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If you’re in for a visit, these are the best things to do in Sacramento, California. It’s the capital city of the state, a bustling destination for the arts, history, and city life.

I’ve been lucky to call Sacramento home for the last few years, exploring all that it has to offer. I like to describe Sacramento as a city with all the perks, but with major small-town vibes. Located between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Sacramento has a wonderful international airport that makes it easy to get into.

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Whether you’re in for the first time or making a pitstop for a weekend getaway, I hope this list will inspire you to visit Sacramento. I’ve included all of the hits and classics, plus a short list of my personal favorite local things to do in the city.

Over the years Sacramento has changed so much, with many additions to our dining scene and arts. There is a lot to enjoy in the “city of trees” with several neighborhoods to check out. Plus, our local business game is strong!

This is the list for exploring all of the best things to do in Sacramento!

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The Best Hotels in Sacramento

A few fun and trendy hotels in Sacramento have opened up over the last few years. Since our city is quite small, each of these is within a 10-minute drive of the other. These are my favorite hotels:

Kimpton Sawyer for upbeat, well-located to events, and a lively rooftop.
The Citizen Hotel for a central location and great onsite amenities.
The Exchange Hotel for an art-focused, design boutique stay.
The Fort Sutter Hotel for a more urban, neighborhood feel.

My Favorite Things to Do in Sacramento As a Local

This is my list for when friends and family come to town and ask “what should we do today in Sacramento?.” While I do have a locals guide to Sacramento, these are our favorite things to do after living here for over 3 years. There is so much to love in our big city with small-town vibes, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Sip Wine at a Local Wine Bar

With close proximity to so many great wineries, we have some of the best wine bars in Sacramento. From those that pour exclusively natural wines, to places with quite an international list, there are a few to choose from.

Lately, I’ve been loving popping into the newer Betty Wine Bar and Bottle Shop. A favorite for natural wines is Ro Sham Beaux or Good News Wine as well.

Spend Time in The Trendy Neighborhood, Oak Park

Often asked, what neighborhood should we go for a stroll in? I’ve been loving Oak Park lately as so many wonderful businesses and cafes have opened it. It’s one small area off Broadway Street but some lovely things to do.

I’d start with a pastry and coffee from Faria Bakery, and head out down the street. Start at Jam Baby Shop for all the cute things for kids and Rosen Vintage Clothing Co for a wonderful curation of vintage finds are my two favorite shops.

Some other good finds here is Fixin’s for the best-fried chicken sandwich in town, KC Kombucha for kombucha on draft, and Oak Park Brewing Co for beer.

Stroll and Shop the R Street Corridor + Ice Blocks

This is my second favorite street to go spend an afternoon at in Sacramento. It’s a long strip of restaurants and includes the new development called the Ice Blocks. Two coffee shop choices are Philz Coffee and local roaster Camellia Coffee.

There are several stores, some art galleries, and restaurants. For those who want an elevated dining experience, book yourself in at Beast + Bounty. But before, do pop into our “speakeasy” called Frank, tucked behind the businesses.

Shop the Saturday Farmer’s Market

One of our favorite things to do is the Midtown Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. We bring our coffee and go for a stroll, shop local produce, and pick up baked goods for the week. Seasonally there is live music, and always several local vendors to shop from.

Grab Coffee at Temple Coffee Co.

There are so many Sacramento coffee shops, and everyone has a favorite. We typically like to go to Temple Coffee Co. as our regular choice. With several locations across the city, there’s almost always one nearby. I love the East Sac location as a spot to hang on the patio with friends.

Soak in the Baths at Asha Urban Baths

If you’re looking for a gem of relaxation in Sacramento, this is it! You can book 2-hour blocks to access the baths at Asha Urban Baths. There are soaking tubs, cold plunge, and hot and cold saunas. It’s a great date night or thing to do with a friend too for a social hang.

Address: 2417 27th St, Sacramento, CA 95818

Walk or bike the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail

Known as the American River Parkway, the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail spans from Old Sacramento to Folsom. It’s paved and great for biking or going for a walk. With several access points, you can hop on and go for a stroll along the river.

Kickback at Drake’s The Barn

One of our favorite weekend hangs is to head over to Drake’s. It’s super family-friendly with activities like corn hole for kids and plenty of open space. For adults, a full-service bar and restaurant with eats like pizza and more. It’s an easy spot to get to from the freeway as well.

Address: 985 Riverfront St, West Sacramento, CA 95691

Peruse the Sacramento Antique Faire

Set on the second Sunday of every month, we have a really large antique faire that gets put on. There is so much to browse here, with over 300 furniture, art, and clothing stalls. It’s set up at the Sleep Train Amphitheater, so about a 15-minute drive from downtown for the moment.

Sit at the Sushi Bar at Kru Sushi

While we have so many good Sacramento restaurants, we do have one particular favorite. Kru, our incredible sushi and Japanese restaurant in East Sac. It’s our personal favorite for date night, and during the week, we typically just walk in.

I love to sit at the sushi bar and order the nigiri tasting and always one of the firecracker rolls.

Address: 3135 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95816

Get Pastries at Moonbelly Bakery or Faria Bakery

We are so lucky to have not one, but TWO incredible bakeries in Sacramento for artisanal bread and pastries. Faria Bakery in Oak Park and Moonbelly Bakery in East Sac. I love Faria for its seasonal pastries, baguette, and country loaf.

At Moonbelly Bakery, their cardamom bun is a straight-up addiction for me. We go here often on the weekends to get pastries to go.

The Classic Sacramento Things to Do

This is the classic, can’t go wrong list for Sacramento!

Watch a Show at The Theater

With several theaters in Sacramento to choose from, from film to performing arts, there is a bit of something for everyone. Three of the best historic theaters are the Guild Theater, Tower Theater, and the Crest Theater, where you can catch an array of films.

For performing arts, the best spot to catch a play or performance is at the Sacramento Theater Company They host an array of shows from musicals to plays. Big Idea Theatre is the other top-rated theater to check out in Sacramento.

Best Things to Do in Sacramento

Visit Old Sacramento Historic Park

For the Western vibes, head straight down to Old Sacramento Historic Park along the river. It looks like a scene out of a western movie, where the historic buildings have been restored beautifully. Now, it is home to several shops, restaurants, and movies.

It’s a great spot for a stroll, dinner by the river at Old Sacramento Waterfront, and lots of outdoor activities for littles. The best museum in this area is the California State Railroad Museum, one of the world’s largest railway museums around. It’s a fun afternoon hang, and the weekends here are lively with visitors.

Address: 111 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Brunch at Tower Cafe

There is almost always a line out the door to have brunch at the iconic Tower Cafe next to the Tower Theater. Known for its eclectic and vibrant decor, the menu is robust for all things brunch. You’ll find everything from french toast to their fluffy pancakes — the servings here are so large!

Address: 1518 Broadway, Sacramento, CA 95818

See the Sacramento Ballet

With ongoing shows year-round, the Sacramento Ballet is a lovely performance to book. One of their most famous performances for the year is the Nutcracker. It’s a show you’ll need to book in advance and such a lovely thing to do in the winter in Sacramento.

Address: 2420 N St #100, Sacramento, CA 95816

Catch a Kings Game

Home to the Sacramento Kings, the new Golden 1 Center opened up a few years ago in DOCO. An American professional basketball team, the Kings is our local sporting event that’s worth grabbing tickets for if you’re in town.

Visit the Museums in Sacramento

Sacramento is home to several museums! Art, history, and interactive museums are available to enjoy in the city. This is the not-so-short list:

Crocker Art Museum

My personal favorite museum for modern and contemporary art. Set in a stunning historic building that has been fit next to a new build, the Crocker Art Museum has several floors to peruse. It is also home to a large collection of California art as well.

Address: 216 O St, Sacramento, CA 95814

California State Railroad Museum

Set in Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the California State Railroad Museum is an impressive museum for railroad enthusiasts. The large space houses several train cars, interactive exhibits, and more over two floors. It’s a very family-friendly museum to visit as well.

Leland Stanford Museum

Known more commonly as the Standford Museum, this is a historic mansion that is the official reception center for the California governor and government. Being a California State Park, the Leland Stanford Museum is open for visitors to see the grounds and rooms.

Since the Governor’s Mansion is currently closed to the public, this is one of the best historic homes to step into in Sacramento.

Address: 800 N St, Sacramento, CA 95814

The California Museum

Known as the state history museum of California, the California Museum is inside the Secretary of State building complex. The purpose of this museum is to educate about California’s history and population through exhibits. You’ll also find the California Hall of Fame housed inside this museum.

Address: 1020 O St, Sacramento, CA 95814

A few other museums:

  • California Automobile Museum
  • Sacramento History Museum
  • California State Capitol Museum
  • Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Things to Do in Sacramento With Kids

Visit the Sacramento Zoo

I know it may seem like an obvious thing to do with kids, but the Sacramento Zoo is a real gem. As annual members, we pop in quite frequently. There is so much open space, it’s on the smaller side, and makes for a good afternoon out.

At the zoo itself, there’s a carousel and train ride that takes you around the property. If you want a special experience, you can also book an encounter to feed the giraffes!

Address: 3930 W Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822

Find Magic at Fairytale Town

In William Land Park (right across from the zoo), is the historic Fairytale Town. It’s a theme park set around fairytales and nursery rhymes, perfect for a family day out. There are gardens and playsets for all the different classics to explore.

Address: 3901 Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822

Experience a Drive-In Movie

In Sacramento, there is the West Wind Sacramento 6 Drive-In theater. It’s such a unique experience in town, and they show a lot of family-friendly movies. You’ll need to book in advance, and don’t forget to bring all the snacks!

Address: 9616 Oates Dr, Sacramento, CA 95827

Scandia Family Fun Center

I know mini golf is always an easy thing to go do with families, so I wanted to include this. Scandia Family Fun Center is about a 15-minutes drive north on Highway 80 and is one of the best spots for mini golf. There is also an indoor arcade and batting cages here.

Address: 5070 Hillsdale Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95842

The Best Day Trips From Sacramento

Spend the Day in Apple Hill

Come late August through the late fall, one of the best day trips from Sacramento is to Apple Hill. It’s a special region known for its produce, wineries, and small farms you can visit. During the apple season, you can pick your own, visit the farmstands, and stock up on all the fall treats. This here is the best things to do in Apple Hill.

Skiing in Tahoe

For those who want to hit the mountains, Sacramento is quite close to Lake Tahoe and can make for a great ski day trip. There are several resorts to choose from like Sugar Bowl, Palisades, or Heavenly.

Spend an Afternoon in Gold Country’s Auburn

While I may be biased since this is the town I grew up in, Auburn is a really fun day trip to make from Sacramento. You can go hiking in the canyon along the American River, stroll the old town, and have a few good bites in this historic Gold Rush-era town.

I love popping into Martin Mattox Mercantile for all the home goods and getting a cup of coffee at Pour Choice. When I can, I try to snag a reservation at Josephine’s, the quaintest French wine bar and restaurant around!

Go Wine tasting in Amador, Placer County, or Clarksburg

Sacramento is within earshot of several off-the-beaten-path wine regions in Northern California. Amador County is probably the largest, known for Pinot Noir.

The closest to us is Clarksburg, only about 25 minutes away from downtown. A really fun thing to experience in this area is the wine nights at Heringer Estate Winery, came recommended by a local.

Further north on Highway 80, another region to go wine tasting in is Placer County. There is an entire Placer Wine Trail to follow, with several locally-owned wineries to visit.

Go Whitewater Rafting

If you’re looking for a thrill, might I suggest going whitewater rafting. Some of Northern California’s best rapids are available to whitewater and are only about an hour or so away. My favorite company to book with is All-Outdoors, who have over 60 years of experience on the river. It’s an iconic, thrill-seeking adventure to do when road-tripping through Gold Country.

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The Best and Fun Things to Do in Sacramento, California

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