State capital of California, burnished by hazy sunshine, Sacramento flourished during the California Gold Rush. The name derives from Spanish explorers, who compared the area’s spectacular natural beauty to the Blessed Sacrament. A buzzing foodie scene can be found here, with a regular succession of prestigious restaurants springing up to serve innovative cuisine made with locally-sourced ingredients, and annual festivals dedicated to beer, wine and cocktails. While there is certainly a modern flavour to Sacramento though, it hasn’t relinquished its past either, and the historic Old Sacramento district has been elegantly curated while becoming a popular tourist destination.
Areas & Neighbourhoods in Sacramento
Downtown - There is a flourishing cultural vibe going on in downtown Sacramento, of particular interest to theatre-goers who are spoiled with a number of great venues. You’ll also encounter plenty of boutique retail outlets and fine-dining restaurants in an area that’s never dull day or night.
Old Sacramento - A National Historic Landmark, with gorgeous colonial architecture reminiscent of Paris and Spain, Old Sacramento is lined with multi-storied townhouses, many of them decorated with wrought-iron balconies. There are several excellent museums here that illuminate the city’s past, and a charming old riverboat moored up. Old Sacramento, while never kitsch, is still very much geared-up for visitors, with many festivals and events throughout the year, and plenty of restaurants and gift shops to browse.
Midtown - The culturally-diverse heart of Sacramento, Midtown is replete with stylish shops, diverse dining options, art galleries and funky nightspots. Getting around is easy too, as it’s pedestrian and cycle-friendly.
East Sacramento - Home to McKinley Park, with its beautiful rose garden, if you’re visiting East Sacramento then don’t miss a stroll down the Fabulous Forties, several blocks lined with well-preserved historic mansion houses. Ronald Reagan, when he was Governor of California, had his residence here.
Things to See in Sacramento
Take a scenic boat cruise along the river to learn the history of Sacramento from the gold-prospecting days to the present, before exploring the majestic Old Sacramento district. Make a point of stopping by Sutter's Fort while you’re there - this restored adobe structure was built by John Sutter, whose employee made the find that kick-started the California Gold Rush. In the evenings, catch a show in the downtown theatre district, where major productions vie for audiences with often superb local plays.
Things to Do in Sacramento
You can take a step back in time with a ride on a historic train or a restored paddle boat departing from Old Sacramento. Gourmets will have the time of their lives exploring an exciting restaurant scene where the local chefs take pride in using seasonal produce sourced from Californian farms. If you fancy getting out and about in the Great Outdoors meanwhile, there’s the chance of a private guided hiking expedition in the High Sierra mountains, just out of Sacramento proper, with expansive views to be had of California’s most dynamite scenery.