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Sacramento, California

Local Details

Learn more about Sacramento, California using the City Guide below. Plan a trip, find local shopping centers, or just discover what makes Sacramento, California so great!

Current Temperature

  • 9:52 PM PDT Apr. 21

City Guide

Sacramento is the state capital of California in the United States.

Understand

Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California, founded in 1849, and there are many reminders of the history of the city including Sutter's Fort and Old Sacramento. It experienced explosive growth when gold was discovered in 1848, and the gold rush that followed was the largest human migration in history. Currently it has a population of 460,000 in the city and nearly two million in the metropolitan area.

The pace of life is somewhat slower than in other large Californian cities, and the people are generally warm and friendly. According to Time magazine Sacramento is the most diverse city in the USA. The city used to be an affordable place, but it suffered from the San Francisco Bay Area's dotcom rise and fall, and real estate went from undervalued to overvalued. The market is correcting itself so property values are dropping to where they should be.

Get in

By plane

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is the main airport for Sacramento, located 15 minutes north of downtown along Interstate 5 at the Airport Boulevard exit. Air service is available to Hawaii, Mexico, Canada (as of June 15) and all regions of the United States. Taxis from the airport to downtown are estimated at $27 one-way.

By train

Amtrak runs two long distance trains and two regional trains through Sacramento.

  • The Coast Starlight runs from Seattle and Portland through Sacramento to San Francisco (via Emeryville), Oakland, San Jose, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.
  • The California Zephyr runs from San Francisco (via Emeryville) through Sacramento to Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, and Chicago.
  • The Capitol Corridor is a regional train that runs from the Bay Area to Sacramento making major stops in Martinez, Richmond, Berkeley, Oakland, Fremont, and San Jose. Carefully consult the schedule when buying tickets for this since some of the daily runs are by bus instead of train.
  • The San Joaquins is a regional train that runs from Sacramento south into the San Joaquin Valley making major stops in Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

By car

Sacramento is conveniently located at the intersection of Interstate 5 (a north-south route) and Interstate 80 (an east-west route). It is also located at the western terminus of US Route 50.

  • From the San Francisco Bay Area, take Interstate 80 east.
  • From Reno and North Lake Tahoe, take Interstate 80 west.
  • From South Lake Tahoe, take US Route 50 west.
  • From Redding and the Pacific Northwest, take Interstate 5 south.
  • From the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, take Interstate 5 north.

By bus

  • Greyhound has a major hub downtown and numerous satellite stations throughout the Sacramento area.

Get around

By foot

Historic Old Sacramento, the Riverfront, and the California State Railroad Museum are all within an easy five minute walk of the train station.

The Capitol is a half-hour walk from Old Sacramento.

By car

For nearly all other getting around, you will want a car.

Light-rail

The Regional Transit light-rail is useful in downtown and some of the surrounding areas.

See

  • Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., The oldest continuously operating museum in the West, home to a premier collection of California art. $6.

  • California State Capitol. Open to visitors daily.

  • Sacramento Zoo, A mid-size zoo located in William Land Park. A combination ticket with Fairy Tale Town makes for a fun day for families with young children.

  • Sutter's Fort, 2701 L St.. It was built by John Sutter and is a California State Park. Activities and programs depict life in 1850's California.

  • State Indian Museum, Next to Sutter's Fort on 26th and K Streets, ? 916-324-0971, 10:00AM-5:00PM. Has exhibits of Native Californian baskets, clothing, and other items.

Old Sacramento

Once a thriving riverfront pioneer town, Old Sacramento now primarily exists as a tourist attraction. The boardwalk style sidewalks and horse-drawn stagecoaches give this small section of town a unique flavor. Old Sacramento contains several museums, restaurants, and the usual assortment of tacky souvenir shops all within walking distance of each other. Best of all, it's a five minute walk from the Amtrak station. It's best visited in late afternoon and early evening. Parking can be scarce, so be sure to utilize the reasonably priced parking structures in the K Street Mall. There's a nice, short, safe walkway between K Street Mall and Old Sacramento.

  • California State Railroad Museum, 111 I St., ? +1 916-323-9280. A huge museum of railroad history with a large collection of old yet well-preserved trains and equipment. If possible, take Amtrak to the Sacramento station to get into a trainy mood for it. $8 adults, $3 ages 6-17, 5 and under free.

  • Steam train rides, Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot ('just south of the Railroad Museum). Hourly April through September. Operated by the Railroad Museum, these forty minute excursions are pulled by an historic steam locomotive along the nearby levees. $8 adults, $3 ages 6-17, 5 and under free..

Do

  • The Jazz Jubilee, An annual affair over Memorial Day weekend. Bands come from all over the world to play this gig. You can hear everything from Billie Holiday to Scott Joplin to Paco Gatsby in venues set up throughout the Sacramento area.
  • The American River Cycling Trail is a world class pleasant ride through lush parkland, along the river and past lake Natoma, 44 miles (70 km) of automobile-free pavement from Folsom, Ca to Downtown Sacto, where old town provides plenty of refreshment with bars and restaurants. Lock your bike outside Fanny Anne's and have a big sandwich and a cold beer before riding back. Plenty of picnic-spotted parks offer water and shade, convenient parking, and you may spot the occasional deer or wild turkey. Be alert in the area of the bridges near downtown after dusk. There are walkers and joggers all along the trail so it's bad manners to ride too fast.
  • If you are visiting in August or early September, you cannot stop in Sacramento without stopping by the California State Fair! The Cal Expo fairgrounds come alive every summer as the State Fair becomes a "city within a city" that hosts nearly one million visitors. Folks come from near and far for the memorable delights of this 152-year-old extravaganza that includes exciting exhibits, amazing attractions, live entertainment, and the Magnificent Midway. Visit http://www.bigfun.org for the daily schedule of exhibits, attractions, races and more
  • The Sacramento Kings are the local basketball team, and they have been growing steadily in popularity in recent years. If you're able to obtain tickets to a Kings game, the experience will be a memorable one, as Arco Arena, where the Kings play, is widely known to be one of the loudest NBA venues in the country.

Learn

  • California State University, Sacramento (CSUS).

Buy

  • Westfield Downtown Plaza, 547 L Street. It contains a Macy's department store, several chains like The Gap and Banana Republic, and numerous smaller shops.

  • Arden Fair Mall, 1689 Arden Way. The largest mall in the metropolitan area, houses all the usual chains and also Sacramento's only Apple computer store.

Eat

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget <$10
Mid-range $10-20
Splurge $20+

Budget

  • Dos Coyotes Border Cafe, 1735 Arden Way (inside Market Square at Arden Fair Mall), ? +1 916-927-0377. A very popular and excellent cafe serving up delicious south-western style cuisine, with inventive specials like garlic & spinach quesadillas and monstrous salads. Started in Davis, it now has several locations in the Sacramento area. $5-10.

  • Luigi's Pizza Parlor, 3800 Stockton Blvd, Oak Park, ? +1 916-456-0641. A long-time Sac institution, still churning out tasty pizzas. Pizzas $12-20.

  • Crepeville.

  • La Bou.

  • Panera Bread.

Mid-range

  • Kathmandu Kitchen, 1728 Broadway, ? +1 916-441-2172. Serves excellent Indian and Nepalese food - the Mismas Tarkari thali is delicious. Most dishes hover around $10-12.

  • Tapa the World, 2115 J St, ? +1 916-442-4353. 11:30AM-midnite daily. An old favorite serving up tasty Spanish tapas and delicious sangria. Live music on most nights, and open late.

  • Tower Cafe, 1518 Broadway, ? +1 916-441-0222. Su-Th 8AM-11PM, F-Sa 8AM-midnite. A great breakfast spot, busy at any time of day. There's sometimes a line, but absolutely worth it.

  • Zócalo, 1801 Capitol Ave, ? +1 916-441-0303. M-W 11AM-10PM, Th 11AM-11PM, F 11AM-midnite, Sa 9AM-midnite, Su 9AM-10PM. A newer Mexican restaurant affiliated with the legendary Ernesto's, the food's great and it's usually busy.

Splurge

  • Lomo Argentine Grill, 1107 Front St., ? +1 916-442-5666.

  • Biba Ristorante Italiano, 2801 Capitol Avenue, ? +1 916-455-2422. Started by Biba Caggiano, the famous chef, author, and television host. It has been selected as the best restaurant in Sacramento on multiple occasions. Reservations are strongly recommended.

  • Morton's Steakhouse, 521 L St., ? +1 916-442-5091. High-scale restaurant that is perfect for taking that special someone or take the whole family to celebrate any occasion. They pride themselves on cooking the most tender steak, but don't count out their seafood portion of the menu! Delicious food with excellent dessert! Fun fact: they don't use menus...the waiter brings out a tray of all the raw meat and fish (even crab that is still alive) and explains in detail what the meat or fish is and what the dish comes with.

  • P.F. Chang's China Bistro, 1530 J St., ? +1 916-288-0970. Delicious chinese food that has a welcoming upscale atmosphere. Personal favorite are the lettuce wraps!!! The atmosphere is a louder family restaurant that combines with high class food. There is also an exceptional bar area that is a great place to meet friends.

Drink

Nightlife in Sacramento is vibrant if you know where to look. Simple rule, stay Downtown or in Midtown. Generally speaking this is where most tourists are anyways. The upscale clubs and lounges tend to be Downtown. Directly across from the Capitol grounds is the Park which is the premiere Sacramento nightclub. But the dress code and cover charges tend to be stiff. Just around the corner is the Capitol Garage which typically has guest DJ's on Saturday and a $5 cover in a laid back atmosphere. On K st. mall you'll find Marilyn's which is a really cool underground bar in the heart of downtown which showcases local live music talent. Nearby is the Crest Theater, an independent historic movie theater that boasts art deco design. In the summer you can catch the French Film Festival here as well as the Trash Film Orgy, an all-night spectacle of old B movie flicks where locals gather in their cheesiest costumes. On most days of the year however the Crest is the place to catch foreign and independent films as well as traveling stand-up comedy and music acts. On 16th and R st. you'll find the popular bar R15. This is a trendy bar/restaurant (Cafe Bernardo is attached) that has an urban industrial feel. Despite being trendy the prices are very affordable with $2 Pabst on tap and $1 pool tables. They also boast couches and big screens where you can play x-box for free with a couple friends. Next door is the club Empire. Stiff cover charges and a dress code. Empire attracts a younger crowd as it's 18 and up most nights. Another popular club is Avalon. Stiff cover charges and dress code as well but Avalon attracts an older crowd than Empire and less pretentious crowd than the Park. On 10th and S st. you'll find the popular indie-rock venue Old Ironsides. Local and traveling indie-rock talent showcase their music here. Every Tuesday you can catch Lipstick, a popular indie-rock dance party where you'll find mostly hip Midtown locals. Every first Saturday of the month you can catch After Dark which is like Lipstick only on a Saturday so it attracts a more varied metropolitan crowd. The Press Club on 21st and P is popular with the college crowd with its $5 cover charges and cheap $3 24oz. of Pabst. It's known for playing 80's dance music and the best nights to go are Wednesday's or Thursday's as it's a small club and on weekends gets unbearably overcrowded.

  • The Depot, corner of K and 20th downtown.. Gay video bar, two coin-op pool tables, covered smoking area.

  • Faces, Corner of K and 20th. Faces is a popular gay club. Recently renovated Faces has now doubled in size with an upstairs and a pool in the back! Plays R&B on video floor and House on other dance floor.

  • The Merc, 20th & L street. Usually the place to go to get your night started - cheap, big, strong drinks! Recently remodeled and is now considered a destination bar which competes with the Depot.

  • Club 21, On 21st, between K and L streets. 18+ Wednesday nights, which happens to be the only gay male night. Same owner as Faces, however generally plays upbeat, dance tunes that you can sing too. Beware of the trolls fishing for young men on Wednesdays. Other nights are predominantly lesbian nights.

  • Sac Badlands, corner of K and 20th downtown.. This new club is an offshoot of Badlands in San Francisco. It boasts three stories and an outdoor patio facing all the action on K st. in the Lavender District.

Sleep

  • Best Western Expo Inn, 1413 Howe Avenue, (916) 922-9833, Toll-free: (800) 643-4422, Fax: (916) 922-3384.
  • Best Western John Jay Inn, 15 Massie Ct, (916) 689-4425, Fax: (916) 689-8045.
  • Best Western Sandman Motel, 236 Jibboom Street, (916) 443-6515, Fax: (916) 443-8346.
  • Best Western Sutter House, 1100 H Street, (916) 441-1314, Fax: (916) 441-5961.
  • Courtyard Sacramento Airport Natomas, 2101 River Plaza Drive, (916) 922-1120, Fax: (916) 922-1872.
  • Courtyard Sacramento Midtown, 4422 Y Street, (916) 455-6800, Fax: (916) 669-1031.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Sacramento Airport Natomas, 2730 El Centro Road, (916) 923-7472, Fax: (916) 923-7482.
  • Hawthorn Suites Sacramento, 321 Bercut Drive, Tel: (916) 441-1200.
  • Holiday Inn, 300 J Street, (916) 446-0100.
  • Holiday Inn, 5321 Date Ave, (916) 338-5800.
  • Holiday Inn Express, 728 Sixteenth Street, (916) 444-4436.
  • Lions Gate Hotel and Conference Center, 3410 Westover Street, 866-866-7100.
  • Motel 6 Sacamento South, 7407 Elsie Avenue, (916) 689-6555, Fax: (916) 689-6495.
  • Motel 6 Sacramento Central, 7850 College Town Drive, (916) 383-8110, Fax: (916) 386-0971.
  • Motel 6 Sacramento Downtown, 1415 30th Street, (916) 457-0777, Fax: (916) 454-9814.
  • Motel 6 Sacramento North, 5110 Interstate Avenue, (916) 331-8100, Fax: (916) 339-2241.
  • Motel 6 Sacramento Southwest, 7780 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 689-9141, Fax: (916) 689-7340.
  • Motel 6 Sacramento-Old Sacramento North, 227 Jibboom Street, (916) 441-0733, Fax: (916) 446-5941.
  • Residence Inn Sacramento Airport Natomas, 2410 West El Camino Avenue, (916) 649-1300, Fax: (916) 649-1395.
  • Residence Inn Sacramento Cal Expo, 1530 Howe Avenue, (916) 920-9111, Fax: (916) 921-5664.
  • Sacremento Hostel (HI), 925 H Street (at 10th Street), +1 916 443-1691. Dormitory beds start at $23 for adults, $10 for children under 18. Private rooms start at $57.
  • SpringHill Suites Sacramento Airport Natomas, 2555 Venture Oaks Way, (916) 925-2280, Fax: (916) 925-2290.

Stay safe

Downtown has a lot of one-way streets which can be confusing and are not always well marked (hint: look at the direction in which cars are parked).

Most of the city is usually pretty safe, and though a few areas such as parts of South Sacramento, North Highlands, Meadowview and Alkali Flats don't have the best reputation, with the usual common sense there's not really that much to worry about.

Get out

Part of the beauty of Sacramento is its central location — within 90 minutes by car:

  • Lake Tahoe — a gorgeous lake on the Nevada border, with gambling on the Nevada side
  • Reno — a little bit o' gambling just over the border in Nevada
  • Gold Country — The gold country encompases several small towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills
  • San Francisco — does it need an introduction?
  • Napa Valley — gorgeous landscape and the most famous wine-tasting in the States
  • Santa Cruz — a laid-back beach town, with tons of surfers and the Beach Boardwalk

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