Adventure – 55 Things to Do in Sacramento California
55 Things to Do in Sacramento California
What is Sacramento best known for?
Sacramento is the capital city of California, and is a beautiful state filled with greenery, beautiful parks, a stunning waterfront, two main rivers, history and culture, high-tech bridges, great art and sculpture, divine food, ice-cream, friendly people and always, fabulous scenery. It is a city that is definitely worth visiting, with your family or your friends, filled with fun, nature and adventures.
Like any big city, there are things in Sacramento that you can do for free, and others that cost money. If you are on a budget, the good news is that Sacramento has a lot of public space, parks and rivers, and there is a lot you can do for free. Whether you are a native of Sacramento, or just visiting for the weekend, on holiday or on business, you will find that there is a ton to do in this beautiful city.
Is Sacramento worth visiting?
Of course Sacramento is worth visiting. There is a reason why it has such a beautiful reputation in the USA and why so many people want to live here, or come and visit for a few days. The nature is fabulous, the history is fabulous, and the people are incredible. Sacramento is a friendly city, the food is delicious and it is perfect for solo travellers, couples and families, as well as people of all ages.
We are going to go over the things to do in Sacramento, either in an hour or two, in a morning, in afternoon, on a full day trip or for a few days. Pack a bag, pick up the kids and there you go! You can find a map at your hotel, at the tourist office or on the internet. Sacramento is an easy city to navigate and you won’t get lost! If you do, it will be part of the fun and adventure. Sacramento is safe, welcoming and super friendly. And you can always pick up an ice-cream along your travels. Plus, the coffee is great!
Here are our top 55 things to do in Sacramento:-
- Tower Bridge
Everyone who visits Sacramento goes to Tower Bridge. It is one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento, either exploring on foot or by bike. The bridge joins Sacramento itself with West Sacramento. Drive over it, walk over it, or get on your bicycle. There are special lanes devoted to each mode of transport. You don’t have to pay a thing to go over any of the Sacramento bridges, but you do have to take a few pics!
- California State Capitol
As the capital of the state of California, it’s definitely a good idea to take a look at the California State Capitol, home to the legislature and office to the governor. The building is a historic landmark and you can view it from the outside, or join a public guided tour. Everyone who lives in Sacramento knows that this is what Sacramento is best known for. Tours of the capitol are free and the architecture is pretty amazing. Go during your lunch break if you live in Sacramento!
- Sacramento Waterfront
This is a beautiful part of Sacramento and filled with history. It’s where you will find museums, historical foundations and great shopping. Wandering around this area for a morning or afternoon is one of the things to do in Sacramento that the whole family will enjoy. There are riverboats for cruises, entertainment for kids, entertainment for adults, tons of choice for restaurants and bars, and many hotels too. You may just find you end up staying in this area. If you are asking what to do in Sacramento for a day, you can easily hang out here.
- Sutter’s Fort
Sacramento is filled with history going back to the gold rush, and Sutter’s Fort is a historical park where one can wander around, have a picnic, or take part in a public tour or event that goes back to the old gold rush era. If you are asking what you can do in Sacrament that is for free, hanging out at Sutter’s Fort is one. There is an entrance fee on event days, unless you are a Friend of Sutter’s. Check out the information online and take the kids. They will really enjoy it too.
- Sutter Gold Mine Tour
While you are at Sutter’s Fort, travel a little further and take one of their Gold Mine Tours. You take a boss buggy, with a guide, into the mine, and learn about the gold mining process, and history, at the same time. Definitely worth doing if you are thinking what to do in Sacramento for a day, and everyone will be fascinated! This is ideal for school groups as well.
- Sacramento’s Historic Cemetery
This really is a beautiful place to visit, filled with history and adorned with astonishing statues. It’s a good place to learn about Sacramento’s history and American history, and there is an outdoor museum devoted to Californian history. Often, one doesn’t think about visiting a cemetery but this is a really good one to visit. Take your time walking around, reading the plaques and learning about Sacramento’s somewhat turbulent history.
- Guy A. West Memorial Bridge
Another great bridge, this one spans the American River, connecting the California State University to the north-east bank of the river. Pedestrians and cyclists are welcome, and its pretty amazing walking across. It’s also free for anyone to use! Take pics when you’re midway, but be very careful with selfies!
- William Land Park
Take a picnic blanket, a few snacks, a ball, magazine and the kids. William Land Park is large and a definite must-visit park. It spans a few neighborhoods and is more of an entire community. There are designated picnic areas, water features, and you will find the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Park and a golf course. Free entry except in the themed areas and this is where you can happily spend a Saturday or Sunday, or an afternoon when you have time out from business.
- Fairytale Town in William Land Park,
We mentioned Fairytale Town at the William Land Park before, and if you have kids, they will love it here. It’s like our own Sacramento Disney, not as big but just as much fun! It’s one of the definite Sacramento things to do for kids of all ages. Adults seem to have a good time too! You will want to carve a few hours out of your day for this activity, the kids will not want to leave in a hurry.
- Southside Park
Another large park that also has a swimming pool, a kiddies pool and a jogging trail. There are playgrounds, outdoor gyms, a lake with fishing piers and a clubhouse. Perfect for families, couples, singles and kids. Really popular in summer. You can buy snacks if you want to, or visit some of the local bistros, but otherwise take your own snacks and refreshments.
- McKinley Park
This is a park that the locals love and treasure. There are running tracks, open fields, tennis courts and playgrounds, as well as water features. Take a blanket, pack a picnic basket and have fun in the sun! Great for weekend relaxation, or for pre or post work. If you are a Sacramento visitor, this is a great place for time out inbetween sightseeing.
- American River Parkway
This is a huge park area and you need to pick up a map and do a little research before you go. It’s a great full day out. You can walk, cycle, jog, hike, skate, boat and fish. The American River Parkways falls under the regional parks of Sacramento Country and you can spend an hour, a couple of hours or a full day, depending on what you want to do. Be prepared with hiking boots, fishing rods, water, sunscreen and snacks. You can choose how active you want to be and if you want to do an hour’s hike, a few hours or even an overnight hike. Do your research before you head out though.
- Eat Ice-Cream at Gunther’s Quality Ice Cream!
Yes, you can eat good ice-cream in a lof of different cities but Gunther’s really is pure Sacramento! The flavors are divine, the atmosphere is fabulous and Gunther’s is a perfect mid way stop between your sightseeing schedule. This is just one of the fun things to do in Sacramento, in between all the other fun things! We recommend the milkshakes too. By the way, you will find good ice-cream everywhere in Sacramento.
- Take in some art
The fabulous thing about Sacramento’s art scene is that a lot of it is outdoors and you can see it as you explore the city. One of the things to do in Sacramento is just walk and explore. You will see art as you walk through the city, especially outside the historic public buildings, around the waterfront, over the bridges and as you shop. Make sure you take a walk through the Sacramento Convention Centre Sculpture Garden and take look at the public art outside the Safety on 19th and R street. There are also galleries that you can pop in and out of, as you wander the city, with no entrance fees. Always inspiring.
- Watch a little baseball
You cannot get more American than taking in some baseball and the Sacramento Kings will keep anyone entertained. Get your baseball caps, buy a hot dog and go and have fun fun fun! The Arco arena is pretty awesome too, and if there isn’t a game on but you’re a baseball fun, go check it out. If you are a local to Sacramento, we don’t need to say much more. The Sacramento Kings are iconic.
- Visit the Crest Theatre
This is a beautiful old building that opened in 1949 and still has that gorgeous olde-world interior, an art deco ceiling, waterfall drape and lots of atmosphere. Book theatre tickets for an evening, watch a little comedy or get to a musical concert. The Crest Theatre is also home to many film festivals, one of the many creative things to do in Sacramento. If you are into the arts, pay a visit to this stunning old theatre, even if just to look at the architecture.
- Outdoor Theatre in Sacramento
The Summertime Fair Oaks Theatre Festival is famous all around the USA and people come from far and wide to Sacramento to sit under the stars, take in the atmosphere of the amphitheatre and be entertained by brilliant actors. There is always a wide range of theatre, including Shakespeare, and you will find school groups, dinner groups, romantic couples and students taking it all in. Look online for the schedule. This is one of the best Sacramento things to do, if you are into the arts. Even if you are not into the arts!
- Take the Sacramento River Train
The fabulous Sacramento River Train rides alongside the river. They offer a 28 mile ride that starts in Woodland, goes through the Fremont Trestle and stops in Luvdahl. This is a fantastic way to spend a few hours, taking in exquisite scenery and some history too. Look out for special events such a a mystery murder train ride or the great robberies train ride. For kids, there are always special events over the holidays. Everyone loves a train ride and it really makes you feel like you’ve had a holiday.
- Get into some Sacramento Jazz
You will find daytime jazz and nighttime jazz in Sacramento, and if you live in Sacramento you will know all the wonderful places. As a visitor, look out for the jazz festivals and in particular the annual Festival de la Familia at Cal Expo that usually takes place in April or May. There is also the jazz jubilee held every Memorial Day. Many of the river restaurants offer jazz. But we recommend you ask a local for the best spots; they know! If you are looking for things to do in Sacramento, listening to jazz is one of them.
- Pop concerts in Sacramento
This is in my neighborhood and is one of the Sacramento things to do near me. It’s also something you should do, with your kids or alone, for a night of total fun. Pops in the Park hold concerts on Friday nights in the local parks. You need to check the schedules to see who is playing and when, and in which park. Concerts are held in the neighborhood parks, in East Sacramento, at the Cesar Chavez Plaza and alongside River Walk Park and the river.
- Hang out by the Sacramento and American Rivers.
There are so many fun things to do in Sacramento that take place alongside or on the Sacramento rivers. You can hire a boat, do a little river rafting, dine on the river, swim at one of the designated swimming spots, walk alongside or picnic alongside a river, throw coins into a fountain or let your kids play in the fountains, or take a River Otter Water Taxi! Sacramento is centred around its mighty rivers; enjoy them!
- Take in some history
You can join a tour of Sacramento to visit the old towns of Folsom, Fair Oaks, Roseville and Elk Grove, either half day or full day, or you can do your own tour by self drive. Even your kids will love exploring these areas, steeped in history, often with recreations of what life was like then. In particular, we love the Fair Oaks Hardware Store that really is like walking into another century. This is one of the things to do near me, and is hopefully close enough for you too!
- Eat your way through Sacramento
We have some of the best Sacramento neighborhood joints to eat in, and we’re not talking fancy! Look for those little restaurants that are off the beaten track but somehow, always have a line outside them. If you follow news anchor Nick Toma, he will tell you exactly where to eat. You’ll find them on your own, just by walking, or ask a local or your hotel to direct you. Prices are great, food is beyond delicious and eating is definitely one of those favorite Sacramento things to do!
- Get some exercise
You cannot help getting exercise in Sacramento, walking over the bridges and alongside the rivers and parks. There are also outdoor fitness areas and running tracks in most parks. But you could join a Sacramento tradition, which is definitely one of the things to do in Sacremento, and go running for a good cause. There are various runs for good causes and Run to Feed the Hungry is one of them. Choose your distance and be part of an amazing community. If you live in Sacramento, you’ll know which parks are close to you and that you love. If you’re a visitor, spend time in all of them!
- Join Eppie’s Great Triathlon, or watch other people doing it!
Not everyone can just do a triathlon, but everyone can watch one. It’s one of those things to do near me in Sacramento, and I’m really lucky. It takes place in July each year, includes running, cycling and kayaking, and is so exciting! It’s for a charity, the Sacramento County Therapeutic Recreation Services, and is definitely worth watching. Get yourself a spot on one of our beautiful Sacramento bridges! Don’t forget your camera.
- Take a Paddle Wheeler Cruise
Most visitors to Sacramento will go on a paddle wheeler cruise and it really is one of those Sacramento things to do that you cannot miss. The Delta King leaves from Old Sacramento and you will feel like you’re in a different era. There are various cruises, day and night, some including theatre or music, and some including overnights! Book online. You will find several paddle wheeler boats, from the old days of Chesterfield, so make your choice! This is something that all visitors to Sacramento do during a holiday visit, but is something that locals should really experience too. Perfect for date night!
- Immerse yourself in the city
There is a thing these days about not only being a tourist but actually immersing yourself in the city. This could include volunteering, which is really how you get to meet people, feel like you belong and are doing something worthwhile, rather than just taking pics. While there are so many things to do in Sacramento, volunteering your time is one of the more meaningful ones. There are so many needy organisations, look online or ask the local tourist office. You might not be thinking of volunteering when you are thinking of what fun things to do in Sacramento, but you will be surprised at how good you feel afterwards!
- Pet a few dogs
Everyone loves doing this. It also goes hand in hand with volunteering. Paws is the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s sanctuary in Galt, Sacramento. Make a phone call first to ensure they want visitors, and then, go see a few dogs. Or cats. Or rescued wildlife. You may just come home with a rescue. If you live in Sacramento and are looking for things to do near me, this is one of them. And you will feel really good afterwards because giving and being kind really makes you feel like a decent person. You may find other animal shelters nearby, so do a little internet research. And take the kids.
- The Crocker Art Museum
Not everyone love museums but this is one of the many things to do in Sacramento that is really worthwhile if you are into art and history. The ‘Portrait of my Father’ by Stephen Kaltenbach is pretty extraordinary and honestly, makes the whole visit worthwhile. It’s huge and awe-inspiring. Look online to check opening hours and days of the museum, and then think of me, this is one of the things to do near me in Sacramento and I really love this museum. It’s also never too early to introduce your children to art.
- Sport, sport and more sport.
We have already mentioned baseball, but what about basketball or football too! You will find tons of sport going on in Sacramento and one of the fun things to do in Sacramento is to buy tickets for a local sporting event, get the tee shirt, buy popcorn or hot dogs and go and watch your favorite team. The Sacramento Monarchs won the 2005 NBA title and we feel everyone should support our fabulous Monarchs! The Sacramento River Cats should not be missed either, if you have the opportunity to see a game. And did we mention Sacramento tennis?
- Sacramento Bars
There is something oddly romantic and old fashioned about the Sacramento late night scene. We have fabulous bars with fabulous drinks and snacks, and it’s worth taking an evening to go to Bistro 33 Midtown, the Country Club Lanes, Midtown’s True Love Coffeehouse and Marie’s Donuts for a late light snack. If you are asking what fun things to do in Sacramento, our bars, diners and cafes are all fun!
- The California State Fair
This takes place in August is one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento. Put aside a full day for the fair and get into music, dance, art, play, shopping and more. There are always amazing exhibits, theme parks and animals too. Take the kids. Book now, even if for next year. You can get weekend passes.
- Visit our Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s Markets are big attractions in all major cities these days, no more than in Sacramento. We have fabulous markets over the weekend. You only need to google things to do near me in Sacramento, and a Farmer’s Market will pop up. The Davis Farmer’s Market is great with tons of fresh produce, food stalls and entertainment for adults and kids. Otherwise look at cafarmersmarkets.com to find the closest market to you.
- The Sacramento Guild Theatre
As part of Sacramento’s culture centre, this is a good thing to do. If you live in Sacramento and are looking for things to do near me, look and see what theatre, film or lectures are taking place. They also offer poetry nights and book openings. It’s a 92 year old theatre and definitely worth visiting, and one of the interesting and cultural things to do in Sacramento.
- Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
Leland sanford is a historic mansion built in 1856. It has 44 rooms and was home to three governors from 1860 onwards, until becoming a children’s home. Guided tours are on offer if you are looking for things to do in Sacramento, although note if the governor is using the site, the tours may not take place.
- Shopping in Sacramento.
Everyone needs to do a little shopping, it’s one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento. It’s also what you can do in Sacramento for free, as window shopping doesn’t cost anything. There are fab boutiques in midtown Sacramento, and pretty upmarket stores on Capital Avenue. Walk, wander, have fun, and stop for a yum meal when you need a break, or wander into an art gallery.
- Galleries of Sacramento
There are always gallery openings and new exhibitions, especially in Sacramento’s Second Saturday scene. Look on the internet to see which galleries are hosting which artists or exhibitions, keep your Second Saturdays free, and have fun. There is often free wine and cheese, as well as free artist walkabouts. Looking at art costs you nothing, it’s one of the fun things to do in Sacramento and it’s one of those things you can do in Sacramento for free.
- A little ballet, a little opera, a lot of culture!
If you are looking for things to do in Sacramento, just google the arts. The Sacramento Theatre Company is always hosting new performances, we have the Sacramento Ballet, Sacramento Opera and Sacramento Orchestra. There is so many cultural Sacramento things to do, stay on top of it! Join their newsletters so you always know what’s happening in the city.
- The Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
There are always concerts at this beautiful auditorium so add this to your list of things to do in Sacramento, especially if you’re a local. The building is almost 100 years old and is an architectural delight, offering tons of culture.
- Music Circus in Sacramento
The Music Circus in Sacramento is a real summer tradition and is listed as one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento. Broadway musicals are performed under a Big Top, although the Big Top is more of a Pavilion these days. Fab music in great comfort and as a local or a visitor to Sacramento, you will really enjoy this. Each season offers something news.
- Take a ghost walk in Sacramento
We think Sacramento should be explored on foot. There are historical walks, nature walks and even hysterical walks! Yes, this is a Walk of the Dead, a ghost walk that is offered from March through to November. Check if the walks you are interested in are appropriate for children. There are tons of options, from riverside walks to museum walks and shopping walks too.
- Do something charitable
If you are looking for things to do near me and would like to do good deeds in Sacramento, then think about supporting a charity. We have spoken about volunteer work, now think about attending a charity event. There are ongoing charity events in Sacramento, ranging from financial donations and sporting affairs to fancy black tie affairs. You can take a look at Sacramento’s Charitable Events Registry to find a function that works for your interests and your budget. This is a good way to feel you are making a difference, meet new people and find new things to do in Sacramento.
- Book a meal at BIBA
If you want something fancy to do in Sacramento, make a lunch or dinner reservation at Biba. It’s a famous upmarket restaurant that was opened by chef Biba Caggiano, a celebrity and author. Divine Italian food in a fab Sacramento atmosphere, and don’t forget to order the duck! This is a really good restaurant for celebrations too, anniversaries or birthdays.
- The Folsom Zoo Sanctuary
Take your kids, and yourself, to the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, a refuge for animals that have either been orphaned, injured or mistreated. The Zoo is a place of education and while you can close to the animals, you also learn about respect and just how close you should or should not get. Lions, tigers, bears and more. It’s a great experience for locals and tourists and an education and one of the fun Sacramento things to do.
- Visit the Sacramento Zoo
How many of us have a zoo in our city but never get there! If you are looking for things to do near me and you’re in Sacramento, go the Zoo. It’s beautifully set out, the animals are great, and there are often special events, lectures and concerts too. The Mother’s Day Zoo concert and brunch is renowned.
- Visit Apple Hill
If you want to know what you can do in Sacramento for the day, Apple Hill is divine. It’s one of the many fun things to do in Sacramento that you can do with the family, with the choice of visiting over 50 ranches, vineyards, a brewery and arts and crafts vendors. Once a year there is an Apple Hill fun run, and you can also pick your own apples, eat apples, apple doughnuts and sour apples and apple floss!
- Sacramento Wine Tasting
This is an outing where we suggest you leave the kids at home, and also leave your car at home if you’re drinking more wine than you should. There are fabulous vineyards in nearby El Dorado and Amador, as well as in the Lodi Region. Book yourself on a tour or even, book an overnight in one of the lovely hotels. Sacramento and the surrounding area make delicious wines. Try some!
- Tower Theatre and Tower Cafe
This is a great place to hang out and if you live in Sacramento, one of the easy and great things to do near me. All tourists should visit here too. The Tower Theatre specialises in art films and foreign films, and the cafe is known for its divine cream chowders and unbelievable selection of desserts. It’s a good place for date night too!
- City of Trees
Do you know that Sacramento is only second to Paris, with the most amount of trees per person. Sacramento is one of the greenest cities in the USA and the Sacramento Tree Foundation do an incredible job of looking after their trees. You can download a map from the Sacramento Tree Foundation and walk and explore, including the palm trees at Capitol Park, the eucalyptus at the Goethe Arboretum, and the river birch at McKinley Park. Look up!
- Visit Dovewood Court over Christmas
If you are in Sacramento over Christmas time, you’re in for a treat. The Christmas light show at Dovewood Court in Orange Vale is magnificent. The houses in the area are all beautifully decorated and there is an incredible sense of community. You can join in the festive spirit of Christmas, taking a jar or can of food for a charity, and walking and wandering, enjoying this Christmas spectacle.
- Meander the Delta
You can visit Sacramento’s delta area by boat or on a tour, but you can also create your own self drive tour. Just fifteen minutes out of the city centre are the sleepy towns of Freeport, Locke, Walnut Grove, Isleton, Ryde and Rio Vista, all filled with nature, shopping and history. This is a fun way to spend a half or full day in Sacramento and you can get info from the Delta Chamber of Commerce, or online. Stay for the sunset!
- Miles of Museums.
There are many museums in Sacramento, including the Tower Auto Museum, California’s Museum for Women, the California State Railroad Museum, Folsom History Museum and the History and Arts Museum On certain days museums are free for the public, so check it out!
- The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
There is always something beautiful and peaceful about walking into a cathedral, and Sacramento’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is no different. It is the mother church for the catholic faith in Sacramento, serving almost one million people. In total there are 99 churches, all falling under the catholic banner. This cathedral is magnificent, with an impressive crucifix, extraordinary inner dome and stunning architecture. If you live in Sacramento and are looking for something to do nearby, visit this stunning cathedral.
- Middle Fork Amercan River White Whater Rafting
This is one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento. It’s a thrilling seventeen mile long journey on the rapids of the American River, class 3, and super exciting. You do not need any experience, just a sense of adventure and you should know how to swim! You will be given a life jacket, helmet and oar, and told exactly what to do. Keep this for a summer’s day or the water will be cold. There are morning and afternoon guided rapid tours, and you are going to have fun! It takes a full day by the way.
- South Fork American River White Water Rafting
This river rafting trip goes down the south fork of the American River, and takes five hours. If you don’t have time to do the Middle Fork, this is the trip for you. It’s one of the best things to do in Sacramento, loads of fun, action packed and exhilarating.