California’s capital, Sacramento, was built using fortunes made from gold mining. Come to the city today and you’ll sense that a gold rush-era atmosphere still endures. A strong cultural scene also thrives. Visit a wide range of museums and galleries devoted to such varied topics as train travel, famous Californian figures and Native American cultures that were almost erased by the rush of gold-seeking settlers in the mid 19th century.
The roots of modern-day Sacramento can be traced back to the California gold rush, which began in 1848. The discovery of gold in the nearby Sierra Foothills led to a mass influx of prospectors and the city was soon established.
Explore the Old Sacramento area near the port to soak up the old-world atmosphere and learn more about the wave of pioneers who arrived in search of their fortune. Shop for gold rush-inspired souvenirs in the shops, take a boat cruise along the Sacremento River and hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage.
Find out more about Sacramento’s early days in the area’s array of museums. Among the most notable are the California State Railroad Museum, the Sacramento History Museum, Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum and Huntington and Hopkins Hardware, a recreation of a 19th-century hardware store.
Of course, Sacramento’s history didn’t begin with the gold rush. Prior to this, the area was inhabited by Native Americans. Inspect artifacts and learn about the lives of the pre-gold rush inhabitants at the California State Indian Museum. The museum is adjacent to Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, where Swiss-German immigrant John Sutter set up a trading outpost in 1839., to view the state-owned art collection and the memorial-dotted grounds. Art lovers will also enjoy the Crocker Art Museum, with a 15,000-strong collection featuring everything from ceramics to Italian Baroque paintings to street photography.
Sacramento is located at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers. Use buses, trolleys and light rail to get around town. To experience a more modern side of life in Sacramento, explore the hip Midtown district.