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When spending a weekend in Sacramento, it can be difficult to get through everything on your list. There are so many things to do and see in this bustling city, from fishing and windsurfing in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta to learning about the California State Capitol and connecting with the Gold Country spirit.
Established in 1839 by the German-born Swiss pioneer John Sutter, Sacramento has a rich history and diverse culture. It was here that the world-renowned California Gold Rush began and the new American Dream was born. Explore museums, art galleries, and historic streets while the "City of Trees" captures your attention and captivates your mind.
One of the most fun things to do in Sacramento is to visit the Sacramento Zoo with the whole family. Operating since 1927, the sanctuary is home to nearly 500 animals and is considered one of the best things to do with kids in Sacramento. Meet species from around the globe, learn about their natural habitats, and see how the zoo is helping with habitat conservation efforts. Wander through different animal areas from the Reptile House to Big Cat Row, and venture off to the Tall Wonders of Africa viewing deck and encounter the zoo’s giraffes—the perfect spot for a selfie shot. Remember to ride the Zoo Train before heading to the Zoofari Market Gift Store for a souvenir that will remind you of your visit to Sactown.
To further immerse yourself in nature, stroll through Capitol Park. The urban oasis surrounds the California State Capitol and hosts a number of groves and gardens. Breathe in the sweet smell of about 650 roses at the World Peace Rose Gardens, and admire the beauty, luxuriousness, and architectural elegance of the Capitol building and its environs.
After exploring the park, tour the historic California State Capitol Museum and learn about the legislative history taking place at California’s seat of government. Browse the restored historic rooms, understand the symbolism behind the interior architecture, and admire the expansive Capitol art collection. Perceive the state’s historic growth by exploring its manifestation in the face of the Capitol building, and see for yourself why Sacramento is one of the most popular NorCal cities to live in.
Make your way to Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park to discover where it all began. Located between 26th and 28th Streets in downtown Sacramento, this park gives you a glimpse into the past, back when the land was granted to Johann Augustus Sutter. Today, you’ll find authentic distillery, trade, carpenter, and blacksmith shops in the place where the pioneer erected his fort back in 1840. You'll gain insight into his dreams of building an agricultural empire—and how this dream was overrun by the Gold Rush. In 1847, Sutter's landlord requested that a sawmill be built along the banks of the American River and hired James Marshall to complete the task; this is where the carpenter discovered gold flecks, leading to the California Gold Rush and the ensuing boom of the region. Stroll the fort’s grounds, which housed up to 300 people, and learn more about the life of Sutter.
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Discover the true Sacramento spirit at the Old Sacramento Waterfront District. Transport yourself back to the era of chasing prosperity as you meander along the river. Among the most unique things to do in Sacramento is touring the diverse museums of the Old Waterfront, including the California State Railroad Museum, the Sacramento History Museum, and the California Automobile Museum—you'll become a pro when it comes to the town’s rich history.
After working up an appetite, treat yourself to a dinner cruise at the Delta King Hotel's Pilot House Restaurant. Savor the smoked salmon and prawn ravioli or the seafood linguine with salmon, scallops, calamari, clams, and prawns. Enjoy your exquisite meal as you glide across the waters in an authentic paddlewheel riverboat. (Traveling on a budget? Worry not, because the Old Sacramento Waterfront has an abundance of free things to do.)
As you wake up at one of the most popular getaways near the Bay Area, get excited for another day filled with exciting things to see in Sacramento. When in America's "Farm-to-Fork Capital," your Saturday mornings should start with an authentic farmers market experience. Set out early and visit the Midtown Farmers Market on 20th Street, between J and K Streets, to shop for fresh California-grown produce. Stroll past artisanal and street-food stands, and connect with locals and visitors as live music plays in the background.
Stay in Midtown and get inspired by its many art exhibitions, galleries, and theaters. Visit the Groundswell Gallery, B. Sakata Garo, and Kennedy Gallery Art Center, especially if contemporary art is your thing. You can also sign up for an AR Workshop to become part of the Sacto art community or visit the Capital Stage for an unforgettable play as part of your capital experience. The Geery Theater awaits you for an intimate live performance, and the Comedy Spot is prepared to give you the giggles.
Urban Sacramento has even more artsy things to do. Discover graffiti murals and street art, stroll along the Dango River Walk, visit Dango Garden Park in the Bridge District, and explore The California Museum’s California Hall of Fame. Some of the most exciting things to do this weekend in downtown are to visit Broadway Sacramento, get classy at the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, or reserve a table at The Firehouse Restaurant—this is the perfect spot to savor fine cuisine before your Sacramento adventure comes to an end.
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