Experiencing the Golden Capital: your guide to visit Sacramento.
There are many states in the US where its capital it’s not its largest or most populated city, and California is arguably the best example of it. Away from Los Angeles’ glamour, San Diego’s relaxing beach vibes or San Francisco’s gorgeous landscapes, Sacramento is barely the sixth largest city in California, but you can be sure it doesn’t lack in awesomeness.
Located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers in Northern California's Sacramento Valley, Sacramento is the northernmost great city in the state, a place key in some of the most important historic events like the Gold Rush and the build of the Transcontinental train.
We want to help you narrow down your bucket list for your upcoming trip to Sacramento, so we worked this city guide for you, to get the best out of your stay in the city with the star in California.
How to get to Sacramento
Sacramento International connects the city with over 40 domestic and international destinations in North America. Offering a wider variety of destinations, San Francisco International airport is 100 miles southeast of the city, less than 2 hours away.
If you’re planning a long trip through Northern California, you can get there using one of the other main airports in the area: Oakland and San Jose, each one with specific features that can make your trip easier. Regardless of your chosen airport in the area, Elife provides the most reliable airport ground transportation for you, to travel to anywhere in the region and between airports in a comfortable, affordable and private way.
Sacramento is one of California’s most accessible cities by car. Whether you are coming to Sacramento from the Bay Area, the coast, the Central Valley or the Sierras, the Sacramento region is easy to access.
While drivers should be mindful of usual rush hour times, Sacramento traffic is far less of an obstacle than many other large California cities. Also, Downtown Sacramento features a great deal of affordable parking for visitors.
What to do in Sacramento
- Spend the day at the Historic Old Sacramento Waterfront and visit its various shopping, dining and entertainment options
- Visit one of its famous museums, like the California Railroad and the Crocker Art, along with its many galleries
- Plan some outdoor activities: rafting, biking, bird watching and more
- Discover the famous Sacramento’s produces in one of its markets and find out why “Farm to fork” it’s not only a slogan, but a way of life
- Explore some of the parks and towns near the city and dive into the amazing sights and sounds of Northern California.
Visit the Old Sacramento Waterfront
Old Sacramento Waterfront is a unique 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park that lives in homage to California's beginning with the Gold Rush of 1849. The district is located along the beautiful Sacramento River. Bustling with activity, it is alive with shopping, dining, entertainment, historical attractions and world-renowned museums set within the time of the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad.
d Sacramento Waterfront features dozens of recreated or restored buildings from the Gold Rush era. Wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, and living history characters provide a glimpse into 19h-century life.
A museum day in Sacramento
The largest railroad museum west of the Mississippi is in Sacramento and houses numerous locomotives, rail cars – including dining and mail cars – a model train exhibit and tells the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad as well as the role the railroad played in the history of California and the western states.
A top Sacramento sight, the California State Railroad Museum is also your connection to train rides like the Polar Express train during the holidays and other rail excursions that depart from the Old Sacramento Waterfront.
The Crocker Art Museum was created to house the arts picked up by the Crocker family on a long trip through Europe in the 1870s with the goal to becoming the cultural hub of Sacramento.
Today's Crocker Art Museum is housed in a building that has two distinct wings: the Victorian house built in 1873, and the new Teal Pavilion, which opened in 2010. Known for its collection of California Impressionist art, German drawings and everything ranging from contemporary to antiquity, it is a must-see on a trip to Sacramento.
Outdoor activities in Sacramento
Sacramento's more than 250 days of sunshine every year mean it's the perfect place to explore and have fun in the outdoors. The city sits at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, and just a short drive from the Sierra Nevada.
From whitewater rafting to hiking and bicycling, Sacramento has you covered when you're looking for outdoor activities. In search of something more exhilarating? Skydiving and other extreme sports are also available.
Explore Sacramento’s markets
Farm to fork isn’t a passing fad or a marketing slogan in the Sacramento region – it’s the way they live. The region has been an agricultural powerhouse for more than a century, boasting a year-round growing season, ideal climate and a mouth-watering bounty of crops. Chances are, if you’re enjoying a meal in the Sacramento region, it came from a local farm.
Today, Sacramento sits among 1.5 million acres of farms and ranches that grow more than 160 crops for markets here and abroad. The region is also home to more than 40 regional farmers markets—including the largest California Certified Farmers’ Market in the state.
Activities near Sacramento
Yosemite is a World Heritage site three hours from Sacramento. Gaze at Half Dome, hike to Yosemite or Vernal falls, spot wildlife on the valley floor, learn about the glaciers that created the valley and find out how people are working to preserve the natural beauty for generations to come.
The largest Alpine lake in North America is a two-hour drive from Sacramento and offers fun year-round. Whether its skiing and snowboarding, bicycling, hiking, rafting, lounging by the lakeshore, shopping or trying your luck at one of the casinos on the Nevada side of the border, Lake Tahoe is a favorite destination for locals and visitors alike.
Napa and Sonoma valleys are a mere hour from Sacramento, and it's easy to reach from the city, as Sacramento International Airport is the closest airport to wine country. But the wine country to the west isn't all that's around Sacramento. If you're looking for up-and-coming wine regions where tastings of award-winning wines are often free, check out the Lodi, Clarksburg and Sierra Nevada foothill wineries.
Explore the wonders of the most famous wine region in the US with Elife’s event transportation services, allowing you to quote and book any ride you need to and from Napa/Sonoma for groups up to 55 people in one single ride, provided by the best chauffeurs in the region.
The Gold Rush of 1849 was the largest migration in human history, and it all started 45 minutes by car from Sacramento when John Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill. Today you can visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park for museums, gold panning, a recreation of the original mill and many other activities. You can also visit Gold Bug Mine to tour an actual gold mine in nearby Placerville.