Sacramento’s “Farm-to-Fork Capital” and “City of Trees” labels don’t get as much attention as they should. Sacramento is a hidden gem with a lot to offer in terms of history, culture, and population. It’s a great place for families to spend a weekend. The following are some of my family’s favorite kid-friendly activities in the Sacramento area.
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Railroad Museum of Northern California and Historic Downtown Sacramento
As a tribute to the “iron horse” that once linked California to the rest of the country, the Railroad Museum was built. The fleet includes over a dozen restored cars and locomotives, the oldest of which are over 150 years old. But riding on the Sacramento Southern Railroad is the highlight of the trip. It’s an extra $46 (for a family of four) for a 45-minute, 6-mile ride. Relax on the train as it travels along the Sacramento River’s levees. Your loved ones can enjoy the fresh air and beautiful surroundings as they wave to passing pedestrians and look out over the neighborhood.
After that, head over to nearby Old Sacramento, where you can explore historic buildings from the Gold Rush era and walk along cobblestone streets. Be sure to take your children to G. Willikers Toy Emporium and Evangeline’s, two stores that specialize in novelty items and costumes. In case you work up an appetite while exploring, there are plenty of nearby restaurants to choose from. Within a ten-minute stroll, there is a wide selection of restaurants to satisfy your craving for American classics or Asian specialties.
The Capitol Park and Museum of the State of California
As a child, my family and I took a trip to the State Capitol, and I will never forget how impressed I was. In all candor, I still have this reaction every time I set eyes on the magnificent structure. The Capitol building, which has housed California’s legislature since 1869, is a symbol of the state’s long and complicated political tradition. The museum is located on the building’s ground floor and lower level. Here you and your loved ones can visit the original California State Treasurer’s Office, Secretary of State’s Office, and Governor’s Mansion. In the royal halls you will also see portraits and statues of former governors, as well as other exhibits. Take a photo in front of the bronze grizzly bear, the official state mammal of California. Free tours are offered every hour. While the pandemic has temporarily halted their ability to offer physical tours, they do have a virtual one available on their website.
After that, take a stroll through Capitol Park. Aside from being one of the city’s best parks, this is also one of my favorites. Cacti, lavender, rose bushes, and orange trees are just some of the many varieties of vegetation that thrive there. Several memorials to the victims of World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Spanish-American War can be found in this area as well.
Downtown’s “Handle” Neighborhood
Being a native, I enjoy introducing visitors to the cultural and culinary highlights of my town. You shouldn’t miss the murals and restaurants that can be found in Midtown, a vibrant neighborhood just north of Downtown. When feeding the whole family, the Handle District is hard to beat. Get your sweet tooth satisfied with some truffles or macarons from Ginger Elizabeth’s Chocolates. Zócalo is the place to go for a relaxed Mexican meal. Vegan, vegetarian, or free of gluten and dairy? Don’t worry about it. The brunch at Pushkin’s Kitchen is not to be underestimated. Don’t miss the many murals that decorate the walls of buildings and passageways. Portraits of the city’s residents and visitors, both local and foreign, have been painted in vivid detail and left all over town.
The Old Sacramento Waterfront for Dinner
I enjoy sunsets very much and try to take advantage of them whenever possible. My family and I like to do something special every once in a while, and one of our favorite places to do that is on the Old Sacramento Waterfront for a nice meal. Joe’s Crab Shack, Pilothouse Restaurant, and Rio City Café are just a few of the many delicious and reasonably priced dining options in the area (be sure to reserve a table online or by phone beforehand). The waterfront restaurants are particularly charming, with views of the Tower Bridge, the Ziggurat building, and passing boats. After that, if you and your loved ones are still up for some amusement, try out the brand-new Ferris Wheel or Carousel.
Museum of California
The California Museum has a special meaning for me as a recovering social studies nerd. My children have learned so much interesting information about the state and its history through the museum’s hands-on exhibits and activities. Even adults will pick up some new information. The California Hall of Fame, the California Missions, the Unity Center, and the Women Inspire exhibitions are just a few of the highlights. The museum vividly illustrates crucial aspects of California’s past, present, and future with photographs, videos, and reproductions.
Older kids and adults pay a small fee (less than $10), but kids under 5 get in free. Tickets will be available in advance and at the door.
Conservation and Zoological Park of Sacramento
The Sacramento Zoo is a family-friendly destination where visitors can see rare animals like the red panda and the caribbean flamingo. Big Cat Row is the place to go if you want to see some lions and snow leopards. Take in the sights of ostriches and crested coua in one of the many aviaries. You can buy a ticket to feed a giraffe for only $5 at the Giraffe Encounters. Walking through the Zoo’s 14 acres is like traveling the world. By taking their family to the Sacramento Zoo, not only will they be saving the planet for the creatures that live in it, but they will also be admiring some of the animals that rely on it. Still up for some more playtime after that? Across the street is Fairytale Town, a park designed to look like a page out of a storybook.
Local Produce Markets / Mercato del Producto
Without its lively farmer’s markets, Farm-to-Fork Capital USA would be nothing. Stop by the Midtown Farmers Market every Saturday between 8 AM and 1 PM. There will be a children’s play area, live music, and handmade goods for sale. The market offers a wide selection of baked goods, food trucks, and artisanal handicrafts, as well as fresh fruit for a healthy snack on the road.
The parking lot at Arden Fair Mall is the best place to meet if Sunday morning is more convenient. You can shop for in-season fruits and vegetables and breakfast treats made from scratch between the hours of 8 AM and 12 NOON. While construction is being done under the Capital City Freeway, the farmers market will be moved here until December 2021.
The Lake Natoma
This small lake on the lower American River is just fifteen miles east of Sacramento, making it a convenient half-day trip destination. In the months of May through September, the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, located right next door, rents out canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards by the hour so that you and your loved ones can enjoy the water. Averse to participating in aquatic activities? Get some exercise by walking the trails or swimming in the pool. The Aquatics Center also has plenty of picnic tables, so you can enjoy a quiet family meal while gazing out over the water.
There is a vending machine on site at the Aquatic Center, but there is no restaurant or café.
How To Get To Sacramento When You Want To Originally from Los Angeles
From LAX, you can take one of many direct flights to SMF. Nonstop flights on airlines like United, American, and Southwest take about an hour and a half. WayAway is the best place to start your flight search because of all the special offers and discounts they provide. If you want to save even more money on your next trip, you don’t have to become a member, but by clicking this link you can save 50% on the membership fee and access even greater savings across their entire travel website. Instead of awarding points, this company gives you money back. Which leads to even lower costs.
Cheap O’Air is another excellent discount travel website.
Taking I-5 north will take about five and a half hours if you’re driving.
In which hotel should one stay in Sacramento?
The Econo Lodge Sacramento Convention Center is one of the more affordable hotels in the downtown area. The Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown- Arena is an excellent choice for a hotel in the middle price range. It is in a prime spot, right in the middle of both Old Town and Downtown Commons (an area full of dining and entertainment options). The Kimpton Sawyer is the perfect place to indulge with your loved ones because it meets all of your needs and is centrally located.
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Twitter, North of the Golden State in San Francisco lives Brina Patel, a writer for hire. She started out helping kids on the autism spectrum as a behavior therapist after earning her BA in psychology from UC Santa Barbara. Her year spent in London as a junior in college opened her eyes to the world and ignited a desire to see as much of it as possible. Since then, traveling has become an integral part of her life. When she’s not writing or going on exciting adventures, she loves to curl up with a good book, paint, and dote on her sassy Maltese. She can be reached on Instagram LinkedIn , or through her website
The post Sacramento: Top Family Attractions in California’s Capital appeared first on LA Family Vacations.
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