Sacramento has a tremendous historical and cultural background, which led it to become the capital of the state.
California begins here, as a famous local saying claims. The first city joined the State of wasCalifornia, Sacramento. Initially, Native Americans inhabited the area for thousands of years before the Spanish arrived here at the edge of the 1900s.
In the middle of the century, it became the place of accumulation of gold miners from all over the country, seduced by the California Gold Rush. It obtained the name New Helvetia in1839. People commonly call it Sactown, Big Tomato, the River City, and the City of Trees. Another exciting fact making Sacramento stand out is the abundance of greenery. As a matter of fact, only Paris in France outnumbers Sacramento in terms of trees in the city.
Here is what one can see and do in Sacramento to entirely embrace the city’s unique atmosphere.
American and international tourists simply adore this park. It constitutes about 30% of the Old Sacramento Historic District. There, one can see houses of the mid 19th century that were moved or restored after suffering fires and other calamities. Their architecture is typical of Spanish Colonies: wrought-iron balconies, bottom-up windows, enormous arched doorways, among others. The other prominent construction is the Big Four House constructed by four of California’s first railroad workers. Among other famous places are the B.F. Hastings Building, the western terminal of the Pony Express, and the area initially housing the California Supreme Court. Skip in the Lady Adams Building, the oldest in Sacramento non-residential building. Nowadays, almost all of the original structures serve as restaurants, souvenir stalls and attract curious tourists.
You can also visit several museums of history, embark on a journey by a Central Pacific Railroad train or an old-fashioned carriage driven by horses, or have a historic river cruise on a boat.
Travel in the past and get acquainted with the railroad’s history. A lot of restored cars and even ancient locomotives await photo-hungry tourists to admire at their excellent sight. You can visit the Railway Post Office to dive into the previous centuries’ atmosphere and find out how the railroad influenced the development of infrastructure of the state and its economy.
The museum, located in the Old Sacramento Historic District, occupies six buildings. It will take some time to tour it, but you will not want to miss out.
Concerning the history of Sacramento, the first thing that pops up is the Gold Rush. But this is not the only historical fact here: the Sacramento History Museum also shows you the everyday life of the first inhabitants of the place and tells about agriculture, fur trapping, local cultural issues, and more. It illustrates the impact the city has had on the state for about a century since the Rush times.
The museum’s building is nearly identical to the Sacramento City Hall in 1854, and local guides are eager to show you its display and tell you all the details of the city’s history.
This is the oldest existing cemetery in the city. Here, you can take a different perspective on the history of Sacramento. Founded in 1849, the next year, it became the last accommodation to the epidemic victims: about 600 persons lie here in corporate tombs of the memorial. In 1951, there appeared a monument in the memory of these people. The cemetery also became a graveyard for volunteer firefighters in 1858, the Masons in 1859, the Odd Fellows in 1861, members of the Sacramento Pioneers Association in 1862, and soldiers of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1878.
The cemetery produces the impression of a Victorian garden with level terraces made of concrete and brick walls around some sections.
There are also abundant beautiful roses, considered to be the most beautiful across the state.
Located within the territory of Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the Eagle Theatre is a copy of the first static theatre in California. It was built in 1849 to the enjoyment of the gold miners and Wild West pioneers. It came along to replace saloons and gambling houses. The theatre held drama and music performances. It used to be a wood-framed building with canvas walls, a thin tin roof, and a hard-packed earth floor. Unfortunately, the original building was destroyed in flood just three months after the end of construction. It was then reconstructed only in 1974.
Today, you can see the theatre exterior and interior with the Railroad Museum ticket. There is also a chance to watch melodramas or musical performances on summer weekends.
If you enjoy theatrical performances, you should go to the B Street Theatre. It is a non-profit organization functioning in Sacramento since 1986 as a theatre for the city’s little residents. It has won the Best Live Theatre title by the Sacramento News. It has also received 13 awards from the Best Performing Arts Organization by Sacramento Magazine
Here, you can see the regional, west coast, national, or world premiers. Every season, the theater sees at least seven new performances for the adults and four for kids. The theatre has family performances and education programs for the actors of all ages, starting from seven-year-olds, recent college graduates, and adults. It also has an all-purpose space for the artists hosting workshops and artistic events.
A movie theatre that appeared in 1912 under the name of Empress Theatre and performed vaudevilles. Later here was the Hippodrome, and in 1949 it was finally remodeled to become a cinema. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was a first-run theatre, and in about ten years, it turned into a sub-run house.
You can watch classic revival or specialty movies or sometimes attend lectures or live shows at the Crest. The Crest hosts several annual film festivals, including the French Film Festival, the Jewish Film Festival, and the Trash Film Orgy.
If you are fond of cars, the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento is an absolute must-see. Its exposition is a representation of the vehicles that have been driven in California for over a century. Currently, the museum holds 150 cars: early models, muscle cars, race cars, and classic ones. The more significant part of the exposition collection is the cars loaned from private exhibitors on different terms. That is why the showcases in the museum regularly change, giving a broader picture of the history and development of the automobile business and the influence that the cars have exerted on our lives. Time and again, the museum arranges special exhibitions, such as the pickup truck exhibition of 2016.
If you are more about classical art, you should visit the Crocker Art Museum. It started in the 1870s as a home art gallery exposing thee Crocker family’s paintings from their trip to Europe. Among their eminent guests were Oscar Wilde and President Ulysses Grant. In 1885 the widowed Mrs. Crocker treated the Sacramento city to the Crocker Art Gallery with its works of art. In 1978 the name of the gallery was changed to the Crocker Art Museum, and in 2010 it also occupied a specially designed and constructed building, which made the museum more than three times bigger in size.
Today, the Crocker Art Museum has an education center, a library, an auditorium, and different exhibition galleries and holds numerous permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.
Among its permanent collections, there are European Art collection, Asian Art collection, African and Oceanic Art collection, Californian and American Art collection, and Ceramics.
The Sacramento Zoo was set up in William Land Park in 1927 and had only about 40 animals living on less than two ha of land. Among them, there were birds, raccoons, deer, and monkeys. In 1949 the zoo managed to obtain an elephant called SUE, a short form of Sacramento Union Elephant, and about five years later, another elephant called Winky.
In 1958 the Sacramento Zoo instilled an educational program, having taken its place among nine US educational zoos. In the 1960s, the zoo tripled territory, and soon after that, there appeared orangutans and grizzly bears.
In 2014 the Small Wonders of Africa section opened performing such animals as aardvarks, Wolf’s mona monkeys, fruit bats, Fennec foxes, and various African birds.
The zoo houses more than 500 animals, among them being North American river otters, giraffes, and various reptiles. Oh, and a red panda has recently had her second cub at the Sacramento Zoo.
The museum consists of the California State Capitol and Capitol Park surrounding it. Capitol Park is a 16 ha garden with over a thousand trees from all over the world. There are about 150 memorials and other landmarks dedicated to the Californian outstanding people and events.
The Neoclassical building of the California State Capitol based on the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C., appeared in Sacramento between 1861 and 1874. It has housed the government of California’s state since 1869 and has the Governor’s office, the California Senate chamber, and the California Assembly chamber. The latter two rooms are situated in the opposing parts of the building, both reminding the Houses of British Parliament. Thus, the California Senate chamber has red ornament, same as the British House of Lords, and the California Assembly chamber has green, as the British House of Commons.
Probably the most exciting parts of the museum are the basement with its small theatre, gift shop and “the History of California” mural, and the first floor with the restored Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Governor of California historic offices.
Near the California State Capitol stretches The Tower Bridge. It is a beautiful vertical lift bridge across the Sacramento River designed in Streamline Moderne architectural style. In 1935 The Tower Bridge replaced the existing railroad bridge, combining railroad tracks, single car lanes, and sidewalks. Only in 1963, the railroad tracks were replaced by extra car lanes.
Originally the bridge was painted silver aluminum with sky-blue concrete pylons. But in 1976, it was decided to become yellow-ochre to be seen to better advantage with the State Capitol dome. Now The Tower Bridge is painted all-gold.
To better apprehend its beauty, a stroll over Tower Bridge would be an excellent idea.
If you are looking for a high class and an excellent place to eat, The Kitchen Restaurant would be the right choice. This is a Michelin-starred contemporary American restaurant serving the dinners cooked of the best freshest products, mostly by the local and regional farmers.
Serving dinners here comes round in the form of theatrical performance with chefs’ participation and other restaurant staff. Between the acts (courses), you can have a walk or rest on the patio, sit by the fire, and check out the local wine cellar and the kitchen.
Another option to have dinner or a drink unusually is the Sac Brew Bike. This is a 15 passenger bicycle touring around the city, making stops at the local partnering bars and pubs. So it is a combination of a city tour, exercise, and a pub crawl, for you will have to pedal the bike to get somewhere. It also has a driver, i.e., a person who steers the wheel and knows the whereabouts. The Sac Brew Bike has different tours, such as Pedal to Plate tours, offering all-inclusive food and drinks, dessert tours, art tours, and many more.
If you decide to stay in Sacramento overnight, you can do it in the Citizen Hotel, Autograph Collection. This is a four-star Marriott group hotel situated in what used to be the Cal-West Building, constructed in the 1920s. It is one of Sacramento’s highest buildings in downtown just about half a kilometer away from the California State Capitol and a kilometer from the Crocker Art Museum and the California State Railroad Museum.
Another beautiful place to stay for the night is Amber House Inn, a four-star bed and breakfast hotel about a kilometer away from The Tower Bridge and 1,5 kilometers from California State Capitol Museum. The Victorian Style hotel occupies two historic buildings and offers overall ten rooms to stay in. Each room is named after a world-famous writer or composer, among others, there are Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Byron, Longfellow, and Dickenson. It has the interior reflecting its name.