The Getaway
20 of the Best Things to Do in Sacramento

The capital city of California, Sacramento, is regarded as one of America's most diverse cities. Filled with natural, historical, and cultural attractions, Sacramento brims with things to see and do. The city boasts a long and rich history in association with its indigenous populations, Spanish settlements, and the famed Gold Rush at nearby Sutter's Mill. Sacramento is home to world-renowned healthcare centers and universities. As the seat of the state's government, the city gets visits from political leaders as well as vacationers.


01 Marvel at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

After gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, the fort on the property was abandoned. Today, the house is a museum that features period furnishings and implements used by gold seekers. An important part of the state's history, the California discovery of gold in 1848 opened the territory up to mass settlement. Many visitors to Sacramento enjoy visiting this historic landmark to learn about the state's spectacular past.

02 Stroll through Old Sacramento

Located along the banks of the Sacramento River, Old Sacramento is a historic part of town that attracts many visitors who come to explore its old buildings and landmarks. Many of the historic buildings are now home to cafes and restaurants. The commercial area of town is a National Historic Landmark. When exploring the region, you'll also find a diverse array of shops, galleries, and even museums.

03 Explore the Sacramento Zoo

If you're an animal lover, head to the Sacramento Zoo to enjoy its amazing exhibits. The zoo dates back to 1927. Since that time, it has expanded to incorporate more land and exhibits into its venue. It features animals from all over the globe. When you visit, you can expect to see orangutans, foxes, flamingos, grizzly bears, rattlesnakes, lemurs, chimpanzees, lions, giraffes, jaguars, otters, kangaroos, and more.

04 Admire the exhibits at the Crocker Art Museum

Founded in 1872, the renowned Crocker Art Museum features an outstanding collection of Californian art. Over time, the museum has expanded to a second building. Today, it features European, Asian, African, and Eurasian art. Aside from its permanent exhibits, the museum regularly showcases special exhibits on a wide array of topics. If you're an art lover, don't skip visiting this exciting cultural venue.

05 Stop and smell the flowers at McKinley Rose Garden

Take time out of your busy schedule to spend a morning or afternoon at the celebrated McKinley Rose Garden. McKinley Park is itself a historic attraction that dates to 1871. The rose garden was developed in 1928 and has continued to inspire visitors ever since. Featuring more than 1,200 roses, the park has recently been redesigned to include sustainable features and a new irrigation system.

06 Browse the California State Railroad Museum

The California State Railroad Museum is a celebration of trains and railroad transportation. It boasts more than 100,000 square feet of display space, allowing for easy viewing of exhibits like the historic train cars and engines. Visitors can walk into many of the wagons and cars to explore them during their visit. One of the highlights of the venue is its steam engine rides. There are also model train exhibits that are a big hit with kids.

07 Dine on the Delta King

The Delta King is a historic paddle steamboat that transported people between Sacramento and San Francisco: today, the 285-ft. long boat functions as a restaurant and hotel. When visiting, you can explore parts of the vessel and learn about its unique history. For example, during WWII, its engines were requisitioned by the military for use in the war effort. Dining aboard the Delta King is an enjoyable experience—especially with its views of the river and surrounding skyline.

08 Cross the Tower Bridge

The gloriously gold Tower Bridge was constructed over the Sacramento River in 1934 and is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge connects East and West Sacramento. Its Art Deco style makes it a unique landmark. If you're visiting the city, take time to cross this landmark at least once.

09 Discover the UC Davis Arboretum

The UC Davis Arboretum features roughly 100 acres of gardens. A small creek flows through the grounds adding to their picturesque look. When visiting the arboretum, you can expect to see diverse botanical beauties like forsythia, roses, salvia, California poppies, and more. Aside from the beautiful flora in the gardens, the fauna also attracts visitors to the arboretum and its lovely landscapes.

10 Have fun at the California Automobile Museum

With California's sunny roadways, it's no wonder that auto enthusiasts love tooling about in classic cars. The California Automobile Museum attracts many car lovers with its classic autos and sports cars collection. The chrome fairly gleams from one exhibit to the next. The venue features antique and classic cars from every year since 1903. In fact, there are even some examples of autos that date to the late 1800s. If you love cars, you don't want to miss this opportunity to explore this popular Sacramento museum.

11 Relax at Fairytale Town

For a magical family day out, head to Fairytale Town, a whimsical amusement park located in the heart of Sacramento's William Land Park. Celebrating over 60 years of enchanting visitors, this charming park brings beloved fairy tales and nursery rhymes to life through its imaginative playsets, lush gardens, and delightful attractions.

In addition to the storybook-themed attractions, Fairytale Town offers a variety of engaging programs, including puppet shows, theater performances, and hands-on art activities. Be sure to visit the park's friendly farm animals, including sheep, rabbits, and goats, for an up-close encounter with gentle creatures. Fairytale Town is the perfect destination for families seeking a relaxed, enchanting experience in Sacramento.

12 Take a scenic stroll on the American River Parkway

Depending on who you ask, the American River Parkway is 23 miles long. It's made up of smaller parks like Discovery Park, River Bend Park, and Ancil Hoffman Park, and you can reach it via access points along U.S. Route 50. The Parkway makes swimming, wildlife-spotting, kayaking, and boating a joy, and you can jog or bike the neat Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail.

13 Explore the beauty of the State Capitol Museum

The State Capitol Museum is not exactly riveting for children, but adults enjoy getting up close and personal with the symbols of power. Take advantage of the hourly free tours to thoroughly appreciate the architecture, frescos, and meanings imbued in this grand building. Look for ol' Arnie Schwarzenegger among the portraits of former governors. If you're lucky, a choir may be singing in the rotunda.

14 Get a taste of Sacramento at the Farmers Market

The Sacramento Central Farmers' Market is a cornucopia of colorful farm-fresh produce. This Sunday festival takes place under Interstate 80 Freeway and is a highlight on the local weekly calendar for anyone looking to score arts, crafts, cheerful flowers, and seasonal fruits and veggies like sweet berries. It's a feast for the senses and one of the largest certified markets in California.

15 Take a bike tour of the city

Get to know California's capital city better on two wheels. You can explore neighborhoods you're interested in or go with the flow. Up the ante if you're traveling with a group, and hop on a pedal-powered boat to see some of the sites. There are terrestrial group bike options too. Tours last about two hours and have a BYOB policy—of course, this only applies to vehicles steered by a designated driver.

16 Visit the California State Indian Museum

You'll find this small but powerful museum in Midtown Sacramento. It shares the stories of Native Californians and their tribes and displays numerous intriguing artifacts, from artwork, baskets, and weapons, to a canoe. Learn about the mission system which stripped the original Americans of their culture, and peruse photographs for more context. Kids can do the scavenger hunt for an arrowhead.

17 Catch a show at the Historic Crest Theatre

Crest Theatre announces itself with a riot of color, just like you'd find in Vegas. It's not an empty promise—the interior is delightfully art deco, and the venue is over a century old, although it has been refurbished over the years. This intimate multipurpose theatre shows classic and specialty films and dabbles in live shows and public lectures. It also hosts themed film festivals.

18 Immerse yourself in the Aerospace Museum of California

Experience the wonders of aviation and space exploration at the Aerospace Museum of California, located just outside of downtown Sacramento. This interactive museum is dedicated to inspiring future generations of engineers, pilots, and astronauts through its extensive collection of aircraft, artifacts, and engaging exhibits.

The Aerospace Museum's hands-on exhibits and educational programs cater to visitors of all ages. Take the pilot's seat in a realistic flight simulator, experience the thrill of a space mission in the high-tech Morphis Simulator, or participate in one of the museum's engaging STEM workshops.

19 Attend a Sacramento Kings basketball game

Experience the excitement and energy of a live NBA game by attending a Sacramento Kings basketball match at the state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center. As Sacramento's only major professional sports team, the Kings have a dedicated fan base that fills the arena with infectious enthusiasm and cheers, making for an unforgettable experience.

The Golden 1 Center, located in the heart of downtown Sacramento, is not only a fantastic venue for basketball games, but it's also a hub for entertainment, dining, and shopping.

20 Take a sip on the Sacramento River Fox Train

The nostalgia-infused Sacramento River Fox Train used to be called the Yolo Shortline Railroad Company. Because you only live once, make a River Fox libation excursion a top priority. Or skip the drunkenness and take family and friends on a wholesome journey past West Sac farmland to nowhere in particular. The live music will have you bopping, the decorative seasonal touches will put a smile on your face, and the holiday cocoa is pretty good.


Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.