Sacramento Attractions


Visit These Sacramento Attractions to Gain a True Sense of Place

Sacramento attractions contain history important to our country’s economic growth. The history of California’s state capitol predates the Gold Rush and figures prominently in the emergence of the United States as a global player. By visiting these attractions, you’ll attain a better understanding of the city’s people and its place in the world.

Let’s Begin with the Capitol

When you’re talking Sacramento attractions, the California State Capitol is as good a place to start as any.

Now, about the Capitol. Unfortunately, you’ve missed the chance to spot former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger roaming the hallways, but there still are a lot of good reasons to visit this historic white domed building located at 10th and L streets in the heart of downtown Sacramento.

Serving both as a museum and a working seat of government, Sacramento’s most distinctive structure houses many important historical collections and artifacts you won’t want to miss.

Among the highlights are the governors’ portraits (check out the abstract one of Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown), murals, artwork, antiques, exhibits, and historical chambers. If you’re into architecture, the neoclassical design of the Golden State’s domed headquarters will wow you.

Free guided public tours of the Capitol are given daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except when it’s closed on holidays. While you’re there, grab some lunch in one of the cafeteria-style restaurants on the sixth floor or the basement, and purchase a souvenir from the gift shop, also located in the basement. Be sure to save some time to stop and smell the roses – literally – around lush 40-acre Capitol Park. It’s Sacramento’s own Garden of Eden.

Old Sacramento still Popular after all these Years

Next on the list of Sacramento attractions is ‘Old Sac’. Located downtown on the Sacramento River (you can’t miss it; there are signs everywhere), Old Sacramento, one of the country’s finest restored historical districts, lands you smack-dab in the middle of the 1800s, when Gold Rush fever was rampant and the Transcontinental Railroad was revolutionizing the American way of life. Today, the 28-acre district is bustling with shopping, dining, entertainment, and world-class museums. To help you sort it all out, we’ll list the top 5 to-dos in Old Sac that you absolutely cannot skip. Let your own curiosity take you from there.

  • Your first Priority, without Question, should be the California State Railroad Museum – even if you think you’re not interested in trains (because you will be after this). The history of the Transcontinental Railroad, particularly the role of the Chinese workers who built it, is fascinating enough, but if you’re visiting with kids, the biggest kick will be the huge display room full of restored locomotives and railcars, some of which are set up for touring. (One of the coolest: a 1930s-era dining car complete with crystal, fine china, and an authentic gourmet menu.) If you’re visiting between April and September, be sure to take a spin on a steam-powered excursion train for a picturesque view of the Sacramento River.
  • If you have more time: Just a few blocks away, the California State Military Museum, with 30,000 artifacts on display, is the official military museum and historical research center of the state of California – an impressive tribute to California’s involvement in the conflicts that shaped our country’s destiny. Also within walking distance is the Schoolhouse Museum, a replica of the 1800s-style one-room schoolhouse, where you just might be taught a “lesson” by a costumed schoolmarm.
  • Next on your Old Sacramento Attractions Itinerary: the Delta King Riverboat, a 1920s paddle-wheeler that makes its permanent home at the docks of Old Sac. If you’re looking for a charming place to stay overnight, you can’t do better than an old-fashioned stateroom, followed by breakfast (and lunch and dinner) at the Pilothouse Restaurant. Even if you don’t plan on spending the night, do catch a live performance at the Delta King’s Capital Stage or laugh yourself silly at Suspects Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre.
  • Want to see the lighter side of Old Sacramento attractions (and get a heaping helping of history to boot)? Sign up for a tour with Hysterical Walks & Rides to get a side-splitting spin on Old Sacramento lore. Call (916) 430-8715 to reserve your spot.
  • With more than 100 shops to choose from, Old Sacramento is retail therapy on steroids. Fuel up with a bag of old-fashioned taffy from a barrel (Candy Heaven is generous with free samples), then go forth and indulge. One store you have to see to believe: Evangeline’s, where you could spend hours cracking up at the gag gifts. If you visit Evangeline’s between late August and Halloween, don’t miss the three-story Costume Mansion, even if you don’t plan on buying your Halloween costume just yet. It’s jam-packed with over-the-top getups for every conceivable theme, and “spooks” have been known to startle more than a few unsuspecting patrons.

No matter what kind of dining experience you’re looking for, Old Sacramento delivers. Here are some of our favorites:

Haute cuisine Back in 1853, it was an actual fire station, but today The Firehouse is the crème de la crème of fine dining. Visit during the summer, when you can nab a table in the beautiful courtyard.

Best view Rio City Café. Here, you can sit on the deck and watch the boats on the river.

Local flavor The Fat family is synonymous with superb Sacramento dining, and has been for generations. California Fat’s and Fat City Bar & Café on Front Street offer the best in European, American, and Asian cuisine. One bit of advice: Adjust your belt for a slice of Fat’s famous banana cream pie (free if you can prove it’s your birthday).

Park your Harley and grab a hamburger Fanny Ann’s Saloon. Five stories, tons of attitude. Beware the befuddling restrooms.

Sacramento Attractions Insider Tip
When visiting Old Sac, wear flat shoes. We know from experience that it’s tough to navigate the crudely built wooden sidewalks when your stiletto heels are constantly getting stuck between the cracks.

Sutter’s Fort a Sacramento Attractions Must-see

Which of the Sacramento attractions do local schoolchildren and tourists love most? We don’t know for sure, but Sutter’s Fort has to rank right up there.

Before the Gold Rush, before Sacramento even had its name, there was Sutter’s Fort, the Central Valley’s first non-Indian settlement and immigrant refuge that has significance for its ties to the early pioneers, including the Donner Party. (And you know what happened to them.)

Luckily for visitors, Sutter’s Fort exists today as a restored 1840s adobe trading post, where you can watch docents in period clothing dip candles, bake bread, pound horseshoes – even fire a cannon. The fort is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sacramento attractions insider tip
At Sutter’s Fort, you don’t have to worry about being on time for a tour. Audio tours let you take it at your own pace with the push of a button.

Add a Quirky Stop to your Sacramento Attractions Itinerary

Who says all Sacramento attractions have to show up in an official Sacramento guidebook? Not us!

Corti Brothers, a shrine to all things gourmet, probably falls under the radar of most travel brochures, but trust us. You have to – have to – stop here.

A local institution since 1947, Corti Brothers is unmatched for its legendary deli and esoteric epicurean offerings. Owner Darrell Corti is known internationally as a food and wine savant, and there’s no corner of the earth that he hasn’t mined to procure the tastiest delicacies. So whether you’re into gourmet food or not, we’re betting you’ll like this retail “museum” as much as we do.

Corti Brothers is waaaayy more than a grocery store. It’s an incomparable odyssey, and a standout among Sacramento attractions.

Sacramento attractions insider tip
Corti Brothers may be a secret to the outside world, but the locals definitely know about it. Expect the staff to be busy.

More info 5810 Folsom Blvd., (916) 736-3800

Some Sacramento Attractions are just Child’s Play

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Sacramento attractions that cater to kids and families. Well, Fairytale Town is one attraction your kids would be willing to give up the Wii for.

At this retro playground located at William Land Park across from the Sacramento Zoo, children’s storybooks come off the pages. Kids will have a ball zipping down the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe Slide, walking The Crooked Mile, and riding in Cinderella’s carriage, among other delights.

More info 3901 Land Park Dr., (916) 264-5233,