Best Things to do in Sacramento, California Header

The 15 Best Things to Do in Sacramento

Many people know Sacramento is California’s capital, but this sprawling city is so much more than that. In fact, Sacramento has many different names.

It’s long been known as the “City of Trees,” thanks to all of its beautiful green spaces. It’s also the “Farm-to-Fork Capital” due to all of its fine dining with locally sourced ingredients. And it’s quickly becoming a “City of Festivals,” thanks to its many food, beer, and music festivals. No matter when you visit Sacramento, you’ll find plenty to see and do!

Planning a trip and wondering what to do in Sacramento? We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Sacramento, from fun festivals to unique landmarks. Stick to this list, and you’ll have an amazing time in this historic city.

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1. Take an Underground Tour of Old Sacramento

In the early years of Sacramento’s founding, the pioneers fought numerous threats, with one of the biggest issues being flooding. To survive, the town essentially rebuilt itself, raising the streets above the floodplain.

Today, exploring the historic underground of Old Sacramento is something that belongs on everyone’s Sacramento bucket list. Departing from the Sacramento History Museum, you can take an Old Sacramento Underground Tour to step inside these forgotten spaces and learn about how Sacramento lifted itself up and rebuilt. It’s one of the best ways to do some serious Sacramento sightseeing!

2. Peruse Masterpieces at the Crocker Art Museum

Best Things to do in Sacramento: Crocker Art Museum

Over in Downtown Sacramento, the Crocker Art Museum, the oldest art museum in the western US, is home to one of the best collections of Californian art and is one of the must-do things in Sacramento. But there’s much more within the halls of this beloved museum. 

The museum is home to European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art as well. Plus, you’ll find one of the most extensive collections of ceramics in the US. There are also interactive spaces for kids, as well as special events, including ARTMIX, an after-hours party for adults.

3. Visit the California State Railroad Museum

Cool Things to do in Sacramento, California: State Railroad Museum

In Old Sacramento, you’ll find the California State Railroad Museum, one of the best things to do in Sacramento if you’re a history buff. Here, you’ll explore how railroads shaped our nation and connected California to the rest of the country.

In addition to seeing restored locomotives and cars that date all the way back to 1862, you can also take a ride on their Excursion Trains from April to September and on select dates from October through December.

4. Take in California History at the California State Capitol Museum

Unique Things to do in Sacramento: California State Capitol Museum

The California State Capital Museum is another cool thing to do in Sacramento if you’re a fan of immersing yourself in history. Located at the California State Capitol building, this museum explores California’s past, present, and future through permanent and rotating exhibits. You’ll see preserved historic rooms, stunning artwork, and much more throughout your visit.

5. Attend the GoldenSky Country Music Festival

Fun Things to do in Sacramento, California: Goldensky Country Music Festival

October brings about the return of one of Sacramento’s newest festivals, the GoldenSky Country Music Festival, at Discovery Park. Some of the biggest names in country have graced the stage here, including Eric Church, Maren Morris, and Wynonna Judd. 

But there’s so much to this festival beyond the music. The GoldenSky Beer Festival is a “festival within a festival,” allowing you to enjoy over 150 different types of beer, hard seltzer, and hard cider at this country music showcase. 

Add in a makers market, a farm-to-fork dining experience, a dance hall, a bar, and a winery, and it’s no wonder this festival is already one of Sacramento’s favorites and one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento after just a few years of operation.

6. Party Hard at Aftershock

Sacramento Bucket List: Aftershock

Country music not your scene? Maybe Aftershock is more your jam. Also taking place in October at Discovery Park, this hard rock and heavy metal concert is one of the most unique things to do in Sacramento. Previous performers include Guns N’ Roses, Avenged Sevenfold, and Queens of the Stone Age.

7. Get Soulful at the Sol Blume Music Festival

If soul, hip-hop, and R&B are more what you’re after, head to the Sol Blume Music Festival, one of the coolest things to do in Sacramento. The dates change every year, but the festival usually takes place in April.

Also taking place at Discovery Park, this festival brought out some of the biggest names in music in years past, like Kehlani, Teyana Taylor, and Brent Faiyaz. It also featured a small business marketplace, specially curated food and drinks, art installations, games, and the Sol’R rink. 

8. Take Your Kids to Fairytale Town

Sacramento Things to do: Fairytale Town

Fairytale Town is one of the most fun things to do in Sacramento with kids. Located in William Land Park, this kid-friendly play space offers 26 unique playsets based on nursery rhymes and fairytales, letting children explore their imaginations and see stories come to life. 

In addition to the playsets, they can also enjoy meeting some friendly farm animals, venturing through several beautiful gardens, and seeing their favorite characters on two different performing arts stages. 

9. Visit the Aerospace Museum of California

Must-do Things in Sacramento: Aerospace Museum of California

Just outside of Sacramento, you’ll find the Aerospace Museum of California on the grounds of the former McClellan Air Force Base. This museum is one of the best Sacramento attractions, especially if you’ve got an aspiring pilot or astronaut in your group.

In addition to seeing historic aircrafts up close, you can also explore interactive exhibits that let you train to take to the skies, experience what it’s like inside a cockpit, and much more.

10. Go Back in Time at the Stanford Mansion

Sacramento Bucket List: Stanford Mansion
Image courtesy of Visit Sacramento

Located in Downtown Sacramento, the Stanford Mansion is one of the top sights in Sacramento. This historic mansion dates back to 1856 and now serves as a museum. As you tour the 19,000-square-foot mansion, you’ll see original period furnishings that once belonged to the Stanfords, 19th-century crystal and bronze light fixtures, meticulously preserved 19th-century gardens, and much more that will transport you back in time.

11. Check Out the California Automobile Museum

Also downtown is the California Automobile Museum, one of the most unique Sacramento attractions. The museum features over 130 vehicles. With rotating, permanent, and special exhibits, you can always guarantee there’s something new to see here. If you’re a car lover, this museum is easily one of the must-do things in Sacramento.

12. Go Kayaking at Lake Natoma

What to do in Sacramento: Lake Natoma

Although Sacramento is home to many green spaces that are great for enjoying the great outdoors, you should head to nearby Lake Natoma if you want to spend a day in a scenic spot that lets you get out on the water. Lake Natoma is a wonderful watersports hub with several companies that will allow you to rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and canoes. 

Worried about getting out on the water for the first time? Lake Natoma Paddle Rentals also offers classes for all ages, as well as guided sunset paddles.

13. Witness History at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Sacramento Things to do: Sutters Fort State Historic Park

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is one of the top things to see in Sacramento. Once the economic center of the first permanent European colony in California’s Central Valley, it is now a place that helps bring California history to life.

Explore the lives of those who once inhabited the fort, like the blacksmith, gunsmith, and carpenter, as you walk through the preserved fort’s many different areas.

14. Have Family Fun at the California State Fair

Best Things to do in Sacramento: California State Fair

If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly thing to do in Sacramento in the summer, you should head to Cal Expo to enjoy the California State Fair. Featuring immersive exhibits, carnival games and rides, agricultural showcases, specialty food and drinks, live entertainment, and much more, the fair offers 17 days of exciting, family fun.

15. Dine at the Farm-to-Fork Festival

Best Things to do in Sacramento: Farm to Fork Festival

The Farm-to-Fork Festival is one of Sacramento’s best food festivals. Taking place in September, it offers special events, delicious dining, and live music.

But it’s also just one of many of Sacramento’s food and drink festivals. Other fun and delicious festivals to check out include FoodieLand and Sacramento Beer Week.

There you have it—the 15 best things to do in Sacramento! What are your favorite Sacramento activities and attractions? Drop us a note and let us know!

About the Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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