Sacramento travel guide

Sacramento Tourism | Sacramento Guide

You're Going to Love Sacramento

California's capital isn't just a political hub. It's got so much more going than that. This beautiful city offers attractions for all ages, a packed calendar of cultural events and natural beauty within a walk of the city center.

Sacramento is a city of experiences, and one that people return to again and again. In Old Sacramento, you can relive the history of the Gold Rush and the coming of the railroads at the State Railroad Museum. At Sutter's Fort, you can put yourself in the place of the first pioneers, before coming back to the present in Midtown bars and restaurants that match any in Frisco or LA.

The city comes alive during the State Fair and the Sacramento Music Festival, but every day is a cultural event, with open air festivals, art walks and live music in the city's bars.

It all means that Sacramento is a city that will live with you long after you leave. For memories that will last a lifetime, book your tickets to the Californian capital.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Sacramento

Watch a Sporting Spectacle

Sacramento may not be famous as a sporting city, but you can catch top-level basketball matches when the Kings are in action, and there are professional soccer and baseball teams in the city as well. That's without even mentioning the rodeo and motocross events at the State Fair.

Family Attractions for all Ages

Sacramento is an excellent family destination. Enjoy the wide range of rides at Funderland Park, get drenched in the sunshine at Raging Waters or pay a visit to Sacramento Zoo in William Land Park, where you'll find over 500 animals waiting to meet you.

World-Class Art Galleries

Sacramento is a thriving artistic center. Head to major internationally-famous institutions like the Crocker Art Museum or join the Sacramento Art Walk to tour the galleries and studios of Midtown for a window into the cutting edge of today's art scene.

Cycling and Hiking Trails near the Center of Town

Getting outdoors is part of California culture, and Sacramento offers plenty of ways to enjoy the sunshine and scenery. Rent bikes and head to Folsom Lake or head to Sunrise Boulevard to rent inflatable rafts that you can paddle down to River Bend Park.

Soak up the Atmosphere of Old Sacramento

Sacramento is one of California's oldest cities, and Old Sacramento is heaven for history fans. Not only can you see the beautifully restored houses and public buildings of the old city, you can see the period locomotives at the State Railroad Museum and visit Sutter's Fort, the first settlement in the area.

What to do in Sacramento

1. California State Capitol: Home to the World Peace Rose Garden

The California State Capitol is located in Sacramento, California's capital city. Take a tour of California's State Capitol Building and head over to its Rotunda. As you venture through the impressive building, you'll be introduced to California's, past, present, and future. Marvel at the black-and-white-checkered tile floors, ornamental foliage, and the magnificent Griffin motifs featured on the murals. In the center of the room, you'll find a majestic, life-size marble statue entitled Columbus' Last Appeal to Queen Isabella. Wander the halls of the historic offices, legislative chambers, and restored rooms and admire the walls highlighted with paintings of California's Great Seal. Book a tour of the World Peace Rose Garden, memorials, and monuments. If you get tired, take a break in the theater located on the lower level floor and watch an interpretive movie.

2. Crocker Art Museum: The First Public Art Museum

Recognized as an American Alliance of Museums (AAM) member, the Crocker Art Museum features a variety of fascinating art exhibits. Marvel at the collection of European drawings, Native American ceramics, California paintings and Chinese tomb figures on display. If you love to draw, book a Sip & Sketch session. You'll drink wine, listen to music, and draw while listening to Jazz at the museum. The Crocker also offers an acrylic pet portrait painting class and an intensive collage workshop.

3. California State Railroad Museum: Fun Vintage Railroad Excursions

Take a day-long excursion on a vintage Granite Rock No. 10 steam locomotive and enjoy a ride in either a closed coach car or a first-class observation car. All trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot and travel alongside the Sacramento River. If you love Halloween or scary movies, then the Spookomotive Train Ride is for you. Share a ride with cobwebs, spiders, and a "skeleton crew". If you take the VIP ride, dress up as your favorite Halloween character, and ride in the First Class Mad Scientist Laboratory. During the holiday season, take an hour-long excursion to the North Pole on the Polar Express. Fill yourself up with hot chocolate and cookies, and meet characters from the story. You'll have a delightful time celebrating the holidays.

4. Fairytale Town: Home to Nursery Rhymes and Fairytales

If you have children, Fairytale Town will have them mesmerized. Visit Farmer Brown's Barn and meet Maddie, the Cow that Jumped Over the Moon and Winnie the Pooh's Eeyore. Stroll over to Urashimataro, Fairytale Town's Japanese garden. Marvel at the white Japanese anemones blooming from the 45-year-old maple tree in the garden.

5. Fort Sutter State Historical Park: Home to "Hands on History" Interactive Tours

Book the Sutter's Fort or Bust Tour and learn about John Sutter's life and journey to California. You'll be mesmerized by how Sutter influenced people to migrate to California. Experience the re-enacted interpretations of pioneer life and the firing of Sutter's cannon.

6. Emerald Bay State Park: The Forest of Oz

Surrounding the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe are some of the most spectacular National Parks in the United States, and Emerald Bay State Park is a true gem. This unique inlet of the massive alpine lake is surrounded by lush lands flowing with rivers and falls, and teeming with hiking trails and campsites. Discover Vikingsholm Castle for yourself, a mystical viking-style construction based on 9th-century Scandinavian architecture, with striking views over the bay.

1. California State Capitol: Home to the World Peace Rose Garden

The California State Capitol is located in Sacramento, California's capital city. Take a tour of California's State Capitol Building and head over to its Rotunda. As you venture through the impressive building, you'll be introduced to California's, past, present, and future. Marvel at the black-and-white-checkered tile floors, ornamental foliage, and the magnificent Griffin motifs featured on the murals. In the center of the room, you'll find a majestic, life-size marble statue entitled Columbus' Last Appeal to Queen Isabella. Wander the halls of the historic offices, legislative chambers, and restored rooms and admire the walls highlighted with paintings of California's Great Seal. Book a tour of the World Peace Rose Garden, memorials, and monuments. If you get tired, take a break in the theater located on the lower level floor and watch an interpretive movie.

2. Crocker Art Museum: The First Public Art Museum

Recognized as an American Alliance of Museums (AAM) member, the Crocker Art Museum features a variety of fascinating art exhibits. Marvel at the collection of European drawings, Native American ceramics, California paintings and Chinese tomb figures on display. If you love to draw, book a Sip & Sketch session. You'll drink wine, listen to music, and draw while listening to Jazz at the museum. The Crocker also offers an acrylic pet portrait painting class and an intensive collage workshop.

3. California State Railroad Museum: Fun Vintage Railroad Excursions

Take a day-long excursion on a vintage Granite Rock No. 10 steam locomotive and enjoy a ride in either a closed coach car or a first-class observation car. All trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot and travel alongside the Sacramento River. If you love Halloween or scary movies, then the Spookomotive Train Ride is for you. Share a ride with cobwebs, spiders, and a "skeleton crew". If you take the VIP ride, dress up as your favorite Halloween character, and ride in the First Class Mad Scientist Laboratory. During the holiday season, take an hour-long excursion to the North Pole on the Polar Express. Fill yourself up with hot chocolate and cookies, and meet characters from the story. You'll have a delightful time celebrating the holidays.

4. Fairytale Town: Home to Nursery Rhymes and Fairytales

If you have children, Fairytale Town will have them mesmerized. Visit Farmer Brown's Barn and meet Maddie, the Cow that Jumped Over the Moon and Winnie the Pooh's Eeyore. Stroll over to Urashimataro, Fairytale Town's Japanese garden. Marvel at the white Japanese anemones blooming from the 45-year-old maple tree in the garden.

5. Fort Sutter State Historical Park: Home to "Hands on History" Interactive Tours

Book the Sutter's Fort or Bust Tour and learn about John Sutter's life and journey to California. You'll be mesmerized by how Sutter influenced people to migrate to California. Experience the re-enacted interpretations of pioneer life and the firing of Sutter's cannon.

6. Emerald Bay State Park: The Forest of Oz

Surrounding the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe are some of the most spectacular National Parks in the United States, and Emerald Bay State Park is a true gem. This unique inlet of the massive alpine lake is surrounded by lush lands flowing with rivers and falls, and teeming with hiking trails and campsites. Discover Vikingsholm Castle for yourself, a mystical viking-style construction based on 9th-century Scandinavian architecture, with striking views over the bay.

Where to Eat in Sacramento

Sacramento is a fantastic place to dine out, with a diverse local dining scene and restaurants from all over the world. Biba is a first-rate Italian, Morton's Steakhouse offers gourmet meat dishes; Zocalo is the city's best Mexican while Tower Cafe is the best place to grab a bargain breakfast. There's also a thriving mobile food scene, including trucks like Bacon Mania and Frenchy's Waffles, so keep an eye out when you are wandering around. Expect to pay $15-20 for a medium range meal and $40 or more at the best places.

When to visit Sacramento

Sacramento in July
Estimated hotel price
C$ 39
1 night at 3-star hotel
Sacramento in July
Estimated hotel price
C$ 39
1 night at 3-star hotel

If you want to beat the vacation crowds but still enjoy plenty of festivals and fine weather, try visiting Sacramento in April or May. However, the biggest show of the year is the California State Fair which takes place in July, so if you simply have to attend, a mid-summer getaway is essential.

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Temperatures
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How to Get to Sacramento

Plane

The best way for most vacationers to reach Sacramento is by flying into Sacramento International Airport, which is a few miles north of the center of town. The cheapest route into Downtown Sacramento is to take YoloBus 42A (not 42B), which costs $2. Taxis are also available, and should cost around $30, and major car rental companies like Alamo and Hertz are also represented at the arrivals terminal.

Train

Sacramento's Amtrak station is located at 401 I Street and is served by a number of interstate routes. The California Zephyr links Sacramento to Chicago while the Coast Starlight connects the city to Portland and Seattle.

Car

If you are driving to Sacramento from the east, the city is handily located on I-80, which provides a connection to cities like St Louis, Kansas City and Chicago (and eventually New York). Those coming from San Francisco and Los Angeles can take I-5 straight into town.

Bus

Both Greyhound and Megabus run intercity bus services into Sacramento. Greyhound offers more connections and their main stop is at 420 Richards Boulevard. However, Megabus may well provide cheaper tickets from cities like San Francisco or Reno, so be sure to check their schedules.

Airports near Sacramento

Airlines serving Sacramento

United Airlines
Good (2,852 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,390 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,174 reviews)
KLM
Good (356 reviews)
Air France
Good (399 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,053 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,336 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,434 reviews)
SWISS
Good (458 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,217 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (970 reviews)
Iberia
Good (924 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,447 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (282 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (314 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (330 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (546 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (102 reviews)
Finnair
Good (701 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,636 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Sacramento

Downtown Sacramento – California's political hub, Downtown Sacramento is also a business center, but it has much to offer ordinary tourists as well. It's the place to go if you want to watch the Sacramento Kings in action in the NBA and it's also a creative district thanks to the regular crafts market in Fremont Park and a cluster of galleries and theaters - so it's a sensible base for a vacation in the city.

Popular Neighborhoods in Sacramento

Midtown – Located just to the east of Downtown Sacramento, Midtown is a very different beast. Midtown is the city's artistic, musical and dining hub. It's home to lively music venues like Shine Sacramento, gastro pubs like the Firestone and small art galleries showcasing the area's most talented painters and sculptors. If you're there on the second Saturday of the month, don't miss the Midtown Art Walk, which sees hundreds of locals join tourists to find out what the artistic community have been creating.

Old Sacramento – Sacramento has been around as a city since 1848 when it was founded during the Gold Rush. Old Sacramento is the nucleus of the old city, and much of it has been lovingly restored. Visitors will adore the Spanish-influenced houses, with their fine wrought iron details, and culture fans will love the Sacramento Music Festival, held there every Memorial Day Weekend.

Most popular hotel in Sacramento by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Sacramento

Most booked hotels in Sacramento

Hampton Inn & Suites West Sacramento
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
C$ 210+
Kimpton Sawyer Hotel
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
C$ 362+
Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
C$ 222+
Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown - Arena
Good (7.7, Good reviews)
C$ 218+
Echo Lodge
Good (7.7, Good reviews)
C$ 92+
Holiday Inn Express- West Sacramento, An IHG Hotel
Good (7.4, Good reviews)
C$ 193+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Sacramento

Public Transportation

Sacramento Regional Transit runs a useful network of buses and light rail services in the city. A range of day and week passes are available, and the best way to purchase tickets is via the RT Mobile App, although tickets are also available from more than 50 stores in the city center.

Taxis

Taxis are a handy alternative to driving or public transit but can be an expensive option. Typically, the meter drop in Sacramento is $4.50; after that the cost is $3 per mile. Uber is a much cheaper option, with UberX rates starting at $1 for the meter drop, then $0.75 per mile (with a minimum fare of $5).

Car

Driving around central Sacramento is fairly simple. All north to south streets are numbered and lettered streets cross the city from east to west, so it's hard to get lost. There are plenty of parking meters in the Downtown area and rates start at $1.75 but vary depending on the time of day. If major events are scheduled, it might be a good idea to book a spot with SacPark before you travel into town.

The Cost of Living in Sacramento

Shopping Streets

Shopping is a big deal in Sacramento, and "the Grid" (in the city center) is the best place to shop. There's a particularly high density of jewelers, fashion boutiques, household craft stores and more on J and K streets, including wonderful independent stores like Heart Clothing and ShopCuffs. If you are looking for a conventional mall, the Westfield Galeria in Roseville is easily Sacramento's largest, and hosts major brands like Louis Vuitton and Burberry.

Groceries and Other

If you are self-catering or need to stock up for a picnic, Sacramento has plenty of options. There are famous chains like Trader Joe's along with local businesses like the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op and Sprouts Farmers Market on R Street, so finding groceries isn't a problem. However, food prices can be relatively high. Expect to pay $3.60 for a gallon of milk and around $3 for 12 eggs.

Cheap meal
C$ 18.40
A pair of jeans
C$ 62.09
Single public transport ticket
C$ 3.37
Cappuccino
C$ 5.40