Things I must do when visiting Sacramento


Last updated December 30, 2021.

I go back to visit Sacramento this week and I’m stoked like never before! It’s been agonizing 10 months since I last saw my family, which is the longest I’ve gone without seeing them. It’ll also be my longest trip back… a whopping 13 days! So, I get to properly enjoy the presence of my family, catch up with friends, and check out what’s new in the City of Trees. And based on what I’ve been seeing and reading, I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

For those who don’t know, I was born in southern California and moved to Sacramento just before I turned two, so I have always known it as home. And while I definitely look forward to discovering the latest everything and taking in the new Sac vibes, there are some things I just have to do for my trip home to be totally worth it!

Check out my list of things I must do whenever I’m in Sacramento!

10 Things I Must Do When I’m Visiting Sacramento

Go to In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger | Things to Do in Sacramento, California

Obviously, In-N-Out is virtually every in California, however, it’s usually one of the first things I do after landing at SMF. Funnily, I didn’t particularly care for In-N-Out until after I moved to Florida. I have tried numerous burgers in hopes of something similar, but there’s nothing like an animal-style cheeseburger, animal-style fries (they’re absolute garbage otherwise), and a vanilla shake from In-N-Out. Distance makes the heart grow fonder I suppose.

Take a Day Trip

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA | things to do in Sacramento, California

One of the biggest perks about living in Sacramento, for me anyway, was its proximity to everything else. It’s centrally located in the valley with several major cities and destinations within a 3-hour drive. San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, Truckee, Chico, Redding, and Shasta Lake, are all fairly nearby as well as Reno and Carson City in Nevada!

Get Cake From Freeport Bakery

Truthfully, Freeport Bakery provided some inspiration for this blog post. It’s one of the things I look forward to doing the most and, despite its wonderful story and rich history, I haven’t seen another blog mention it as a must-visit, and I find that shocking considering it’s one of the best bakeries in Sacramento County if not the best.

My family has been going to Freeport Bakery for over 25 years now. My personal favorites include their champagne cake (buttermilk cake layers filled with strawberry custard mousse and frosted with Swiss buttercream), carrot cake, and Italian rum cake (moist buttermilk cake layers filled with vanilla custard and chocolate mousse and frosted with Italian buttercream… you have to ask for it!). Even if you’re not ordering a cake to take home, I highly recommend coming in for a slice (or two) or trying some of their amazing pastries and bread!

Spend a Day Downtown

Downtown Sacramento has undergone such an insane transformation. My childhood memories include my mom dragging us through the Macy’s women’s clothing department (or worse, their furniture store). We absolutely hated it but she often spoiled us with a movie or a trip to Panda Express in the food court. Fast forward to 2019 and it is now a hipsters playground and tourist hotspot, reminiscent of St. Pete’s Grand Central District if I’m being honest.

If you’re visiting downtown, then I highly recommend ditching the car and going for a walk. One of my favorite things to do is stroll through downtown, reminiscing and taking in the new sights and shops, and people-watching as I can always tell who’s new in town. There are several historical landmarks to be seen on foot as well such as the Crocker Art Museum, the Capitol Rose Garden and Capitol Building, and the Leland Stanford Mansion. Plus, the old trees are a collective marvel and provide plenty of shade, even during the hot summers.

Visit the Capitol

State Capitol Building Sacramento | Things to do Sacramento, California

Speaking of downtown, the Capitol Building was actually one of the last places I visited before relocating. Having grown up here, seeing the Capitol was a regularity, be it driving through the area or for field trips. I didn’t truly appreciate the architecture, history, and lush landscaping of the Capitol grounds until I got older. The roses at State Capitol Park are a must-see in spring.

Spend a Day at the River

American River in Sacramento, CA | Things to do Sacramento, California

The time of the year obviously makes all the difference, but truly, you can’t visit Sacramento without making a trip to one of the rivers. Sacramento is blessed with both the Sacramento River and American River, both with parks that are perfect for family fun, a day of reading, or an afternoon picnic. Several local businesses offer kayak, raft, and canoe rentals. The rapids of the American River are perfect for whitewater rafting and is a common summer past-time.

Take a Hike

Lake Clementine Trail, Auburn CA |Things to do in Sacramento, CA
Lake Clementine Trail, Auburn, CA. Photo courtesy of Mackenzie Chukwuneta.

I didn’t realize Florida’s the flattest state in the United States until I moved there. It has a maximum altitude of 345 feet and “hiking” trails are more like ramps. I have to take advantage of the amazing hills and hikes whenever I’m in town. Popular trails include the South Fork American River Trail and Jedidiah Smith Memorial Trail, as well as the Blue Heron Trail in Elk Grove, CA and Lake Clementine Trail at Auburn State Recreational Area.

Visit the Midtown Farmers Market

You know me and farmers markets. I used to do my produce shopping at the Midtown Farmers Market when I lived in Midtown. It’s a year-round farmers market that takes place every Saturday from 8am to 1pm on 20th Street between J Street and L Street. There are approximately 90 vendors, each showcasing local agriculture, handmade crafts, prepared and baked goods, and so much more.

Go to a Kings Game

Anyone who knows me knows that I was a huge Kings fan growing up. Watching Chris Webber, White Chocolate, Peja Stojakovic and others as a kid in the former Arco Arena made for some truly amazing and unforgettable experiences. Unfortunately, we were robbed of a championship in 2002. #neverforget #purplestrong

Golden 1 Arena, where the Kings currently play, was finalized just after I moved in 2016. I’m actually yet to see a game here, so that’s something I’m looking forward to doing soon. I cannot wait to see what the likes of Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox can bring this offseason. Here’s to hoping for a positive new era! #gokings

Take a Stroll by Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, Sacramento, CA | Things to do in Sacramento, CA

Sacramento’s iconic Tower Bridge sits above the Sacramento River, connecting downtown Sacramento with West Sacramento. The bridge is one of the most beautiful displays in the city, especially at dusk when the array of sunset colors hit the water. It’s excellent for walks and is super scenic and tranquil. I always loved escaping here and imagine it is lovely for a picnic.

Sacramento mirrors St. Pete in the sense that it was once a sleepy town experiencing a cultural transformation into a vibrant, bustling town proud to put its roots on full display.

Don’t overlook this Golden State gem… it’s the Capitol after all!

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