Although Sacramento is the capitol of California, few people actually know where it is on the map. To give you a quick refresher, it's in north-central California - approximately 1.5 hours northeast of San Francisco. As an inland city, it doesn't have the beachy vibe of the more famous cities...but it has plenty to offer residents and tourists nevertheless.
The tree-lined streets in the downtown area give the city a friendly and open feel. On the Saturday of our visit, we found plentiful metered parking ($.25 for every 12 minutes) near the steps of the California State Capitol Museum (FREE admission!). State capitols are worth visiting for historical and educational purposes, but also because they are a fantastic study of art and architecture. Tim & I marveled at the winding staircases, painted ceilings, and emotion-filled sculptures around every turn.
We also visited the Crocker Art Museum a few streets over. Housed in a modern white circular building, the three-story museum is a piece of art in and of itself and features a wide range of mediums. Our favorite room included huge detailed paintings of various scenes in history. There is a small children's area in the basement as well, but it was actually less interesting to our girls than the galleries themselves.
For lunch, we parked (metered parking again - be sure to bring plenty of quarters) and joined the line at Burgers and Brew, a local burger joint with a popular, collegiate environment. Burgers are all made from local, sustainable meat - no antibiotics or hormones. On tap are a number of local and limited brews.
During our visit to the city, we stayed overnight at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Sacramento. The suite-style rooms are spacious with separated bedrooms, a living area, and a full kitchen. Also included in your stay is a complimentary breakfast and an evening reception. Two amenities that are a boon for families!
As for other attractions in the city, children and adults will both toot their horns in approval of the California State Railroad Museum - regarded as one of the finest railroad museums in the country. Walk through sleeping, dining, and postal train cars from a variety of eras...plus learn about the history of the railroad industry, including where it stands today. You can even go on a real train ride (for an additional fee). Plan to come early or stay afterward to walk the shops or eat lunch in Old Town Sacramento - a whimsical street with photo opps galore.
We also did a quick run through the Sacramento Zoo...
Neither are remarkable venues, but they are fun for small children if you have an extended stay in the city. Note also that they are right next door to each other (within a large park) so you could easily go to both on the same day.
Sacramento is a place that I would love to return to someday. The laid-back city boasts bountiful sunshine, a mild climate year round, proximity to San Francisco, and amiable tree-lined streets.
Have you ever been to Sacramento with kids? What travel tips would you add?
* Thanks to Visit Sacramento for providing us with complimentary dining and attraction passes.