Last Updated on April 3, 2021 by Paroma
Are you a lover of street art and visiting Sacramento? Then you are in for a visual treat, because Sacramento is a treasure trove of jaw-dropping murals. I guarantee that these Sacramento murals and street art will brighten up your visit, so dive right into these post to discover over 50 such amazing murals in Sacramento that you must see!
SACRAMENTO MURALS: STREET ART SCENE IN CALIFORNIA’S CAPITAL
People visiting California often overlook its capital Sacramento, a mere 1.5 hours drive northeast from San Francisco which kind of feels like a world away from the Bay Area. Nestled right in the heart of California’s farmland (yes, the one responsible for your almonds, oranges and avocados), it is not surprising at all that this city has the largest number of farm to fork restaurants in the state (they even have a festival for it).
Sacramento dons many hats and being the legislative seat of power in the largest state of USA is just one of them. This underrated California winter getaway is also a dog friendly town and is close to Lake Tahoe (in the east) as well as Lodi (in the south), a tiny wine loving town is the Zinfandel capital of the world, which are perfect as day trips from Sacramento.
However, what really caught me off guard was the sheer number of murals all over the city (either hidden or in plain sight) that greeted us upon our second visit. I honestly did not know of this thriving mural scene that made my eyes pop out on several occasions-such was the scale and grandeur of Sacramento’s street art!
In this post, I am going to guide you to over 50 of such stunning Sacramento murals that we managed to unearth as we zipped around the city. From iconic to Instagram worthy street art in Sacramento, this post has you covered on some of the heavyweights around town.
There is a mural map to assist you at the very end as well as some cool background on public art policy, artists information (accompanying the murals wherever possible) and tips on how to get the most out of your Sacramento murals tour.
OPEN WIDE WALLS SACRAMENTO: AN UNPARALLELED STREET ART INITIATIVE
I am not kidding when I say that as a mural lover, you gotta visit Sacramento. This city is sitting on a treasure trove of murals, either tucked away in alleys or casually adorning the walls of businesses or cheering up plain old boring parking lots with their vivid colors.
It is impossible to escape a massive piece of street art in Sacramento, and the fact that the city is huge (compared to my tiny San Francisco) with mammoth empty public walls and spaces, only makes the setting more welcoming for gigantic murals to give the city skyline some joy de’ vivre!
As a street art enthusiast, I have been on several self guided and conducted mural tours in USA and abroad. Although I loved the murals in Austin and the dazzling array of street art in Marseille, the scale of murals in Sacramento is simply mind boggling!
The murals here are large, majestic and towering-you have to crane your neck up in wonder several times during your mural hunt! Another blessing is that unlike murals in Los Angeles (and now to my utter dismay in San Francisco too), murals are not defaced by tagging. So you will still see many of the old gems intact.
As you embark on your frenzied mural tour in Sacramento, it will dawn upon you very soon that the plethora of street art beckoning you from all corners is because of a long drawn, concerted effort to beautify public alleyways and empty spaces in the city. I am talking of Sacramento’s annual mural festival aka Wide Open Walls initiative which celebrates local artists with the firm belief that art should be accessible to all. The WOW website also has options for your own customized mural tour (they offer in-person tours too which were understandably cancelled in 2020) along with information on past murals and their locations + artists with the most recent 2020 artists lineup.
Much like in Art Basel of Miami or even the murals in Bushwick, Brooklyn, artists can apply to paint a wall during the WOW festival to be forever part of the city (we did find murals harking back to WOW 2017 in some places). Sacramento is the proud home of many local artists, several of whom such as Raphael Delgado and Maren Conrad have multiple murals all over the city (many covered in this guide).
TIPS ON GOING ON YOUR SELF GUIDED SACRAMENTO MURAL TOUR
I know you are dying to scroll down and see all those eye catching murals, but trust me this is the last helpful section that you need to read before you jump on to your own Sacramento street art tour. Here are some useful tips to help you get the most out of your own self-guided tour of Sacramento murals:
WHEN TO VISIT SACRAMENTO
Anytime of the year except summer when it is oppressively hot. I suggest late Fall/early Winter or Spring (Feb-March), which makes Sacramento a perfect winter getaway in California. You can also tag a visit to an Almond Orchard near Woodlands or Winters to see those precious white blooms that last for a short span from mid February to mid March.
HOW TO SEE THE MURALS IN SACRAMENTO
Although Sacramento is a much bigger city compared to San Francisco, most murals are located in midtown and downtown. Sacramento streets are wide enough for you to walk around easily for mural hunting. The best way to hop from one neighborhood to another is still by car but you can also use public transit. We drove from San Francisco to Sacramento (takes 1.5-2 hrs depending on traffic) and had our own car. Parking is pretty easy in Sacramento (compared to San Francisco) with free street parking for up to 2 hours!
BEST TIME OF THE DAY TO SEE SACRAMENTO MURALS
Weekend early mornings work the best because of less traffic and obstruction by Instagram hungry crowds. Needless to say, the light is also perfect to capture the murals (nothing like a good mural being ruined by harsh shadows cast during the day).
A SELF GUIDED TOUR OF SACRAMENTO MURALS AND STREET ART
And now, without further ado, here is the self guided tour of Sacramento murals that you’ve been waiting for. Many of these murals were painted during the Wide Open Walls festivals of the past years. I have grouped the murals of Sacramento by location (downtown, midtown etc.) for your convenience. I have also included artist information wherever possible. If you spot an honest mistake or something that I may have left out unintentionally, do let me know!
MURALS IN DOWNTOWN SACRAMENTO
Downtown Sacramento has murals lined up along I and J streets and all over DOCO (Downtown Commons) which is a giant open air mall. Here are some of my favorites:
LADY GAGA MURAL (2017 Wide Open Walls)
Location: 1120 7th Street (Golden 1 Center)
Artist: Christina Angelina
This iconic mural of Lady Gaga in Sacramento is to be seen to be believed! Despite the ongoing construction at the Golden Center 1, we managed to view this towering mural with bold strokes painted by Christina Angelina, a renowned graffiti artist from Venice, Los Angeles.
MOTHER AND CHILD (Wide open Walls)
Location: DOCO, 6th and L streets (above 555 Parking lot)
Artist: Raphael Delgado
Raphael Delgado is one of the most acclaimed artists of Sacramento with many of his murals scattered all over the city. His style is distinctive with clean, geometric lines and bold, vivid colors.
Location: Elevator next to Estrella Patisserie in DOCO
Artist: Kristin Farr
GODDESS OF SACRAMENTO
Location: Insomnia Cookies (DOCO)
Artist: Charmaine Olivia
Location: Alley next to Church of Scientology of Sacramento, 1007 6th St
Artist: John Pugh
John Pugh is a muralist, whose lifelike work I’ve seen in Santa Fe as well. This particular mural is named “Do No Harm” and contrary to its image, depicts the love/union between a California King Snake named Everett and Lois, a California Mountain Kingsnake.
PRINCESS LEIA (2018, Wide Open Walls)
Location: 710 J Street
Artist: Pixel Pancho (Instagram)
If you’re a mural enthusiast, chances are that you’ve seen at least one of Pixel Pancho’s work, i.e. gigantic murals depicting his love for sci-fi with human elements and pop culture. Here is the complete works of this celebrated Italian artist, beautifying empty walls all over the world with his quirky art.
HAPPY DOG (2019 Wide open walls)
Location: 730 I street (side wall)
Artist: Megan Flaherty
This was such a happy mural! I loved this goober face and the pink background that gave a much needed a pop of color to an otherwise drab wall of another downtown building
MURALS BETWEEN J AND I STREETS (Wide Open Walls)
Location: 917 7th Street (7th Street and Improv Alley)
There are some brilliant murals between J and I streets along the wall of Seventh Street Exchange and beyond. Themes extend from Civil Right Icon John Lewis with his arms locked in Black Panther style (artist: Lee Mccormick), Mommy Orangutan with baby depicting the destruction of Palm forests (artist: Artur Bordalo), Lady amidst butterflies and flowers (artist: Madelyne Joan Templeton-we drove by her other mural in Sacramento), ladies jiving to music (artist: Brandon Alexander) giant bugs dueling it out (artist: Phlegm) and The Falconer by San Francisco’s very own Mel Waters who painted the famous Carlos Santana mural in the Mission district, one of the best photo spots in San Francisco.
Location: 629 J Street
Across the street stands “The Bank” a food court which looks very much like its namesake, aka a bank, but with some amazing murals on its front and side walls and a very quirky banana sculpture taped to its exterior. The Rabbit with a Martini along with the playful racoon bandits by Southern California based artist Brett Crawford where fun but the one on Mental Health by Norman Ayles struck a chord with me.
SACRAMENTO MASONIC TEMPLE MURALS (Wide Open Walls)
Location: 1123 J street
Whatever you do, do not miss these four larger than life murals by celebrated muralists from USA and Europe. Maren Conrad and Tavar Zawacki’s murals face the street but you should not stop there. Walk down into the plaza and towards 921 11th street to see the other two stunning murals in Sacramento.
POPPIES MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 15th and L street (Residence Inn Marriott lobby entrance
Artist: Anthony Padilla (Kinetik Ideas)
EAGLE AND SNAKE MURAL
Location: parking lot next to 619 12th street
Artist: Raphael Delgado
BEETS AND TOMATOES MURAL
Location: 1425 C Street
Artist: Anthony Padilla (Kinetik Ideas)
This was one of the many murals of Sacramento native Anthony Padilla, aka Kinetic Ideas that we got to admire during our visit. This mural was commissioned on the wall of a building designated to be a food incubator/food factory in Sacramento- a dedicated space for food entrepreneurs trying to launch their own brands and businesses.
Next to this mural, are two more colorful busts-dog and man (artist: Senkoe)
LORA ZOMBIE MURAL (Wide Open Walls 2017)
Location: 1301 R Street/1729 13th St
Artist: Lora Zombie (Russia)
GIRL WITH BEAR CUBS
Location: R street (across from Lora Zombie)
Known for their gigantic murals worldwide depicting tender images of children and animals to showcase the plight of humanity, this eye catching mural of a little girl surrounded by bear cubs has a poignant quote by Nelson Mandela next to it which is: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”.
WOMAN WITH FLYING HAIR MURAL
Location: 1807 13th Street
Artist: David de la Mano (Uruguay)
BEATNIK STUDIOS MURAL
Location: 723 S Street
Artist: Jose di Gregorio
CONVERSE SNEAKERS MURAL
Location: 1322 V street (wall adjacent to Urban Roots Brewery and Smokehouse)
Urban roots brewery has its very own super fun mural sprawling across its white wall on the patio. The mural is by Lily Therens, an art director, designer and illustrator based in Sacramento.
DANCE GAVIN DANCE MURAL
Location: 2130 16th street
This mural is an ode to Sacramento’s very own rock band by the same name. I legit thought it had something to do with California’s Governor Gavin Newsom (hahaha).
MIDTOWN SACRAMENTO MURALS
Midtown is right next to downtown and is brimming with some of the best, brightest and largest murals in Sacramento. I’ve tried to group them as much as possible for easy navigation because many of these Sacramento street art are next to each other. Here are some of my favorites:
LADY BIRD MURAL
Location: Avis Rental (901 16th street)
Artist: Maren Conrad
Just another run of the mill tiny car rental office in Sacramento is home to one of the most Instagram worthy murals in Sacramento, i.e. Lady Bird by artist Maren Conrad based on the movie by the same name set in this city. The mural draws inspiration from the movie poster with a stylistic take on Saoirse Ronan’s side profile and some blackbirds for company.
Location: Parking lot across from Sacramento Memorial Auditorium (1515 J Street)
This is actually a long stretch of three murals, but I liked the bright red tiger the most
ANDY WARHOL/FRIDA KAHLO MURAL
Location: Parking lot wall next to business at 1624 J Street
Again, there are three colorful busts here, but the parking lot was closed, and besides Frida Kahlo, all I could recognize was Andy Warhol’s blank stare.
SLEEPING GIRL WITH ADORABLE PANDAS MURAL
Location: Burgers and Brew Parking lot (1616 J street)
SLEEPING TIGER MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1730 L St
WOMAN AND WATERFALL
Location: 1730 L street (opposite the Nosego mural)
Artist: Anthony Padilla (Kinetik Ideas)
JOHNNY CASH MURAL
Location: Public House Downtown (1132 16th Street)-best viewed from the parking lot across the street
Artist: Shepard Fairey
Contemporary American artist Shepard Fairey earned lifelong fame with his iconic poster of President Obama titled “Hope” which became a symbol of his presidential campaign in 2008. Since then Fairey has moved on to paint many a bold and beautiful murals and political street art, including those of famous figures. San Francisco is lucky to have several of his murals, including that of Cesar Chavez in Hayes Valley. This gigantic 15 storey Sacramento mural of Johnny Cash towering over downtown was created by Fairey in 2018 to commemorate 50th anniversary of the singer’s “At Folsom Prison” album.
KUMBAYA MOMENT MURAL
Location: 1814 28th street (parking lot wall)
Artist: Bryan Valenzuela
PLANTS AND FLOWERS MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 2820 R street
Artist: Raphael Delgado
LADY WITH A VASE OF FLOWERS (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1403 19th St
Artist: Shonna McDaniels
DOUBLE SKULLS MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1517 21st St
Artist: Lin Fei Fei
GIRLS MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1517 21st St (go behind the skulls mural to see this one)
Artist: Paola Delfín (Mexico City)
CALIFORNIA BEAR AND STAR (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1413 21st St
Artist: Raphael Delgado
The famous California bear is the symbol of our state and adorns our state flag. I loved this mural and its geometric appeal.
BETTY INADA MURAL
Location: 2011 I street
Sacramento’s very own Betty Inada (1913-2001) moved to Japan with aspirations to be an actress after realizing that she couldn’t be so in her own country due to her ethnicity (a problem that still continues to haunt the very whitewashed Hollywood). Turns out that her move was a solid cause, as she became the most famous pre-World War II female jazz singer in Japan.
PSYCHEDELIC FACES MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 2020 I street
Artist: John Horton
The opposite wall has a mural of a wide-eyed woman with flowers, the signature creation of Ursula Young whose murals can be seen all over San Francisco.
Midtown Sacramento is not only known for its murals but also good eats and an amazing craft brewery scene. These particular murals are pretty close to each other at and around the MARRS building and can be seen in one go.
FEW AND FAR WOMEN MURAL (Wide open Walls, 2019)
Location: 930 20th street
Artists: Ursula Young, Nico, Beth Emmerich and Avana
We women still have a long way to go (with few and far women breaking the glass ceiling in society) but this badass mural screamed Boss Lady and was had the building in wraps.
MAREN CONRAD MURAL (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1050 20th St (side of MARRS building)
Artist: Maren Conrad
This is one of the most Instagram famous murals of Sacramento and is massive! Arrive early to avoid pesky Instagram hungry crowds.
GIRL AND WOMAN MURALS
Location: 2000 K street (parking lot behind Faces nightclub)
PORCH RESTAURANT AND BAR MURALS (Wide open Walls)
Location: 1815 K street
Artists: Leticia Mandragora, Ilse Valfre, Roy Gonzalez
You have to see these three fantastic Sacramento murals filled with color and whimsy!
SACRAMENTO WATERFRONT MURALS
We saw three beautiful murals adorning the walls of the California Automobile museum on Front street (2200 Front street). One was a long California mural, with each alphabet of the state name created by a separate artist (as part of the Wide Open Walls initiative). The other two were vintage automobile themed. I especially liked the pop artsy mural featuring the vintage cars.
SACRAMENTO MURALS MAP FOR A SELF GUIDED STREET ART TOUR
As promised, here is the handy murals map of Sacramento street art for your self guided tour of these 50+ dazzling murals. Enjoy responsibly and thank you so much for reading this post on finding the best murals in Sacramento. This list will keep on growing with future visits, so please keep an eye on this space.
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