Here I was in Sacramento, the capital of California, just three days before the 4th of July. The city was bedecked in the blue, white and red colors of the American flag. The festive atmosphere and the beautiful weather were close friends that summer.
It was a wonderful time of the year to visit with so many things to do during the long holiday weekend. We caught a few events, skipped more but generally managed to have a good time. On 4th night we watched the fireworks above Raley Field over beer and barbecue and by the time the weekend ended, so did the last vestiges of our jet lag from the long 24 hr journey from Oman.
Sacramento is a city with a lot of sunshine. This means you can spend most of your time outdoors exploring and experiencing the local culture and cuisine.
The city is centered at the meeting point of the American and Sacramento rivers, which allows for some great waterfront views and activities.
Compared to the neighboring cities, Sacramento, despite being the capital, is underrated in terms of its touristy appeal. But for the visitor who gets there, this can be its most appealing factor, as you get to enjoy the city without the crowds. There is lots of do, so if you’ve less time, its best to pick and choose according to your interest.
Concerts in the Park – Over 25 years old, this music festival is an outdoor event held every summer in downtown Sacramento. I managed to attend three concerts in the one month that I was in Sacramento and enjoyed every single experience.
The bands are exceptionally good and the 5,000 plus crowd, the beer, the food stalls, the impromptu dancing all adds to the outdoor concert ambiance. There are a number of after party locations that you can head out to after the concerts. We did a pub hopping stint a couple of times – included a stop at the Dive Bar which had a huge aquarium with a girl in a mermaid costume swimming in it. Mostly the nearby restaurants and pubs are an enjoyable walk away but if you do get tired, there’s always Uber.
Crocker Art Museum – Whether you’re an art connoisseur or just someone who appreciates beauty and thought in an artistic creation, this is one place no visitor to Sacramento should miss. With different music bands playing once a week in the open courtyard and a cool café and drinks stall, an evening spent here can be a very nice experience. Check out their website http://crockerartmuseum.org/ for information on upcoming exhibitions and bands.
California State Capitol and The Capitol Park – This park has the legislative seat of California, the Capitol Building in the centre of it. There are tours which take you inside the building, though I didn’t take one. The park also has countless trees from around the world, all marked for reference.
They are maintained by the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Walking through this park I belatedly realized why Sacramento was known as the City of Trees.
Tower Bridge – Okay so why wasn’t this called the golden gate bridge instead? That’s the first thought that comes to mind when you see the tower bridge’s golden paint actually glistening in the sunshine.
This is a lift bridge that can be seen from most locations. Either lit up at night or in the daytime, it makes for a great photo location, especially since its right above the Sacramento river.
Old Sacramento Underground Tours – Took this half mile tour to learn a bit about the history of the town dating back to the 1860’s.
We had a good tour guide who explained quite a bit about Sacramento during the gold rush days, including the history of Sutter’s Fort. More on their website http://sachistorymuseum.org/tours/underground-tours/
Old Sacramento town – has riverfront restaurants, pubs, museums and quaint shops. This is easily the most popular tourist destination in the capital city. More on Old Sacramento in my other blog – https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/traveltoes85.wordpress.com
Other places I visited were :
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament – This is a beautiful church dating back to the 1800s and is bang in the middle of downtown Sacramento.
It has impressive architecture, frescos, stained glass windows and altars. Guided tours describing the history of the church are given twice a week.
Raley Field – It was impossible not to go here as we lived pretty close and could hear the excited cheers of the baseball fans every time there was a game – this is the home of the Sacramento River cats minor league baseball team. I had no idea how baseball was played (kept comparing it to cricket) so was taken for a game and the intricacies were patiently explained to me.
California State Fair – is held every July in Cal Expo so I guess I was lucky to be there in July. It was like any other fair though – lots of noise, food, beer, fun and excitement. Some great bands play pop, rock, blues and country music. They even have a petting zoo and activities for the kids.
Paint Nite – If you have the time, do not miss this. I had the most amazing time at Fat City Bar and Cafe painting a waterfall and trees. After a few drinks, your painting begins to look really goodJ All painting supplies are provided along with a lot of encouragement so even first time artists are happy. Check out their facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/paintnitesacramento/
Farmers Market – If you like browsing through farmers markets, there are quite a few around Sacramento, including one in the downtown area. California may be famous for a lot of things but for me it’s always been the place where you get the biggest and juiciest strawberries. Thumbs up for the wine and wine tasting sessions too.
The following tourist spots are driving distance from Sacramento:
Napa and Sonoma wine valleys – one hour from Sacramento
San Francisco – 90 mins from Sacramento
Lake Tahoe – 2 hrs drive from Sacramento
Yosemite National Park – 3 hrs drive from Sacramento
Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel by the sea – 3 hrs from Sacramento
Mendocino – 3 ½ hrs from Sacramento