PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Sacramento

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  • California’s capital city and the historic population center of the state
  • Situated on the intersection of two major rivers
  • Located between the Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Metro Population: 2.27 million (#27 in the U.S.)

When To Visit: Year-round

Climate: Generally dry and sunny year round. Cooler temperatures with more rain in winter.

California’s capital city is not known for being much more than that, but it deserves a second glance. Wander through its impressive historic district or sample some of its diverse culinary offerings.

Photo: River Walk Park

Where To Go in Sacramento

Sacramento River 1
Sacramento River (Photo: Ashley Gomez)

Old Sacramento: Take a stroll through this historic area brimming with historic buildings, eats, art galleries, and local shops. Free. 1014 2nd Street, Downtown. (916) 970-5226

River Walk Park: This riverside park with excellent river and skyline views is home to two of the city’s most distinctive landmarks: The Ziggurat (a pyramid-shaped building) and the elegant, gold Tower Bridge. Walk across the bridge to connect to the Sacramento River Bike (and pedestrian) Trail which takes you along miles of riverside beauty. Free. 651 2nd Street, West Sacramento. (916) 617-4620

Sacramento Tower Bridge 4
Tower Bridge (Photo: Ashley Gomez)

California State Capitol: The largest capitol building in the U.S. outside of DC, this impressive building is surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens and some of the best food and nightlife in town.

Leland Stanford Mansion: An ornately decorated Victorian mansion with striking architecture and beautiful art. Free. 1416 9th Street, Downtown. (916) 324-0575

Southside Park: Sacramento’s version of Central Park – with a large pond and lovely murals. 2115 6th Street, Downtown. (916) 808-5200

Sac Southside Park Ampitheater
Southside Park (Photo: Ashley Gomez)

Sutter’s Fort: The oldest restored fort in the country, Sutter’s Fort dates back to the 1840s and allows you to explore old buildings and beautiful grounds. $5 admission. 2701 L Street, Midtown.

Folsom Lake: A huge lake just east of Sacramento that’s a popular place to go boating, take a stroll, or watch the sunset. $12 day use fee. 7755 Folsom-Auburn Rd, Folsom. (916) 988-0205

Folsom Lake 5
Folsom Lake (Photo: Ashley Gomez)

 

Sacramento Cheap Eats

Sacramento restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15. I always highlight some vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.

Silver Garden & Mongolian BBQ: $10 all you can eat Mongolian BBQ! In addition to the generous all you can eat option, this super casual spot also has a full Chinese menu. 4321 Madison Avenue, North Highlands. (916) 332-3105

Los Jarritos: A wildly popular taco and burrito spot with an array of tasty salsas and a big dessert menu. Curtis Park.

The Waffle Experience: Enjoy tasty waffles ranging from sweet to savory and everything in between at this colorful breakfast and lunch restaurant. 4391 Gateway Park Blvd, Suite 650, Natomas. (916) 285-0562

ABC Bakery: Cheap, authentic Chinese food ordered at a counter, including dumplings, buns, and desserts. 1309 Florin Rd, Suite F, Southwest Sacramento. (916) 421-4259

Sacramento Nightlife

Sacramento bars, lounges, and clubs that are popular with locals and meet one or more of these criteria: A) Unique, unlike anyplace you’ll find in another city  B) Fun and lively, sure to be a good time  C) Beautiful decor or view

Dive Bar: There is a real live person dressed as a mermaid swimming above this ornately decorated yet casual bar. The surrounding area has tons of additional nightlife options. 1016 K Street, Downtown. (916) 737-5999

Faces: Surprisingly, the largest gay club in Northern California is found in Sacramento. Enjoy its indoor and outdoor areas, three dance rooms, and 15 bars! 2000 K Street, Downtown. (916) 448-7798

Monkey Bar: A colorful bar with a large food menu, games, and a pleasant outdoor patio. 2730 Capitol Ave, Midtown. (916) 442-8490

Mercantile Saloon: A super casual, old-school gay bar with cheap drinks and a diverse crowd. Midtown.

Nearby Side Trips from Sacramento

San Francisco: Only 1.5 hours away, this Bay Area epicenter’s world-famous landmarks, dramatic hills, and stunning architecture create arguably the most aesthetically pleasing city in the country. Read more.

Yosemite National Park: Centered around the gorgeous Yosemite Valley 3.5 hours to the south, this park contains tall waterfalls, alpine lakes, and beautifully shaped mountains. Read more.

Davis: This adorable college town only 20 minutes west is the birthplace of bike lanes and home to UC Davis and a cutesy downtown.

Locke: This tiny town 30 minutes south of Sacramento built and settled by Chinese laborers is the last remaining rural Chinese town in the U.S. Take a walk through its three blocks which retain some of its historic culture and step inside the Locke Boarding House Museum for more information. 13916 Main St, Walnut Grove.

Lake Tahoe: This huge lake on the California-Nevada border 2 hours east of Sacramento has been called “America’s best lake” due to its phenomenal year-round outdoor activities.

Lake Tahoe South
South Lake Tahoe (Photo: Ashley Gomez)

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