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The Top Museums in Sacramento To Check Out Now

The Top Museums in Sacramento To Check Out Now

Visiting Sacramento’s museums exposes you to everything starting from the Gold Rush era to the rich art scene.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

December 18, 2021

Sacramento has a lot to tell—the abundance of museums and historical landmarks can attest to that. From being the epicenter of the Gold Rush to becoming one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, Sactown combines the best of old and new. Wish to uncover the history of the city? Visiting Sacramento’s museums exposes you to everything starting from the Gold Rush era to the rich art scene.

The Crocker Art Museum, formerly the E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, founded in 1885, is the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River.

1. Crocker Art Museum

Location: 216 O Street, Sacramento

The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento started as a private art collection and ended up being one of the top art museums in California. Judge Edwin B. Crocker bought a property in the late 1800s and had an elaborate gallery constructed to hold the family’s ever-growing art collection. Today, what we now know as the Crocker Art Museum displays over 15,000 artworks spread across two buildings. A large collection of California art, European drawings, and international ceramics make this art museum in Sacramento the perfect spot for people who appreciate the finer things in life.

2. California State Railroad Museum

Location: 125 I Street, Sacramento

The California State Railroad Museum features 21 carefully restored “iron horse” locomotives on display—some of them date back to 1862. Visitors can find railway cars at the Sacramento train museum, as well as a collection of toy trains on a miniature landscape; you know your kids are going to love this part. This railroad museum offers guests a one-of-a-kind experience; you can hop aboard an authentic locomotive and go for a ride along the Sacramento River.

The California State Capitol Museum consists of a museum in and grounds around the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

3. California State Capitol Museum

Location: 1315 10th Street, Sacramento

The California State Capitol Building acts both as a museum and the state’s working seat of government. An ideal day trip to Sacramento naturally includes a tour of the California State Capitol Museum, where people can learn the legislative history of the state. The picture-perfect rotunda has a 128-foot high dome that features historic artworks—murals, furnishings, and paintings are on display. Paintings include portraits of 38 governors hanging in the West Wing. Don’t forget to stroll the gardens surrounding the Capitol; they span over 12 blocks.

The Aerospace Museum of California has a 4.5-acre outdoor Air Park, indoor exhibit space, a classroom, theater, conference room, and gift shop.

4. Aerospace Museum of California

Location: 3200 Freedom Park Drive, McClellan Park

More than 40 historic aircraft, rocket engines, and flight zone simulators make the Aerospace Museum of California a top attraction in Sacramento County. Many of the planes featured at the air and space museum are combat planes, a few of which survived WWII. With interactive STEM exhibits and countless artifacts awaiting exploration, aerospace fans can pilot their own adventure at this museum in Sacramento. Take part in the building block competitions, scavenger hunts, and realistic Flight Zone simulations—you know you’ll have the time of your life.  

5. The California Museum

Location: 1020 O Street, Sacramento

The California Museum doesn’t just exhibit the history of the Golden State; it also exposes you to stories about women and under-represented groups—these include testimonies of the state’s prominent female figures. Home to the California Hall of Fame, the museum encourages visitors to participate in interactive experiences. With more than 20,000 square feet of exhibits, event facilities, and archives, this museum is a place you can explore for hours on end. 

The Sacramento History Museum has exhibits displaying the Gold Rush and mining, Nisenan and Maidu Indian Nations, agriculture, and cultural heritage.

6. Sacramento History Museum

Location: 101 I Street, Sacramento

Does the Gold Rush era pique your interest? Pay a visit to the Sacramento History Museum to see how people lived in the 1800s. The museum is a reproduction of the 1854 City Hall and Waterworks building. Visitors can view exhibits that range from the beginnings of Sacramento to the Gold Rush era. Make sure you stop at the Historic Print Shop, where you’ll learn about the newspaper production industry and even have a ‘Wanted’ poster featuring the most wanted fugitive ever—you.    

The mission of the California Automobile Museum is to preserve, exhibit, and teach the history of the automobile and its influence on our lives.

7. California Automobile Museum

Location: 2200 Front Street, Sacramento

The California Automobile Museum features everything from an 1886 motorwagen to a flashy Nissan LEAF. More than 120 vehicles at this Sacramento auto museum will keep every vintage car fan busy and entertained. Some of the rotating exhibits allow visitors to see fun cars like the original Batmobile, and workshops give you the chance to learn how to tune your own car. Want to pimp your ride? See how it all started right here. 

8. Sacramento Children’s Museum

Location: 2701 Prospect Park Drive, Rancho Cordova 

With the help of local businesses, physicians, attorneys, and other community members, the Sacramento Children’s Museum opened its doors to the public in 2011. Catered to children up to eight years old, this discovery museum in Sacramento offers hands-on activities such as painting and arts and crafts. Kids can also check out the pint-sized city at the museum, where they can role play—it even has a miniature grocery store.  With almost 7,000 square feet of space, boredom is never an option at this kid’s museum in Sacramento. 

Experience the evolution of medicine from the Gold Rush to today at the Museum of Medical History.

9. Museum of Medical History

Location: 5380 Elvas Avenue, Sacramento

The Museum of Medical History of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society is one of those strange museums that need to be visited ASAP. Here, you’ll learn about the development of medicine in the area starting in the 1800s. Exhibits include patent medicine, pharmacology, antibiotics, infectious diseases, nursing, and Asian medicine among many others—basically, anything that was ever used to treat patients back in the day is on display here. Grab your white coat and prepare yourself for a tour like no other.

10. SMUD Museum of Science and Creativity

Location: 400 Jibboom Street, Sacramento

After 15 years in the making, the SMUD Museum of Science and Creativity opened its doors to the public in 2021. As one of the first of its kind, this Sacramento science museum covers a variety of global themes such as climate change, water resources, and alternate sources of energy. The aim of the museum is to encourage children to pursue STEAM fields: science, technology, engineering, art, and math. This Sacramento museum will soon be your go-to place during every visit to the state capital. 

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