Best Things to Do in Sacramento, California—sounds like a treasure hunt, doesn’t it? Well, put on your adventurer’s hat because that’s exactly what it is!

As California’s Capital, Sacramento is not just a center for modern-day politics; it’s also a city that became important because of its role in the California Gold Rush.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find buzzing streets filled with arts, culture, and culinary delights. Sacramento is an unpolished gem waiting for you to discover its many facets.

So come along, adventurers, as we unearth 81 incredible experiences that make Sacramento a city of endless discoveries. Are you ready to dig in? Let the journey begin!

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The Best of Sacramento: 81 Fun and Exciting Attractions

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Welcome to your definitive guide to Sacramento, a city where history, nature, and modernity blend seamlessly.

This list promises to take you on a whirlwind tour of the 81 best fun and exciting attractions that make California’s capital a must-visit destination.

Here’s what to expect:

  1. Best Historical and Cultural Attractions: A special spotlight on Sacramento’s rich history and vibrant culture that will make you appreciate the city on a deeper level.
  2. Best Outdoor Activities: For adventurers and nature lovers, I’ve got a list of the top spots where you can breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun on your face.
  3. Best Indoor Experiences: Whether it’s a rainy day or you’re looking to escape the heat, this section has got you covered with fun activities that keep you entertained indoors.
  4. Events and Festivals: Get the low-down on the city’s best events, from music festivals to cultural celebrations that give you a taste of Sacramento’s local flair.
  5. Nearby Excursions and Day Trips: Explore beyond the city limits with recommendations for must-see nearby destinations that are worth the short trip.
  6. Shopping in Sacramento: A curated list of the best places to shop, whether you’re looking for vintage finds, designer threads, or local crafts.
  7. Dining Options: Finally, a round-up of dining experiences that cater to every palate, from fine dining to local eateries.

So whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a foodie, there’s something in this guide for you. Let’s dive in and explore the best of what Sacramento has to offer!

Best Historical and Cultural Attractions in Sacramento, California

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Sacramento’s past. From its early Gold Rush days to its rise as California’s vibrant capital, this section will guide you through landmarks and museums that are more than just tourist spots—they’re the heartbeat of the city.

Discover the stories and traditions that have shaped Sacramento into the cultural melting pot it is today. Let’s embark on a journey through time, shall we?

1. California State Capitol Museum: The Heartbeat of the Golden State

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Step into the California State Capitol Museum in downtown Sacramento, and you’re entering a living chapter of American history.

Serving as both a museum and the state’s working seat of government, this architectural marvel offers a deep dive into California’s rich political and cultural legacy.

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

As you navigate its lavish corridors, you’ll encounter exhibits ranging from portraits of every California governor to antique 19th-century furnishings.

The Assembly and Senate Chambers offer a unique opportunity to witness democracy in action, while free guided tours provide an insightful look into the legislative process.

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Beyond its political allure, the museum is home to a 40-acre park featuring trees and plants from around the world, as well as several memorials.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or governance, a visit to the California State Capitol Museum is a compelling way to experience the soul of the Golden State.

2. Old Sacramento Historic Area: A Timeless Journey Through California’s Golden Era

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Wander the cobblestone streets of Old Sacramento Historic Area and be instantly transported to the 19th-century Gold Rush era. Located along the Sacramento River, this 28-acre living museum offers a tactile sense of history.

You’ll find wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, and specialty shops and museums like the Sacramento History Museum and the California State Railroad Museum.

Whether you’re savoring a malt at a vintage soda fountain or taking a riverboat ride, you’re participating in a lasting legacy.

Ideal for families and history buffs alike, Old Sacramento is a hands-on way to experience California’s formative years.

3. Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park: The Birthplace of Sacramento’s Modern History

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Step into Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park and you’re walking into a vivid tableau of 19th-century California.

Built by Swiss immigrant John Sutter in 1839, the fort is a meticulously restored adobe structure brimming with period-appropriate furnishings, tools, and artifacts.

Here, you can experience live demonstrations of blacksmithing, weaving, and carpentry, as well as interactive exhibits ranging from Native American cultures to Gold Rush adventurers.

Special events like “Hands on History” days make history come alive, making the park more than just a museum—it’s an immersive experience that paints a nuanced picture of Sacramento’s and California’s multifaceted past.

Read More: 21 Best Ghost Towns in California: A Journey from Gold Rush Settlements to Abandoned Cities 

4. California State Railroad Museum: Riding the Rails of History

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

All aboard for a captivating journey at the California State Railroad Museum, a world-class repository of railway history situated in Old Sacramento.

Here, you’ll find an extensive collection of meticulously restored vintage locomotives, railroad cars, and artifacts dating back to the Gold Rush era.

The museum deftly explains how railroads acted as the arteries of industrial growth, trade, and migration in California and the American West.

Interactive displays like engaging model train setups offer both kids and adults an immersive experience, letting visitors climb into historic carriages for a tactile slice of the past.

More than just a paradise for train enthusiasts, the museum serves as a compelling narrative of American ingenuity and progress.

5. Crocker Art Museum: Where Creativity Meets Culture

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Discover a sanctuary for the arts at the Crocker Art Museum, an elegant fusion of a Victorian mansion and a modern wing in Sacramento.

Boasting a diverse collection that includes European paintings, Asian art, and an exceptional range of Californian art, the museum is a visual smorgasbord for art lovers.

Regular events like ArtMix, family programs, and curator-led tours offer fresh perspectives with each visit, while rotating temporary exhibitions ensure there’s always something new to captivate your senses.

More than just a gallery, the Crocker serves as a dynamic community hub, offering educational programs and workshops that encourage artistic dialogue.

Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a first-timer, a trip to the Crocker Art Museum promises an enriching, culturally immersive experience that engages both the eyes and the mind.

6. Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park: Elegance, Politics, and Philanthropy — A National Historic Landmark

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

As you step into the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park, you’re greeted by 19th-century opulence that doubles as a National Historic Landmark.

Once home to Governor Leland Stanford, this lavishly furnished mansion is not just a testament to Victorian grandeur but also a living page in California’s political history book.

Still functioning as a venue for state events, the mansion offers a unique blend of aesthetic beauty and historical gravitas, making your visit an enriching journey through California’s layered past.

7. Visit the Underground Tunnels: Sacramento’s Hidden World Below

Venture into the hidden world beneath Old Sacramento, and you’re entering a labyrinth of history and mystery.

Created originally for flood control, these tunnels are now treasure troves of stories about smugglers, Prohibition, and a city being built above and below ground.

Armed with a flashlight on a guided tour, you’ll discover sealed corridors and hidden rooms where the city’s secrets rest, turning your visit into a thrilling exploration of Sacramento’s less-visible but equally fascinating history.

8. Wells Fargo Museum: Banking on California’s Rich Past

Step into the financial past of the American West at the Wells Fargo Museum in Old Sacramento, where the world of 19th-century banking and commerce comes alive.

Far more than just a financial archive, the museum showcases a wide range of artifacts, from vintage stagecoaches to telegraphs and Gold Rush memorabilia.

Interactive exhibits let you experience history first-hand—climb aboard a replica stagecoach, crack Morse code, and explore a re-creation of a period bank.

Offering a multi-layered perspective on the westward expansion and California’s Gold Rush era, this must-visit museum is a treasure trove for anyone interested in how commerce and opportunity forged the West.

9. California Automobile Museum: Rev Your Engines for a Journey Through Time

Ready for a high-octane trip through time?

The California Automobile Museum in downtown Sacramento is a haven for car enthusiasts and history buffs.

Boasting over 150 vehicles, the museum takes you from horseless carriages to today’s electric wonders.

Context-rich displays tell a story of social and technological evolution akin to what you’d find at the Blackhawk Museum near San Ramon.

Themed rotating exhibits delve into topics like muscle cars and women in automotive history.

This isn’t just about cars; it’s a lens into America’s culture and its enduring romance with the road.

Whether you’re captivated by the artistry of vintage models or intrigued by societal shifts on wheels, this museum delivers a turbocharged experience.

The cars here reminded me of the classic cars I’ve seen at the Blackhawk Museum near San Ramon, a beautiful city in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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10. Sacramento History Museum: A Time Capsule of the City’s Soul

Nestled in historic Old Sacramento, the Sacramento History Museum serves as a vibrant time capsule, taking visitors on a comprehensive journey through the city’s multifaceted past.

From its indigenous roots to its current cosmopolitan flair, the museum’s rich tapestry of artifacts and stories provides a deep dive into Sacramento’s heritage.

Explore exhibits featuring Native American tools, Gold Rush treasures, vintage garments, and a treasure trove of photographs and documents.

Interactive displays and hands-on activities make the experience accessible for all ages.

This is more than a museum—it’s an enriching narrative that weaves together Sacramento’s complex history, offering valuable insights whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor.

Here, you’re not just browsing; you’re embarking on an immersive, time-traveling adventure that illuminates the essence of California’s capital city.

11. Old Sacramento State Historic Park: Where California’s Capital Comes to Life

Step back into the 19th century at Old Sacramento State Historic Park, a living museum that effortlessly blends history and modernity.

Walking its cobblestone streets feels like stepping onto a movie set replete with boardwalk-style sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, and costumed guides.

The district boasts over 50 historic buildings that now serve as museums, shops, and eateries, creating an immersive experience unlike any other.

Don’t miss iconic spots like the Delta King Riverboat and the Pony Express Terminal, or the chance to try gold panning and old-timey photoshoots.

But it’s not just about the past; this park is the pulse of Sacramento’s history, offering a window into the Gold Rush era and the city’s role in shaping California.

It’s a must-visit for history buffs, photographers, and romantics alike, promising not just a scenic waterfront meal but a rich, multi-layered experience that allows you to connect with Sacramento’s storied past.

12. The B.F. Hastings Building and Pony Express Statue: Echoes of the Past in Modern Sacramento

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Step into a slice of American history at the B.F. Hastings Building and adjacent Pony Express Statue, located in Sacramento’s Old Sacramento Waterfront district.

Once serving as the western terminus for the Pony Express, the B.F. Hastings Building now houses part of the Wells Fargo History Museum, offering an in-depth look at moments that shaped both Sacramento and the American West.

Stand before the iconic Pony Express Statue, and you’ll be transported back to an era of daring young riders who delivered mail from Missouri to California in just ten days.

Together, these landmarks form an integral part of Sacramento’s historical fabric. This isn’t just a site for casual visits; it’s a place where you can experience the living history that contributed to the making of the American West.

13. California Museum: The Epicenter of California’s Legacy and Future

Located in the heart of Sacramento, the California Museum is more than just a repository of artifacts—it’s a vibrant celebration of California’s multifaceted history and its far-reaching influence on the nation and the world.

Step inside, and you’re immediately engulfed in a rich kaleidoscope of California’s history, from its early indigenous cultures to its present-day prowess in technology and entertainment.

The museum is also home to the California Hall of Fame, offering an educational journey that is both immersive and interactive.

This isn’t a place where you merely walk through halls lined with exhibits; you engage in a narrative, participating in experiences that make history tangible.

The California Museum transcends traditional museum offerings with a mission to engage, educate, and enlighten.

It’s designed to inspire you to contribute to history, emphasizing California’s unique role in innovation, arts, and culture.

By the time you step out, you’re not just filled with information; you’re filled with inspiration, equipped with a renewed understanding of the significant role you too can play in shaping the future.

14. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament: A Sanctuary of Art and Spirituality

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Nestled in the heart of California’s capital, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament serves as a stunning confluence of art and spirituality.

As you approach the cathedral, its awe-inspiring façade and towering spires immediately signal that you’re about to enter a space that’s as architecturally magnificent as it is spiritually uplifting.

Step inside, and you’re greeted by intricate details that range from breathtaking stained glass windows to elaborate altars, each a testament to extraordinary craftsmanship.

But this is no mere building; it’s both a sanctuary and an artistic masterpiece, a place that engages both your spiritual sense and your aesthetic sensibilities.

Whether you’re on a spiritual quest or an architectural pilgrimage, this cathedral offers a peaceful retreat amid the city’s hustle and bustle.

As one of the largest cathedrals west of the Mississippi, it embodies the rich tapestry of religious and cultural life that defines Sacramento.

Even if you’re not there for a service, the cathedral’s interior demands exploration, its blend of neo-Gothic and Renaissance elements creating a space where art and spirituality seamlessly merge.

15. Governor’s Mansion: A Living Chapter of Political History

Situated in a quaint neighborhood of Sacramento, the Governor’s Mansion acts as a grand stage for California’s unfolding political story.

Although currently closed to the public for renovations, its imposing Victorian facade alone offers a riveting glimpse into the state’s political heritage.

Spanning three floors with 33 rooms, merely standing in its vicinity is like leafing through a living book of California’s political saga.

It returned to its original role as the governor’s residence when Jerry Brown moved in in 2015, and briefly housed Governor Gavin Newsom and his family in 2019.

Now vacant but imbued with a deep political legacy, the Governor’s Mansion beckons not just history aficionados but also those simply passing by, making it a must-visit landmark in Sacramento’s rich landscape.

16. Historic Tower Bridge: A Golden Gateway to Sacramento’s Past

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Standing majestically over the Sacramento River, the Historic Tower Bridge is more than just a means to cross water; it’s an iconic piece of Sacramento’s architectural and historical tapestry.

Cloaked in an eye-catching golden color, the vertical lift bridge connects Sacramento to West Sacramento, and it offers stunning views of both the river and the city’s skyline for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike.

But don’t mistake this for just any bridge.

Built in 1935, Tower Bridge showcases a mix of Streamline Moderne and late Deco Modern architectural styles, making it not only a functional structure but also a living snapshot of the city’s evolution.

It stands as one of the few vertical lift bridges still in operation in the U.S., and its golden aura distinguishes it as an unmistakable landmark.

If you can, catch it during sunset when it metamorphoses into a radiant architectural jewel against the canvas of the darkening sky—a must-do experience for anyone exploring Sacramento.

Best Outdoor Activities in Sacramento, California

From serene parks to bustling markets, Sacramento’s outdoor scene is as vibrant as its history.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, the city offers an open-air playground that promises adventure and relaxation in equal measure.

Let’s explore the best ways to soak up the Californian sun in the state’s capital!

17. Midtown Sacramento Arts and Food Tour: A Feast for Your Senses

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

If you’re craving an authentic blend of culture and cuisine, then you can’t miss the highly-rated Midtown Sacramento Arts and Food Tour.

This isn’t just a walking tour; it’s a sensory journey that immerses you in the local scene for a soul-satisfying 3.5 hours.
Admire vivid murals that pepper the district as your knowledgeable guide offers intriguing backstories that bring the art to life.

Pop into cozy galleries and gain unique insights into Midtown’s architectural marvels.
As you stroll, your taste buds won’t be left behind. Indulge in a gastronomic adventure, sampling everything from locally-made sausages and seasonal salads to stir-fried noodles and scrumptious sweets.

And for the cherry on top, your experience is heightened with tastings of craft beer and wine.
With a local guide narrating your leisurely walk, every step becomes a fusion of flavor, history, and art.

So if you want to touch the real pulse of Sacramento, make sure the Midtown Sacramento Arts and Food Tour is on your list of best outdoor activities in the city.

18. Kayaking on the American River: Paddle Your Way Through Nature’s Majesty

Navigating the American River by kayak is one of Sacramento’s hidden gems, offering a serene yet invigorating adventure through the heart of California’s capital.

Winding its way through picturesque landscapes, the river caters to paddlers of all skill levels, from tranquil flatwater patches to slightly more exhilarating currents.

As you paddle, you’ll be flanked by lush greenery and might even spot local wildlife like river otters and eagles.

This isn’t just a physical activity; it’s a way to deeply connect with nature without straying far from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Whether you’re paddling alone or with loved ones, the experience offers a refreshing take on Sacramento’s natural beauty.

If you don’t own a kayak, worry not.

Local outfitters provide rentals and gear, and some even offer guided tours, making it an accessible outing whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned kayaker.

Before setting out, check the weather forecast and current river conditions.

The best times to go are often spring and early summer when water levels are optimal and temperatures are moderate.

Safety first: always wear a life jacket, and consider packing sunscreen, water, and snacks.

So grab your paddle and life jacket, and let the American River provide you with one of Sacramento’s most enchanting outdoor experiences.

19. Cycling the American River Bike Trail: A Two-Wheeled Journey Through Scenic Splendor

Cruising along the American River Bike Trail, also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, offers an enchanting escape through Sacramento’s diverse landscapes.

Stretching 32 miles from Folsom to Old Sacramento, this well-maintained trail is a cyclist’s paradise, earning its status as a national trail in 1974 and receiving accolades like the Number One bike path for 2006.

Its various entry and exit points make it a convenient choice for riders of all levels.

Cycling this trail isn’t just about the ride; it’s a journey through the city’s natural wonders, making it a perfect outing whether you’re with family, riding solo, or sharing a romantic pedal for two.

Besides cycling, the trail offers numerous pit stops at parks, and for those hot days, you can even take a quick dip in the river.

Bird enthusiasts, take note: this trail is a sanctuary for various avian species.

Before starting your adventure, know that the trail begins at Discovery Park, runs through the American River Parkway, and ends at Beal’s Point in the Folsom State Recreation Area.

Ensure your bike is in top-notch condition and pack essentials like water, sunscreen, and a repair kit.

The trail can get busy, especially during weekends, so an early start is advisable.

And remember, safety comes first; always wear a helmet.

With its scenic views and well-paved paths, the American River Bike Trail provides one of the most idyllic cycling experiences in Sacramento.

20. Fishing at Folsom Lake: Reel in Relaxation and Big Catches

Nestled a short drive from Sacramento, Folsom Lake, one of the best lakes in Northern California, is a sanctuary for novice and experienced anglers alike.

Teeming with an array of fish species—from bass and catfish to trout—this lake provides multiple fishing options, be it from the shore or a boat, ensuring a day full of aquatic adventures.

But fishing at Folsom Lake isn’t just about reeling in your next big catch; it’s an invitation to step back, breathe deeply, and embrace the serenity of nature.

Imagine casting your line from the shore, fishing rod gripped lightly in your hands, and feeling the worries of the world dissolve into the gentle ripples of the lake—this is the essence of a day spent fishing here.

Before you embark on your fishing journey, it’s essential to be informed and prepared.

Check local fishing rules and ensure you have a valid California fishing license.

If you’re a fishing novice, worry not—there are local outfitters offering gear rentals and even guided fishing trips.

And don’t forget the basics: pack ample water, bring snacks to keep your energy up, and perhaps include a folding chair for added comfort.

Fishing at Folsom Lake offers not just an escape from the urban hustle but a peaceful communion with nature, making it a must-do for anyone seeking a tranquil outdoor experience in the Sacramento region.

21. Hiking in the Effie Yeaw Nature Center: Walk Through Nature’s Living Museum

The Effie Yeaw Nature Center serves as a living museum in the heart of Sacramento, offering an assortment of trails that guide you through pristine nature.

Ranging from beginner-friendly to moderately challenging, these paths lead you through a mosaic of riparian woodlands and oak savannas, where you may encounter local fauna such as deer, wild turkeys, and hawks.

But hiking in this center is not just a physical endeavor—it’s an educational journey as well.

Besides the trails, the center also houses a museum and nature exhibits. It often holds nature talks and guided walks to enrich your understanding of the local ecology.

Before you embark on this nature-filled exploration, it’s best to come prepared.

Hiking boots are highly recommended for comfortable and safe trekking.

A small backpack with essential items like water, snacks, and a first-aid kit will also enhance your experience.

To navigate the trails efficiently, pick up a map at the visitor center or download one online.

And do note, if you’re planning to bring along your furry friend—dogs are not allowed in the nature center in order to protect the local wildlife.

All in all, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center offers an invaluable opportunity to dive deep into Sacramento’s natural and ecological wealth, making it an unmissable experience for any outdoor enthusiast.

22. Picnicking at William Land Park: A Leisurely Afternoon Amidst Greenery

Nestled within Sacramento’s urban setting, William Land Park offers 166 acres of lush greenery, thoughtfully designed gardens, and a myriad of amenities, including a duck pond and playgrounds.

Whether you’re keen on relaxing by the water, engaging in a spirited game of frisbee, or simply unwinding under the shade of a towering tree, you’ll find an abundance of ideal spots for your picnic.

This park isn’t just a patch of green—it’s a multi-faceted space that can host a family day out, serve as a backdrop for a romantic date, or offer a serene spot for solitary relaxation.

Moreover, the park is frequently a stage for various events and performances, meaning your casual picnic could transform into a dynamic, live experience.

If you’re considering a visit, note that weekends are usually bustling; for a more tranquil experience, aim for a weekday visit.

Come prepared with a well-packed picnic basket filled with your favorite goodies, and always remember to pack trash bags for a responsible clean-up.

A picnic blanket, sunblock, and some lawn games can add that extra layer of comfort and entertainment to your outing.

23. Golfing at Haggin Oaks: Tee Off in Sacramento’s Premier Golfing Destination

For golf enthusiasts seeking the ultimate experience in Sacramento, Haggin Oaks Golf Complex is a prime destination that transcends mere gameplay.

Boasting immaculately maintained fairways, sophisticated course layouts, and state-of-the-art amenities, Haggin Oaks is a golfer’s sanctuary that accommodates all skill levels—be you a seasoned pro looking to sharpen your game or a novice keen to master the basics.

But Haggin Oaks isn’t just a golf course; it’s an all-encompassing golf haven. From professional instructors who offer tailored lessons to a fully stocked pro shop that carries the latest in golfing gear, every element is designed to elevate your game.

Additionally, for those who find serenity in twilight play, a lighted driving range allows you to swing into the night.

For the best experience, aim to book your tee time either early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the peak-hour rush.

Also, make sure to explore the dining options at the clubhouse for a well-rounded, leisurely day.

Keep an eye on the venue’s calendar for upcoming events and tournaments—you might find a special gathering that aligns with your interests, whether you wish to participate or enjoy as a spectator.

So, whether it’s your first swing or your thousandth, Haggin Oaks offers not just a game but a rich golfing experience that will surely leave an impression.

24. River Cruise on the Sacramento River: Sail Through the City’s Scenic Backdrop

Ahoy, adventure seekers! For those yearning to experience Sacramento from an entirely unique vantage point, a river cruise along the majestic Sacramento River is your ticket to a blend of scenic beauty, historical narrative, and serene relaxation.

As your vessel gracefully glides through the water, expect to be captivated by the city’s iconic landmarks, architectural marvels, and historic districts—all while basking in the potential glow of a magnificent sunset.

But a river cruise on the Sacramento River is more than just a visual treat; it’s also a journey through the rich tapestry of the city’s history and geography. With guided commentary usually accompanying the cruise, you’ll walk away not just refreshed but also more informed.

I highly recommend—the one-hour river cruise. It offers all the enriching experiences detailed above, complete with live, onboard narration from the captain, and comes in a timeframe that’s easy to fit into any itinerary.

25. Hot Air Balloon Rides over the City: Soar High Above Sacramento’s Skyline

Up, up, and away! If you’ve ever yearned to see the world from the clouds, then a hot air balloon ride over Sacramento is your golden ticket to an awe-inspiring perspective.

As your balloon gently lifts off, brace yourself for a mesmerizing experience that’s part adventure, part poetry, and wholly unforgettable.

Visualize the city unfurling beneath you like a grand tapestry, with architectural gems, snaking rivers, and expansive parks rendered miniature by your soaring height.

Whether you catch the first rays of dawn splashing the city in golden hues or the twilight magic of dusk, the sky’s ever-changing color palette is your backdrop for this incredible journey.

This is not just another item to cross off your bucket list; it’s a sublime experience that captures the spirit of adventure in its purest form.

Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, a milestone, or simply the joy of being alive, a hot air balloon ride gifts you with an unparalleled panoramic spectacle while serenading your senses with the sheer tranquility of open skies.

Now, a few practicalities to keep your experience as smooth as the glide of your balloon:

  1. Weather is a crucial factor. Hot air ballooning is highly dependent on favorable conditions, so be prepared for possible rescheduling.
  2. Layer up. While Sacramento’s climate is mild, the air does get brisk as you ascend. So a layered wardrobe is your best bet for comfort.
  3. Timing is of the essence. Most rides take place either at dawn or dusk. Choose according to your preference—each offers its unique splendor.
  4. Book in advance. This sky-high adventure is a popular choice for obvious reasons, so it’s wise to secure your spot well ahead of time.

So whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned high-flyer, hot air ballooning over Sacramento is a high note in any travel journey, a truly uplifting experience in every sense of the word.

26. Birdwatching at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge: A Haven for Feathered Friends

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

For those who find beauty in the sky but prefer to keep their feet on the ground, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is a must-visit.

Home to a stunning array of both migratory and resident birds, this sanctuary offers a melody of calls, a palette of vibrant colors, and a dance of graceful flights.

Ideal for nature enthusiasts and bird lovers, the refuge shines brightest during the migration seasons of spring and fall, when flocks of waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors fill the sky.

Opt for an early morning or late afternoon visit for the best natural lighting, perfect for capturing those Instagram-worthy shots.

Pack the essentials—water, snacks, and a good pair of binoculars—and consider joining a guided tour or bird walk for a truly enriching experience.

Whether you’re ballooning high above or exploring the wonders of this avian paradise, Sacramento offers unique ways to engage with its natural beauty.

27. Visiting McKinley Park’s Rose Garden: A Blooming Marvel in the Heart of the City

Step into McKinley Park’s Rose Garden and you’re instantly transported into a fragrant world brimming with over 1,200 rose bushes of countless varieties.

A living tapestry of colors, from deep reds to delicate pinks and pure whites, awaits you, as do arches draped in climbing roses and pathways lined with meticulous blooms.

This urban oasis is a must-visit for flower aficionados and anyone seeking a peaceful retreat within the city.

Its intricate bed designs and kaleidoscope of roses make it a botanical masterpiece, perfect for leisurely strolls, photography, or even an idyllic afternoon picnic.

For the best experience, aim for a late spring to early fall visit when the roses are at their peak. The soft light of early morning or late afternoon provides the perfect canvas for unforgettable photos.

Don’t forget to pack a book or a picnic blanket; the serenity of this garden invites you to stay longer than you might have planned.

McKinley Park’s Rose Garden is not just a feast for the eyes; it’s a sanctuary for the soul right in the heart of Sacramento.

28. Sacramento Zoo: A Walk on the Wild Side

A black-crowned crane in Sacramento Zoo

Just a short drive from downtown Sacramento, the Sacramento Zoo invites you on an enthralling journey through the animal kingdom.

Home to over 140 species ranging from majestic lions to graceful giraffes and zebras, it’s a must-visit for animal enthusiasts young and old.

But this zoo offers more than just a chance to see exotic creatures; it’s also a hub for education and conservation.

Witness fascinating bird flights and get up close and personal with reptiles, all while gaining valuable insights into biodiversity and ecological responsibility.

For a fulfilling visit, check the zoo’s schedule for animal feeding times and educational talks—these events offer entertainment and enlightenment.

Though there are food stalls within the premises, feel free to bring small snacks for a quaint picnic amidst the zoo’s natural backdrop.

Given that the zoo spreads across 14 acres, comfort is key; so don’t forget to wear your most comfortable walking shoes.

The Sacramento Zoo is not just an attraction but an experience that educates, fascinates, and delights all in one.

29. Fairytale Town: Your Storybook Adventure Awaits

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Step into the pages of your favorite nursery rhymes and fairy tales at Fairytale Town, a whimsical amusement park perfect for families with younger kids.

With play sets ranging from Cinderella’s carriage to King Arthur’s Castle, this isn’t just a playground but an imaginative landscape where classic stories come to life.

It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to offer their children a unique, interactive experience that stimulates both body and mind.

If you want to maximize your enjoyment, plan to get there early, especially on weekends, as the park fills up quickly. For an even more magical experience, read your kids some of the tales represented in the park ahead of your visit.

And don’t underestimate the fun of the sand and water play areas; pack a change of clothes to ensure the adventure doesn’t have to end prematurely.

Fairytale Town isn’t just a day out; it’s an experience that promises to stir the imagination and offer lasting memories.

30. Capitol Park & World Peace Rose Garden: An Oasis of Serenity

Discover an oasis of serenity at Capitol Park & World Peace Rose Garden, located just steps away from Sacramento’s bustling downtown and state capitol building.

This verdant sanctuary offers a tranquil escape, featuring the World Peace Rose Garden, where an array of fragrant roses are meticulously arranged in intricate patterns.

It’s a must-visit whether you’re a photography enthusiast, a history buff, or just someone in search of peace and natural beauty.

Don’t forget to bring a camera, as the garden and park offer countless photo opportunities, especially during late spring and early summer when the roses are at their peak bloom.

In addition to capturing its beauty, make sure to explore the park’s historical plaques and statues that offer meaningful messages of peace.

Capitol Park & World Peace Rose Garden isn’t just a park; it’s a venue where natural beauty meets historical richness, perfect for a contemplative afternoon.

31. Sacramento Fox Train: A Scenic Journey Through Time and Nature

All aboard for an extraordinary experience on the Sacramento Fox Train, a family-owned venture that redefines the concept of a train journey!

With 14 miles of track stretching from West Sacramento to Woodland, this isn’t your average train ride; it’s a seasonal, themed adventure lasting around 2.5 hours.

Options range from a beer or wine train to interactive experiences like the Great Train Robbery and Murder Mystery Train, making it perfect for families, couples, or solo explorers.

Before you go, check the schedule for themed rides tailored to special holidays like Christmas or Halloween, adding an extra layer of excitement to your trip.

Don’t forget your camera, as you’ll pass through diverse landscapes, from the Sacramento River to charming farmlands, while also enjoying theatrical performances on some rides.

For a more physically engaging option, consider renting a Rail Bike, allowing you to pedal along the train tracks. Tickets sell out fast, so advance booking is highly recommended.

The Sacramento Fox Train is more than just a ride; it’s a thematic, interactive journey through Northern California’s natural beauty and history, making it an essential addition to any outdoor activity list.

32. Murals of Sacramento: The City as a Canvas

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Step into the lively art scene of Sacramento, a city that’s far more than just its gold rush history or political significance.

In particular, the murals scattered across Midtown and Downtown are vibrant strokes on the city’s urban canvas, telling tales that range from its rich cultural background to contemporary social dialogues.

If you’re looking to dive deeper into this visual tapestry, I highly recommend taking the guided walking tour that not only introduces you to world-class murals but also provides insightful commentary about these pieces of art.

You’ll learn about the renowned Wide Open Walls project, which has put Sacramento on the global map for street art, as well as the artists behind the murals—both local and international talents.

These murals are perfect for art lovers, but even if you’re just someone who appreciates a touch of creativity, you’ll find exploring Sacramento’s street art to be deeply rewarding.

As an added bonus, the tour even offers a special sweet treat at the end to make your artistic journey even more delightful.

33. Ziggurat Building: A Modern Marvel Amidst Natural Beauty

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Sacramento isn’t just about historic landmarks and natural vistas; it’s also home to striking examples of modern architecture. One such gem is the Ziggurat Building, an eye-catching, pyramid-shaped structure located along the banks of the Sacramento River.

While the building itself is an office space and not open to the public, the surrounding area offers a delightful setting for a leisurely walk or a photography session.

Visiting the Ziggurat Building provides not just an architectural feast for the eyes, but also an opportunity to enjoy the riverside.

The adjacent river walk is a popular spot for jogging, cycling, or simply soaking in the views. With the stunning Ziggurat as your backdrop, it’s a wonderful place to spend an outdoor afternoon in Sacramento.

Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or someone who loves to find unique photo ops, the Ziggurat Building is a must-visit on your Sacramento adventure.

34. Sacramento Farmers Market: A Flavorful Expedition Into California’s Bounty

Dive into the vibrant world of Sacramento’s Farmers Market, a bustling hub that showcases the essence of California’s agricultural richness.

A feast for the senses, this open-air market is your direct line to the local farmers, allowing you to relish in farm-fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and unique crafts.

From the sweet aroma of seasonal fruits to the colorful displays of vegetables and flowers, the market is more than just a shopping destination—it’s a celebration of community and sustainability.

Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast or simply a weekend wanderer, a visit to Sacramento’s Farmers Market is a flavorful journey you won’t want to miss.

35. Raging Waters: A Splash of Adventure Awaits

Looking to beat the Sacramento heat? Dive into Raging Waters, the city’s largest family water park featuring over 25 exhilarating water attractions.

From adrenaline-pumping slides like the “Dragon’s Den” to the lazy river where you can float your cares away, this park offers a refreshing break for all ages.

Children can explore Little Splash, a dedicated area with mini-slides and fountains, while thrill-seekers can face their fears on the six-story “Cliffhanger” speed slides.

With lush green landscapes and plenty of lounge areas, Raging Waters is the perfect spot for a day of aquatic fun.

Also Read: Top Indoor and Outdoor Water Parks in California: A Wet and Wild Adventure for the Whole Family! 

36. Roseville Golfland SunSplash: Fun Beyond the Fairway

If you’re venturing a little further from the city center, Roseville Golfland SunSplash is well worth the trip. Combining the thrills of a water park with the challenges of mini-golf, this complex serves up family entertainment in spades.

Race down exciting water slides like the “Double Dare” or take a spin on the bumper boats. When you’re ready to dry off, test your putting skills at one of the creatively designed mini-golf courses.

With arcade games, go-kart tracks, and laser tag, Roseville Golfland SunSplash offers endless options for wholesome entertainment.

37. White Water Rafting on the American River: Unleash Your Inner Adventurer

Feel the rush of adrenaline as you navigate the swirling rapids of the American River, one of California’s premier spots for white water rafting.

Just a short drive from Sacramento, the American River offers varied levels of rafting experiences, making it ideal for both first-timers and seasoned pros.

Under the guidance of skilled instructors, paddle through exhilarating rapids, navigate tight turns, and revel in the thrill of the great outdoors.

Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning natural scenery—towering cliffs, lush forests, and perhaps even a glimpse of local wildlife.

Whether you opt for a half-day excursion or go all in with a multi-day trip, white water rafting on the American River promises an unforgettable adventure packed with thrills and splashes.

38. Time to Cast Away Stones: A Masterpiece of Public Art

Nestled in the heart of Sacramento, on the bustling 13th Street outside the Convention Center, lies a fountain sculpture that serves as both an aesthetic wonder and a contemplative experience.

Titled “Time to Cast Away Stones,” this evocative piece by artist Stephen Kaltenbach isn’t just a blend of stone and water but also a poetic pondering on existence.

Carved directly into the stone and partially obscured by the mesmerizing flow of water are profound questions: “Where are we going? What have we wrought? How are we loving? What have we thought?”

These queries make the sculpture an unmissable pitstop for those looking to delve deeper into Sacramento’s cultural and intellectual pulse.

Perfectly uniting art and introspection, this masterpiece is a cornerstone in any guide about the Best Historical and Cultural Attractions in Sacramento, California.

Also Read:

Best Indoor Experiences in Sacramento, California

Sacramento isn’t just about its sun-soaked outdoor adventures; it also offers an array of captivating indoor experiences that showcase the city’s vibrant arts, history, and culinary scenes.

39. Visit the Aerospace Museum of California: Soar Through Aviation History

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Prepare for a journey that defies gravity as you enter the Aerospace Museum of California, situated a stone’s throw away from Sacramento.

The museum serves as a sanctuary for aviation and space travel, showcasing an astonishing collection of historic aircraft, state-of-the-art simulators, and interactive exhibits.

Whether it’s military planes restored to their former glory or replicas of space vehicles that look as if they’ve just touched down from a far-off planet, the museum has it all.

It’s an institution that goes beyond catering to aviation aficionados; it’s an eye-opener to the leaps in technology and engineering that have enabled humans to conquer the skies and venture into space.

Families will find the educational programs particularly beneficial, as they’re designed to ignite the imaginations of aspiring pilots and astronauts.

From sitting in a real cockpit and piloting a flight simulator to absorbing the rich history and future possibilities of aerospace, this museum is an ode to human resourcefulness and ambition.

So take your curiosity and enthusiasm with you, and give yourself the chance to grasp the complexities and wonders of aerospace in this must-visit museum that celebrates our ceaseless quest to reach higher and go further.

40. Sacramento Children’s Museum: Where Little Minds Grow Big

Let your children’s imagination soar at the Sacramento Children’s Museum, a wonder-filled space teeming with interactive exhibits that beckon young minds to explore, learn, and grow.

From the tactile pleasures of water play zones to the thought-provoking interactive art installations, the museum has carefully curated a myriad of activities that promise to both entertain and educate.

Designed especially for families with children under eight, this isn’t just a museum—it’s a dynamic landscape where little minds can roam free.

While your kids busy themselves becoming budding scientists, aspiring artists, or miniature explorers, parents can either partake in the fun or relish the sight of their youngsters engrossed in discovery.

But the museum’s ambition extends beyond mere amusement; it seeks to instill a lifelong passion for learning.

So if you’re on the hunt for an intellectually stimulating yet fun-filled family outing, the Sacramento Children’s Museum stands as an essential addition to your Sacramento itinerary.

41. Scandia Family Fun Center: Unleash the Fun in You

Ready to unleash your inner fun-seeker? Make a beeline for Scandia Family Fun Center, Sacramento’s playground for the young and young at heart.

From the intricacies of mini-golf to the high-octane thrill of go-kart racing, and a sprawling arcade that promises to test your skills and reflexes—there’s something here for everyone.

Perfect for families, friends, or even solo adventurers looking for an adrenaline fix, the center is a multi-faceted entertainment hub.

Imagine pitching your best shot at the batting cages or maneuvering a bumper boat as if you’re a captain of fun on high seas—the options are virtually limitless.

Geared to appeal to all age groups, it’s the perfect locale for birthdays, weekend family outings, or simply letting off some steam.

In a world where fun often comes in short supply, Scandia Family Fun Center is a treasure trove of laughter and excitement, making it a must-visit destination on any Sacramento bucket list.

42. Delta King: Step Back in Time on Sacramento’s Floating Jewel

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

All set to embark on a voyage through time? Step aboard the Delta King, Sacramento’s cherished relic that floats majestically on the waters of Old Sacramento.

This isn’t just a boat—it’s a floating history lesson infused with elegance and nostalgia.
Imagine dining in the sumptuous Pilothouse Restaurant with its vintage aura, or catching a live theater performance that harkens back to the golden age of riverboat travel.

From its restored wooden interiors to the charming period decor, the Delta King transports you back to the Roaring Twenties, offering a one-of-a-kind lodging experience to boot.

Whether you’re there for a romantic dinner, an overnight stay, or to take part in a historical tour, this paddlewheel steamboat is an all-in-one venue that appeals to history buffs, couples, and culture seekers alike.
In a city that is ever-evolving, the Delta King stands as a timeless gem, offering visitors the unique chance to live history while enjoying modern comforts.

A visit to this floating marvel is akin to a journey back in time, and it’s an experience you wouldn’t want to miss when in Sacramento.

43. SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity: Ignite Your Sense of Wonder

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Are you ready to dive into a world where your curiosity is your guide? Welcome to the SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity, also known simply as MOSAC.

This isn’t just a museum; it’s a dynamic learning playground that promises to make your neurons dance with excitement.

Imagine watching your kids—or even your own inner child—become enamored by the hands-on science experiments that line the corridors of this establishment.

From gripping optical illusions that make you question reality to interactive exhibits that explain the complex phenomena of our universe, MOSAC offers an all-encompassing experience.

It’s a haven for families, but don’t be surprised if you find curious adults engrossed in experiments or posing questions to staff—MOSAC is designed to ignite the sense of wonder in people of all ages.

Whether you’re planning a fun day with your kids or trying to switch up your usual weekend routine, the museum’s focus on making science both accessible and captivating makes it an unmissable destination in Sacramento.

So put on your thinking caps and let MOSAC awaken the eternal learner in you.

44. Wine Tasting at the Old Sugar Mill: A Vintage Experience in Sacramento’s Countryside

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Elevate your senses with a wine tasting excursion at the Old Sugar Mill, a historical gem located just a stone’s throw from downtown Sacramento.

Housed in an atmospheric 1930s beet sugar refinery, the Old Sugar Mill is now home to a collective of 15 wineries offering a diverse range of varietals.

From robust reds to crisp whites, each tasting room invites you to discover the nuances of California wines, often with the winemakers themselves guiding you through the journey.

The venue’s rustic charm and scenic vineyard landscapes serve as the perfect backdrop for an intimate afternoon or a jovial gathering with friends.

Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or a casual wine lover, a visit to the Old Sugar Mill offers a sip of elegance and a taste of Sacramento’s winemaking heritage.

45. Sacramento Kings Games: Feel the Thrill of NBA Action

Basketball fans, rejoice! The Sacramento Kings bring the excitement of the NBA right to your doorstep in the California state capital.

Home games are held at the Golden 1 Center, a state-of-the-art arena that offers not just basketball, but a complete entertainment experience.

From the heart-pounding moments on the court to the electrifying atmosphere in the stands, attending a Kings game is an adrenaline-fueled event from start to finish.

You’ll not only witness elite athletes battling it out on the hardwood but also enjoy fan engagement activities, cutting-edge technology displays, and a variety of dining options that range from local delicacies to international fare.

With its family-friendly environment and a sea of passionate fans clad in purple and white, a Sacramento Kings game is a must-attend event whether you’re a die-hard basketball aficionado or just looking for a night filled with high-energy fun.

Events and Festivals: Celebrate the Spirit of Sacramento

Sacramento comes alive throughout the year with an eclectic range of events and festivals. From music and food to art and history, the city’s calendar is bustling with activities that showcase its vibrant culture and diverse communities.

46. Sacramento Music Festival

Embrace the rhythm of Sacramento at the Sacramento Music Festival, a multi-day event featuring a broad array of musical genres. From jazz and blues to rock and pop, there’s something for every music enthusiast here. It’s an unmissable experience for anyone looking to dance the night away.

47. California State Fair

Experience the quintessential California gathering at the State Fair. This annual event is a spectacular showcase of agriculture, livestock, arts, and entertainment. From thrilling rides to delicious food, the fair offers something for everyone, making it a summer staple for locals and tourists alike.

48. Farm-to-Fork Festival

Delve into Sacramento’s culinary scene at the Farm-to-Fork Festival. Celebrate local farmers, artisans, and chefs while enjoying mouth-watering dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients. It’s a food lover’s dream and a genuine taste of what makes Sacramento the farm-to-fork capital.

49. Sacramento Beer Week

Cheers to Sacramento Beer Week, where breweries and taprooms across the city offer special releases, tastings, and events. It’s the perfect occasion for beer aficionados to explore local craft beers and new brews, as well as participate in brewery tours and pairing dinners.

50. Gold Rush Days

Step back in time and experience the history of the Gold Rush era during Gold Rush Days. This annual event transports you to the 1850s, complete with historical reenactments, live music, and traditional crafts. It’s both educational and entertaining, making it a hit for families.

51. Sacramento Jazz Festival

Feel the groove at the Sacramento Jazz Festival, a haven for jazz lovers. From classic tunes to contemporary improvisations, the festival showcases a broad spectrum of jazz styles. It’s an annual gathering where the city’s rich musical history comes to life.

52. Aftershock Music Festival

Get ready to rock at the Aftershock Music Festival, Sacramento’s premier rock and metal music event. The festival draws some of the biggest names in the genre and offers an adrenaline-pumping experience for fans seeking loud music and mosh pits.

53. Sacramento Pride

Celebrate love, diversity, and inclusion at Sacramento Pride. This vibrant event features a colorful parade, live performances, and numerous stalls, creating a festive atmosphere that champions the LGBTQ+ community.

54. Chalk It Up! Art and Music Festival

Unleash your creativity at the Chalk It Up! Art and Music Festival. Artists take to the sidewalks to create chalk masterpieces, while musicians provide a live soundtrack to the artistic process. It’s a celebration of local talent and a feast for the eyes and ears.

55. The Sacramento Antique Faire

Hunt for treasures at the Sacramento Antique Faire, where you can find everything from vintage furniture to rare collectibles. Whether you’re a serious antique hunter or just looking for a unique souvenir, this monthly event is a delightful way to spend a weekend morning.

Sacramento’s events and festivals offer a rich tapestry of experiences, making it a city that truly knows how to celebrate life in all its diversity.

Nearby Excursions and Day Trips from Sacramento, California: Explore Beyond the City Limits

While Sacramento is a destination in its own right, its strategic location makes it a great starting point for a variety of day trips and excursions.

From natural wonders to bustling cities, you’re just a drive away from some of California’s most captivating attractions.

56. Folsom Historic District: A Time Capsule in Sacramento’s Backyard

For those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Sacramento for a day and dive into California’s rich history, Folsom Historic District is your next must-visit destination.

Just a short drive from Sacramento, Folsom offers a delightful blend of Gold Rush history, stunning Victorian architecture, and charming streets filled with local boutiques and eateries.

If you’re looking to deep-dive into Folsom’s story without the constraints of a guided tour, consider the Historic Folsom: A Self-Guided Audio Tour. This tour allows you to explore at your own pace and it’s far more wallet-friendly than guided options.

With your map downloaded, stroll from Folsom’s Historic District through Figueroa Street to Old Western Main Street and Truss Bridge.

Along the way, you’ll soak in tales of Gold Rush exploits, Native American history, and much more. The tour works seamlessly without cell phone reception, offering offline access to audio, maps, and geodata, making it the perfect companion for your historical exploration.

Don’t just read about California’s rich history—experience it for yourself in the Folsom Historic District.

Whether you’re a history buff or just in need of a charming day trip, Folsom offers an enriching experience that’s conveniently close yet feels worlds away.

57. UC Davis Arboretum: Nature’s Classroom in the Heart of the City

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Unearth the wonders of the natural world at the UC Davis Arboretum, a stunning 100-acre garden that serves as both a tranquil retreat and an educational resource.

Situated within the University of California, Davis campus, this verdant oasis boasts a breathtaking collection of more than 4,000 kinds of trees, plants, and shrubs from around the globe.

Visitors can wander through themed gardens like the Australian Collection or the East Asian Collection, each designed to educate and inspire.

Alongside its plant life, the arboretum also offers miles of scenic paths perfect for jogging, cycling, or a leisurely stroll.

With its diverse range of flora, fauna, and scheduled educational programs, the UC Davis Arboretum offers an enriching outdoor experience that invites you to reconnect with nature while expanding your botanical knowledge.

58. Auburn State Recreation Area: Your Gateway to Adventure and Natural Beauty

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Just a short drive from Sacramento, the Auburn State Recreation Area opens up a world of outdoor adventure and scenic splendor.

Spanning an impressive 42,377 acres, this natural playground is a haven for hikers, kayakers, and nature enthusiasts alike.

Framed by the North and Middle Forks of the American River, the area features an intricate network of trails offering varying levels of difficulty and distinct vistas, from rolling hills to towering cliffs.

Whether you’re looking to dip your toes in gold-panning, challenge yourself with white-water rafting, or simply bask in the beauty of a California sunset, this recreation area has something for everyone.

With its rich history rooted in the Gold Rush era, it also offers an opportunity to step back in time. If you want to make the most out of your visit, camping options are available for those who wish to wake up to the sound of birds and the rustling leaves.

Auburn State Recreation Area is a slice of wilderness that promises an unforgettable day trip or weekend getaway.

59. North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Oroville: A Walk Through California’s Natural Wonderland

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Less than two hours from Sacramento, the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Oroville is a breathtaking expanse that showcases the unique ecology and geology of Northern California.

Originating from ancient volcanic activity, this plateau offers an array of vernal pools, grasslands, and seasonal waterfalls that come alive especially in the spring.

Perfect for day hikes, photography, or bird watching, the reserve serves as a sanctuary for numerous native plant species, wildflowers, and a variety of wildlife.

Expect to see an array of color during the wildflower season, where carpets of purple lupines, golden poppies, and white meadowfoam transform the landscape into an artist’s palette.

Given its fragile ecosystem, visitors are encouraged to stay on designated trails and practice “leave no trace” principles.

If you’re interested in California’s unique geography and biodiversity, North Table Mountain offers an educational and visually stunning experience that’s worth the trip.

60. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, Travel Realizations

Just a two-hour drive from Sacramento, Lake Tahoe offers an idyllic escape into nature. Known for its stunning blue waters and majestic mountain backdrop, it’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Whether it’s skiing in the winter or hiking and boating in the summer, Lake Tahoe has activities for every season.

Also Read:

61. Napa Valley

Napa Valley, Travel Realizations

Indulge in some of California’s finest wines on a day trip to Napa Valley. Less than a two-hour drive from Sacramento, Napa Valley offers lush vineyards, scenic views, and luxurious spas.

Guided wine tours provide the perfect way to sample the region’s renowned Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and more.

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62. San Francisco

The iconic city by the bay is only a 90-minute drive from Sacramento, making it an ideal day trip. Explore the Golden Gate Bridge, walk along Fisherman’s Wharf, or ride a cable car up the city’s steep hills.

San Francisco offers a stark contrast to Sacramento, from its maritime culture to its bustling urban atmosphere.

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63. Apple Hill

Apple Hill, Travel Realizations

Come fall, Apple Hill is the epitome of autumnal charm. Just an hour from Sacramento, this region offers apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and homemade pies.

It’s a family-friendly destination, perfect for apple picking, hayrides, and tasting freshly baked treats.

Also Read:

Discover 46 Top Things to Do in Half Moon Bay, California, the scenic coastal town that not only offers breathtaking ocean views but is also home to the iconic Pumpkin Festival.

64. Folsom Lake State Recreation Area:

Just a 30-minute drive from Sacramento, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area serves as a quick getaway that feels worlds apart.

It’s a haven for outdoor adventurers and water sports enthusiasts alike. Spanning over 19,500 acres, the area is teeming with activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. In the summer, the sandy beaches around the lake are perfect for sunbathing and picnics.

It’s a popular spot for families and friends to gather for a day of fun under the sun.

Whether you’re interested in kayaking through serene waters or hitting the numerous multi-use trails, Folsom Lake provides an easy escape into California’s natural beauty.

Read More: 35 Best Lakes in Northern California to add to Your Bucket List 

65. Muir Woods National Monument:

Muir woods National Monument, Travel Realizations

Discover the serene beauty of ancient redwood trees at Muir Woods National Monument, just a couple of hours from Sacramento.

Wander along easy trails, take in the scent of the rich, moist earth, and feel dwarfed by the towering giants that have stood for centuries.

Read More: Best Trails in Muir Woods National Monument: A Guide

66. Russian River

A popular spot for kayaking, tubing, and fishing, the Russian River is just a two-hour drive from Sacramento.

Enjoy a leisurely day on the water or explore the charming towns and wineries along the riverbanks.

67. Historic Coloma

California Gold Rush Towns, Travel Realizations
Sutter’s Mill in Coloma: Where California’s Gold Rush Sparked, Forever Changing the Landscape of the American West

Travel back in time to the days of the California Gold Rush with a visit to Historic Coloma, less than an hour from Sacramento.

Tour the historic sites, try your hand at gold panning, and soak in the rich history of the place where gold was first discovered in California.

68. Mendocino

Mendocino, Travel Realizations

A slightly longer drive from Sacramento, the Mendocino Coast offers breathtaking ocean views, dramatic cliffs, and quaint coastal villages.

It’s a great place for hiking, tidepooling, or simply enjoying the sea breeze.

Read More:

69. Point Reyes National Seashore:

Point Reyes, Travel Realizations

This coastal park is about two hours from Sacramento and offers a stunning landscape of cliffs, beaches, and grasslands. It’s a haven for birdwatchers, hikers, and anyone who loves the outdoors.

Read More: 50 Top Things To Do in Point Reyes, California

70. Yosemite National Park:

Yosemite, Travel Realizations

One of America’s most iconic national parks, Yosemite is a three-hour drive from Sacramento. The park is renowned for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, and diverse ecosystems.

It’s a must-visit for nature lovers and offers an array of outdoor activities, from hiking to rock climbing.

These day trips offer a versatile range of experiences, allowing you to embrace the natural beauty, rich history, and diverse culture that lie just beyond Sacramento’s borders.

Read More:

Shopping in Sacramento, California

Indulge in a retail therapy extravaganza in Sacramento, where modern malls meet historic shopping districts.

Whether you’re hunting for high-end labels, unique antiques, or the latest trends, the city’s diverse shopping venues offer something for every taste and budget.

71. The Arden Fair Mall: A Shopper’s Paradise

ndulge in a retail therapy session at Arden Fair Mall, Sacramento’s premier shopping destination. This expansive mall features a range of top-tier brands, department stores, and boutique shops, catering to shoppers of every taste.

From the latest fashion trends to tech gadgets and home decor, Arden Fair Mall has it all. When you need a break, the mall offers a variety of dining options, from quick bites to sit-down restaurants, providing a full-day shopping experience that’s as relaxing as it is rewarding.

72. Antique Shopping in Old Sacramento: A Journey Through Time

Get lost in the labyrinth of nostalgia as you explore the antique shops of Old Sacramento. Each store is like a mini-museum, filled with treasures from different eras.

Whether you’re looking for vintage furniture, rare collectibles, or just love the thrill of the hunt, Old Sacramento’s antique stores are a window into the past.

It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon rummaging through history, and perhaps bringing home a piece of it.

73. DOCO (Downtown Commons): The Pulse of Modern Sacramento

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

If you’re looking to shop in the heart of the city, look no further than DOCO. Situated conveniently near the Golden 1 Center, this modern shopping complex blends retail, dining, and entertainment into one lively package.

Here, you’ll find trendy boutiques, chic cafes, and even a public plaza where events often take place.

Whether you’re catching a Kings game or simply enjoying a day downtown, DOCO provides a fresh, urban shopping experience.

74. Pavilions Shopping Center: The Epitome of Upscale Retail

For those who enjoy the finer things in life, Pavilions Shopping Center is your go-to destination. Located in one of Sacramento’s more affluent neighborhoods, this shopping center exudes a sense of luxury and exclusivity.

You’ll find high-end boutiques, gourmet grocery stores, and exquisite dining options that make for a thoroughly upscale shopping experience. If you appreciate quality and elegance, then Pavilions is a must-visit.

75. Folsom Premium Outlets: Designer Deals Await

If you’re a bargain hunter with a taste for designer labels, then Folsom Premium Outlets is your happy place. Just a short drive from Sacramento, this outlet mall features a plethora of high-end brands at deeply discounted prices.

From fashion to footwear and accessories, the outlets offer a range of options that won’t break the bank. Make a day of it and bring home some designer gems without the designer price tags.

Each of these shopping destinations offers its own unique flavor and specialty, making Sacramento a diverse and exciting place for retail adventures.

Whether you’re a resident or just passing through, these shopping venues have something to offer everyone.

Dining Options in Sacramento, California

Embark on a culinary journey through Sacramento, where farm-to-fork dining meets diverse global flavors.

Whether you’re craving gourmet tacos or a Michelin-starred experience, the city’s dining landscape offers a feast for every palate.

76. The Kitchen: A Culinary Theatre

For a truly extraordinary dining experience, make a reservation at The Kitchen. This Michelin-starred restaurant takes fine dining to a new level by engaging its guests in an interactive, multi-course culinary extravaganza.

As you savor impeccably crafted dishes, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn from the chefs who prepare them right in front of you. The Kitchen offers a night of culinary artistry that’s as entertaining as it is delicious.

77. Ella Dining Room and Bar: A Symphony of Flavors

Located in the heart of downtown Sacramento, Ella Dining Room and Bar offers an elegant setting for enjoying modern American and French-inspired cuisine.

The restaurant features a stunning interior design that adds a dash of sophistication to any dining experience.

Whether you opt for a classic steak or a seasonal delicacy, Ella’s serves up food that’s as beautiful as it is tasty.

78. Tower Café: Global Tastes in a Local Setting

For something more casual yet equally exciting, visit Tower Café, a Sacramento institution famous for its international menu.

With culinary influences from around the globe, this café offers something for everyone—from Thai chicken salads to French toast. The relaxed atmosphere and eclectic décor make it an ideal spot for brunch or a leisurely dinner.

79. Mulvaney’s B&L: Farm-to-Fork Pioneers

When it comes to showcasing Sacramento’s rich agricultural offerings, few do it better than Mulvaney’s B&L. This farm-to-fork gem is celebrated for its commitment to sourcing local ingredients and creating a menu that reflects the seasons.

In addition to its regular menu, Mulvaney’s also hosts a variety of special events, including cooking classes and winemaker dinners.

80. Mas Taco Bar: A Fiesta for the Senses

If you’re craving flavors from south of the border, Mas Taco Bar should be on your radar. This vibrant eatery offers an extensive selection of tacos, ranging from classic carne asada to inventive combinations like duck confit with tamarind glaze.

Their handcrafted cocktails, featuring an array of tequilas and mezcals, are the perfect complement to a spicy meal.

81. Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine: Sushi Elevated

Satisfy your sushi cravings at Kru, where traditional Japanese techniques meet innovative culinary imagination. Offering more than just sushi, the menu also includes a variety of mouth-watering small plates, sashimi, and unique chef specials.

The sleek, modern interior adds to the overall experience, making Kru a top spot for sushi lovers and foodies alike.

Whether you’re a gastronome or simply someone who enjoys a good meal, Sacramento’s diverse dining scene promises an experience for every palate.

The Best Time to Visit Sacramento: A Symphony of Seasons

81 Best Things To Do in Sacramento, California, Travel Realizations

Sacramento is truly a year-round destination, each season offering its unique allure. Summer can be scorching but invites you to enjoy the refreshing waters of the American River or dive into the city’s cool indoor experiences.

However, if you’re looking to escape the heat, spring is an absolutely delightful season to explore the city. From the kaleidoscope of wildflowers and orchard blooms to the pleasantly warm days, spring in Sacramento is nothing short of magical.

For those who enjoy the crisp air of autumn, consider a visit in mid to late fall. The climate is still welcoming for outdoor activities, and the city transitions into a tapestry of vibrant foliage.

When it comes to events, the Sacramento Music Festival in May, the California State Fair in July, and Gold Rush Days in September offer a cultural feast.

Just keep in mind that the fair in July coincides with the peak of the summer heat. Choose your timing wisely, and Sacramento will reward you with its endless beauty and rich tapestry of activities.

Where to Stay in Sacramento

When it comes to accommodations, Sacramento offers a wealth of options catering to every taste and budget. Here are some options to consider:


The Citizen Hotel – If you’re looking for grandeur and sophistication, look no further. The Citizen Hotel is a downtown gem, offering luxurious rooms and top-notch amenities.

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The Amber House Inn of Midtown – For a more intimate experience, this charming bed and breakfast brings you Victorian elegance with modern comforts in the heart of Midtown Sacramento. Book a stay here!


Residence Inn by Marriott Sacramento Downtown at Capitol Park – With spacious rooms and a kitchen in each suite, this hotel is a solid choice for families.

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Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown-Arena, an IHG Hotel – Centrally located just off I-5 and a stone’s throw from Old Sacramento, Holiday Inn Sacramento serves as a gateway to the city’s history, culture, and business hubs.

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Hyatt Regency Sacramento – Located right across from the State Capitol, this hotel offers excellent amenities and meeting spaces for business travelers.

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Kimpton Sawyer Hotel – Nestled within the Downtown Commons (DOCO), this hotel offers a vibrant, modern experience and is steps away from shopping, dining, and the Golden 1 Center.

Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll find that Sacramento’s neighborhoods offer their own unique attractions and experiences, making any visit a rich exploration of California’s capital city.

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Similar Articles From Travel Realizations

Travel Realizations

Sacramento, the heart of California, is a city that never ceases to amaze. From its rich historical tapestry to its vibrant arts scene, and from its scenic outdoor activities to its gastronomic delights, Sacramento offers something for everyone.

Each attraction and experience tells a unique story, adding a new layer to your understanding of this dynamic city. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or an adventurer, Sacramento invites you to become a part of its ongoing narrative.

As you explore these 81 best things to do in Sacramento, you’re not just ticking boxes off a list; you’re weaving your own tale into the rich, multifaceted fabric of California’s capital city. Come find your story.

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Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.