Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Sacramento, CA

Sacramento. This proud hub of Northern California quietly boasts ample outdoor activities, charming and independent neighborhoods, and a creative melting pot with so much to do year-round. Whether you’re a visiting tourist, returning to see friends and family, or a curious local, if you’re in Sacramento for the holidays, read on for some of our favorite things to see and do in the area, and get ready to explore!

12 Days of Midtown

This annual series is a great way to see and do all there is in Sacramento’s Midtown, enjoying great food, music, and shopping! A sort of ‘open house’ for the businesses of Midtown, visitors can enjoy open-air markets, pop-up booths, happy hour events at bars and wineries, special dining deals, farmers markets, and free public transport on select days! This is great news for those compiling itineraries to see every part of Sacramento. Come to Midtown this holiday season and get the Christmas shopping done early, enjoy some of the city’s best in dining and make memories on a night out on the town.

http://exploremidtown.org/12-days-of-midtown/

Zion VR’s Christmas Escape Room

A unique entry when it comes to holiday season events, Sacramento’s Zion VR is a great option for travelers of all ages to enjoy the wonders of virtual reality gaming! Among the attractions at Zion, a Christmas-themed virtual escape room is one of the things you and your party can tackle. Aside from this Christmas escape room, there is also a number of free-roam racing, horror, action, escape room, and exploration attractions for both single and multiplayer. Take the holiday fun to this next frontier and enjoy the wonders and adventures of virtual reality gaming in this accessible and immersive experience.

Folsom Historic District Ice Skating

Enjoy the timeless fun of ice skating outdoors in Folsom’s historic district! Take the group to this quaint and charming area and lace up in this circular rink around a towering tree, and enjoy music and dining options in the adjacent festivities. This is a great option for those looking for a more relaxed and condensed activity for a holiday season itinerary.

https://www.folsomicerink.com

Global Winter Wonderland

Head over to the iconic Cal Expo and California State Fairgrounds for a light show and holiday celebration that is truly inspiring. At the Global Winter Wonderland, guests can enjoy immersive light sculptures and visual art celebrating the holiday season, a great activity for those looking for a vacation photo opportunity, or a more laid-back activity. In addition to the trail and lights, there are also the rides at the Cal Expo, providing thrills and views for a more varied experience. With the customizable selection of activities, this is as suited to date nights as it is for families and large groups. Make your trip to the Sacramento area a memorable one and take the whole party to the Global Winter Wonderland for a night under the Northern California stars and lights.

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Our Favorite Festivals Around Sacramento, CA

Sacramento. This proud hub of Northern California quietly boasts ample outdoor activities, charming and independent neighborhoods, and a creative melting pot with so much to do year-round. Whether you’re a visiting tourist, returning to see friends and family, or a curious local, if you’re in Sacramento for Autumn, read on for some of our favorite festivals and events in the area, and get ready to explore!

Aftershock

Not that kind of aftershock, but sure to shake the region, Aftershock is an intense and electrifying staple of the Sacramento area that is something all concertgoers should catch if given the opportunity. Big names in rock and hip hop perform on multiple stages, including appearances from Slipknot, Korn, blink-182, System of a Down, Alice In Chains, Tech N9ne, Nine Inch Nails, Limp Bizkit, Weezer, and Metallica, that’s only the start. Aside from the music, a number of local restaurants, breweries, vineyards, and greenhouses also join the mix, providing for a varied experience. For any visitor that wants to rock out and party to intense beats well into the night, come to aftershock!

Big Crush Harvest Festival

Experience the beauty of Amador Wine Country and participate in the grape harvest firsthand! Each year, Amador County invites the people of California to see the processes that go on with the annual harvest and is a memorable way to tour the beautiful landscapes around Sacramento. Up and down the vineyards, and into the rustic wineries, and last but not least, the crush pads! Participate in crushing your own grapes and get purple feet in the Sacramento air. Aside from the tours, there are also food and wine pairings, live music, and delicious tastings of the many wines and produce of California. This is a great way to meet the agricultural diversity of the sunshine state with visitors and locals of all backgrounds. 

http://www.bigcrushamador.com

Fiesta En La Calle

One of Sacramento’s biggest block parties is a proud and lively celebration of Latin music, true to the state’s strong Hispanic heritage. Enjoy Norteno, Bachata, pop, and covers by bands from California and across Latin America. Visitors of all backgrounds are encouraged to experience Latin music and culture, with dance performances, arts, food and drink, and crafts also accompanying the scene here. Bring the whole group to Fiesta En La Calle for an option for all ages and interests and enjoy Sacramento’s strong sense of community at the Fiesta En La Calle.

https://fiestaenlacalle.com

Full Belly Farm Hoes Down Festival

With a name like this, we already know this is a good time. Out in the Capay country of Northern California, the Full Belly Farm lives up to its name providing delicious dishes and fresh produce in an event celebrating agricultural tradition and farm-to-table deliciousness. Aside from this, visitors can personally enjoy carving their own pumpkins, personally harvesting their own picks, participating in dances and games, and watching stunt performers! This is a great option for families, large groups, and couples alike with the variety of activities here. 

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4 Fun Things to do with Kids in Sacramento

If you’re looking for your next great family adventure, or someplace different to take the kids, we have you covered. Spending a day out with the kids is a great way to recapture your own childlike curiosity and love of play, so we’ve included plenty of options that will make the adults as happy as the kids. Below are some of the best, most unique, and most beloved things to do with your kids in Sacramento.

Monster Mini Golf

This place is a fantastic playground, where you and the kids can enjoy a little friendly competition. But this is not your typical game of mini-golf. The entire indoor course is glow-in-the-dark and monster-themed, making the atmosphere just as fun as the game itself. You’ll also find dozens of arcades games at Monster Mini Golf. If you’re looking to spend some silly, playtime with the kids, then this is the place to be.

Urban Air Sacramento

Urban Air is a fun-filled, adrenaline rush – a large-scale trampoline and adventure park that is the perfect place to take the kids when everyone’s filled with a ton of energy. You can go flying with the Sky Rider, climb the Ropes Course, or Rock Walls. They even have bumper cars, a playground, and a ninja obstacle course. Perhaps the most fun for families, though, is trampoline dodgeball. No matter which activity you choose (maybe all of them?), you and the kids are sure to leave smiling.  

Dave’s Pumpkin Patch

Dave’s Pumpkin Patch is one of the best places to take the kids in the Fall. There are always plenty of amazing pumpkins to choose from, so you and the kids can find the perfect one for your Jack O Lantern. And each year, the pumpkin patch creates a brand-new corn maze. They also offer hayrides around the property and are famous for their apple cider cinnamon doughnuts. 

Fairytale Town

A town and amusement park that definitely lives up to the name. Every playground in Fairytale Town is based on a fairytale or nursery rhyme. You and the kids can visit The Old Woman in the Shoe or see King Arthur’s Castle. You can run through Sherwood Forest or take in a show at the Children’s Theater. Everything in this park encourages imagination, creativity, and play. It is a joyful place to take the kids.

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Aquariums around Sacramento, CA

Whether a visiting tourist, returning home for friends and family, or a local looking for something to do, all will delight in the number of opportunities to experience aquatic life over the Sacramento area. Read on for some of our favorite aquarium experiences around the Sacramento area. 

Sacramento Zoo

While not specifically an aquarium, the Sacramento Zoo’s work towards providing the Sacramento community with education and introduction to a notable roster of animals land and sea names it the premier center for aquatic life in the area. Aquatic caecilians, American alligators, African spur-thighed tortoise, and the iconic North American river otter are just some of the famous faces visitors will see here. 

In addition, the exhibits that house them are just as impressive in detail and in their diversity, taking visitors through habitats the world over to learn more about the daily lives and backgrounds of these animals. Africa’s many biomes, the island of Madagascar, the jungles of Sumatra, and the local forests of Northern California and other locations are stops on the tour through these exhibits. Visitors can also book an appointment for a more immersive and personal experience to interact and learn about some of the species at the Sacramento Zoo. A one-on-one with a (baby) American alligator and a tour with the alligator keepers into the daily activities needed to care for them, a personal feeding and tour of the African spur-thighed tortoises day, helping care for a number of ‘Animal Ambassadors’, full-day and half-day classes for younger visitors and overnight stays are all opportunities regularly available for those visitors looking for a more unique memory. 

The Sacramento Zoo also has a number of dining and shopping options to cover those portions of any travel itinerary, as well as rides for more festive or slow-paced trips around the grounds. Of course, being a zoo we also couldn’t ignore the land animals of the Sacramento Zoo, including the chimpanzee, African cheetah, snow leopard, African lion, jaguar, red kangaroo, red panda, ball python, and grevy’s zebra. For groups of all interests and ages who want an experience exploring species of all backgrounds in various ways, the Sacramento Zoo is an addition more than worthy to any plans. 

SeaQuest Folsom

At SeaQuest Folsom, the variety of memorable hands-on experiences is an accessible and truly unique way for visitors of all ages to learn about the wonders and intricacies of aquatic life. Here, a number of coastal sharks, stingrays species, Asian small-clawed otters, and doctor fish are in a series of interactive exhibits, along with other tropical sea species. Visitors can feed friendly cownose stingrays, ‘feed’ (play) Asian small-clawed otters, receive a relaxing doctor fish pedicure, or for the more adventurous, snorkel with the stingrays! In addition to these, visitors can also keep an eye out for the regular events, Q&A sessions, and a chance to see the staff of the aquarium at work caring for the many eccentric residents of SeaQuest Folsom. 

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5 Quirky Date Night Destinations in Sacramento

Date night doesn’t have to be the same each time. While we all love cuddling up at the movies or trying new restaurants or embracing a bit of high culture at museums, every once in a while, date night needs to be shaken up. Each city has a hidden world of strange, quirky, and delightful things to do. Try any one of these on your next date night and embrace the weird, whimsical part of life.

Smash Sacramento

A date night here is unlike any other – where raging doesn’t mean all-night drinking but rather losing control (in a safe way) while throwing various objects and debris in every direction. It may not be a good idea to break or throw things in “everyday life” but at Smash Sacramento breaking things is the name of the game. It’s also definitely the part that makes this activity completely unique and wildly fun.

Old Sacramento Underground Tour

If you and your date enjoy history but are looking for a guided tour outside the norm, then Old Sacramento Underground Tour is a must-do. We suggest signing up for the 18 and older Underground After Hours Tour where you’ll climb down to a hidden world of intrigue and scandal dating back to the infamous years of the Gold Rush. You’ll wander to saloons, gaming halls, through tunnels, and more while being escorted by a seedy character from the past. The tours are fun, quirky, and exciting. 

Sutter’s Fort

Sutter’s Fort is a State Historic Park known for its hands-on approach to history. Guests are encouraged to choose from a variety of experiences and adventures that will bring history to life. You and your date can “Catch Gold Fever”, where you’ll go panning for gold, take part in games of chance, and learn the history behind the fever of the Gold Rush. Or, if you’re looking for something even more hands-on and unique, spend an evening learning Frontier Survival Skills. Think you have what it takes to survive the wilderness of the West? You might after you visit Sutter’s Fort.

Murder Mystery Train

Murder Mystery Theater provides a wonderful twist on a night out at the theater. All aboard the Murder Mystery Train for an interactive, exciting, sometimes hilarious “whodunnit?” journey that also provides a delicious 3-course dinner. You and your date will become detectives and have a marvelous time trying to nail the culprit, only to find you’re both completely wrong. You can sit in the Dinner Coach enjoying the scenery out the window before meeting a cast of scheming, wacky characters whose murders you’ll love solving.

Sacramento Tree Tour

Kitschy, one-of-a-kind tours hosted by the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Sacramento is known as the City of Trees, which makes it the perfect place for this guided tree tour. You’ll learn the history of the trees, how to identify different types, and a bunch of extra fun facts as well. This is a walking tour that will have you and your date turn into tree experts by the end – a strange skill which will come in handy at future trivia nights.  

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Our favourite ways to spend summer in Sacramento, CA

Proudly individual, Sacramento has carved out its own charming domain in Northern California, today home to nearly two and a half million. Named for its comparison to the Blessed Sacrament by Spanish explorers when they first laid eyes on the area, it is not hard to see why. Rising trees, a mix of architectural styles and a collection of small-town and eccentric neighbourhoods unite in an experience that’s…just likeable. Read on for some of our favourite ways to pass the summertime in Sacramento.

Sacramento Zoo

Come visit some of the most intriguing residents of Sacramento at the Sacramento Zoo! Some of these famous faces include the Chimpanzee, the Orangutan, African Cheetah, Reticulated Giraffe, Red Kangaroo and the Red Panda. Aside from getting to see these animals up close, there is also a variety of more personalized learning experiences available by appointment. These range from spending the night at the zoo, to personally helping care for an ostrich, okapi, African spur-thighed tortoise or another animal ambassador. The Sacramento Zoo’s also has the Okapi Trail for a more tranquil moment, and options for younger travellers including a playground and a rock climb.

Raging Waters Sacramento

When the Northern California heat gets too intense, find refuge at Raging Waters Sacramento. For families, groups, couples and solo travellers alike, Raging Waters Sacramento has something for everyone. Submerge yourself in the cooling 540,000 gallons of Breaker Beach, providing a beachside experience without the drive to Santa Cruz. Take the group to Calypso Cooler and float down a relaxing river, or take on the Great White together. For duos, there are the Hammerhead and Mako slides, or you can choose to compete against each other between the Stingray, Manta Ray or the Cliffhanger. For those with a real penchant for competition, you can up the stakes and head over to the park’s Volleyball courts. Aside from a number of other exhilarating solo slide options and a kids area, there is also a festive collection of shops and food vendors.

California State Fair at Cal Expo

Enjoy the unique atmosphere at the California State Fair! Rejoice in daring fare reflecting the long-time tradition of innovation with fair food vendors, including deep-fried Chicken skins, elote fries, deep-fried Fanta and deep-fried caramel apple pie. Over fifty rides and games for parties of all sizes can be found here, as well as travelling vendors of souvenirs and clothing. Also unique is the rare opportunity to ride the Cal Expo Monorail, one of the few fairs to have such an amenity.

Concerts in the Park

Come to Cesar Chavez Park and experience the mix of community and stirring music at the Concerts in the Park. The Concerts in the Park is a free outdoor music festival occurring every summer in Sacramento, featuring live acts from a wide selection of genres. Some of the names who have performed at Cesar Chavez Park include Mystic Roots, Dance Gavin Dance, Franz Ferdinand, Del the Funky Homosapien and R.LUM.R.

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5 Great Places to Have a Picnic in Sacramento, CA

When the weather cooperates, we all love to get outside and explore the world around us. There is nothing more refreshing and soothing to the soul than a picnic in the sun, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Every city in the United States has incredible locations for picnicking. Below are 5 Great Places to Picnic in Sacramento.

McKinley Park

A beloved Sacramento park. You can walk through the colorful Rose Garden, sit down with a book alongside Lake Kiesel, or go for a swim in the public pool before sitting down at a picnic table. Families and kids can also enjoy the playground, tennis courts, or basketball courts. All of these activities are part of the reason McKinley Park is so popular in Sacramento, and the reason is a great place for a day in the sun enjoying a great picnic.

California State Capitol Park

Located in front of the California State Capitol Building, this park is highly landscaped with plenty to see while walking through it. There are monuments and memorials along the paths and a Victorian-style Rose Garden and Pavilion. Flowering trees on the open meadows outside the Rose Garden make for excellent shade when picnicking. Any spot you pick in the park, whether It’s on a blanket in an open grassy field or on a park bench, you will have a great view of Downtown Sacramento.

Nimbus Flat Recreation Area

A riverside park along the American River. There are long bike and walking trails throughout the park and a beautiful view of the hills across the river. The Nimbus Dam is also in view of the park. Many visitors enjoy swimming, kayaking, and setting up lawn chairs or blankets on the beach along the river. The back parking lot also has a large open picnic area. Overall, the park is peaceful and the perfect place for a day on the water and a large, delicious picnic.

Ancil Hoffman Park

Just East of Sacramento is Ancil Hoffman Park, a Riverfront Preserve. Stop in at the Nature Center upon arrival for wonderful information on the local wildlife and plant life. Designated picnic sites with grills are available throughout the park. They are nestled under ancient oak trees that fill the whole park with a sense of beauty and peace. 

Discovery Park

A winding park that sits where the American River meets the Sacramento River. Like many of the other great parks in Sacramento, the river is a central focus and creates much of the charm of the park. An archery range can also be found in this park, for anyone looking for a unique outdoor activity. The 32-mile bike trail is the best part of Discovery Park. A bike ride followed by a picnic in the shade near the river is the best way to enjoy Discovery Park. 

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Fun Summer Things To Do In Sacramento, CA

Summer is finally here!  The kids are out of school, and backyard barbecues are taking place all over the nation.  After the year we had in 2020, and most people haven chosen not to take a vacation, you can almost rest assured that families will be out in full force this year.

With this in mind, we thought we would offer a few great vacation ideas to help you plan, as well as some places that would be great for just a few days away.  We all need time to recharge and some well-deserved play in the sunshine.

Here are some of the best places to check out this summer!

California State Railroad Museum

125 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

The California State Railroad Museum is a museum interpreting the role of the “iron horse” in connecting California to the rest of the nation. The Museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some dating back to 1862. The “Sierra Scene” shows a large-scale mockup of a construction scene high in the Sierra Nevada representing Donner Pass circa 1867, featuring the locomotive Gov. Stanford. Other exhibits show how the influence of railroads changed American society, influencing travel, commerce, and daily life, as well as the lives of railroaders and the diversity of people who work on railroads. Changing exhibits featuring photography, ephemera, and artifacts from the Museum’s collection, add depth and incidental information to the overall story of railroad history. The Museum has an extensive educational program for elementary students from across the region to help them learn about railroad history using re-enactments, costumed docents, and including train and handcar rides.

California State Capitol Museum

1315 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

The California State Capitol is the seat of the California government, located in Sacramento, the capital of California. The Capitol building serves as both a museum and the state’s working seat of government.  The building houses the chambers of the California State Legislature, made up of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate, along with the office of the Governor of California.  Visitors to the Capitol can at once experience California’s rich history and witness the making of history through the modern lawmaking process.  Discover the architecture, history, and development of the California State Capitol from its initial formation 150 years ago to the modern-day.

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Sacramento, CA

Sutter’s Fort was a 19th-century agricultural and trade colony in the Mexican Alta California province. The site of the Fort was established in 1839 and originally called New Helvetia by its builder John Sutter, though construction of the fort proper wouldn’t begin until 1841. The Fort was the first non-Indigenous community in the California Central Valley. The Fort is famous for its association with the Donner Party, the California Gold Rush, and the formation of the city of Sacramento surrounding the Fort. It is notable for its proximity to the end of the California Trail and Siskiyou Trails, which it served as a waystation.

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Things to Do for the Fourth of July in Sacramento

Everyone’s favorite summer holiday is quickly approaching! Nothing says July 4th like BBQs, pool days, parades, and fireworks! But with the country beginning to emerge from the worst of it, some celebrations are returning in the area. Read on to see what’s happening around Sacramento this Independence Day and gather up some ideas for your Fourth of July weekend.

Seafood and Soul Festival

The Annual Seafood and Soul Festival in Miller Park is coming back to Sacramento this summer! The event is taking place on Saturday, July 3 from 1 to 9 pm. It will be a great way to kick off your holiday weekend relaxing by the river listening to soul, R&B, blues, and jazz music. The highlight of the evening is legendary soul star Howard Hewett, with featured co-star Michel’le, and special guest Paris Escovedo. General admission tickets are $20 (bring your own lawn chairs), VIP seating is $30, or you could rent a family-size picnic table for $250. Either way, make sure you buy some seafood to enjoy while you watch the performances.

McKinley Park

A laid-back day barbequing with family and friends is one of the best ways to spend the Fourth of July, and if you’re looking for a public park to host a BBQ, check out McKinley Park. This large public green space is incredibly scenic with a lake and a rose garden and lots of shady spots for spreading out a picnic blanket. They also have several picnic areas with picnic tables and BBQ grills. You can easily spend the whole day here enjoying the various on-site amenities for all age groups. There are playgrounds, walking trails, a swimming pool, horseshoe pits, soccer and softball fields, and basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts. Whichever activity you pick, there are plenty of opportunities to burn off all the calories from hamburgers and ice cream you’re sure to consume!

Watch the Fireworks

There are several fireworks shows around Sacramento tentatively planned for July 3rd and July 4th. You can view this list to see details, but here are the highlights:

·   Carmichael Fireworks – at the La Sierra Community Center, will be an all-day event with a pancake breakfast.

·   Rancho Cordoba – at Hagan Community Park, typically a two-day festival with food, music, and live shows.

·   Annual Salute to the Red, White, and Blue – at Grove Regional Park, a family-friendly celebration.

Swim in a Pool

Cooling off in the pool is the perfect way to spend a sweltering Fourth of July, and luckily, Sacramento has plenty of public pools where you can do just that. Admission is typically just $1 and many have fun amenities like slides, diving boards, open swim areas, and splash pads for toddlers, plus of course, lifeguards, changing rooms, and picnic tables. View all the different pools and what they have to offer on the city’s Parks and Rec website.

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Arboretums and Botanical Gardens to Visit in Sacramento

When considering a vacation, or even just a day out with the family, why not consider visiting a local arboretum or botanical garden?  You can enjoy a delightful getaway with a visit to one of these beautiful gateways to all that nature has to offer.

Arboretums and botanical gardens work to promote common respect and educate with a drive towards an appreciation of the world of gardening and the insects that work to pollinate our plants and flowers. 

These nature monuments are just waiting to be discovered and welcome all visitors for a day of tranquility, enjoying their peaceful beauty.  Make sure to check out one of the arboretums or botanical gardens listed below.

Jensen Botanical Gardens

8520 Fair Oaks Blvd, Carmichael, CA 95609

The 3 1/2 Acre garden was founded in 1958 by Charles C. Jensen. After his retirement as a produce buyer. Mr. and Mrs. Jensen moved from their home in Oakland to their new property in Carmichael. They made regular trips to Oakland to bring back truckloads of plants and trees. The property already had Oaks, Coastal Redwoods, and blackberry brambles. He gradually cleared the land and began planting the many Magnolias, Azaleas, Dogwoods, and Japanese Maples, which were among the first plants brought from Oakland.

WPA Rock Garden

15th Ave Off Of Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95818

Although it is relatively small, you can’t see the entire garden from any one spot…and so you don’t always know what is around the corner!  The winding and sloping paths are sprinkled with decomposed granite, small steps, and even rock “benches.”  Many different and unusual types of plants and flowers live in this garden, and my kids just love to check them out!  What they always beg to have time for, though, is a game of hide and seek!

International World Peace Rose Gardens

1317 15th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

International World Peace Rose Gardens transforms ordinary public spaces into vibrant, beautiful places of peace and inspiration.  The Gardens are living reminders that peace begins within the hearts of each of us…in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.  Every day, each one of us has an opportunity to make the world a better place.  Everyone can make a difference!

UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden

448 La Rue Rd, Davis, CA 95616

The Arboretum occupies 100 acres along the banks of the old north channel of Putah Creek, in California’s Central Valley. Our collections include 22,000 trees and plants adapted to a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The plants are arranged in a series of gardens that represent different geographic areas, plant groups, or horticultural themes. 

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