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Fun Places to Visit in Sacramento - We Voted on Them!

Fun Places to Visit in Sacramento - We Voted on Them!


Sacramento is chock full of attractions for every interest and budget. Whether you have a few minutes, a few hours—or even a day, you’ll be able to squeeze in some history and some fun. And if you’ve got the kids along, so much the better. Here's our take on the best places to visit in Sacramento.

No Ho-Hum History

At many places, you can find Sacramento’s history, and none of them are boring.


Sutter’s Fort State Park’s authenticity is real, complemented with costumed docents. From this fort, rescuers set off in 1847 to help the infamous, snow-stranded Donner Party in the Sierra Nevada. In 1848, at the Main Building, sawmill operator James Marshall reluctantly showed the gold he found in the American River, which lead to the subsequent California Gold Rush.


Old Town Sacramento faithfully preserves the ambience of its western heritage during its 19th-century heyday. Here, a Pony Express rider’s journey ended and the Transcontinental Railroad began. Further your time travel with a horse and carriage ride, a Sacramento River paddle wheeler cruise, or aboard the 1920s historic observation car, the El Dorado, at the California State Railroad Museum.


Among the museum’s 20 restored locomotives or railroad cars, one of the most revered is the Gov. Stanford, a massive steam locomotive built in 1863. Costumed docents and realistic exhibits tell the tales of tracks laid across scorching deserts and high-mountain passes.


Long before European conquistadors, gold seekers, or politicians came to what is now Sacramento, the Miwok and Maidu Native Americans lived here. These native peoples were known for their superior baskets, many of which are displayed at the California State Indian Museum. The museum also features a hands-on area.


Former Sacramentans still tell tales of incredible courage and fortitude at the Old City Cemetery, where the living are invited to commune with the dead and nature. You can either go alone to this garden-like cemetery (which dates back to the Gold Rush), or take a walking tour with volunteers clad in Victorian wardrobe.

Get Spacey

The Aerospace Museum of California is the next best thing to visiting the Smithsonian, thanks to their restored military and civilian aircraft, and a state-of-the-art Aerospace Learning Center. Flight simulators put you in the seat of action.

Free Museums

Henry Wells’ and William Fargo’s partnership began an ever-lasting banking legacy, which is now celebrated at an Old Town Sacramento museum. See the bank’s original Concord stagecoach that hauled gold from the nearby Sierra Foothills.


The treasure at the Sojourner Truth Multicultural Arts Museum appears on the walls – not as hung art, but rather striking and inspiring murals. Dedicated to the vast ethnicity of Sacramento’s population, the museum, in a strip-mall building, portrays Nubian royalty and Mayan kings along with bricklayers of Egyptian pyramids and Mexican agricultural workers.

Major Art

The Crocker Museum is Sacramento’s grande dame dowager of art with a sexy swagger. You travel the globe through the European and Asian collections along with arts from the Americas, especially early Californian. Part of the collections reside in the former 1870s Crocker mansion, while ultra modern new wing, opened in 2010, offers more galleries.

Trio of Kiddy Fun

Three family fun spots exist within yards of each other at the southwest corner of Land Park. Free parking and tables and benches perfect for outdoor picnics make a visit to the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town, and Funderland budget friendly.


More than 400 animals call the zoo home. Walk past the lemurs, and they scream hello. Twice daily, giraffes stand at the elevated Tall World deck for photo opportunities, and free cell phone tours provide interesting animal facts. The zoo train circles the property, which includes the Australian Outback.


Rides rule at Funderland. The mini amusement park, open February to November, has spinning teacups, flying Chinese dragons, and highflying airplanes, and other rides like a carousel.


Fairytale Town’s enchantment starts when you pass Humpty Dumpty’s gate. Your child’s imagination is spurred by fun activities at a variety of venues like King Arthur’s Castle, old Mother Hubbard’s high-buttoned shoe, and Mr. McGregor’s Garden, where a summertime garden tempts Peter Rabbit.


—By LJ Bottjer

LJ Bottjer is a cultural chameleon whose work has appeared with CBS News, the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group, and Travel & Leisure.


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