Politicians and lobbyists congregate in Sacramento to debate state legislation. Step outside the imposing California State Capitol building, however, and you’ll soon discover an elegant, almost European-style city that enjoys a gentler pace of life than many of its Californian neighbors.
Stroll along riverside boardwalks in the Old Sacramento district, where horse-drawn carriages and fine Victorian architecture preserve the atmosphere of a booming city that was once at the center of the world’s biggest gold rush.
At Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, retrace Sacramento’s pioneering history from its days as a small trading wharf on the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers. The region’s pre-European roots are also honored just across the road in the State Indian Museum where arts, tools and stories of California’s many indigenous tribes are displayed. Climb aboard the enormous transcontinental steam trains that opened up America at the California State Railroad Museum.
Sacramento’s location in the fertile Central Valley makes it a food and wine lovers paradise, and an ideal base from which to explore California. A two-hour drive will have you hiking or skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains by morning, or swimming off the San Francisco coast in the afternoon.
Closer to home, the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area and its lakeside Granite Bay Beach are two of the most popular outdoor destinations. Within the city you’ll find tranquil moments aplenty at Cesar Chavez Park, while the manicured grounds around the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park are perfect for picnics.
The city also offers year-round festivals, a thriving arts scene, stunning gardens, quality produce and craft beers all on tap.
Sacramento has never really stopped booming, and one of the downsides of the city’s growth is the traffic. Take advantage of the efficient bus routes and light rail system to explore the diverse neighborhoods. The city’s flat layout and progressive attitude to cycling makes biking a breeze too.