If you have a vague idea of Sacramento as the heartbeat of California’s state government and an agricultural hub, it’s time to take a closer look. The city has a Mediterranean climate and sits at the meeting point of the American and Sacramento rivers, so you’ll find beaches and waterfront scenery right in town. The destination also has a burgeoning culinary and cocktail scene, chic places to sleep, museums as well as all sorts of sporty activities. Here are some specific things to explore upon your next visit:
The Citizen Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Sacramento vie for the title as the hippest places to stay in the city. Both have spacious rooms with expansive showers, Wi-Fi and flat-screen televisions. The Citizen was once a tony office building, but in 2009, the Joie de Vivre hospitality brand renovated it into a stylish boutique property that included the modern California restaurant Grange. The rooms have a classic décor accented by pinstripes, herringbone plaid and black-and-white political cartoons. Even the elevators are inscribed with cheeky political quips like George Patton’s “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Just across the street from the Capitol sits the Hyatt Regency. After an extensive renovation two years ago, the lobby and rooms’ more modern mood is conveyed with chaise lounges, earthy color schemes and red and orange accents. The 503-room property also boasts three restaurants (the easygoing Vines Café, the swanky Amourath 1819 and the classy chophouse, Dawson’s Restaurant), a pool and large patios for dining or relaxing.
The most surprising restaurant in town is Enotria, where hometown chef Pajo Bruich creates exquisite and creative tasting menus that would win raves from the most jaded big-city diner. Courses such as poached lobster with caviar, apple brunoise and hollandaise or rib eye with a potato mille feuille are expertly paired with beverages like grower champagne and a third-growth Bordeaux. A pairing of pork belly with Belgian red ale was equally as magical at the Old North Sacramento establishment.
For a more casual experience, head downtown to Ella, where everything from the signature lavender gin and tonic to the steak tartare with garlic popovers is made from scratch with local, sustainable ingredients. In East Sacramento, Orphan Breakfast House serves a unique menu of healthily indulgent dishes that marry Latin-Asian flavors at breakfast (avocado scramble, breakfast tamales) and lunchtime (Baja shrimp wrap).
If you’re into spectator sports, get tickets for Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A’s AAA team) or Sacramento Kings NBA games in season. (Ex-hoops great Shaquille O’Neal just purchased an ownership stake in the latter.) Cycling enthusiasts — and avid walkers — can hit the American River Bicycle Trail (aka Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail), which winds past scenic spots all over the city.
Non-sports enthusiasts will want to swing by the State Capitol building. The dignified neo-classic dome dates back to 1874. Besides being the seat of government, it’s also a California history museum. The surrounding park is filled with exotic trees from all over the world. Since it was established in 1855, the Crocker Art Museum has been a world-class art museum, with an extensive collection of California artists (Sky Is Falling, a collection of paintings from San Francisco artist Julie Heffernan, debuts on October 20), as well as Asian and European ceramics. The California State Railroad Museum is the largest museum of its kind in North America, with costumed docents, a collection of steam engines and Halloween-themed trains during October weekends that prove fascinating even to people who aren’t loco for locomotives.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-photoquest7, JDV Hospitality, Enotria and iStock-carbs26