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7 Things to Do in Sacramento This Summer
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7 Things to Do in Sacramento This Summer

Welcome to the Golden State’s capital! These are the best things to do in Sacramento this summer.

Gil and Saara Torres, REALTORS®

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6 min read

August 04, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com does not receive any kind of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

Sacramento, a.k.a Capital City, a.k.a. River City is California’s charming wonderland. A city that was once just a pass-through, Sacramento has announced itself as one of the can’t-miss destinations in the Golden State. This is a city that hasn’t forgotten its past and one that looks straight into the future, with history and modernity both readily on display on every corner. Sacramentans are very fond of saying “California begins here,” and for good reason; the city is a fair representation of everything California. 

River City’s appeal goes beyond its historic and governmental buildings — not to say those aren’t good enough reasons to visit Sactown — and into its modernity, great outdoors, and welcoming people. With heaps of epic spots to check out, year-round nice weather, a scenic waterfront, world-class eateries, rip-roaring events, and gorgeous river escapades, you’ll soon realize that Sacramento is more layered than you’ve realized. For an unforgettable summer vacation, check the best Sacramento activities off your list, and then get ready for some more. 

The Lady Adams Building is the oldest standing building in Old Sacramento. It has survived the Great Fire of 1852, as well as the Great Flood of 1861.

1. Tour the Old Sacramento Waterfront

There’s one place in Sacramento that tells the story of the city better than the books, and it’s the Old Sacramento Waterfront District. The 28-acre area sits on the edge of the Sacramento River; it serves as a time capsule taking you all the way back to the 1800s. Around 53 structures from the 19th century still stand tall in the mini-town, with the Lady Adams Building being the oldest building of them all. You can tour the Old Sacramento Waterfront on foot following the wooden sidewalks or you can hop on a horse-drawn carriage for a grand tour.

There are a couple of awesome things to do on the Old Sacramento Waterfront; walk the Old Sacramento Historic State Park, stop by the California State Railroad Museum, shop at Evangeline’s Costume Mansion, and dine at the Firehouse Restaurant. Even if you’re just passing through the city, a stop at this historic spot is a can’t-miss Sacramento activity

While watching the rivers of Sacramento from dry land is breathtaking, watching the city from the rivers is a whole different experience.

2. Enjoy an Array of Watersports on the Sacramento Rivers

There’s no better thing to do in Sacramento, California, during the summer, than enjoying its rivers.  The Sacramento and American rivers both flow through River City and provide an array of watersport opportunities. Swimming, kayaking, boating, tubing, and rafting are all means to beat the summer heat, exercise, and have fun in Sacramento.  

In addition to being a great means of exercising, paddling on two of the best California rivers is an awesome way to explore the city and enjoy the city views from a different perspective. As you paddle down the rivers, you’ll be surrounded by rolling hills, oak woodlands, and open plains that offer breathtaking views of Mount Lassen and the whole region. You’ll also get acquainted with the area’s rich wildlife. Gather your friends, rent a kayak, and go on an exciting adventure along the rivers. 

The first California State Fair took place in 1854 in San Francisco but eventually took permanent residence in Sacramento in 1859.

3. Join the Crowds at the California State Fair

Hundreds of thousands of people make their way to Sacramento each summer to participate in the California State Fair. Over the course of 17 days, the best of California’s produce is exhibited at Cal Expo in Sacramento, and by the best, we mean the best of everything. At the fair, you’ll find the best food, livestock, crafts, photographs, and oils, all made by Californians from all across the State. It’s a fun and creative competition between counties, to say the least.

Aside from the high-end products, your guests can participate in all sorts of competitions, including pie and corn dog eating competitions, and the annual cornhole championship. Not the competitive type? No problem! You can still enjoy the fair by going on midway rides and playing arcade games. If anything, the California State Fair is the top thing to do in Sacramento, C.A.

When the Sacramento Zoo opened in 1927 it housed 40 animals. Today more than 500 animals call the zoo home.

4. Visit the Animals at Sacramento Zoo

There are dozens of fun things to do in Sacramento with kids, but none beats a visit to Sacramento Zoo. Considered to be one of the best zoos in California, Sacramento Zoo is where fun meets education. Here you can find over 500 animals, many of them being rare or endangered species. Giraffes, jaguars, snow pandas, and orangutans are all settled in spaces that mimic their indigenous habitats.

Your little ones will get the chance to come as close as possible to their favorite animals, learn about them, and even feed them. To give your kids the best time of their lives, go aboard the zoo train, ride the carousel, climb the rock wall, and most importantly, stay overnight with the animals. This will be a trip that will stay engraved on all of your memories.

Even though the Toyota Amphitheater is famous for hosting mostly rock or country concerts, all genres have been represented here throughout the years.

5. Attend an Outdoor Concert at the Toyota Amphitheater

Summers are the busiest time of the year at the Toyota Amphitheater, one of the top music venues in California. Huge names in the music industry have played and left their mark at the awesome amphitheater, which holds around 18,500 spectators at one time. The outdoor venue mostly hosts rock and country concerts and tends to get really loud real quick.

Previous performers at the Toyota Amphitheater include California rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other big names like Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, No Doubt, and Linkin Park. If you’re still looking for fun Sacramento things to do after dark, check the venue’s website for upcoming performances. Attending a concert near Sacramento is unlike any other experience you’ve ever had.

Sutter Health park is more than a ballpark. It hosts an array of festivals, concerts, and trade shows throughout the year.

6. Cheer For the River Cats

Capital City is huge on sports all through the year. Come summertime, the city’s full attention is directed towards five-time Pacific Coast League (PCL) titleholders, the Sacramento River Cats. On game nights fans gather at Sutter Health Park to cheer for their team in the thousands. The atmosphere is something you don’t want to miss.

When in Sactown, bring your pom-poms and join the masses in cheering for the home team. The passion and loyalty these fans have for the River Cats will be passed on to you as soon as you set foot in the baseball stadium. This one is a high-priority thing to do in Sacramento, especially if you wish to understand the community.

With almost 10,000 surface acres of water, the man-made Folsom Lake offers a dozen opportunities for water fun.

7. Spend a Day Around the Folsom Lake Recreational Area

If you ever find yourself wondering what to do in Sacramento on a sunny afternoon, the answer will always come in the form of Folsom Lake. The Folsom Lake Recreational Area is a Sacramento attraction that has been pulling visitors like a magnet for years now. There’s something fun to do in the area, which sits right on the outskirts of Sacramento, regardless of one’s interests, and boy do Sacramentans love it.

Do you want to explore the lake’s waters? You can do so by swimming, windsurfing, jet-skiing, or paddleboarding. If you’d rather remain on dry land, there are always miles of hiking trails you can explore, many of which are some of the best hiking trails in Sacramento. Once you’ve done your daily workout, you can have a picnic at one of the lake’s two picnic sites. Better yet, you can spend the night at one of the recreational area’s campgrounds, because why just spend an afternoon when you can stay overnight?




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