"Sacramento: More Than Just A State Captiol" Top 5 Page for this destination Sacramento by TooTallFinn24

Sacramento Travel Guide: 435 reviews and 1,021 photos

Sacramento: Oldest City in Calif. and StateCapitol

Sacramento has been my home town now for many years. I live in a beautiful house in an older neighborhood not too far from downtown. I am often the City's biggest promoter and most vocal critic in the same week. City residents often joke about the City being half way between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, which of course is true. However that kind of self deprivation does not taken into account all the little wonders of what this in-between big city actually has. So at VT I was driven to begin a series of reviews of Sacramento when I saw that the most visited site was over eight years and in need of some serious updating.

Is It Really Just a Stop Between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe?

When I moved to Sacramento years ago folks said that the great thing about Sacramento is that it is mid way between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe? Oh I said that does mean that there is nothing to do here? Well most folks sadly shrugged their heads and said you'll see.

On a VT forum page in August of this year someone indicated that they would be driving from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe and wanted to spend a day in Sacramento. Nearly immediately two folks fired back that there is nothing to see in Sacramento you might as well skip it. Of course it all depends on what you are looking for. Sacramento certainly it is not a city that is high on most folks tourist radar but give it a chance and it may surprise you.

Just A Few Facts

So a few facts first about my home City. Sacramento of course is the state capitol of California. It was also the first city in California to incorporate in 1849 just a year before California became part of the union. Population wise the City has about 440,000 people in the incorporated area and about 2.1 million in the four counties that make up the metropolitan area. Government is by far the largest industry in the area with most state office having headquarters in Sacramento along with assorted local and federal offices. Aside from government, technology, health care and transportation are the other prominent industries.

From a historical standpoint Sacramento's early growth was primarily based on the development of rich gold mines in the nearby foothills as well as serving as a major transportation hub for the east-west railroad. Today the towns in the nearby foothills east of Sacramento still base a lot of their tourism on the rich gold and silver mines of the mid to late 1800's.

When tourists from other areas of the state and country come to Sacramento they principally come to see two things. The magnificent State Capitol and its grounds are second to none in my opinion in terms of great architecture and beauty. In addition, since the 1960's Sacramento has developed an engaging Old Town filled with redeveloped store fronts, two great museums, many great eating places and bars. HOWEVER, Sacramento is much more than the State Capitol and Old Town and you will notice that this introductory page shows no pictures or contains any great discussion of those two places. There will be time later in my VT pages on Sacramento to adequately discuss those venues.

So over the next couple months I would like to take you on a Virtual Tour of some of the neighborhoods, special places, places to stay, and of course places to eat that are part of the city I call home and you call Sacramento.

Entering Sacramento From the West to East

Sacramento is linked by four major highways;
- US 50 which runs east-west through town linking SF with Lake Tahoe
- I-80 which runs east-west through town linking SF with Reno
-US 99 which runs north-south through town linking Fresno with points north
- I-5 which runs east west and links LA with Redding and Portland

For years travelers through town had to drive through Sacramento and stop at a constant collection of red lights. The Tower Bridge (shown below), a vertical lift bridge has been linking Sacramento to points east and west since 1935. The gold color, which was voted on by local residents in 2001 was constructed in 1935.

Depending on how you arrive to Sacramento here are some helpful links that will help you navigate the City and get around better.

AIR- Our airport is called the Sacramento International Airport (SMF) and is located about 12 miles from downtown Sacramento. The airport had a new terminal added Terminal B and contains some great artwork. VT page to follow soon.

SMF link

TRAFFIC CONDITIONS: Driving around town can be tortuous at times so here is the best link that also be downloaded to keep you abreast of traffic conditions in the Sacramento area.


LOCAL BUS- Sacramento has a pretty good system of buses and light rail called Sacramento Regional Transit to get you to a lot of places throughout the Sacramento region without having to take your car.

RT Link


AIRPORT BUS- For those flying in to Sacramento nearly everyone either gets picked up by a friend, rents a car or takes a taxi downtown. Unfortunately one of the best kept secrets in Sacramento is the Yolo Bus Service from the airport to downtown and back for $2 adults and $ 1 senior. Service is once an hour.


Tale of Two Rivers: American and Sacramento

Sacramento has the good fortune of having two large rivers flowing through its boundaries; the Sacramento and American. The two rivers actually meet in the northern part of town at Discovery Park. Both provide great recreational opportunities but are very different.

The Sacramento River runs north/south through Sacramento, beginning in the Klamath Mountains and ending in Suisun Bay. For a river of its size it is fairly clean when it passes through Sacramento although the river does contain fairly large amounts of pesticides, especially DDT.

Up until 1960 the City of Sacramento largely ignored the potential of the Sacramento River as a source of tourism and development. Interstate 5 was designed about 1/2 mile from the river and its construction essentially isolated portions of Sacramento for years. Beginning with the development of Old Town the Sacramento River became more important for tourism. Today several small tour boats run up and down the river several times a day. A river train also goes from Sacramento to Woodland several times a week. An extensive River Plan was developed and adopted by the City a few years ago as well.

The American River flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through town where it meets up with the Sacramento River. Along the river runs the wonderful American River Bike Trail, a 32 mile multi-purpose trail that runs from the confluence of the two rivers all the way to Folsom Lake. The trail is an exceptionally beautiful place to bike or hike. While it can be very crowded at times it is definitely worth a visit to take part in the relaxation from the urban area and observe the flora and fauna along the river.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great Setting on 2 Rivers, Many Trees and Friendly City
  • Cons:Bad Air Quality, Hot in Summer, Depressed Economy
  • In a nutshell:A Pleasant Oasis in the Warm Central Valley
  • Last visit to Sacramento: Mar 2013
  • Intro Updated Oct 31, 2013
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Reviews (49)

Comments (10)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Mar 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Wow, now I know I want to visit Sacramento! So many wonderful things to see and do. I so enjoy the lovely victorians, but the museums are delightful. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful tips! Excellent page!

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Mar 30, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Wowser back Dee! Thanks for coming by and reviewing so many of my Sacramento tips. The City has some strengths and the older neighborhoods and museums are great. if you really like Victorians please see my pages on Woodland and Red Bluff. Look forward as always of looking at and reviewing some of your California pages as well. Thanks again!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Steven, I enjoyed reading your thoughtful and informative introduction to your home city.

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    Nice, I've never seen this building before.

  • taigaa001's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Excellent way you introduce your hometown. I only have just geographical information that Sacramento is the state capital of California. Now I can explore more about this city. Thanks.

  • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
    Jul 10, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    We've been through/to Sacramento but now we see it featured on the TV show "The Mentalist". Do they film any of that show in Sacramento?

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Jul 14, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      Yes they definitely film parts of the Mentalist in Sacramento and West Sacramento. I have seen them on location.

    • 807Wheaton's Profile Photo
      Jul 14, 2013 at 9:32 AM

      I wondered if maybe they used some other part of California for filming - although I looked at the river on a map and what all was around there and thought it looked like Sacramento. That's me - forever curious!

  • Feb 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Only been here a while but like you said on Linked In this is a great site. Some nice reviews of Sacramento also. Will call and say hi. Nice pages, some of which I have rated. - Anne

  • AngMimi's Profile Photo
    Jan 1, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    A great place to stay and visit, I enjoyed reading all the tips. Thanks for sharing, Steven.

  • Dec 7, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Very nice job in making a non touristy town more enjoyable :)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Dec 1, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    My next potential air trip is to this area. You present good sites to visit and the comments well done

    • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
      Dec 4, 2012 at 7:14 PM

      Thanks Bruce! I think you will enjoy this city. If you have any questions prior to coming drop me a note.

  • tropicrd's Profile Photo
    Oct 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Great pages and I loved your write up about Locke and the Chinese people who built it.So much to see,thanks for sharing.


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