Top 17 Things to do in Sacramento California

sacramento river
Old Sacramento Riverfront credit: Visit California

As California’s state capitol, Sacramento offers lots of attractions, some with a bit of the Old West Flavor. From swaggering into old Sacramento to its railroad museum, visitors can learn about Sacramento’s history. With two different rivers in the area and lots of park space, Sacramento offers fun in the outdoors. There is also an arts and food scene to discover. Read on for the best things to do in Sacramento.

Best 17 Things to Do in Sacramento 

California Railroad Museum
Old Sacramento Waterfront
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
Capitol Park
California State Capitol Museum
Crocker Art Museum
William Land Regional Park
Fairytale Town
Funderland Park
Sacramento Zoo
American River Parkway and Discovery Park
Sacramento Children’s Museum
Farmers Markets
Sacramento Skate Parks
Splash Pads in Sacramento
Chinatown Mall
McKinley Rose Garden

California Railroad Museum

The railroad is responsible for much of the development of California. See the California Railroad Museum’s collection of 19 stream locomotives ranging from 1862 to 1944. Visitors will find a collection of golden strikes from the transcontinental era as well.

The Chinese Railworker Experience details how Chinese immigrants constructed the western portion of the transcontinental railroad. The California Railroad Museum also offers excursion train rides. Prices start at $8 for adults and run from March until the end of the year with the popular Polar Express.

Located in Old Sacramento at 111 I St.. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $12, kids 6 to 17 cost $6 and free for 5 and under. Paid parking garages and metered street parking nearby.

OLD Sacramento
Old Sacramento credit: Visit California

Old Sacramento Waterfront

Get a dose of the Old West along the waterfront at  Old Sacramento, a registered national landmark and state historic park off the banks of the Sacramento River. As a throwback to the California Gold Rush era, the  28-acre area features wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, old-fashioned candy shops, Mississippi-style riverboats and historic buildings constructed in the mid-1800s.

During your trip, walk into the B.F. Hastings Building for the Wells Fargo History Museum, and see the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse, a one-room school.  Also good for kids are the monument to the Pony Express and the G. Williker’s Toy Emporium.

Located between Tower Bridge and I Street Bridge It’s open every day except major holidays. Most stores and attractions open at 10 a.m. until early evening. Free to enter. Paid parking garages and metered street parking nearby.

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Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

John Sutter, a former Swiss of questionable credit, started on the fort in the 1840s. It was the center of commerce in the area for a while. The discovery of gold in the area changed that in 1848. Now it is a living history area, detailing the rigors of living at the time with period furnishings and a reconstructed exterior.

Located at 2701 L St. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $5, kids 6 to 17 cost $3 and free from 5 and under. Metered street parking nearby.

California State Capitol
California State Capitol credit: Visit Sacramento

California State Capitol and Park

Capitol Park

Visit the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial with 22 shiny black granite panels memorializing the 5,822 names of California’s fallen soldiers. Then stroll through the International World Peace Rose Gardens, home to more than 800 roses in a variety of colors and fragrances. Free tours of the park are offered on Sunday at 11 a.m. and Wednesday at 10 a.m., first-come, first-serve.

California State Capitol Museum

Originally built in the 1860s, you can walk through the halls, though tours of the interior are not offered at this time.

Located between 10th and L streets. Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for major holidays. Free.

Crocker Art Museum

For families with art-loving kids, or parents that love art, check out the Crocker Art Museum. The Crocker’s collection of California art and its collection of European master drawings is notable.

The Crocker Art Museum hosts several free family events during the year. The third Sunday of the month is pay what you wish.

Located at 216 O Street. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a,m, to 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursday). Adult admission is $15, kids 6 to 17 cost $8 and free from 5 and under.

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William Land Regional Park

The 206-acre park offers trails, playscapes, and several picnic areas, along with several lakes and a wading pool. Inside William Land Regional Park, find the Sacramento Zoo, Funderland Park, and Fairytale Town.

Located at 3800 Land Park Dr. Open every day from dawn to dusk. Free.

Fairytale Town

Dedicated to beloved children’s stories, kids can climb over its adorable play structures. There are even farm animals to pet and a children’s theater.

Located at 3901 Land Park Dr., Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March to October and from November until February, it’s open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. General admission is $8 during weekdays ($9 on weekends) for everyone 2 and older. Timed online reservations are required.

Funderland Park

It originally opened in 1946 and features 9 rides geared for younger kids. Find a carousel, a flying dragon roller coaster, and crazy teacups.

Located at 1350 17th Ave. Open from Thursday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the school year. Daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer. Closed for January. Adult admission is $17 and kids (34″ and taller) are $24.

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Sacramento Zoo

With 400 animals from over 140 different species in a 14-acre facility, highlights include giraffes, several primates, zebras and snow leopards. Favorites include lions, red pandas and the reptile house. The Sacramento Zoo features a zoo train along with special animal encounters. This is one of the best things to do in Sacramento with kids.

Located at 3930 Land Park Dr., Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission starts at $19.50 for timed entry. Kids (2 to 11) start at $14.75. The Sacramento Zoo uses demand pricing for admission. Parking is free.

American River Parkway and Discovery Park

Discovery Park is where the Sacramento River meets the American River. Find a 302-acre park with lots of space for picnicking, kite-flying or just running around. 

Pack the bikes and take a ride along the Jedediah Smith Bike Trail. The 32-mile paved and lined bike path is perfect for riders. 

Located at 1600 Discovery Highway. Open every day from dawn to dusk. Free but $6 to park. 

Sacramento Children’s Museum

Play while you learn is the motto at the Sacramento Children’s Museum. Find areas dedicated to babies and toddlers along with imagination areas, like Sal’s Flower Market, light play areas, and a bee hive. This is one of the best things to do in Sacramento with kids.

Located at 2701 Prospect Park Dr., Rancho Cordova. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. General admission is $9.50.

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Sacramento Farmers Market
Sacramento Farmers Market credit: Visit Sacramento

Sacramento Farmers Markets

Learn to be a locavore and walk through the stalls at a Sacramento farmers market. Thanks to nearby California’s Central Valley, see the rich agricultural heritage in a rainbow of colors. Often stocking produce too delicate for cross-country trips, find different varieties of fruit and vegetables. 

From May to October, the Capitol Mall Farmers Market is held on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Located in-between 5th and 6th streets at the Capitol Mall. Free to browse or grab a snack for later. 

The Midtown Farmers Market is held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1050 20th St., year-round.

Skate Parks in Sacramento 

Grab a board and a helmet for some outdoor fun at one of 13 Sacramento skate parks. Dotted across the area, kids who skate will want to drop in. 

  • Tanzanite Skate Park
  • Granite Skate Park
  • McClatchy Skate Park
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Splash Pads and Spray Parks in Sacramento

If the sun is blazing overhead and the kids are cranky, duck into one of Sacramento’s splash pads or spray parks. Check out several across the area.

  • Shasta Park
  • McClatchy Park 
  • Guero Park

Chinatown Mall in Sacramento

During the Gold Rush of the 1840s, Chinese immigrants moved to California. This area of Sacramento became a hub for Chinese residents. Find a Paifang Gate and the Confucius Temple along with retail shops.

Located between I and J Streets and 3rd and 5th Streets downtown. 

McKinley Rose Garden

Walk through a historic rose garden with 1,200 rose plants. It’s also one of 130 All-American Rose Selection Display Gardens across the U.S. 

Located at 601 Alhambra Blvd. Open daily from dusk to dawn. 

Visit the Capitol of California with kids and find lots of fun and adventure from learning about its Gold Rush past at several state park sites to the California State Capitol Park. There's stream trains to ride and the railroad musuem to explore as kids (and maybe adults) learn about the Transcontinental Railroad. Find lots of free things to do in Sacramento too along with top parks and much more. Top Things to do in Sacramento | Best Places to do in Sacramento with Kids #Sacramento #California Credit: Visit Sacramento

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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