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9 Best Sacramento Museums | Sacramento Train Museum, Children’s Museum & More!

Visiting or moving to Sacramento? One of the best things to do in the city is spending an afternoon at one of the many Sacramento museums. As the capital of California, Sacramento offers a rich history to explore as well as some of the best children’s museums in the state.

Here are the nine best museums in Sacramento you’ll want to explore as a visitor or new resident!

SAC Free Museum Day

If you’re a new Sacramento resident, make sure you mark the calendar for Sacramento Free Museum Day! For 2022, Sacramento Museum Day was Free Museum Weekend on March 5 and March 6. It’s usually in February or March of each year.

To participate, you must register in advance through the Sacramento Area Museum (SAM) Free Days site.

24 participating museums offer free admission to a limited number of people who pre-register. Some museums make their entire occupancy available for free museum days in Sacramento; others offer a number of free tickets with the remainder available for full price.

Visit a free museum in Sacramento during the event and enjoy discounts at participating restaurants, free rides on SacRT, Amtrak discounts, and more!

SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity (MOSAC) – Kid-Friendly Sacramento Science Museum

SMUD MOSAC is one of the newest Sacramento museums and fun for kids and adults alike. The Sacramento discovery museum features interactive exhibits plus summer and after-school programs all designed to spark imagination and curiosity about engineering, science, technology, math, and art.

There are more than 100 exhibits in several galleries like Health Headlines, Powering Change, Water Challenge, Design Lab, Destination Space, Nature Detectives, and Building Sacramento.

SMUD MOSAC is home to the Sacramento planetarium theater with feature films and star shows!

 

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SMUD Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: SMUD Museum of Science & Curiosity, 400 Jibboom St, Sacramento, CA 95811
  • Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm
  • Admission: $15 for adults; $13 for seniors (65+); $13 for military, students, and teachers; $12 for kids (2 to 17)
  • SMUD museum parking: MOSAC parking is operated by the City of Sacramento. Parking is $6/day.

Sacramento Children’s Museum – Interactive Children’s Museum in Rancho Cordova Designed for Kids 0-8

The SAC children’s museum is one of the top Sacramento kids activities. One of several kids museums in Sacramento, this discovery center in Rancho Cordova was designed specifically for kids from birth through 8 years.

You’ll find dozens of interactive exhibits like the augmented reality sandbox, a community canvas, Mr. Noodles Bee Hive, the imagination playground, the Sparky’s Light Wall, and the popular Giant Lite Bright. The Sacramento discovery museum also offers regular programs and events like Dia de Los Muertos at SCM and Trick or Treat at SCM. It’s the best place to trick or treat in Sacramento!

The Rancho Cordova children’s museum participates in Museums for All with $2 admission fees for families receiving SNAP benefits.

Sacramento Children’s Museum Hours & Location

Crocker Art Museum – Sacramento Art Museum with A Massive Collection of Californian Art & International Ceramics

The Crocker Art Museum is one of the best museums in SAC for art lovers, especially if you appreciate ceramics and Californian art. Founded in 1885, this Sacramento museum is the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi!

The Crocker Museum is known for its international ceramics collections of Oceanic, African, and Asian art and it has one of the largest collections of Californian art in the state. The core Californian collection was assembled by Judge E. B. Crocker and his wife Margaret in the 1870s with many pieces by Charles Nahl, known for his detailed depictions of the California Gold Rush.

Along with its art collection, the downtown art museum offers studio art classes and special events like art auctions and the annual red carpet Crocker Ball.

Crocker Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St, Sacramento, CA 95814
  • Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 10 am to 5 pm
  • Admission: $15 for adults; $10 for seniors, students, and military; $8 for kids 6 to 17; free for members and kids 5 and under. The 3rd Sunday of every month is Pay What You Wish Sunday. This Sacramento free museum day requires reservations in advance.

California State Capitol Museum – Free Sacramento Museum at the State Capitol

The seat of government for California, the California State Capitol is home to the chambers for the California State Legislature and the governor’s office.

Currently closed for tours due to COVID-19, the California State Capitol is normally open to the public with many preserved historic museum rooms and exhibits. Visitors should note the statutes at the west entrance, the two large murals, and the portraits of former governors going back to 1879.

The grounds of the Capitol Park also offer plenty to do. There are dozens of memorials, commemorative seals, and statutes on the grounds, the World Peace Rose Garden, the Camelia Grove, and heritage trees once thought extinct.

California State Capitol Museum Hours & Location

Leland Stanford Museum State Historic Park – Historic Sacramento Victorian Mansion Open to the Public

The Leland Stanford Mansion is a must-see for fans of architecture and history and should be part of any California mansions tour. After a $22 million restoration that took 14 years to complete, the 19,000-square-foot mansion is now open to the public.

The mansion was built in 1856 by Sheldon Fogus, a Gold Rush merchant. It was purchased and remodeled by Leland Stanford, Governor of California from 1862 to 1863 and president of the Central Pacific Railroad.

Explore the 19th-century style gardens and marvel at the mansion’s restored woodwork, gilded mirrors, carved moldings, 17-foot ceilings, and historic paintings with the Stanford’s original furnishings.

Leland Stanford Museum Hours & Location

Sacramento History Museum – Take a Sacramento Underground Tour!

Located in Old Sacramento next to the California State Railroad Museum and Sacramento River, the Sac History Museum is one of the most unique activities in the city.

The museum offers many exhibits including traveling exhibits that explore the history of Sacramento and California. The Sacramento History Museum offers fun Sacramento summer camp programs for kids like the Gold Rush Camp with historic dress-ups and gold science experiments.

The most popular attraction is the Old Sacramento Underground Tour of the Sacramento underground tunnels. Tickets are $22 for adults. You can also try the Underground After Hours tour, an adults-only tour option that covers murder and crime during the Gold Rush era and tours houses of ill-fame, theaters, gaming halls, and saloons. Paranormal enthusiasts love the Sacramento ghost tours offered by the history museum. The Old Sacramento ghost tour visits historic and spooky areas not open to the public with the museum’s paranormal equipment.

Sacramento History Museum Hours & Location

Sutter’s Fort & California State Indian Museum – Living History Museum in Sacramento

Sutter’s Fort, found in the Sutter District of Midtown Sacramento, is the site of a sprawling 19th century trading and agricultural colony originally called New Helvetia by the builder John Sutter. Sutter’s Fort was the destination of the doomed Donner Party. It also played an integral role in the California Gold Rush and the formation of Sacramento.

Today, Sutter’s Fort is a living museum. There’s a museum store with gifts operated by the Friend’s of Sutter’s Fort.

The state park is also home to the California State Indian Museum which honors the land as the homeland of the Nisenan people who were treated cruelly and enslaved by Sutter after he claimed their land as his own.

The Indian Museum store features the region’s largest collection of California Indian books, Native-made items, and more.

California State Indian Museum Hours & Location

California State Railroad Museum – Kid-Friendly Sacramento Train Museum with Railroad Rides

Part of the California State Parks system, this California railroad museum is popular with the young and young at heart. It’s located in the Old Sacramento State Historic Park and features more than 20 restored railroad cars and locomotives, the oldest of which dates to 1862! Learn about the history of the railway in California, early railroad workers, and more through artifacts, large-scale models, and interactive displays. Next to the museum is a reconstructed 1870’s Central Pacific Railroad freight depot and passenger station with historic equipment. It’s one of the largest and oldest train museums in California!

One of the highlights of a visit to the Sacramento railroad museum? Excursion train rides! The Sacramento train rides are 50 minutes roundtrip along the Sacramento River on weekends from March through September. Coach tickets are free for members, $8 for kids 6 to 17, and $15 for adults. First-class tickets are $9 to $12 for members and $18 to $25 for the general public.

During the holidays, make sure you take the Polar Express train ride. The Sacramento Polar Express is one of the best things to do in Sacramento with kids – each passenger receives a sleigh bell and hot chocolate plus the chance to meet Santa! A Polar Express ticket is $45 to $70 per person.

California State Railroad Museum Hours & Location

Aerospace Museum of Sacramento – 40+ Historic Aircraft & Traveling Exhibits at the Former McClellan Air Force Base

The Sacramento aircraft museum is a nonprofit in North Highlands on the grounds of the former McClellan Air Force Base. One of the top Sacramento attractions for history and aviation enthusiasts, the museum features a 40,000-square-foot exhibit hall with 40+ historic rockets and aircraft plus hundreds of artifacts, a 4-acre Air Park, traveling exhibits, and interactive STEM exhibits for all ages.

The Aerospace Museum of California offers fun events and activities throughout the year like Amelia Bearhart’s Storytime and Crafts for kids, Star Wars Open Cockpit Day, and their popular Flying into the Fourth celebration on the 4th of July. Enjoy free admission with Sacramento plane museum membership – just $100 for families or $85 for individuals.

Aereospace Museum Sacramento Hours & Location

Map of Museums in Sacramento

Now you’re ready for a fun and educational day at one of the many museums in Sacramento, CA! If you’re exploring museums near your new neighborhood and planning a move, Mother Lode Van & Storage is ready to help. Give us a call for a free Sacramento moving estimate and top-notch customer care!

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