Fun and Free Things to do in Sacramento

Fun and Free Things to do in Sacramento

By California.com
October 12, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Visit the city of Sacramento and discover the exciting state capital cost-free. With an abundance of free things to do in Sacramento—including everything from poetry nights to historical explorations—the Almond Capital of the World will astound you. Take a trip to enjoy all that Sacramento has to offer; admire its art installations, connect to nature along acres of public parks, and educate yourself at the most diverse museums without spending a dime. 

Fun and Artsy Things to do in Sacramento

Seeing the works of young and talented artists is an indispensable part of any Sacramento adventure. Photo courtesy of Verge Center for the Arts.

1. Get inspired by the spirit of Sacramento. Set a reminder for the second Saturday of the month and venture to Midtown Sacramento. Between 16th Street and 24th Street, and I Street to Capitol Mall, artists and musicians gather for The Second Saturday Art Walk to display their work.

2. Don’t miss the best photo ops of Sacramento at the annual Wide Open Walls Festival. Gaze at artistic wall art promoting diversity on the Sacramento streets each August. The charitable organization began in 2016 and its mission is to celebrate public art and share it with everyone in the community. 

3. Follow The Sacramento Poetry Center for updates on its Open Mic events which invite the public to experience poetry and expression. 

4. Stop to look at contemporary art at the Verge Center for the Arts on the corner of 7th and S Streets. Here you can discover your new favorite artists from the greater Sacramento region. Founded in 2008, Verge plays an active role in promoting emerging and career artists while teaching youth and adults to express their creativity.

5. Explore the exhibitions of La Raza Galeria Posada by the Latino Center of Art and Culture. Founded in 1972, this cultural center is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Learn how art can empower inter-cultural communities and take part in one of the art education workshops to express yourself in an artistic way. 

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Best Parks to Visit in the City of Trees

1. With Halloween nearing, visiting the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery ought to be number one on your list of things to do in Sacramento this weekend. Get in the spooky spirit strolling through the Victorian gardens of the cemetery, which first opened in 1849.

2. One of the most fun things to do with kids in Sacramento is learning from America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. Visit the weekly Certified Farmers' Market at Capitol Mall on Thursday morning to find out where and how your local produce is sourced. Then drive off to the historic American River Ranch each Saturday to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere with live music and activities for kids. Learn more about the Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture and Education Project, educating people on the personal health benefits connected to sustainable farming.

Take in all the colors of Sacramento's bounty at the weekly Certified Farmer's Markets.

3. Strap on your skates and chill with the cool kids at one of Sacramento’s Skate Parks—Baer, Granite or McClathy—for an adrenaline rush as you slide down half-pipes and funboxes. 

4. Explore nature at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in the suburb of Carmichael and observe nearly 40 rescued birds, reptiles, and amphibians native to the American River system.  Ke-lik-a-lik (a tiny male American kestrel falcon), Orion the swainson's hawk, Wek'-Wek the peregrine falcon, and Echo the great horned owl are all trained and awaiting your visit. Other residents of the Nature Center include Clem the western pond turtle, Natoma the Northern Pacific rattlesnake, Gilbert the Skilton's skink, as well as gopher and king snakes, tree frogs, and toads.

5. Hike, bike, and swim at one of Sacramento’s most popular attractions. Folsom Lake is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and is the largest freshwater lake in the region. Pack a picnic lunch and bask in the sun after visiting the Folsom Powerhouse, which supplied Sacramento and its surrounding areas with electricity from 1895 to 1952. Explore one of the oldest hydroelectric facilities in the world and learn how its generator created electricity. 

6. Push yourself along the 32-mile Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail from Folsom to Old Sacramento and take your mind off of everyday life as the American River roars along the way. Jog, bike, skate, or ride your horse; connect with the outdoors; and take a breather at Paradise Beach.

Can’t miss Museums in the State’s Capital

1. Tour the California State Capitol Museum for free to learn about the Golden State's history and to see where modern laws are created and passed. Witness historic offices, legislative chambers, artwork, and architecture of the Capitol and stroll along the International World Peace Rose Gardens. While you’re there, check out one of the daily films at the Basement Theater (which are also free). After visiting, you'll see why Sacramento is one of the NorCal cities you’ll want to live in.

Stroll around the enchanting rose garden which stands as a reminder of world peace. Photo Courtesy of International World Peace Rose Gardens.

2. Tour the Don and June Salvatori California Pharmacy Museum to see displays of pharmacy artifacts and learn about California's medicine history from 1850. The three rooms showcase distinct time periods and combine to form one of the most unique things to do and see in Sacramento. Admire pharmacy journals and books dating back 100 years and learn how medicine has influenced the evolution of Sacramento.

3. Explore the Old Sacramento Waterfront District and visit the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum to venture back to another era. Learn about 19th century tools and machinery at the Huntington and Hopkins Hardware museum. Visit one of the 12 Wells Fargo Museums to see where the American River’s famous treasure box is exhibited, or learn how a telegraph was used back in the days of the Gold Rush. 

4. Admire the architecture of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. This church is considered one of the city's most historically significant buildings because it was built as Sacramento was transforming from a Gold Rush town into a capitol city. The church was modeled after Eglise de la Trinité Church in Paris and its cornerstone was laid on June 12, 1887.

5. Keep up the European vibes and take a stroll along Sacramento’s very own 738-foot Tower Bridge. Crossing the roaring Sacramento River and taking selfies with the bridge's illuminations as a backdrop is one of the top things to do in Sacramento at night. You'll feel like you're visiting a smaller version of the famous London Tower Bridge.

6. Take a free self-guided tour of the Jelly Belly Factory to see how one of America’s favorite candies is manufactured and to snack on free samples of the brand's iconic flavors.

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