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سياحة و سفروجهات وأماكن سياحية

a weekend in sunny Sacramento, California

California’s hot spots have traditionally been Los Angeles, San Francisco (my home town) and San Diego. Yet Sacramento, despite being California’s capital, doesn’t feature as highly on the tourist trail. I only live a two-hour drive from the city, yet until recently even I hadn’t visited.  

More fool me, because, as I discovered, Sacramento has plenty to offer for a weekend of fun and frivolity.

Sacramento is located at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, California’s largest river, which flows to San Francisco Bay. This made it a pivotal location for the 1849 Gold Rush, thus cementing Sacramento as a major commercial and political centre.

Sacramento Capitol building (c) Lucy Woods

The city’s layout is typically American with a classic grid system formed by interlocking blocks. As flat as a pancake, it is a great place to explore on foot or by bicycle, with pleasant tree-lined streets, interesting architecture and beautiful street art.

Sacramento is also home to the lofty Capitol building, the state’s working seat of government, which also serves as a museum. Get there at dusk and see this Neoclassical building, looking impressive framed against the soft pink glow of the sky.

Old Sacramento

The district of Old Sacramento preserves this rich history, complete with restored buildings, wooden pavements and quaint shops selling salt water taffy, handmade souvenirs and high-end clothing. 

California State Railroad Museum (c) Lucy Woods

You can also take a ride on the heritage railway aboard an old-fashioned steam train along the Sacramento Southern Railroad. There is also a neighbouring museum exhibiting locomotives and railcars that tell the story of the Golden State’s  railway heritage. 

Weekend farmer’s market

Sacramento’s Midtown is home to a weekly farmer’s market that stretches over five blocks with more than 200 vendors selling artisanal goods and local fare.

Warm crusty bread, sweet caramel corn, spicey chutneys and other delectable goodies adorn various stalls. A live band stood at the centre, matching the summer vibes with soft guitar, keyboard and drums.

Along with the many delicious food options, you can purchase hand-made products from local craftspeople – anything from jewellery and clothing to woodwork and plushies.

Music at the farmer’s market (c) Lucy Woods

The market takes place every Saturday throughout the year from 8am to 1pm.

Sacramento River

Sacramento River flows past picturesque Old Sacramento, where the striking gold-painted Tower Bridge stands tall and proud. Drive along or get hold of a bike, and cycle the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, which snakes along the Sacramento and American rivers for 32 miles to Beal’s Point in Folsom. Or catch a boat tour, particularly lovely for Sacramento’s (regular) sunny days.

Sac Brew boat tour

Sac Brew boat tour (c) Lucy Woods

We booked a spot on the Sac Brew tour and joined 16 other passengers aboard a tiki-themed pedal-powered boat on a one-and-a-half-hour cruise along the Sacramento and American rivers. We took snacks and drinks, others brought alcohol and some even brought their own music to play via Bluetooth on the boat’s speakers.

The boat tour was an absolute blast! It was very well organised, the sun was out in full force and our tour guides, Deborah and Aaron (also known as “Captain AA”), were charming and friendly.

We passed a group of sea lions basking in the sunshine and then sailed under I Street Bridge, a historic metal truss swing bridge that is the oldest of its kind in California. After a quick stopover at the riverfront bar, The Virgin Sturgeon, we then floated into the California River.

Sea lions on the Sacramento River

Sea lions on the Sacramento River (c) Lucy Woods

It was fascinating to see the difference in colour between the two rivers: the Sacramento River is largely fed by snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada mountains, and is a lighter shade, whilst the California River carries sediment from streams and tributaries that give it a much darker hue.

The Sac Brew boat tour runs several times a day from Wednesday to Sunday. I would highly recommend to include this tour during your visit to Sacramento.

Crocker Art Museum

To get your cultural fix, The Crocker Art Museum is also located close to Tower Bridge in downtown Sacramento and contains more than 25,000 works of art spanning several centuries. Championing art from several communities and cultures, the museum is a joy to explore, full of nooks and crannies containing the outstanding, the weird and the downright bizarre.

Bombed Mosque by Al Farrow (c) Andrew Moss

Some of the art that stood out to me included a sculpture of a bombed mosque made from gun parts, shell cases and bullets by Al Farrow, and some beautiful gravity-defying stone sculptures by Woods Davy.  

There is also an interesting temporary exhibition, AI Am I? ARTificial Intelligence as Generated by Alexander Reben, who developed AI artworks from as early as 2012, before the rise of language models such as Chat GPT.

The Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento (c) Lucy Woods

The Crocker Art Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, and is free to enter every third Sunday of the month.

Where to eat in Sacramento

Sacramento has been dubbed the birthplace of America’s farm-to-fork movement, championing local produce, which is plentiful thanks to its sunny climate and the fertile soil of the surrounding farmland.

For an upscale experience, Camden Spit & Larder offers a high-end British-inspired menu, featuring spit-roasted meats and fresh farm fare.

Camden Spit & Larder, Sacramento

Camden Spit & Larder, Sacramento (c) Lucy Woods

Alternatively, walk along the R Street Corridor in downtown Sacramento, packed with restaurants and bars, adorned with vibrant street art. We had lunch at Bawk! by Urban Roots, a hip friend chicken joint with a great bar.

For breakfast, Sacramento has an excellent coffee shop chain, Temple Coffee Roasters, which serves a selection of sweet pastries. Alternatively, Estelle’s Bakery & Pâtisserie serves freshly baked goods and French favourites, including the deliciously gooey Croque Monsieur.   

Where to drink in Sacramento

The Jungle Bird Tiki Bar – located in Sacramento’s Midtown, the theme and décor is really fun and the cocktails are excellent. I recommend the eponymous Jungle Bird cocktail for both its style and substance.


Pork belly bites at The 7th Street Standard, Sacramento

Pork belly bites at The 7th Street Standard (c) Lucy Woods

The 7th St Standard – in walking distance from Old Sacramento and located inside Hyatt Centric Hotel- is a classy establishment serving cocktails and bar snacks with soft jazz playing in the background. Head over there between 2pm and 5pm for Happy Hour, as the bar snacks are divine and just $7 a dish.  

Der Biergarten – great for when the sun is out, this German-themed hangout in the city’s Midtown is good value and serves a great selection of beer as well as classic German eats. Just don’t have too many steins!

Where to stay in Sacramento

Fort Sutter Hotel in Sacramento’s Midtown neighbourhood (see full accommodation review) is comfortable and chic. It is located near many restaurants and bars and within walking distance of the Saturday farmer’s market and Capitol Building.

Get there: The nearest airport is Sacramento International Airport.


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