Arriving in Sacramento, California, I found a thriving, modern capital city that is steeped in history.
I also found the great outdoors literally on its doorstep. Fishing, cycling, boating, wine tours and some of the best agri-tourism the US has to offer – it was all within easy reach.
Shopping, Nightlife and History
Before starting your outdoor adventures, make sure you explore the city and its three distinct neighborhoods.
Downtown Sacramento, the central business district, has a real buzz about it. There are loads of shopping options, restaurants and also the magnificent California State Capitol Building, which houses a museum that’s open to the public.
Midtown is more residential than downtown, but I still found a lively scene where boutique bars, nightclubs and restaurants abound.
Old Sacramento, set on the banks of the Sacramento River, lets you step back in time to experience the California Gold Rush. Complete with historic buildings, horse-drawn carriages, steam trains and world-renowned museums, this is truly a great experience.
Discovery Park: The Great Outdoors, Only Minutes Away
When you’re ready to step into the great outdoors, beautiful Discovery Park is only a few kilometers from the city center. With the banks of both the American and Sacramento rivers within its boundaries, it’s great for fishing and boating. There are plenty of picnic areas and even an archery range.
This also marks the start of the American River Parkway. Made up of a series of parks, the parkway extends for about 37 kilometers up the American River. Through the Parkway winds the American River Bike Trail. It offers 51 kilometers of paved cycleway and goes all the way up to Folsom Lake, a California State recreation area offering opportunities for hiking, running, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, water-skiing and boating.
Science of Nature at Nimbus Fish Hatchery
Along the trail, you’ll find the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, a great place to take a break. It’s also accessible by car. Admission is free, and you’ll find it offers everything and anything you ever wanted to know about salmon and trout. As it’s a working hatchery, you actually see the breeding process for yourself, and the staff will answer any questions. For me, seeing the sheer volume of the fish was a spectacle in itself. If you come at the right time, you can even watch the salmon jump up the fish ladders, an amazing sight.
Delicious Farm-Fresh Food
Sacramento is known as America’s “Farm to Fork” capital, and it’s just a 20-minute drive from the city to experience the impressive “agri-tourism” of the region. I visited farms in the Sacramento delta region, all very welcoming with delicious produce to sample and buy. Later, I joined a bike tour – a great way to get around – and one stop was the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg. It’s home to 10 different wineries, so there’s a great variety to taste.
Adventures in the Sacramento Delta
The delta region also offers an abundance of water-based recreational activities. It starts about 10 kilometers south of the city on the Sacramento River, where I caught my first salmon as part of a guided fishing tour, and then turns into an endless network of rivers and tributaries, making it a mecca for fishing, camping, boating and nature tours. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of places to stay, including hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and camping sites.
Sacramento offers the best of both worlds. You can easily experience the great outdoors while not having to venture too far from the all the amenities of the vibrant city.