Sacramento is the state capital of California and a storied metropolis boasting a rich history dating back to the California Gold Rush. Nestled at the intersection between the American and Sacramento Rivers, the city experiences sunny days throughout the year, making it a prime destination for tourists yearning for warm weather. Sacramento is also endowed with multiple historical attractions that will take visitors down memory lane while leaving them in awe of more hip sites and hidden gems from this era.
But there is so much more that attracts visitors to Sacramento and the Greater Sacramento area. From delicious food to invaluable historical knowledge to art and cultural experiences, here’s what every traveler needs to know about visiting the Greater Sacramento area.
What To Know About The Greater Sacramento Area
A view of Folsom Lake in California
Sacramento is California’s capital city, a central hub that locals don’t always define by its technical city limits. The Greater Sacramento area includes various counties, including Sacramento County, within the geographical area of central California.
A few nearby cities in the Greater Sac area include cities like Galt, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, and Folsom. Sacramento also includes Census-designated places (similar to neighborhoods or boroughs) like Antelope, Carmichael, Fair Oaks North Highlands, Rancho Murieta, Wilton, and many more.
Greater Sacramento metro area spans farther west (West Sacramento, Woodland, Davis), east (to South Lake Tahoe, Truckee), and north (Yuba City, Roseville), encompassing multiple counties and charming vacation destinations.
The Best Time To Visit Sacramento
The best time to visit the city is between mid-June and late September for warm-weather activities. However, Sacramento generally experiences great weather throughout the year, meaning visitors will feel welcomed anytime they go.
Summers are hot and dry with clears skies, lasting about 3.7 months. The average daily temperature is around 86 °F during this time of the year, and the hottest month is July.
Meanwhile, the cool season lasts 2.9 months and features an average daily temperature below 60 °F, with the coldest month being December.
Those planning to tour the city in January should pack a raincoat as this month receives the highest amount of precipitation (rain) in the year; 3.4 inches of rainfall.
- Spring March to May
- Summer June to August
- Autumn September to November
- Winter December to February
While Sacramento’s weather is rather mild year-round, traveling in an hour in any direction can mean a stark contrast in temperature. For fall through spring day trips outside of Sacramento, such as to the Sierra Nevada foothills, for example, travelers should prepare for rain and even snow.
Top Attractions And Things to Do When Visiting Greater Sacramento
California State Capitol Museum, 10th Street, Sacramento, CA, USA
Sacramento has many attractions, ranging from the old to the new, so tourists will be spoilt for choice when it comes to fun things to do. Downtown Sacramento features a cluster of the city’s top attractions, with museums, parks, and a buzzing nightlife to keep visitors entertained.
Things to see in Greater Sacramento
Outside of the city of Sacramento, the area offers plenty to do for those traveling by car, light rail, or bus. A drive to Lake Tahoe offers up scenic views and outdoor recreation, for example.
Greater Sac is also home to places travelers can try their hand at striking it rich; panning for gold is still a local pastime in many places.
Top tours in Greater Sacramento
Sacramento Historic River Cruise
- Cost- $29.70 per adult
- Duration- 1 hour
Downtown Sacramento Historical Food Tour
- Cost- $98 per adult
- Duration- 3 hours
Historic Folsom: A Self-Guided Audio Tour
- Cost- $7.99 per adult
- Duration- 90-120 minutes
Plan to see everything Sacramento has to offer—like a local—with a comprehensive guide to the city.
Where To Eat In Sacramento
Waterfront wheel, Old Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, USA
The Sacramento dining scene keeps improving every year thanks to a growing multicultural demographic that calls the city home. This has resulted in a mix of traditional American and international to local and gourmet cuisines that promise tourists an unforgettable culinary adventure.
Sacramento’s Downtown area offers a variety of spots where visitors can go to sample the local dining experience.
While in Old Sacramento, hop into BurgerIM for a typical American burger, chicken wings, or The Firehouse Restaurant for steaks.
Guests are also guaranteed a diverse culinary journey with many food trucks in the city. Don’t forget to stop for a quick bite when you run into famous trucks like Cousins Maine Lobster, The Lumpia Truck, and Habibi’s Grill.
Once tourists have had their fill and are ready to explore the Sacramento night scene, they can try the lively nightlife strip on K street. There are many watering holes like Trophy Club, Badlands, and Sidetrax.
In a buzzing metropolis like Sacramento, tourists will always have new spots and joints to indulge their taste buds in the sumptuous local cuisine.
- Best joints for breakfast: The Morning Fork, Bacon & Butter, Tower Café, Fixins Soul Kitchen, Hot Off The Griddle
- Best eateries for lunch and dinner: Casa East Sac, Taste Buds Barbeque, Frog & Slim, The Green Room, Cousins Maine Lobster.
- Best pubs and bars: The Roost, Bear Dive, Trophy Club, Chambers Room, Juju Kitchen & Cocktails, Acoustic Sanctuary, Back Door Lounge.
Throughout the greater Sacramento area, and the rest of California, Mexican-inspired cuisine also abounds.
Where To Stay In And Around Sacramento
Sacramento, CA, USA
With increasing tourist activity year after year, the Sacramento hotel industry has taken advantage of this by offering guests a diverse range of options for a deserved good night’s sleep.
Tourists may choose from majestic luxury hotels and affordable motels to charming B&Bs, depending on the depth of their pockets.
Tourists can expect to find accommodation that suits their budget when visiting the beautiful city of Sacramento.
The letter and number streets are in Sacramento’s downtown area, a walkable spot for food, drinks, and entertainment.
Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel
- Address: 1230 J Street 13th and J Street Sacramento, CA 95814
- Cost per night: Starts at $219
- Amenities: pool, bar & restaurant, non-smoking rooms
- Address: 1209 L St, Sacramento, CA 95814-3942
- Cost per night: Starts at $209
- Amenities: E-vehicle charging, cable or satellite TV, fitness and gym center
- Address: 1530 N St Sacramento, CA 95814-5008
- Cost per night: Starts at $189
- Amenities: Free breakfast, free WiFi, on-site restaurant
Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova
Rancho Cordova lies at the heart of Sacramento in a bustling area with plenty of places to eat.
- Address: 11211 Point East Dr Rancho Cordova, CA 95742-6239
- Cost per night: Starts at $159
- Amenities: Business center, free parking, on-site restaurants
Davis, California cityscape at sunset
Davis neighbors Sacramento to the west and offers a small-town feel with easy access to the big city.
- Address: 221 D Street, Davis, CA 95616
- Cost per night: Starts at $128
- Amenities: Free WiFi, coffee machine, free parking, cable TV, internet access
Cal Expo is the northern area of Sacramento, on the outskirts of the excitement in most cases!
- Address: 1782 Tribute Rd Sacramento, CA 95815-4402
- Cost per night: Starts at $122
- Amenities: Pools, fitness center, on-site Starbucks
How To Get Around Greater Sacramento
Old Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, USA
There are many ways to get around and discover the city of Sacramento and the surrounding area, so tourists shouldn’t worry about moving from point A to B.
Sacramento is a very pedestrian-friendly city, especially the downtown area, where tourists visit the many attractions. These are conveniently within walking distance of one another.
Tourists will appreciate the well-marked streets pointing to different attraction sites, making navigation a walk in the park.
By Public Transportation
Thanks to the Sacramento Regional Transit District, the city has a reliable public transport system. This features a light rail and bus service that reaches the suburban neighborhoods outside Downtown Sacramento.
The light rail follows three routes (Blue, Gold, and Green), which operate between different city sections.
- Cost: $2.75 for a day trip and $7 for a 7-day pass
Furthermore, tourists who want to explore more of California can use the Amtrak (train) service, which will take them to places like the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, southern California, and beyond.
- Cost: A trip on the Amtrak Service from Sacramento to the Bay Area costs around $30
On Two Wheels
If tourists want to discover the city on a bike, there are several shops where they can rent a bicycle for a few hours or the day. This way, they can cover more ground faster in their rush to explore as many attraction sites in a day as possible.
- Cost: It costs an average of $4 to rent a bike for an hour, whereas renting it for the day will set tourists back a maximum of $30.
The American River Bike Trail is easily considered among the best bike trails in the country. Also, the city has recently invested in bicycle infrastructure like the City College Bike Bridge to accommodate bike lovers better.
Spending The Perfect Day In (Or Around) Sacramento
Port of Sacramento, Sacramento, California, USA
There is so much to see in Sacramento, but with wise time management, tourists can discover most of the city in just a single day. This will involve starting the day with a tour of Downtown Sacramento, where most of the city’s attractions, like the State Capitol Building and Park, are located.
It will take a large portion of the day to get around as many sites as possible, so tourists can find one of the many restaurants in the area to sample the local delicacies. From here, they can move to Midtown Sacramento to marvel at its Wide Open Walls.
There are amazing opportunities to take Instagram-worthy photos in front of these larger-than-life and iconic murals, including the Fox, Sunset Circle, and Sunday Vibes, curated by famous artists.
A 30-minute walk from Midtown will take visitors to Old Town Sacramento, where they can catch the cozy raft tour at the waterfront.
They can then hop into any night joint, like the River City Saloon, to wind up the day with a little fun in the dark.
Of course, the city of Sacramento itself is just the beginning; the Greater Sacramento area offers up countless adventures for travelers of all ages and interests. Sacramento is an excellent travel destination on its own, but also a great jumping-off point for seeing more of Central California.
Q: When is the best time to visit Sacramento?
The best time for visitors in Sacramento is between June and September, mostly during summer and into fall. This is when the city receives a large chunk of its yearly tourists thanks to the warm weather—and when events like the State Fair happen. Springtime (around March through May) can also be delightful if travelers can avoid the spring showers.
Q: What is Sacramento California known for?
As the capital of California, Sacramento is known for being a central (geographically and literally) hub full of history. It’s also a convenient jumping-off point to exploring other areas of Central California, including Gold Country, via day trips.
Q: How far is Sacramento from the ocean? Does it snow in Sacramento?
Sacramento has the unique distinction of being between the ocean and the snow in California. The Bay Area/San Francisco isn’t far away (about a two-hour drive depending on traffic), and neither are the Sierra Nevadas (a two-hour drive in the opposite direction).
Q: What is considered the greater Sacramento area?
Though Sacramento is big enough to stand alone as a tourist destination, it’s also the center of the Greater Sacramento Area, a metro area that spans multiple counties in the surrounding valley and foothills. Greater Sacramento includes El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties.
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