As a local to this city, I’m so excited to share my guide to Sacramento, California. After living here for over two years, it was time I had put together my favorites in one place.
It’s hard to capture Sacramento and what makes it truly special. Perhaps the best way to put it is a big city with small-town roots. It has everything you’d want from a major city like a pro-sports team, an international airport, great restaurants, and more. Then it has this close-knit, neighborhood feel to it. The best of both worlds (in my opinion).
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There is the main downtown area that pours into the next pocket called midtown. Adjacent, you find neighborhoods that align next to the down, just minutes away, like East Sacramento, Land Park, and Curtis Park. Each of these neighborhoods have a few gems like local cafes and green spaces to enjoy.
It’s a city that has plenty to do for a weekend escape, and if flying into California, makes for a great first stop for a road trip. Take a look at my favorite things to do, where I love to dine, where to stay, and more in my Sacramento travel guide.
*Quick note: this is just my take on Sacramento. There are so many other wonderful restaurants, businesses, and more here. This is a curated guide for the city, which I would recommend to my friends who were visiting for the weekend. If you have others you love, drop a note in the comments 🙂
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Sacramento Travel Guide
Travel Tips for Sacramento
Transportation: Utilize Jump Bikes or Lime Scooters to get across town. The city is flat so it is easy to get around. I’d recommend having a car if you plan to explore outside of the city, otherwise, you can utilize public transport and Uber.
Time of Year: It can be a year-round destination pending what kind of experience you’d like. The summers are notoriously hot and winters can be cold. For the best weather, I would recommend visiting from March to June and September to November.
Amount of Time: Two to three nights would be the perfect amount of time to experience Sacramento.
Itinerary Ideas if flying into SMF (Sacramento Airport):
Sacramento (2 Nights) -> Napa Valley (2 Nights / ~1 hour away)
Sacramento (2 Nights) -> Lake Tahoe (2-3 Nights / ~2 hours away)
Sacramento (2 Nights) -> Yosemite National Park (~2-3 Nights / 3 hours away)
Sacramento (2 Nights) -> Northern California Coast (4-7 nights / 3-6 hours away)
Where to Stay in Sacramento
When staying in Sacramento, being centrally located and within walking distance to food is wonderful. Our newest boutique hotel opened, called The Exchange, just a stone’s throw away from our bustling Downtown Commons. It is also a short walk to one of my favorite attractions, the Crocker Museum. Located in a stunning historic 100-year-old building, they’ve completed renovated it to be chic and modern. I’ll also love the ode to the historic elements like the spiraling staircase and the original ceilings.
The spacious rooms and suites are appointed with modern furniture and pops of color amidst rich tones. It feels incredibly luxurious yet very cozy at the same time. Inside, you’ll find amenities like a coffee maker, Korres products, and plush robes to settle in. And most rooms have great views of Sacramento.
(with full disclosure, this was a hosted stay).
If you’re looking for a quiet and charming stay, the East Sac House is my recommendation. My close friend opened up this Airbnb and it’s truly a stunner. I’ve had the personal pleasure of getting to spend time in this home over the years and it has been decorated beautifully for guests. With several amenities like local coffee beans to an expansive backyard, this is a great place to book for a neighborhood feel.
Best Restaurants in Sacramento
When it comes to food in Sacramento, there is a long list of options to choose from. My husband and I have our personal favorites that I’ve shared on this list of 20 Best Restaurants in Sacramento, our monthly go-to’s. I also wanted to highlight a few that we’ve come to really love right here in the Sacramento Guide.
Beast & Bounty: This is our go-to for a more upscale night out. The ambiance is wonderful and the interior design is lovely. The food is seasonal, California fare, and has several fun plates to choose from. And if you’re in on a Sunday, I couldn’t recommend more popping in for brunch to try their breakfast pizza.
The Coconut On T: Off the main drag in Midtown, this Thai spot is just a favorite. The food is delicious and we love their green curry and drunken noodles.
Kodaiko Ramen: Right near Downtown Commons is this ramen spot that’s located down the stairs in the basement of the restaurant. It’s our favorite ramen in the city and you can’t miss the chicken karaage as well.
Kru Sushi: The best sushi in Sacramento is hands down Kru. You’ll want to reserve in advance for this spot. I’d recommend picking from their nigiri section and if you can score a seat at the sushi bar, it’s wonderful seeing the chefs in action.
Localis: For a pre-fixe, multiple courses, upscale dinner, Localis is it. Ran by Chef Chris Barnum-Dann, the food here is wonderful. It’s a Michelin-listed restaurant in Sacramento and definitely reserve in advance.
Pangea Bier Cafe: Our neighborhood spot has been our favorite since we moved to Sacramento. I love their fried chicken sandwich and their burger is amazing as well.
Ro Sham Beaux: Cute little wine bar that serves a great collection of natural wine and small bites.
Faria Bakery: If you go out for one pastry, come to Faria. Located in Oak Park, this is one of the best pastry and bread shops I’ve been to. Their croissants are delicious, they have an amazing seasonal treat, and their bread is a weekly home staple.
Babes Ice Cream & Donuts: For those who are gluten-free and vegan, you’ll love this. And even if you’re not, you’ll still love it. One of our favorite treats in the city is popping in for ice cream here.
A few other restaurants and spots not to miss: Selland’s, Binchoyaki, Masullo’s, Saigon Alley, Hawks, Canon, Fixin’s, and Gunther’s Ice Cream.
Where to Get Coffee in Sacramento
Everyone in Sacramento has their favorite coffee shop. There are several to choose from and almost one to two in every neighborhood, which is awesome if you’re in need of a coffee. I have a whole guide to Sacramento coffee shops there are that many. But as always, I have my favorites…
Temple Coffee Roasters: Our weekly go-to for coffee. They have several locations across Sacramento, chances are there is one near you.
Scorpio Coffee: If I had to pick a favorite for ambiance and style of coffee, it is certainly Scorpio. A Japanese-style coffee shop makes me feel like I’m right back in Tokyo. I love everything about this spot, highly recommend trying the Hoochija latte and whatever toast is on the menu.
Things to Do in Sacramento
Visit the Crocker Art Museum: One of our best museums in Sacramento is the Crocker Art. I personally went for the first time this last month and loved seeing the diverse collections. often times there are rotating art exhibits, so take a look to see which ones they may have. Recently we had a collection of French Impressionism art!
Take a food or beverage tour with SacTown Bites: Whether you want to get a taste of the incredible breweries here in Sacramento or visit a farm in Capay Valley, SacTown Bites is the company to book with. They offer a range of tours to experience the best of Sacramento, and even an opportunity to do a private tour. For those looking to experience Midtown and all it has to offer, I’d recommend the “Cocktails, Mocktails, & Bites” tour where you’ll embark on a 2.5-3 hour tour. BOOK HERE
Walk the River: The American River goes along the city and it’s one of our favorite spots to get outdoors and go for a walk. You can pick up the paved trail at several spots. I’d recommend either by Sutter’s Landing Parking lot or even further down by Sacramento State. It’s the American River Parkway and is called the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail.
Shop Local: Our Sacramento community is full of wonderful shops all locally owned. I love going to Bitte for baby clothes, Prickly Pear for succulents, Public Land Store for the home and pottery, Propagate for plants and gifts, and Scout Living for antiques. I have a full list of Sacramento Small Businesses to check out!
Hangout in DOCO: Known as the Downtown Commons, DOCO is home to several restaurants, shops, and the Golden 1 Center. There is a lot down here so you can easily spend a few hours popping around, especially if you’re catching a sporting game at Golden 1.
Check out Old Sacramento: Down by the waterfront is Sacramento’s Old Town. It’s a historic district that has been preserved with Gold Rush-era buildings. Great place to go for a stroll, pop into the shops, and explore. If you’re down in this area, you may enjoy going into the California Railroad Museum (great for kids).
Take a Day Trip: One of the best things about Sacramento is the location. We are close to so many wonderful experiences. Whether you pop up to Amador County for wine tasting or up to our quaint Gold Rush towns like Auburn, there is a lot to do nearby. If you’re here for several days, take a look at 30 Day Trips From Sacramento.
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