In sunny California, the focus is often on Los Angeles and San Francisco. A shame, because the capital Sacramento is just as much fun! Ideally located east of San Francisco and on the way to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park, a stopover in Sacramento is definitely worth it. Because the city is not as massive as Los Angeles, for example, everything is easy to oversee. You can also combine Sacramento with a Pacific Northwest car tour or view an overview of all tours through Western America.
13 things to do in Sacramento
You will find fun activities for young and old in Sacramento: amusement parks, a zoo, various museums. More tips for Sacramento? Then read on quickly!
1. California State Capitol Museum
According to Acronymmonster, Sacramento is the capital of California. That’s why you can find the state administration building here, in the middle of Capitol Park. It can be recognized by the huge dome on top of the building. You can join a guided tour to learn more about the history of democracy in California. There is also a museum that sometimes hosts exhibitions related to the history of the state.
2. Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park
Since Sacramento is the capital of California, it is customary for the governor to also reside here. The governor used to live in a posh mansion on “H” Street. Built in 1877, this posh mansion is known today as Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park. It is now used as a crowd puller and for formal events. For a small fee you can take part in a tour of the house. Take a look at the stately rooms and learn about California’s history.
3. Capitol Park
Capitol Park surrounds the California State Capitol Museum. This park is best known for the many different tree species from all over the world. In addition, this park is home to many statues and memorials dedicated to California history. For example, there are statues commemorating the Mexican-American War and the Vietnam War. You can also go here for special flora and fauna. There is an area in the park where the ‘native plants’ are allowed to proliferate and there is a rose garden.
Very nice to walk through and to stay for an afternoon is Old Sacramento. This is Sacramento’s historic downtown area. What makes Old Sacramento so atmospheric is the fact that part of downtown is located on the Sacramento River. Decks on both sides of the river then lead you to the shops and restaurants. There are also many museums in the district. An absolute must is the California State Railroad Museum because of its large collection. Would you rather be on the water? That is also possible! There are many shipping companies that offer a boat trip on the river. A nice way to get acquainted with the city, while you can enjoy it from your lazy chair!
5. William Land Park
Are you on holiday with children? Then you should definitely make a stop in William Land Park. This is a true Valhalla for children. Fairyland, a small amusement park, is all about fairytales. Watch a show or take the train. In Funderland they can then enjoy all kinds of attractions. Get on the roller coaster or take a spin on the merry-go-round. Would you rather take it a bit easier? William Land Park is also home to Sacramento Zoo. In this characteristic zoo you can see more than 131 different species of animals. But William Land Park itself is also very nice. There are a number of sports fields and places to picnic.
6. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
Whether you’re religious or not, if you’re in Downtown Sacramento, walk past Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on 11th Street. This cathedral is the head of the Roman Catholic Church in California. The building itself is built in a beautiful neo-baroque style and immediately stands out among all the other buildings. When construction was completed in the late 19th century, the cathedral was the largest west of the Mississippi. If you have the chance to look inside, you should definitely do so. Especially the altar is very impressive.
7. Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
California is of course known as the state of the Gold Rush in the mid-nineteenth century. The beginning of this Gold Rush can be traced back to the city of Sacramento. Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park was the foundation for the city we now know as Sacramento. The fort was originally set up as a trading post for the pioneers in the region. That is why you can still find traces of American and European pioneers, Mexicans and the original inhabitants here: after all, they all came together in this place. The fort is named after John Sutter, a Swiss merchant. This name may sound familiar to you: at Sutter’s Mill, also in his possession, gold was first found. This is how the Gold Rush started. Sutter’s Mill is about an hour’s drive from Sacramento, if you haven’t had enough of your visit to Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park.
8.Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
This name is probably also familiar to you: the Leland Stanford Mansion Museum. This industry tycoon is best known for the university he founded and named after him in San Francisco – Stanford University – but he also served as governor of California for several years. During this period, he and his wife lived in this huge house. It was built in 1856 by gold rush magnate Sheldan Fogus, but Stanford soon bought it from him. Join a tour and be amazed by the high ceilings, historical paintings and gilded mirrors.
9.Tower Bridge Sacramento
Not to be confused with the bridge of the same name in London, England: the Tower Bridge Sacramento. The bridge was designed in 1935 by Alfred Eichler and connects downtown Sacramento to West Sacramento. The bridge with its leading yellow ocher color is one of the recognizable symbols of the city of Sacramento. It is therefore all the more difficult to imagine that the bridge originally had a silver color. As a pedestrian you can cross the bridge for free; if you’d like to walk through the glass corridors to get a closer look at the bridge, you’ll need to buy a ticket.
10. Golden 1 Center
Attending a basketball game in the NBA (National Basketball Association) is on the wish list of many American fans. You can do it in Sacramento! Golden 1 Center has been the home stadium of the Sacramento Kings since 2006; the city’s basketball team. Chances are you can be at a game: the team plays a home game about twice a week. The price of your ticket depends on how close you want to sit to the court. Not much of a basketball fan? Sometimes performances are also given in the arena. So be sure to check the website to see if there are any concerts during the time you will be there. Artists who have previously performed at Golden 1 Center include Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry and Shawn Mendes.
11. Old City Cemetery
It may sound like a ‘morbid’ idea to visit a cemetery during your vacation. But Old City Cemetery Sacramento is so beautiful, you might want to consider it anyway. You can actually consider the cemetery as an ‘outdoor museum’: there are several historical graves and statues to be found here. The beautiful landscape certainly adds to the atmosphere. Tall trees provide shade and dampen the noise of the surrounding city and small paths surrounded by plants run between the rows. You can wander the cemetery on your own or join a guided tour.
12. Tsakopoulos Library Galleria
Tsakopoulos Library Galleria is best known for being a highly sought after wedding venue. And that is understandable! The old building with its high windows creates a true picture. This incidence of light makes it almost seem as if the wedding is taking place outside, without running the risk that the party could literally fall into the water. The Galleria was realized between 1988 and 1992 during a renovation of the Central Library. The Galleria owes the Greek part of the name to a Greek donor, who also devotes himself to research into Greek art from Antiquity.
13.Sacramento River Water Intake Structure
A fine piece of design work! Sacramento River Intake Structure is located on the Sacramento River. The main task of this structure is to pump water around. But it is mainly the design of the building that attracts tourists. The wings of the building in particular immediately catch the eye. There are all kinds of references to Sacramento and its relationship with the water (for example, the stone fish on the ground and the bubbles in the framework). In the area you will find many hotels and various sporting events.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sacramento
What are the best places for sights & landmarks in Sacramento?
For most attractions you have to be in Downtown Sacramento. Here you will find, among other things, the State Capitol with accompanying Capitol Park. Old Sacramento is home to many museums, restaurants, and shops.
Which places provide the best sights & landmarks in Sacramento for kids and families?
Definitely visit William Land Park. Here you can choose to visit one of the (small-scale) amusement parks or the zoo. But a visit to Sutter’s Fort is also fun and educational for children.
Which places provide the best sights & landmarks in Sacramento for couples?
Enough! Be sure to take a walk through Old Sacramento and visit one of the museums there. Or take a boat trip on the river. Prefer something more active? Rent bikes and cycle the American River Bicycle Trail.
What are the most popular outdoor activities in Sacramento?
Again, the American River Bicycle Trail is a nice idea. Or go kayaking on the river. There are also a number of golf courses near Sacramento.