Fun things to do in Sacramento

  • Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, dome
    Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, dome
    by Beausoleil
  • Interior grounds of the fort
    Interior grounds of the fort
    by BruceDunning
  • Wall of the fort
    Wall of the fort
    by BruceDunning

Most Viewed Things to Do in Sacramento

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    Historic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

    by WulfstanTraveller Updated Jan 20, 2014

    The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the jewels of downtown Sacramento and is apparently the largest 19th-century cathedral west of the Mississippi River, being the largest church west of the Mississippi when it was built. It is one of the most magnificent churches in California and has a 19th century copy of the Sistine Madonna, complete with a copy of that painting's now-lost alter. It also includes its original wooden pews, carefully refurbished along with the rest of the building.

    It is open to visitors and has tours after mass.

    Related to:
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    • Architecture
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    Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 23, 2013

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    The cathedral was built in 1889 and was the center for the local Diocese for the north region covering 99 churches. The style is Italian Renaissance and inside Victorian motif. There is a dome of 110 feet up, and a crucifix at the alter of 13 feet in height and weighs 2,000 pounds

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    Railroad Museum

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 22, 2013

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    In the Old town Sacramento area is the railroad that is 225,000 square feet in a new building at the end of street. The museum has 7 engines and 8 RR cars. Fees to enter is $10, and the open times are 1-5 daily

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    Stanton Mansion

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 22, 2013

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    This mansion was built in 1856 by Sheldon Focus, but later bought by Leland and Jane Stanton, It remained in the family for many years. Stanton was Governor 1862-63. Stanton ended up becoming very wealthy form railroad ownership/control, and expanded the mansion in 1872. It was Governor offices for some time, and in 1900 sold to Catholic Diocese. It was purchased by the state in 1978. The State spent $22 million to renovate.
    It is open for youth tours Wednesday-Saturday 9:30-5PM and tours are 1-4PM on the hour. Entry is $5.

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    Governors mansion

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 22, 2013

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    This mansion was used until 1967 when Ronald Reagan was the last Governor to occupy the facility. It is a home with about 10 rooms, but not ostentatious but any means. It was built in 1877 by Arthur Gallatin who owned a hardware store. The State purchased the home in 1903 for $32,500. The style is mix of Victorian, Greek, and Italianate. The 12 Governors and families occupying the home made their own special changes, but the basics remained the same.
    Tours are 10-5 daily and admission is $5. Guided tours are on the hour.

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    Sutter Fort

    by BruceDunning Written Oct 22, 2013

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    John Sutter started the fort and commerce about 3 miles east of the river about 1841, when he was granted 48,827 acres from Mexico in exchange for controlling the Indians in the area. He bought an existing fort from Russia and then formed a military force, commercial making of goods for the people coming here, housing them, and growing crops to feed them. He used a lot of Hawaiians to build out the fort and walls of 18 feet high and 2 1/2 feet thick. The whole fort encompassed the needs of the people living here and coming through on to another destination.
    Sutter ended up not making any money and was forced to get rid of the fort after it was a boarding house, store and warehouse facility. Local people bought it in 1891 to preserve the site and it became a park.
    There are a number of rooms that offered daily needs of the community and basic living. A tour of each room describes the use/function.
    It is open daily from 10-5PM and admission is $2

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    Sacramento History Museum

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Jun 16, 2013

    Housed in a a historic building shared with the California Railroad museum, this museum highlites Sacramento history and its beginning as a supply point for the gold rush to its later history as a major agriculture center.

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    Visit the Cathedral

    by Beausoleil Updated Jun 3, 2013

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    The Cathedral is a block from the state capitol building on a pedestrian square. All of this is worth a visit. The cathedral was recently renovated and is beautiful inside. The photos here are from Christmas 2008.

    The Crest Theater is around the corner one block and often has marvelous movies, including Sacramento's French Film Festival in June. Directly across from the cathedral is an excellent art gallery specializing in Sacramento and California art and this gallery is beside a terrific brew pub called The Pyramid that has very good food and excellent beers. UPDATE: Unfortunately, the recession did in The Pyramid. Our favorite downtown restaurant is no longer there. It is still in business, just no longer in downtown Sacramento which is a real shame for us.

    The capitol building is fun to visit and there is a rose garden adjoining it with several memorials.

    You can walk to Old Town Sacramento from here but may wish to take a bus or trolley over.

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    • Road Trip
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    Renaissance Tower: Dark Vader Building

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Mar 21, 2013

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    Nearly 25 years ago in 1989, the Renaissance Tower Building was constructed at 8th & K Street. At the time it was the tallest building in Sacramento. Its design was striking and somewhat controversial in that the hat of the building resembled the mask of Star Wars villian Dark Vader.

    Today the building is the 5th tallest building in the City standing at 27 stories and 372 feet. The building consists of a parking garage on the first six floors with 21 floors of office above. The post modern design sets it apart from other skyscrapers downtown. The building is supported by 170 ton piles and is made of steel.

    There is an impressive piece of art in the tower lobby of a river canyon made with colorful stone and marble. When I last visited the building the security guard had no issue with me taking a photo.

    Bottom Line: Interesting to view from the distance and lobby is worth a quick trip if you are walking K Street.

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    Aerospace Museum of Calif: Dreams Take Flight

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Mar 4, 2013

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    Nearly every existing or decommissioned air force base has an aviation museum of some form. However the aerospace museum at the former McClellan Air Force Base flies as high as any of them. Called the Aerospace Museum of California it has occupied the site on Freedom Park Drive since 2004. Six years ago the museum opened the new 35,000 square foot Hardie Setzer Pavilion which allows some of the more unique planes to be housed inside out of the elements.

    I visited the museum in early February as part of Sacramento Museum Day. I was somewhat stunned to find out how the museum had grown since initially being the McClellan Air Museum in 1986. Today the museum contains a wide variety of military and civilian aircraft. The planes are housed not only in the pavilion but throughout the large backlot. The military aircraft are from 1940 to 2000 and represent planes from the U.S. Air Force, U.S, Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Aside from the planes the museum features an extensive collection of aircraft engines. In addition, there is also an extensive original art collection some of which is on loan from the Airforce Art Collection.

    What is so fantastic about this museum is that you can get right up and touch the planes. According to the museum staff at least three planes everyday are open to climb right into. Some of them you can even sit at the controls! Several of the planes are in the process of being restored to their original condition based on federal or private grants.

    One of the planes I liked best was an F-14 Grumman Tomcat. It was the last plane of its kind to fly off an aircraft carrier.

    In the main lobby there are also some flight simulators that were available for a slight fee.

    What I think makes this museum unique was how many docents that were available to explain the aircraft and engines. Some of the big aircraft engines that are in the lobby of the museum were built right here in Sacramento by Aerojet.

    There is so much great aviation history here! What a great job the museum staff and their dedicated volunteers has done to make this a special place!

    The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. On Sundays it is open from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Admission prices are Adults are $8.00, Senior (65+) $6.00, Youth (13-17) $6.00, Child (6-12) $5.00 and Active Military w/ID Free.

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    Center for Contemporary Art

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Feb 21, 2013

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    Visiting the Center was an unexpected surprise. Nearly hidden on 19th Street in Midtown Sacramento I had passed by the museum many times without notice.

    On a recent Saturday a newspaper article about downtown museums caught my eye and this place caught my eye. Walking in I was warmly greeted by a few members.

    I learned that the Center was founded in 1989 as a non-profit whose mission is to advance the forum of experimental art by highlighting the work of regional, national and international artists. Over the years they have moved several times and their new facility at 1519 19th Street is small but well laid out.

    At the time of my visit the Center was presenting a show by art collectior John Turner titled, Collection of Collections. There were several fascinating pieces of contemporary art representing different styles and movements.

    A current show involves a film called White Wash that explores the history of black surfers in a sport that for years was dominated by white males.

    The Center is open Tuesday - Sunday, Noon to 5 pm and the Second Saturday of each month,
    6 to 9 pm. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.

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    California Indian Museum: Ready for a New Location

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Feb 16, 2013

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    Most folk that come to Sutter's Fort have no idea that the California Indian Museum is within shouting distance. This is due in part because of the extremely cramped quarters of the museum which is really no bigger than a single family house.

    What it may lack in space the museum more than makes up for in its thoughtful exhibits.Beginning with the lighting as soon as you enter the museum you know that you are in a special place. The museum is thoughtfully broken up into three aspects of Native Californian Life; Nature, Spirit and Family. Within the tiny space there is a beautiful redwood canoe, basketry, beadwork, traditional hunting and fishing tools, photographs and many other items. A special exhibit on Indian Baskets was featured when I visited. What was surprising to learn was that how many purposes baskets served including uses for processing, cooking and serving food.

    The museum also contains a thoughtful exhibit depicting the life of Ishi, regarded as the last California surviving Native American.

    In 2008, the City of West Sacramento, where I worked, entered into an agreement with the California Indian Museum to house a new facility on 43 acres of land known as the East Riverfront Property. The new museum should be a fitting tribute as well as being able to accommodate so many artifacts that cannot be stored in the current facility.

    There is no picture taking in the museum out of respect to Native Americans. The picture of the dugout canoe was taken after I was informed not to take photos.

    The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $ 3 for adults, and $ 2 for children 6 to 17.

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    Sutters Fort: Period Docents Make it Worthwhile

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Feb 15, 2013

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    Despite living less than two miles away from Sutter's Fort it is not a place I frequently visit or suggest tourists to look at. However I was pleasantly surprised by my recent visit during Museum Day in early February. Entering the fort from the north side I encountered several groups of individuals dressed up in 1840 period costumes. It seems that the State Department of Parks and Recreation has a "Environmental Living Program, " where students and their adult chaperones get to experience for 24 hours what it was like to live in the 1840's. Students learn about how pioneers cooked, baked, weaved, made candles and baskets and other areas of life.

    The fort itself sits in what locals refer to as, "Midtown Sacramento," and is surrounded by residential and commercial development. The fort was built under the direction of John Sutter, a german immigrant who arrived in Sacramento in 1839. The fort was built for protection with walls that were 2 1/2 feet thick and 15 to 18 feet high. In 1848, John Marshall a worker at Sutters Mill in nearby Coloma, California discovered gold and nearly all of the occupants of the fort left to see if they could strike their fortune in gold.

    Today the fort has been recreated to look like it did in 1846. Inside the fort there are several areas where docents and craftsmen depict the life and skills of carpenters, fur-traders, basket weavers, spinners, weavers, blacksmiths and a whole host of other skills that were necessary then. These docents, if you will, are very knowledgeable and help bring to reality what life was like nearly 175 years ago.

    The fort is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily.

    Sutter's Fort Tour Fees:
    Adults $5
    Youth $3 (ages 6 to 17)
    Children 5 and under are free

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    Cruise Into the California Auto Museum

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Feb 2, 2013

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    Sitting so unassumingly close to the intersection of the US 80 and I-5 freeways in an old warehouse, the California Auto Museum is one of my favorite car museums anywhere in the United States. Definitely worth a look for not just the car enthusiast but also someone looking for a memorable auto experience. Amazingly well restored autos of all ages all restored and gracefully presented in a 72,000 square foot museum. Everything from Model T's to, Rolls Royces, funny cars, unique vehicles and vans. The collections also change from time to time to provide new life to the museum.

    The museum's beginnings occurred in 1982 when a dedicated group of volunteers got together to talk about having a major auto museum in Sacramento. About a year later the group established the California Vehicle Foundation (CVF) Fast forward two years and the CVF receives a letter from Edward Towe a Montana banker, who holds the largest private collection of Fords in the world, searching for a space to house his collection. After a great deal of searching it was determined that a 72,000 square foot warehouse in Sacramento would be the perfect fit for his collection. With assistance from the City of Sacramento a long term lease was created in exchange for establishment of the museum. The collection was moved from Montana to Sacramento and in May of 1987 the museum was open to the public. In the mid 1990's a tax dispute between the IRS and Mr. Towe resulted in a large portion of the cars being sold. In 2009, given the loss of the Towe Collection, the Museum's Board of Directors officially changed the name to the California Auto Museum.

    Aside from its massive collection of cars, the museum also provides access to unique cars for company events and pictures. The museum hosts a number of events and trips for its members. It also restores and sells cars to the public.

    The museum is open seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is $ 8 for adults and
    $ 4 for students.

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    Wells Fargo Building

    by TooTallFinn24 Written Jan 29, 2013

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    Immediately visible as you drive north or south on I-5 to the east the Wells Fargo Building stands out as Sacramento's tallest building. It appears as a large slab of light brown granite with a copper roof top and cleft in the middle. Modestly attractive to the eye it is also Sacramento's largest office building. The firm I worked for used as their attorney a firm that occupies two of the highest floors in the building and offers some great views of the surrounding area.

    This 30 story building was started in 1990 and completed in 1992. The building occupies a full city block and comprises just over 2.3 acres. Parking is in an attached six story garage that in my opinion fits very well into the design of the overall structure. The architect was Helmuth, Obata and Kassabum a large architectural firm headquartered in St. Louis.

    More interesting than these facts is that it is the only one of Sacramento's tallest buildings that has a museum in the lobby. On the ground floor of the building are exhibits on Wells Fargo's history in the Central Valley. Most prominent is a nicely painted Wells Fargo stagecoach that is open for viewing. The museum sits in the middle of a five story glass atrium with granite and marble walls. Entrance is free. Interesting to look at but probably not worth a stop or walk across the freeway from old town.

    However if you are hungry and up for an up-scale lunch, the first floor also contains one of Sacramento's premier restaurants Il Fornaio. The restaurant is both elegant to sit in at and provides some tasty lunches from many regions of Italy. I have only eaten their twice but can vouch for the pasta and chicken dishes as being first rate.

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