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Trees, rivers, and a lot of California history are part of the atmosphere in Sacramento, a city whose rustic landmarks and natural beauty point to its own unique place in the American story. Home to landmarks from Sutter's Fort to the State Capitol and the California State Fair, the city has been welcoming visitors since the days of the Gold Rush. With all that heritage, there’s no shortage of things to do in Sacramento. It doesn't hurt that you're surrounded by one of the greenest urban spaces in America, with a climate that wouldn't be out of place in the Mediterranean.
With just enough high-rises to make a nice skyline, Sacramento’s central business district includes City Hall, the California State Capitol, and the Sacramento Convention Center. That concentration of meeting rooms has attracted its share of Sacramento hotels, whose guests flock to the outdoor mall at Westfield Downtown Plaza and the more than 4 miles (6.5 km) of waterfront that stretches along the Sacramento and American rivers.
Just east of the city center, Midtown holds some of the Sacramento’s oldest neighborhoods. Victorian homes line orderly streets near landmarks like Sutter's Fort, and bicycle paths lead all the way out to the suburbs. The diverse community counts artists, musicians, and more than the usual share of state legislators among its residents, and its Lavender Heights neighborhood is the historic home of Sacramento's LGBT community.
Named for the city park that anchors one of Sacramento's bigger stretches of green space, Land Park's well-shaded avenues are a good example of how the City of Trees got its nickname. The Sacramento Zoo and a pair of amusement parks fill out the space among the woods.
One of most recent parts of the city to be developed, Natomas is home to Sleep Train Arena, San Diego International Airport, and plenty of outdoor space. North Natomas Regional Park features a network of trails and grassy fields, with dog parks and open spaces for the Central California wildlife.
Fruit trees and gold helped to put Sacramento on the map, and you can still find signs of the 19th-century boom. The old colony of Sutter's Fort still stands at the edge of Midtown, while the cobbled streets and steamboats of Old Sacramento would look familiar to a visitor from the 1860s. And with a population closer to that of Portland than Los Angeles, the city has plenty of room left for the biggest tree canopy in the United States.
State capitals tend to attract a wealth of historic monuments and museums, and a state like California has plenty of heritage to explore. The Crocker Art Museum hosts the oldest public art collection in the western United States, while the California State Railroad Museum celebrates the city's place at the end of the Transcontinental Railroad. You can take a look through California history at the State Capitol Museum, or at more than a century's worth of vintage cars at the California Automobile Museum.
If the weather's too nice for you to stay indoors, then there's plenty to do in the open air. You can board a heritage train car for a ride on the Sacramento Southern Railroad, take a cruise on the Sacramento River or take a food tour to see how the city got its reputation for trendy farm-to-table dishes. Out past the suburbs, you can go for a swim at Granite Bay Beach or take a hike in the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, and you're just a quick drive away from the Napa Valley or the whitewater rapids on the Sacramento River.
There's no need to run your credit card hot in Sacramento. The following won't cost a red cent.
Wells Fargo History Museum - Jam-packed with fascinating displays and objects, this place is heaven for curious minds.
William Land Park - Plenty of fun awaits at this enjoyable place.
California Department of Parks and Recreation - If you're an admirer of modern-day architecture, add this attraction to your must-see list.
Libby's Cannery - If you're planning to explore the area's history through its landmarks, mark this one down on your itinerary.
Sutter General Hospital - Look up your guidebook and find out why this place is worth adding to your itinerary.
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament - Get in touch with your spiritual side or simply savor the peaceful ambiance at this site of worship.
Loch Leven Lakes Trail - Let nature's rugged beauty calm your soul.
Cesar Chavez Park - Whether you know your apple trees from azaleas, you'll find beauty in this gorgeous display.
With fantastic indoor activities like a 8 Hour - Napa Valley Wine Tour in a Stretch Limousine and a Craft Distillery Tour and Spirits Tastings to keep you amused, you'll forget it's bucketing down outside.
Put these sights at the top of your must-do list to make the most of your visit:
Keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket with these fun and thrifty activities:
Your break in Sacramento needn't break the bank with free attractions like these on offer: