California’s capital city has long lived in the shadows of its flashier neighbors. Sandwiched between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, “Sac,” as the locals call it, is often underestimated and overlooked as a small and sleepy cow town — a rest stop on the way to greener and glitzier pastures. But thanks to the downtown revitalization and the rousing success of “Lady Bird” — Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated homage to her home town — Sacramento has been suddenly, and rightfully, thrust into the spotlight.
Following in the footsteps of the Forty-Niners , I came to Sacramento with the aim of striking it rich. My mission: to mine the city’s treasures while home for the holidays in December. Technically, I was born in Sacramento, but I grew up about 20 minutes away in Davis. And while my teenage self would make regular pilgrimages to the city’s thrift stores and shopping centers, I didn’t fully appreciate what the City of Trees had to offer.
Yes, it housed the California State Capitol. And yes, it had far less traffic — and Botox — than our star-studded neighbors down south. But what made the landlocked capital special?
As it turns out, a lot. With burgeoning culinary, arts and cultural scenes, Sacramento had blossomed and matured, much like I had since leaving the West Coast for college in 2008. And while I wasn’t paying attention, the midsize city had become bigger and better, worthy of the red-carpet treatment.
The cheese does not stand alone at
Toy collectors, train enthusiasts and history buffs unite at the
It’s hard to miss the hundreds of public art pieces that electrify downtown’s drab exteriors. The city is a hotbed of California artists, which means Instagram gold for camera-toting travelers. Admire more than 20 of the most notable additions by foot with 4Sac Running Tours, 4Sac Running Tours Google Map: 1720 L St. Website: sacrunningtours.com Not available which leads a Wide Open Walls murals tour. Guides, such as founder Jenn Kistler-McCoy, provide a wealth of information about the artworks, artists and Wide Open Walls mural festival that draws locally, nationally and internationally recognized talent to the region every August. Don’t miss Raphael Delgado’s indomitable grizzly at 1413 21st St. and the latest “Lady Bird” mural at 16th and I streets.
Even in late December (at 58 degrees) there’s a line out the door at
I half-expected a 1920s flapper to greet me with a tray of French 75s when I walked into the
The eclectic artwork and colorful tapestries plastering the walls of
No, it’s not the tequila talking.
Usually, it’s dinner then a show, but not at the
You won’t find anything over $75 at
Lovers of all things vintage flock to
Forget the last-minute See’s Candies run and opt for an original, California-made product from
It’s Halloween 365 days a year at
Throw on a comfy robe and feel your stress melt away at one of the
Around the corner from the California State Capitol, the
A once-sleepy area,
No use ordering an Uber in