Situated more than 80 miles northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area in the interior of North Central California is Sacramento, the capital city of the state. Though the reign of the Governator has come and gone, this little heralded city has more to it than most people think.
It was at the heart of gold rush country, which brought many of this state’s first American and European immigrants in the mid 19th century, and it has a number of regionally and nationally significant museums and cultural landmarks. Before you head down the Pacific Coast Highway to SoCal, make a detour to Sacramento for a couple of days … you’ll be glad you did.
Being the oldest historical site of its kind that has been refurbished to its former glory, Sutter’s Fort is a piece of heritage from California’s gold rush days that people of all ages will enjoy. Serving as a trading and defense post for agricultural communities back in California’s pioneer days.
Artifacts and implements are on display for those wanting to know what life was like on the frontier in the early 19th century, as will living history actors and actresses, who are highly knowledgeable about the day to day realities of living in an isolated corner of America in those days.
While the history of the west coast would make for a substantially thinner book than the backstory of parts of America further east, the Crocker Art Museum is nonetheless one of the oldest art museums in the country. Founded in 1885, the Crocker specializes in the best visual art that Californians have created over the past couple of centuries, but it also has significant pieces from other parts of the world as well. Be sure to check out its collection of drawings and ceramics!
Fans of religious buildings to take the time out of their schedule to visit the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament when in Sacramento, as it is one of the largest cathedrals in the USA west of the Mississippi River. Modeled after The Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris by Sacramento’s first Catholic bishop, who had admired the aforementioned structure during his time in seminary, this structure sticks out from the more modest churches in the area with its ambitious stained glass windows and frescoes, making it well worth a short visit while you are in Sacramento’s downtown core.
One of Sacramento’s most popular attractions is the California State Railroad Museum, which pays homage to the rail-based transport network that broke California’s isolation from the rest of the nation.
The largest museum of its kind in all of North America, it draws more than a half million visitors per year to see its well-preserved collection of locomotives and railroad equipment, most of which dates back to the mid 19th century. 21 rail cars and locomotives from all periods of history can be found here, making this place a must-see for train nerds.
If you are more attuned to the mode of transportation that revolves around tires and asphalt, then California Automobile Museum will be a better option for you when you are in the Sacramento area. Being of the best examples in the world of car culture, as much of the growth in this state happened when the automobile was on the rise as the preferential transport option of the masses after World War II, this institution is an excellent place to get a background on something that so many people take for granted.
Gear heads will go crazy over the 160 muscle, classic, and race cars that are on display here, while those into more intellectual pursuits will love the in-depth panels on how this major 20th century innovation transformed the lives of so many people in America and around the world.
If you plan on traveling through the Sacramento area between mid to late July, be sure to check out the California State Fair, which is a festival that is held annually in this city. With a wide variety of midway rides, food and drink concessions (including the finest wines from the vineyards in the state), games and product demonstrations, it is the perfect way to have a fun-filled day in North Central California.