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Guide to visiting Old Sacramento

The Complete Guide to Old Sacramento | 🛍️ What to Do in Old Sacramento [ Info, Tips, Data]

Last Updated on: 27th May 2024, 03:57 pm

Have you been searching for a fun and historic attraction in the Sacramento area? You should head down to Old Sacramento. Old Town Sacramento is a fun and exciting riverfront historic district featuring gold-rush-era buildings, cobblestone streets, wooden sidewalks, and horse-drawn carriages.

It’s also full of art galleries, museums, bars and restaurants, comedy clubs, parks, and so much more. The Old Sacramento waterfront offers breathtaking views, riverboat tours, paddle boats, and other fun activities.

So whether you’re interested in learning about the transcontinental railroad, looking to shop, or exploring the River City with your kids, you’ll find something to keep you entertained in the neighborhood. Here is a look at what to do in Old Sacramento.

Where Is Old Sacramento?

Old Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, is a neighborhood and historic district located between I-5 and the Sacramento River. It’s just west of downtown Sacramento and Southside Park and directly across the river from West Sacramento.

It’s also conveniently located between Tower Bridge and I Street Bridge, making it easy to navigate wherever you’re coming from. It’s also within walking distance from top attractions in Sacramento, such as the California State Capitol, Raley Field, and the Crocker Art Museum.

History of Old Sacramento

The history of Old Sacramento dates back to 1839 when a man named John Sutter established a settlement near the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, which he called Sutter Fort. The settlement grew and became permanent, attracting wealthy local businessmen. Sutter’s Fort became a major commercial center and exploded into Sacramento with the gold rush of 1848.

The city became a trading center for miners who needed clothing and equipment to work the gold fields. Many of Old Sacramento’s historic buildings were constructed during this period, and the neighborhood’s major attractions still pay homage to its past as a pivotal Gold Rush town.

When Was Old Town Sacramento Built?

Before Sacramento’s levee system was created, the area was prone to flooding. Over time, Sacramento’s main commercial district moved east, and the area known as Old Sacramento suffered from neglect and urban decay.

By the 1960s, it had become a dangerous and derelict area that was a common talking point for local politicians and civic leaders. In the same decade, plans began to materialize to convert Old Town Sacramento into a living history center, similar to Colonial Williamsburg.

Several historic buildings were preserved and reconstructed, while others that couldn’t be saved were demolished. In 1966, Old Sacramento was designated a National Historic Landmark District, which features 53 historic buildings within about 28 acres.

What Time Does Old Sacramento Open?

The area is open 24 hours per day, and residents can visit Old Sacramento, California, whenever they please. However, the district’s businesses, museums, and restaurants have their own specific hours of operation.

Most of the shops in Old Sacramento open around 10 am and close in the early evening. Most of the Old Town Sacramento restaurants are open for lunch and dinner, and some even provide after-hours entertainment.

The Old Sacramento State Historic Park is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm, seven days a week. So, if you’re searching for fun things to do in Old Sacramento, make sure to research the opening hours of the specific attraction you’re interested in.

What to Do in Old Sacramento? | Old Sacramento Shops, Attractions and Entertainment

Visitors will find a wide variety of fun things to do in Old Sacramento, from history museums to mini golf. There are more than 50 stores in Old Sacramento, CA, selling everything from jewelry to antiques and collectibles.

Threadeco is a trendy clothing boutique selling eco-friendly fashion. Movie buffs should check out Stage Nine Entertainment, a memorabilia store dedicated to cartoons, animations, movies, TV, and pop culture. The General Store is one of the most popular Old Sacramento stores and sells fun souvenirs and apparel to commemorate your trip.

The Old Sacramento Trading Post is another fun spot selling handcrafted gifts and products from local artisans. In addition to shopping, here is an in-depth look at what to do in Old Sacramento.

Old Sacramento State Historic Park

The historic park covers about one-third of the neighborhood and features several Gold Rush-era buildings, including the Eagle Theater, the BF Hastings Building, and the Big Four Building.

111 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 445-7387

Sacramento History Museum

Located within the historic park, the Sacramento History Museum is dedicated to documenting and interpreting the city’s history through interactive exhibits, images, artifacts, and more.

101 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 808-7059

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park is a pleasant green space along the riverfront with a 65-foot Ferris wheel, a carousel, and other kid-friendly attractions.

1240 Sacramento River Bike Trail, Sacramento, CA 95814

Atrium 916

Atrium 916 is an art gallery, cafe, and innovation space dedicated to promoting sustainability and creativity. With regular events, showcases, and networking events, it’s one of the best things to do in Old Sacramento, CA, for aspiring creatives.

1020 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 642-9415

Underground Mini Golf

Underground Mini Golf is a unique 18-hole miniature golf course with a gold-rush theme located in one of the underground tunnels beneath Sacramento.

1028 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 312-4142

Laughs Unlimited Comedy Club

Laughs Unlimited is a local staple that hosts established and well-known comedians and live music.

1207 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 446-8128

Old Sacramento Events & Experiences | Tours, Cruises and Christmas Events

In addition to permanent attractions, visitors can participate in some fun recurring events in old Sacramento. Here are a few regular events in Old Sac and things to do nearby.

City Cruises

City Cruises by Hornblower offers a 1.5-hour cocktail cruise of the Sacramento River with different packages available, including a history cruise with live narration by the captain.

1206 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 446-1185

 

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Excursion Train Rides

The California State Railroad Museum operates regular train excursions where you can chug along the Sacramento Southern Railroad behind an authentic Granite Rock No. 10 steam locomotive.

1050 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Old Sacramento Underground Tours

The local historical society offers regular Sacramento old-town underground tours. On these tours, you will explore the seedy underbelly of Old Sacramento and learn about the real-life rascals who frequented the area. You will also explore its Gold Rush-era saloons, gambling parlors, and theaters after dark.

101 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 808-7059

Theater of Lights

The Theater of Lights is a free Old Sacramento Christmas that includes a reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas from the rooftops of one of the area’s historic buildings.

1002 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Where to Eat in Old Sacramento | Old Town Sacramento Dining Options

If you’re feeling a bit peckish, you’ll find plenty of great restaurants in Old Sacramento, CA. There are more than 20 restaurants and bars in Old Sacramento serving everything from seafood to fine dining. Here are a few spots to check out in Old Town Sacramento for food.

V’s Paradise

V’s Paradise is a fine dining restaurant and premium steakhouse serving sophisticated menu items like Wagyu short rib and pan-seared duck breast.

1001 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 888-8800

Pilothouse Restaurant at the Delta King Hotel

If you’re looking for Sacramento restaurants on the river, Pilothouse at the Delta Bar and Hotel is an upscale eatery in a historic riverboat serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with amazing views of the water.

1000 Front St, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 441-4440

Honey and the Trap Cat

Honey and the Trap Cat is another great Old Sacramento bar and restaurant serving craft cocktails and classic American cuisine with a twist.

1023 Front St A, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 661-5852

Where to Park in Old Sacramento

Parking in Old Sacramento, CA, is often a concern. Two-hour metered parking is available all over Sacramento’s old town waterfront seven days a week from 10 am to 10 pm. Free parking is also available on select days during the holiday season.

You can also park in a surface-level lot between Front and L Streets, which is accessible through Firehouse Alley. Alternatively, there are two parking garages available.

The Old Sacramento Garage is on I-Street between 2nd and 3rd. The weekend prepay rate is $10 to $15 on Friday from 3 pm to close and all day Saturday and Sunday. Some businesses will even validate parking.

The Tower Bridge Garage is on Capital Blvd at Neasham Circle. Weekend prepay rates are $10-$15 on Friday and Saturday from 3 pm to close (Sunday as well if Monday is a holiday).

You can visit SacPark.org for more info on parking in downtown and old Sacramento.

Tips for Visiting Old Town Sacramento

  • Arrive as early as possible to find good parking, especially on days with popular old sac events.
  • Weekdays tend to be less crowded, although not all the popular events and tours will be running. The busiest days are Thursday afternoon through Sunday evening.
  • You can find a list of ATM locations and public restrooms on the official Old Sacramento website.

Planning a move to Sacramento? The experienced team of downtown Sacramento, CA Movers at Mother Lode Moving and Storage are at your service. Call (916) 631-4285 today for a free moving quote.

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