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Sacramento

Photo © TheDukes

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California Sacramento

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Introduction

Sacramento is the capital of California and has about 500,000 inhabitants living in the city, over 2 million in the metropolitan area. Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California, settled between the confluences of the Sacramento and American rivers. It was founded in 1849, and there are many reminders of the history of the city including Sutter's Fort, Old Sacramento, and remnants of the original ground level of Sacramento. It experienced explosive growth when gold was discovered in 1848 in nearby Coloma, and the gold rush that followed was one of the largest human migrations in history.

The pace of life is somewhat slower than in other large Californian cities, and the people are generally warm and friendly. According to Time magazine, Sacramento is the most diverse city in the USA. The city used to be an affordable place, but it suffered from the San Francisco Bay Area's dot com rise and fall, and real estate went from undervalued to overvalued. The market is correcting itself, so property values in most neighborhoods have leveled off while others are dropping to more reasonable valuations.

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Sights and Activities

Old Sacramento

Once the original, thriving riverfront pioneer town, Old Sacramento is now primarily a living historic district and tourist destination. The boardwalk style sidewalks and horse-drawn stagecoaches give this small section of town a unique Western flavor. Old Sacramento contains several museums, restaurants, and the usual assortment of souvenir shops and ice cream parlors, all within walking distance of each other. Attractions in the Old Town area also include the Delta King Riverboat, a working hotel with restaurant. The California State Railroad Museum's Sacramento Southern Railroad is a private line extension providing riverside rides on a steam locomotive that departs from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot, carriage rides as well as annual city event and functions. Best of all, it's a five-minute walk from the Amtrak station. It's best visited in the morning and early evenings, especially during the hot summers. Parking can be scarce, so be sure to utilize the reasonably priced parking structures in the K Street Mall. There's a nice, short, safe walkway between K Street Mall and Old Sacramento.

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Weather

As Sacramento is located inland, it has much drier and warmer weather compared to its seaside located sister San Francisco. Temperatures can hit 35 °C during summer or more but usually it's a little more bearable. Winters are fairly mild though you may see ocassional frost and. The area has just overcome a five year drought and 2016-17 has been the second wettest year ever. All in all, spring and fall are the best times if you want to visit the city.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max11.5 °C15.6 °C17.8 °C21.7 °C26.8 °C31 °C34 °C33.4 °C30.7 °C25.5 °C17.3 °C11.5 °C
Avg Min3.2 °C5.2 °C6.2 °C7.5 °C10.2 °C12.9 °C14.5 °C14.4 °C13.2 °C10.2 °C6.3 °C3.2 °C
Rainfall94.7 mm72.9 mm65.3 mm29.5 mm6.9 mm3 mm1.3 mm1.8 mm9.4 mm27.4 mm69.1 mm63.8 mm
Rain Days7.36.87.241.20.70.20.41.32.66.36.7

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Getting There

By Plane

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is located about 10 miles (16 kilometres) from the central business district of Sacramento. It mainly has domestic flights, though there are international connections with a few cities in Mexico, mainly Guadalajara.
Yolobus bus #42B connects the airport to downtown Sacramento and the nearby communities of Woodland and Davis. SCART is the only transit service to the airport but is limited to once an hour and only during daylight and mid evening hours.

By Train

A number of Amtrak trains travel to and from Sacramento:

  • The California Zephyr between Emeryville (San Francisco) and Chicago. The Amtrak train depot saw a significant rehabilitation that was completed in early 2017.
  • The Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Seattle.
  • The Capitol Corridor between Auburn and San Jose.
  • The Sao Joaquins between the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

By Car

Sacramento is conveniently located at the intersection of Interstate 5 (a north-south route) and Interstate 80 (an east-west route). It is also located at the western terminus of US Route 50.

  • From the San Francisco Bay Area, take Interstate 80 east. (2 hours from San Francisco)
  • From Reno and North Lake Tahoe, take Interstate 80 west. (2 hours from Reno)
  • From South Lake Tahoe, take US Route 50 west. (2 hours)
  • From Redding and the Pacific Northwest, take Interstate 5 south. (2hr 30min from Redding & 4hr 30m from the Oregon/California border)
  • From the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, take Interstate 5 north or State Route 99 north. (6 hours from downtown Los Angeles)

By Bus

There are two regional and interstate bus services serving the area. Greyhound Bus provides frequent services to San Francisco, Central Valley, Los Angeles and several out of state locations from its bus depot which is located approximately four miles north of the city. Mega -Bus is a low cost bus carrier that offers daily service to San Francisco and Reno Nevada. The company uses the location off of 59th Street by the Light Rail Station in East Sacramento.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Regional Transit is the major provider of bus and light-rail service in Sacramento with connections to other inter-urban buses and the surrounding area.

By Foot

Historic Old Sacramento, the Riverfront, and the California State Railroad Museum are all within an easy five-minute walk of the train station. The Capitol building is a pleasant 15-minute walk from Old Sacramento.

By Bike

The wide, flat, tree-lined streets make cycling a relaxing way to get around Downtown and Midtown Sacramento. Most streets in the grid have bike lanes, and bike routes through the city are clearly marked. Traveling by bike also means avoiding expensive and hard-to-find parking.

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Eat

The diversity of Sacramento is not only reflected in its various neighborhoods but also in the food choices you can find here. The places in the central district tend to be more trendy and hip while food establishments in their respective neighborhoods reflect the tastes of their residents. Finding unique fare in suburban Sacramento, northeast of the city limits, can be difficult as many of the establishments are dominated by national or large regional chains.

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Drink

Nightlife in Sacramento is vibrant if you know where to look. Stay in Downtown or Midtown. This is where most tourists are anyway. The upscale clubs and lounges tend to be on or near J Street. Directly across from the Capitol grounds is the Park which is the premiere Sacramento nightclub. The dress code and cover charges tend to be stiff.

The Press Club on 21st and P Street is popular with the college crowd with its $5 cover charges and cheap $3 24oz. of Pabst. It's known for playing 80's dance music and the best nights to go are Wednesdays or Thursdays as it is a small club and, on weekends, gets unbearably overcrowded

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Sleep

Visitors to Sacramento should be aware that hotels in the downtown area charge more on weekday and major event stays than weekends as a lot of business travelers come during the weekdays close to the central business district.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
HI - Sacramento925 H StreetHostel87
America's Best Value Inn Merced2654 El Centro rdHotel-
Red Roof Inn10800 Olson DriveHotel-
Super 8 Motel Sacramento State Capital216 Bannon StreetHotel-
Motel 6 Sacramento Downtown1415 30th Street SacramentoHotel-
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Roseville1398 E. Roseville Pkwy. RosevilleHOTEL-
Orchid Suites130 North Sunrise Ave. RosevilleGuesthouse-
Budget Inn and Suites Stockton Yosemite3473 West Hammer LaneHotel-
Bright Studio Cottage in Davis, California261-A Cottage Circle DavisAPARTMENT-

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Work

As the capital of California, many state agencies are located in Sacramento. The State of California continues to be the largest employer in the Sacramento region.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 38.573659
  • Longitude: -121.487147

Accommodation in Sacramento

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Sacramento searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Sacramento and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as Docdotcalm24 (8%)

Sacramento Travel Helpers

  • Docdotcalm24

    I have lived in Sacramento for over twenty years and know the City and its surroundings very well. Some outsiders question what there is to see in Sacramento but for those unfamiliar with it there is a lot to see, feel and experience from beautifully restored historic homes, to one of the longest bike trails on the West Coast, to an abundance of great ways to explore the City's two major rives. At VT i was the top ranked reviewer for Sacramento . Please feel free to ask me anything but recognize that I sometimes visit this site just once a week currently.

    Ask Docdotcalm24 a question about Sacramento

This is version 21. Last edited at 14:24 on Mar 3, 17 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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