rush era. This area was developed in the mid-nineteenth century. It was restored in the 1960s and is now a top tourist destination in the city.
Walk through the pedestrian streets and see wooden buildings with salons and hotels. Try some saltwater taffy at one of the candy shops, or take a historic riverboat cruise. Don’t forget to check out events such as the Sacramento Music Festival or Gold Rush Days held here annually.
3. Lady Bird
Sacramento is known for the movie Lady Bird. This award-winning film was set in Sacramento and features famous landmarks such as Tower Bridge, the Fabulous 40s, and Thrift Town.
Greta Gerwig grew up in the city and pulled from her own experience to direct this coming-of-age drama. Saoirse Ronan stars as a high-school senior who dreams of going to university far away in a big, artsy city. Lady Bird has that very relatable love-hate feeling we often carry for our hometowns.
If you enjoyed Lady Bird, take a stroll through some of its famous filming locations.
4. Sacramento Kings
Sacramento is famous for its basketball team, the Kings. This nationally recognized team moved to the city in 1985 and has remained there ever since.
The Sacramento Kings play in the NBA and are the only team based in the capital. Their home court is the Golden 1 Center Arena downtown.
5. Golden 1 Center
The Golden 1 Center is an indoor arena in downtown Sacramento. It’s the home of the Sacramento Kings basketball team and hosts entertainment events such as concerts and other sports. It’s referred to as the “crushed can” by locals.
6. Sutter’s Fort
Sacramento is famous for Sutter’s Fort. It was built in the mid-nineteenth century and was the first non-indigenous community in the region.
It is known for its melting pot of visitors, including Native Americans, Mexican citizens of Alta California, European settlers, and even the Donner Party. The fort was abandoned when Gold was discovered in nearby Coloma.
It was later restored as a historical site and is now open to visitors.
Sacramento is known for being the “Farm-to-Fork” capital. The city took on the nickname in 2012. It makes sense with a robust agricultural industry and a booming restaurant scene.
Fast food is banned in a central portion of the city supporting more locally sourced and owned restaurants. Sacramento is becoming even more of a foodie-haven with a diverse dining scene and this farm-to-fork style.
Sacramento is famous for craft beer. The city is experiencing a boom in microbreweries, with over 50 breweries in the surrounding area. Check out the beer festivals, such as Sactoberfest, California Brewers Festival, and the locally inspired Farm-to-Fork festival.
Sacramento’s craft beer movement pairs well with the farm-to-fork restaurant culture. Local brewers also take advantage of the nearby farmland, sourcing most of their ingredients from the region. So make sure to try a Sacramento craft brew alongside that yummy meal.
Sacramento is known for being a cycling city. The city is in a valley and relatively flat, making it easy for cyclists to train or simply bike around for transportation.
Several biking trails run through the city. The most famous is the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, more commonly called the American River Bike Trail. It spans roughly 32 miles from Old Sacramento to Folsom.
10. Cannabis Dispensaries
California was the first state to allow medical marijuana use in 1996. Since 2016, recreational use has been legal for adults over 21.
While stores aren’t allowed in some nearby areas, the capital itself has a growing cannabis scene. Dispensaries, cultivation, and manufacturing of marijuana plants and products are permitted in designated parts of the city.
Outdoor growing is still illegal for personal use, but individuals can grow up to 6 plants indoors. Mind you, these regulations are always changing so it’s good to check up on the current laws!
11. Sacramento River
Sacramento is known for its rivers. The Sacramento River is the largest river in California and one of the most significant freshwater sources for the state.
The American River, popular for white-water rafting, converges with the Sacramento River in the city. Discovery Park is at the confluence of these rivers and is an excellent area for boating, running, or picnicking.
Sacramento is famous for being an agricultural region. An ideal climate and the ability to grow year-round make this valley perfect for farming. This farmland contributes to the locally-sourced foods in shops and restaurants, as well as exporting internationally.
Successful crops in this region include grains, nuts, citrus fruits, grapes, and cotton. Dairy farms are common in the valley. Sacramento is also the top producer of rice in the state and supplies most of America’s sushi rice.
13. Capitol Park
Sacramento is famous for Capitol Park, acres upon acres of land housing beautiful gardens and some of the city’s most important buildings.
This region has many memorials and museums, including the California State Capitol Museum. The State Capitol Building is also within the park grounds.
Midtown lies between Downtown and East Sacramento. This neighborhood is the center of arts, culture, and nightlife.
The pedestrian-friendly streets are the place to spend your day and party at night. Join the art walk on the second Saturday of the month to check out artisans and people-watch. Grab some baked goods and produce at the Midtown Farmer’s Market. Or go for drinks and watch some live music in the evening.
15. Fab 40’s
Sacramento is known for the Fabulous 40s. The Fab 40s are a collection of houses in East Sacramento along numbered streets in the 40s.
Large homes with ornate and elegant architecture make this a highly-coveted real estate region. The wide streets give it that upscale suburban feel and are reminiscent of when old cable cars would drive past.
Visit during the holidays to see the elaborate display of lights and decorations.
Sacramento is famous for its museums. The city has a wide variety of museums that show off the diversity, history, and culture of the city. From the Gold Rush to the State Capitol, you can get a feel for the city through the museums themselves.
The Crocker Art Museum was opened in the late 19th century by the Crocker family. It houses some of California’s best impressionist art. The Victorian wing has been around since the beginning, but the Teal Pavilion was added in 2010.
The Railroad Museum tells the story and experience of those working on the railroad, an integral part of California’s history. Old cars are on display as well as a newer interactive exhibit.
Sacramento was first given the title of the “Most Diverse City” in 2002. It has held onto that title, backed by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Diversity Index. The city’s history, location, and economy could be contributing factors.
Many people from San Francisco are flocking to Sacramento, which could change the diversity as well as cost of living in the years to come.
The capital city is conveniently located between the mountains, wine country, and the Bay Area. But Sacramento is more than just a stopover.
This understated city has developed its own name and unique charm in the past couple decades. It’s been flying under the radar, but is starting to turn more and more heads.
So do yourself a favor and pay attention. Soak up all the food, fun, and sunshine this city has to offer!