The Essentials of Sacramento

Sacramento Travel Blog

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entering downtown from I-5

I have been working on a title for logs regarding cities I have lived in or have visited. I have been working off of that premise you find in the airline magazines when ever you fly across the country. You know they have these things that tell the tourist how to spend at least three days in town and get the maximum out of that visit. I am not really trying to set up a three day weekend, but I wanted to share some of the things that I find essential to each of the major cities I have lived and or visited. There is no formula or pattern, just thing about places I think make that city what it is. There are tons of places to see, events to participate in, and things to do, maybe too many to list in these blogs. Everyone will experience different things and may have something to add. This is not meant to be anything but a short blurb of I have come up with. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to share things about their cities that will make a visit seem more like home. The challenge has been sent.

 

GET IN AND OUT OF TOWN

Interstate 80 will take you east to Reno and the mountains, west to San Francisco and the ocean while Interstate 5 will take you north to Oregon and points in between while driving south will take you through the valley eventually getting you to Los Angeles.

Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament
There are some other roads that will take you to Lake Tahoe and the Napa Valley, just follow the signs. And lest we forget, Sacramento International Airport.

 

WORSHIP OR MEDITATE

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament
1017 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

There are various other places to worship in the area including the Church of Christ, Methodist and Baptist. This church is more of a local tourist place and close to the state capital. I guess this is where a local phone book or a quick surf of the internet comes in handy.

 

SHOP IN AIR CONDITIONING

Arden Fair Mall

1689 Arden Way # 1167, Sacramento

(916) 920-1167

This is a great mall that was renovated years ago.

Arden Fair Mall: let's go round and around
When I was a little boy, my dad worked at the Sears and we would get to go and walk up and down the mall as we waited for him to get off work. Since then, they have really transformed the mall into a bit of a show place. Macy’s, Neiman’s, JC Penny, Sears and a host of other stores make it a great place to spend the day. They have valet parking as well as a really big Merry Go Round. Don’t forget the Cinnabon located on the upper level outside of Sears.

 

BUY GROCERIES

Trader Joe’s

5 locations in the Sacramento area
This small grocer specializes in reasonably priced natural and hard-to-find foods, promising that their eggs are always cage-free and their private label products are never made with genetically modified foods. Need another reason to shop TJ's? Check out their wine and beer selection. These guys offer some really great and reasonably priced wines. This is the place you’ll find "two buck Chuck," a light-on-the-wallet wine made exclusively for Trader Joe's by Charles Shaw; it's shelved alongside a large selection of other quality beer and wine.

 The bulk products are really good and also help the environment. If you don’t know how or why, don’t even ask.

 

GET A BAND AIDE

UC Davis Medical Center 23

2315 Stockton Blvd

Sacramento, CA 95817

24-hour Hospital Operator: (916) 734-2011

This is the teaching hospital for the medical school at the University of California.

Looking down from the food court area on the downtown plaza
The place is always crowded, but if you need medical attention and you are in downtown, this would be the place to go. There are many more hospitals all over town including those that are a part of the Kaiser system.

 

TO PEOPLE WATCH

Downtown Plaza Shopping Mall

This is a great place to grab a cup of coffee, or whatever your vice might be, and just sit and watch all the people go by. It is amazing just how different we all are as a people. There is such a juxtaposition of characters that walk down the way. I like to sit near the center food court on the 2nd level. Try it, you will not be disappointed. They also have a Hard Rock Café to buy all your music souvenirs.

 

GET BRATS

Morant's Old Fashioned Sausage Kitchen
5001 Franklin Blvd.

Downtown

916-731-4377
A longtime Sacramento business, Morant's features handcrafted sausage, served up with a side of German. I really wanted to take my German exchange student here if we had a chance to visit the city, but I had to go myself.  It's not un-common for customers to order their fresh or dried sausages in the native language of the owner. In addition to sausages, you'll find old-fashioned hot dogs, lunchmeat and cheeses.

 

GET FRESH

Sunday Farmer's Market
Corner of Eighth and W streets

You can find in-season fresh fruits and vegetables, along with honey, baked goods and herbs, at the Sunday Farmer's Market. Get there early for the best selection (and to avoid the summertime heat), but if you're looking for a bargain, keep an eye on the vendors who are packing up, they'd rather sell it cheap than cart it back to the farm. I never got to go here because I am always in church at the time the market’s open, but my dad really enjoys going there and says it is one of those must do’s when you visit the area.

Along the river in Old Sac
There are also about 4 other markets scattered across the area including the Tuesday markets at Roosevelt Park and Freemont Park; Wednesday Markets at Caesar Chavez Park in downtown and the Elk Grove Regional Park; Thursday Markets at Downtown Plaza, Florin Mall and the Dollar Tree on Florin Rd and the Saturday markets Sunrise Mall, Country Club Mall and in Del Paso Heights at the Robertson Center.

 

GRAB SOUP AND A SANDWICH

La Bonne Soupe
920 Eighth St. between I & J
916-492-9506
This downtown hole in the wall is a one-man show, with each meal prepared by owner and Frenchman, Daniel Pont, as it's ordered. It's common to find lines stretching out the door, so save this stop for an unhurried day. Seating space is at a premium, but if the weather's nice, enjoy your meal as take-out at nearby City Park Plaza, only a block away.  

 

TASTE THE ISLANDS

Hawaiian Style Grill
8259 Laguna Blvd.

Looking towards the capital at night

Elk Grove
916-478-7316
This is a little bit south of the city, but it is worth a drive if you would love to taste some authentic Hawaiian food. Owned and operated by former Oahu local boys, Hawaiian Style Grill serves up a little aloha with their island-style plate lunches. This place is nothing fancy; it's a cafeteria-style joint and meals are served in takeout containers (leftovers are likely with the regular size portions!). Chicken katsu, teriyaki or lau lau are, of course, served with "two scoops rice." Visit Friday night for the informal pau hana (end of work) Hawaiian music jam session.

 

INDULGE YOUR SWEET TOOTH

Gunther’s Ice Cream
2801 Franklin Blvd.
916-457-6646
Since 1949, the iconic neon Jugglin' Joe sign has been tossing scoops of ice cream at this sweet spot and never misses. This Sacramento landmark serves up fresh ice cream made on site, with a side of nostalgia.

The Wells Fargo Building
Hot summer nights bring locals out to cool down with a cone, a milkshake or a real fruit freeze. I don’t like ice cream, I know, why go here, but I love their fruit freeze. It is also a great place to take friends in the area because they think you are cool if you hang out with them while they check out all the pretty people indulging their sweet tooth.

 

CLIMB A WALL

Granite Arch Climbing Center
11335
-G Folsom Blvd.
Rancho Cordova
916-852-7625
This is said to be California's largest rock climbing gym which provides people year-round access to some challenging courses. A draw for kids and adults alike you  can take classes, learn to belay, practice bouldering (climbing without a rope), or simply drop in for a day of fun and exercise. I really enjoy climbing and this is a safe place for everyone. It is reasonably priced and makes for a great day of beating the valley heat.

 

HAVE A BALL

Raley Field
400 Ballpark Drive
916-371-HITS
During baseball season, the Sacramento River Cats -- the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s baseball team ��" gives a chance to get out and see a great ballgame without having to cross a toll-bridge.

Old Sac
If you are a bargain-hunter or have a pretty large family or group, you will find that the lawn seats are the best option, both for their reasonable price and the chance to move about freely before the seventh inning stretch. The team puts on a pretty good show, so take an evening to go out and watch, then stroll through Old Sacramento to walk off all those hot dogs.

 

STEP BACK IN TIME

Old Sacramento
Located along the Sacramento River, the wooden sidewalks and cobbled roads of Old Sacramento are filled with historical treasures. This 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park is home to several museums, most notably the California State Railroad Museum where you can climb aboard old steam engines or watch miniatures rumble down the tracks. The irony of this is that the train doesn’t come into Sacramento anymore, but the museum is a good time.

Old Sacramento
The Delta King is a must see while exploring the area. You can book dinner cruises or you can sit around the dock acting as if you were rich and watching your money grow. Whatever you choose, try and stay in the shade. It gets hot out there.

 

WATCH HOOPS

Arco Arena

One Sports Parkway
916-928-6900
If you're looking for pro sports in Sacramento, Arco arena is the only game in town. Arco is the home to the NBA Sacramento Kings as well as the WNBA Monarchs, Arco is the place to catch some great basketball moves. You'll also find a variety of other events held at Arco, including concerts, circuses and for motor heads, monster truck rallies. There is plenty to eat and do before you head to Arco. The area called Natomas, is really growing. There are a ton of places to eat and shop there. I always like to stop in at Panerra Brea, morning, noon or night. The shopping is really good which makes this an ideal place to hang out before or after the game.

 

VIEW SOME ART

Crocker Art Museum

216 O St Sacramento, CA 95814 

(916) 808-7000

My friend Jesse works here and he loves to show people around.

Tower Bridge
It is a nice place to come and see some pretty nice pieces of work. The price is pretty good and it is pretty accessible by all modes of transportation. It is a place that is digitizing all of its work which can be accessed on the web. It is a nice day out.

 

SIP A GLASS OF VINO

Bogle Winery

 

Besides the obvious day trip to the Napa Valley, you can find a great little winery called Bogle in the small town of Clarksburg which is only minutes away from Sacramento.  There are also some good little wine bars and tasting rooms all over town including Frasinetti’s winery and restaurant located at 734 Frasinetti Rd.

 

GRAB A BEER

Bonn Lair
3651 J St.

The pyramid building

916-455-7155
I don’t like beer, but one of my brothers says this is a pretty good place that is located in East Sac.  Bonn Lair is a British-style pub with a large assortment of imported beer on tap. The menu features traditional pub food (think shepherd's pie), but it's also seems pretty common for people to bring food in from other nearby restaurants.

 

TAKE A DATE

Crest Theater
1013 K St.
916-44-CREST
The historic Crest Theatre offers one of Sacramento's most elegant settings, making it a perfect date-night destination. A million-dollar restoration in the 1990s returned the Crest to its 1920s Art Deco roots, and today the gilded theater features classic and modern films as well as concerts, comedy shows and community events. The neon lights alone make it pretty romantic.

 

CHILL OUT

Java Town
2416 16th St.

what a cool reflection

916-441-3945
Located in Midtown, this community-minded coffee joint also serves beer and wine, along with a simple menu of sandwiches, pizza by the slice and healthy snacks. They have live music several nights a week which draws a pretty hip crowd for an eclectic mix of jazz, punk and open mike. They keep pretty good hours so drop by. Parking is also pretty good around this area.

 

SPLURGE ON DINNER

Biba
2801 Capitol Ave.
916-455-2422
Everyone knows of at least one place in town that has a reputation for being so  expensive that a king’s ransom is needed to pay for the meal. I have never been to this place, but my friend says it is a good place to go. The owner who was born and raised in Bologna, Biba Caggiano, opened her namesake restaurant in 1986, bringing the taste of Italy to Sacramento. They have a man playing live piano nightly and the award-winning Biba offers a menu that changes seasonally, allowing the chefs to serve only the freshest ingredients along with the house made pasta.

downtown
Biba spends plenty of time at the restaurant and if you bring along one of the many cookbooks she has written, she'll happily autograph it for you while you're there.

 

GET BACK TO NATURE

Effie Yeaw Nature Center
Ancil Hoffman County Park

2850 San Lorenzo Way
Carmichael
916-489-4918

Located within the American River Parkway, Effie Yeaw Nature Center has an indoor discovery center complete with animal residents like owls, hawks and snakes. Outside, you can find a replica Native American village and three self-guided nature trails that let you get up close with pond life, native plants and animal habitats.

a street along the capital
Watch out for snakes!

 

TAKE THE KIDS

Sacramento Zoo
Land Park Drive & 16th Ave.
916-808-5885
Situated within William Land Park, the Sacramento Zoo sits on more than 14 acres and is home to alot of exotic animals including snow leopards, reticulated giraffes, chimpanzees and ring-tailed lemurs. The manageable size of this zoo makes it possible to see all of the exhibits in a day, and still have time to explore nearby Fairy Tale Land. When I was a little boy, my father would take us down here often. It stills brings back such good memories that I would recommend that even you older types should stop in and enjoy an afternoon of childhood memories.

 

HISTORY BUFFS

Sutter’s Fort

2701 L St
Sacramento, CA 95816

(916) 445-4422

John Sutter set up fort here and it is now a place that almost every school child in the Sacramento Metro area visits.
The state house
You step back in time and can experience life as Sutter and his crew lived. They say with all the work he offered his employees including a bakery, farming and the like. Sutter was building a saw mill in Coloma along the
American River and his contractor, Marshall, was digging and discovered gold the rush was on.  I would suggest a stop in the state capital to round the day off. In the late 80’s then Gov Gerry Brown spent millions of the states money to renovate the building. It is a jewel and I promise you will not be disappointed. When I was in college at UC Davis, I worked in the capital for a local legislator and just loved it. There is quite a bit of history there and it’s free to tour.
wandafromtexas says:
I know this is a few years ago, but, very nice and hope to see some of the sites you suggest. Thanks!
Posted on: Dec 15, 2013
williamsworld says:
I hope you enjoy. I guess I should update some more places to go. Have fun
Posted on: Aug 10, 2010
neiluk10 says:
I'm off to Sacramento this month from the UK, can't wait !!
Posted on: Aug 09, 2010
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entering downtown from I-5
entering downtown from I-5
Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament
Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament
Arden Fair Mall: lets go round an…
Arden Fair Mall: let's go round a…
Looking down from the food court a…
Looking down from the food court …
Downtown
Downtown
Along the river in Old Sac
Along the river in Old Sac
Looking towards the capital at nig…
Looking towards the capital at ni…
The Wells Fargo Building
The Wells Fargo Building
Old Sac
Old Sac
Old Sacramento
Old Sacramento
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
The pyramid building
The pyramid building
what a cool reflection
what a cool reflection
downtown
downtown
a street along the capital
a street along the capital
The state house
The state house
Downtown Sacramento
Downtown Sacramento
Delta King hotel
Delta King hotel
the railroad meseum
the railroad meseum
Old Sacramento
Old Sacramento
Here comes the train
Here comes the train
Trains in Old Sac
Trains in Old Sac
Steam engine
Steam engine
The Terminal at Sac Airport
The Terminal at Sac Airport
Airport Art
Airport Art
The church from a distance
The church from a distance
Downtown Sacramento
Downtown Sacramento
How cool is this shot
How cool is this shot
Sacramento at night
Sacramento at night
Front porch
Front porch
Looking up at the flag
Looking up at the flag
The capital dome
The capital dome
In the rotundra
In the rotundra
Antique lamps in the capital
Antique lamps in the capital
Stairway
Stairway
one of the historic offices in the…
one of the historic offices in th…
Looking down on the State Senate
Looking down on the State Senate
The senate side
The senate side
Old Sacramento looking towards the…
Old Sacramento looking towards th…
Downtown Sacto at Ceasar Chavez Pa…
Downtown Sacto at Ceasar Chavez P…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scaramen…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scaramen…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scaramen…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scarament…
Cathedral of the Blessed Scaramen…
Hard Rock, downtown Sacto
Hard Rock, downtown Sacto
Downtown Plaza
Downtown Plaza
Macys
Macy's
Old Sacramento wooden sidewalks
Old Sacramento wooden sidewalks
Coblestone roads of Old Sacto
Coblestone roads of Old Sacto
Old Sac
Old Sac
Delta King Hotel
Delta King Hotel
downtown shopping on the plaza
downtown shopping on the plaza
Plaza Shopping
Plaza Shopping
Arden Fair Mall
Arden Fair Mall
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In 1839 a Swiss immigrant named John Sutter received a land grant in the Sacramento Valley from the Mexican government. He used the land to create a f… read entire review
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photo by: williamsworld