Home Americas Exploring California’s Capital City: A Guide to Sacramento

Exploring California’s Capital City: A Guide to Sacramento

written by ParoChak December 9, 2015

Visit Sacramento California travel fall capitol

VISIT SACRAMENTO

Why should you visit Sacramento? Let me convince you right here, right now. Sacramento, the capital of California, is also perhaps the least talked city in the state. Almost everyone thinks that glory belongs to either San Francisco or Los Angeles and then there are those who wonder what is really over there to see, judging by the reactions of folks everywhere when we announced our plan of spending the Thanksgiving Break in the capital. You cannot be a true Californian unless you get a glimpse of the Capitol building, plus the 2 hr drive is a huge bonus for our family with a driver of one. Last, but definitely not the least, Sacramento is pretty pooch friendly and so we wanted to give Babu a break from SF’s din and bustle and give him some other sites to pee and sniff his heart out. So with our curiosity getting better of us for the capital of which no one seems to know or care much, we decided to chug upwards and explore Governor Brown’s territory over Thanksgiving, i.e. visit Sacramento.

Sacramento California travel fall
Sacramento California travel fall dogs
Sacramento California travel fall

VISIT SACRAMENTO: THE DRIVE UP

Once you leave the bustle of San Francisco and the elegance of wine country behind, a major change in scenery awaits you as you pass through California’s heartland, aka farmland. Dixon is the major city followed by Davis (of Birkenstock and UC Davis fame) and then you hit Sacramento. The city is way bigger than our tiny 49 square miles and very sprawled out. There is a stoic silence about it with the Sacramento river meandering through and providing a very scenic, leafy walkway along it. We stayed at a very budgeted, pet friendly hotel chain (La Quinta-a step above Motel 6 and pets stay for free), with the one redeeming factor being its location, i.e. close to the river. We had a wonderful evening stroll there and Babu barked his heart out at the one drone hovering above and the occasional steamer passing by. We saw some lovely fall colors and walked along the bridge for some time till the sun set. Its pretty chilly in the capital around this time of the year, so if you do visit Sacramento, remember to bundle up.

Sacramento California travel fall
Sacramento California travel fall

The evening ended with dinner at Mother, a Sacramento favorite for vegetarians and vegans (the menu is completely meat free). It was very cold outside and so we sat inside with Babu (in his blankie, bed, food and water) in the car a block away. One cannot and should not leave their pets in the hotel room and so this was the best compromise that we made. We had a lovely, tad hurried meal (I get very anxious when Babu is not with us in a new place) and enjoyed the home tap Kombucha, salad, Pasta, chilaquiles and truffles thoroughly. Some portions, such as my pasta, can be on the smaller side so please order a few things off the menu to share. We got back to our car, took Babu out on a stroll to the Capital Mall and I managed to get a few night time photos of our beautiful Capitol building, looking regal with the night lights. We retired to bed tired, still brimming with curiosity as to what the city had to offer.

Sacramento California travel fall

VISIT SACRAMENTO: DAY 2

Morning shows the day and a great breakfast makes everything OK, I say:-) A flexitarian (not big on meat any more but will eat if need be) with a vegetarian by my side, I always try to look for vegetarian or vegan friendly places during travel so that we stay light and agile and are not bogged down by excessive meat eating. It is a personal preference, i.e, trying to eat healthy while traveling and so we scouted out this amazing breakfast place named “Orphan Breakfast House” (no heart breaking story involved in the naming here here, just their nod to the Orphan business venture which is not part of the mega retail chains) which is a local favorite, has a heated patio, is pet friendly and open 7 days a week!

Sacramento California travel fall

Post breakfast, we headed out to explore Sacramento old Town, which is perhaps the most touristy part of the city. Old Town Sacramento has several of attractions, horse drawn carriages, restaurants and shops and we got a glimpse of the old railroads and train carriages as we strolled by and walked along the tracks.

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Old Town Sacramento definitely had the settings of a Spaghetti western with some New Orleans nostalgia thrown in. The wooden walkways, the quirky boutiques (all locally and independently owned) selling antiques, costumes and souveniors plus the small cafes and eateries scattered all over reminded be of NOLA and San Diego Old Town in bits and pieces. As per the website, this stretch also doubles as a 28-acre National Historic Landmark District with a State Historic Park along the beautiful Sacramento River. What made it even more charming was the river flowing nearby and so we decided to descend to the banks where quite a few ferry ships/boats had laid anchor. But before that, we ventured out to the tracks adjacent to the The California State Railroad Museum Foundation, the star attraction of Old Town.

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

The railroad stations were built during the 1920s and although one of the structures in no longer operational, the Southern Pacific station continues to be in service and is still a popular mode of transportation within the state of California. For more information on the train stations of Sacramento and their evolution, read here. We walked along the tracks like many others but did not visit the museum because we were traveling with Babu. We finally walked down the ramp leading to the river, with the Ziggurat looming over us. As per Wikipedia, “the Ziggurat is a ten-story, stepped pyramidal office building and adjacent 5 story concrete parking structure located at 707 3rd Street in West Sacramento, California on the shore of the Sacramento River. Designed to resemble the ancient Mesopotamian ziggurats, the building was built by The Money Store in 1997 and is currently leased by the California Department of General Services (DGS). It is the headquarters to DGS.” The two canary yellow structures of the bridge, kind of resembling the Golden Gate Bridges arches, but standing in the middle of the bridge, were visible from way afar and are another familiar sight in the Sacramento skyline.

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

After old town, we drove towards the Riverside boulevard and stopped by to spend some time walking on a bike road along the river.It was the perfect fall afternoon, crisp air,foliage burnished in different hues and mounds of dry leaves to play in and get the perfect “fall shot”. A nice tranquil contrast to the crowds of old Town, we really enjoyed our afternoon stroll. Post walking, which left us pretty hungry, we stopped by Nobel vegetarian, an outlet of the famous Vegetarian House of san Jose, that serves vegan /vegetarian food to Sacramentians in a tiny strip mall.

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Lunch was followed by extreme food induced coma/slump and the only cure for it was to spend some quality time doing nothing in our hotel room with a worn out Babu snoring away to glory. We decided to take things slow and got some food to go from the famous Chando’s Tacos by which everyone in Sacramento swears by! And, day two, thus was a wrap!

Sacramento California travel fall

VISIT SACRAMENTO: DAY 3

Day three was time to head home and so we decided to finish up what was left to see of our “visit Sacramento” trip, i.e. the most important of all, the Capitol building and bid goodbye. Breakfast started off on a delicious note at Capitol Garage, a funky cafe in downtown and then we headed off to the Capitol Mall to see our legislative building in daylight.

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

The Capitol building stood tall and proud, beautifully adorned by holiday decorations with a Christmas tree in front. Although S was of the opinion that the Vermont Capitol looked more fetching with its golden dome, I defended the beauty of ours like a rabid Californian. The garden surrounding the capital was bursting with yellow roses and there were sombre statues of those who have sacrificed their lives to keep the citizens of this nation safe. Babu and S were pretty nonchalant in their own ways, but I felt a wave of poignancy rushing over me looking at the building which symbolizes what California stands for because within its wombs are policies made that shape our beautiful, progressive state. I looked at the street ad banners which proudly proclaimed “We are all Californians”; truer words were never more spoken. California embraces everyone, as it did me. I am so lucky to have found my home here.

Sacramento California travel fall

Sacramento California travel fall

After numerous photos from all possible angles, and Babu having peed in every corner, we decided to bid Sacramento adieu. We skipped the California Museum because of our pooch but decided to stop by Chinatown after we spotted it’s entrance gate. China town did not seem very enticing (plus we have our very own in San Francisco which is the largest in North America) and so we headed south to get home before it got crazy on the road. We stopped by Sonoma for lunch (read my dog-friendly dining post here) and then reached San Francisco by early evening. Overall, a thanksgiving break well spent and although Sacramento has a very different temperament than its more popular counterparts, it is well worth visiting once to know more about our beautiful state and its origins. It is dog friendly and has several parks and many dining spots with outdoor seating and therefore enjoyable for your four legged friend too.  Here are some other resources for a dog-friendly vacation in Sacramento:

1)http://dogtrekker.com/Destination/Sacramento_Capital_City

2)http://www.bringfido.com/restaurant/city/sacramento_ca_us/

3)http://www.bringfido.com/attraction/city/sacramento_ca_us/

4)http://www.bringfido.com/lodging/city/sacramento_ca_us/

5)http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-dog-friendly-dining/

Sacramento California travel fall

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25 comments

Heather Wallace September 1, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Beautiful photos as always. I haven’t been to Sacramento for ages and this makes me want to go back!

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Kristen @ My 3 Little Kittens September 1, 2017 at 10:30 pm

I absolutely LOVE your photos!!! I got the chance to visit San Francisco for my 30th birthday, but never made it to Sacramento. I definitely love that it is dog friendly!!!! LOVE THE CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!

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Densie September 2, 2017 at 12:10 am

I am a Cali girl and still live here. I really enjoyed hearing someone else’s view of our Capital City. Your photos/filter are beautiful. Walking the bike path along the river is one of our favorite things to do!

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Rebecca at MattieDog September 2, 2017 at 12:54 am

Your drive up to Sacramento looked just as lovely as the city itself! Love that you share all of the great places you visit and you make them all come alive with the colorful and expressive photos! The walk on the path was just so soothing – that’s what I feel when I take in your posts, very soothed! Thank you for sharing!

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Shelby Gottschalk September 2, 2017 at 2:21 am

Another lovely place you’ve visited. And more lovely pictures! 🙂 Glad you guys had a good time. Thank you for sharing your experience, so I can pretend I came. HA!

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Tenacious Little Terrier September 2, 2017 at 4:18 am

I admit I’ve never really thought of Sacramento as a tourist destination. But your post looks like it’s worth checking out! I’ve only been to the more “flashier” cities in California.

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Happy-Go-Doodle September 2, 2017 at 4:43 am

What beautiful photos! The pictures you captured of the fall foliage really tell the story of your adventures. What a happy journey you had!

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Alix Mitchell September 2, 2017 at 11:43 am

I’ve never been to California, and I’ll admit I’ve never heard much about Sacramento. It looks like a lovely and historic place! I love scenic drives, so that’s definitely an added bonus!

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Hindy Pearson September 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm

I’ve been to San Francisco and San Jose, but that’s all I’ve seen of California. Sacramento does look lovely and your pictures are gorgeous. I just spoke to a long lost friend of mine yesterday who lives in California. I’m going to ask her if she’s ever been, because if not I think she’d enjoy it. Thanks11

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Kitty Cat Chronicles September 2, 2017 at 3:21 pm

What a wonderful trip! I love all the photos. If looks like fall is a beautiful time to visit. I’ve never been to California before, but my husband and I were just talking about wanting to make a trip and travel up the whole state, hitting the must-see places. We’ll have to add Sacramento to the list!

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Stephanie Seger September 2, 2017 at 7:18 pm

It looks like you guys had so much fun in Sacramento. Based on your post, I think I would just go there for the food! Yum! I love the picture with the food coma! Too cute!

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Debbie September 2, 2017 at 7:29 pm

It looks like Sacramento has a little bit of everything. Nature, history, architecture, shopping, and what looks like delicious food. What a fun trip.

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Cathy Armato September 2, 2017 at 9:48 pm

I feel so foolish, I didn’t know Sacramento was Cali’s capital either, LOL! I lived right next door in Arizona for almost 10 years and traveled to Cali a lot. It’s funny, people are like that with New York, they assume New York City is the capital, but it’s not. Albany is the capital, and believe it or not, I’m born & raised in NY but I’ve never been to Albany either! Great photos, I pinned this to my Pet Travel board.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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Sweet Purrfections September 3, 2017 at 1:37 am

I’ve never visited Sacramento. It looks so beautiful and I love the architecture of the state capitol building. I’ve been to San Diego, LA, and San Francisco on my travels, but have missed this beautiful city.

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Wanda September 3, 2017 at 6:23 pm

I was surprised at how turn of the previous century it was. It struck me like some midwestern towns. Gorgeous.

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Paul Kirhagis September 3, 2017 at 7:44 pm

I always really enjoy browsing through your photos, are they edited or do you use a filter or something?

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ParoChak September 3, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Hi Paul, I use VSCO filters during post processing. Thank you for stopping by!

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Irene McHugh September 3, 2017 at 8:07 pm

Whole-heatedly appreciate and agree with your observations about progressive California. It’s so good to see this beautiful Capital building featured, and I’m glad the city is so pet friendly. Also, didn’t know LaQuinta allowed pets to stay free. I love these tidbits I keep learning.

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The Dash Kitten Crew September 3, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I have never been to Sacramento, although it is a name I am familiar with! I love the pictures too its almost like being there myself.

Thank you for a wonderful tour!!

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Jana Rade September 3, 2017 at 11:10 pm

So many great places to visit, so little time. I hope you had a wonderful time

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Bryn Nowell September 5, 2017 at 3:05 am

What a great post! I’ve never been to Sacramento but I hope to now that I’ve read your post. Thanks for sharing your experiences and photos!

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Talent Hounds September 5, 2017 at 8:58 am

I have never been to Sacramento so I really enjoyed hearing about your trip with Babu. Great pictures really bring it alive thanks. Made me hungry too.

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Karen September 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm

I’ve heard good things about Sacramento, and this post confirms what I’d heard! Being vegan, I really like the fact you included so many vegan dining options. Sounds like Babu enjoyed himself. I am hoping to explore California next year, and definitely want to include Sacramento! Thanks for sharing this info!

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Beth September 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

I’ve never been to Sacramento, but it looks like a great place to visit. It seems like you found a lot of great places to dine while you were there!

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Jessica Shipman | Beagles & Bargains September 6, 2017 at 3:33 am

I haven’t ever been to Sacramento, but will definitely be adding it to my to visit list! We just moved to Colorado from Virginia, so we’ll definitely be exploring more of the western half of the US now that we’re out this way!

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