Find yourself traveling to Sacramento, California for an upcoming event? If your visit includes a stay at McClellan Park’s Lions Gate Hotel or an event at the neighboring The Officer’s Club, you’re in luck! Both are conveniently located just minutes away from an array of things to do in Sacramento. From fine dining and casual eateries, to family-friendly events and shopping, there’s truly something to be found for everyone in California’s capital city.
Navigating all the exciting things that a big city has to offer is no easy task, so we’ve rounded up a list of fun activities to do both in and nearby Sacramento. Whether you’re here for a weekend or just a quick day trip, you’re sure to have plenty of options to choose from. Read on for several of our favorite local attractions and more!
Visit a Sacramento Farmers Market
Though Sacramento is most commonly known as California’s state capital, did you know it’s also been declared America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital? With farmland that spans more than 1.5 million acres around the city, it’s really no surprise! Not to mention, the region’s year-round growing season means that access to agriculture and the freshest-possible ingredients is readily available anytime – rain or shine. The capital city’s award-winning chefs surely have plenty to choose from when it comes to crafting delectable dishes.
It’s only fitting then, that Sacramento features a unique variety of year-round farmers markets throughout the city and its surrounding areas. Visitors and locals can check out one of the largest certified farmers markets in the state and look forward to even more events to choose from throughout the months of May to September, as seasonal markets pop up all around the city and beyond. If you’re looking for a fun (and free!) activity for your upcoming Sacramento visit, both the Midtown Farmers Market and the Sunday Farmers Market are two options with which you simply can’t go wrong.
Midtown Farmers Market
The Midtown Farmers Market, put on by the Midtown Business Association, takes place year-round every Saturday, from 8 AM to 1 PM (times subject to change). The event showcases a unique mix of crafters and artisans, plus local agriculture and an array of prepared foods – grown regionally, of course! Both locals and tourists alike can take advantage of an opportunity to gather with others and enjoy a lively, family-friendly day of outdoor fun. Other favorite activities found at the Midtown Farmers Market include live music, a children’s play area, live food demonstrations, and more. If you’re interested in attending this fun activity in Sacramento, you’ll find it on 20th Street between J and L streets and K Street between 19th and 21st streets.
Sunday Farmers Market
If your upcoming Sacramento visit leaves you with some free time on a Sunday, the Sunday Farmers Market makes for another fantastic choice to soak up the city’s farm-to-fork scene. It’s held year-round from 8 AM to 12 PM (typically on W & 8th Streets; at Arden Fair through Dec. 2021), and it holds the title of one of the largest certified farmers markets throughout California. Whether you prefer familiar fare or exotic flavors, you’ll find plenty of fresh options picked straight from local growers. From fresh produce and seafood to delicious pastries and breads, guests can enjoy the ultimate taste selection. Planning on visiting during the summer months? Not to worry, the nearby freeway overpass provides plenty of welcomed shade for attendees.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to arrive early to pick the very best produce!
It’s also worth noting that if you’ll be traveling to Sacramento during the month of September, you’ll want to pay a visit to Visit Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Street Festival. The event is held on the last weekend each September and offers attendees an incredible look at the region’s award-winning food and agriculture. Since its 2013 launch, the event has become one of the country’s most anticipated food and music festivals. If you’re intrigued by what Sacramento’s farmers markets have to offer, you’re sure to love this ultimate farm-to-fork experience.
Plan a Day of Shopping in Sacramento
Looking for a fun indoor activity for your upcoming Sacramento visit? The city boasts plenty of shopping opportunities, no matter what may be on your wish list. From specialty shops and boutiques to national retailers, Sacramento and its surrounding areas have an extensive list of shopping destinations.
Arden Fair Mall
If you’re hoping to stay in the heart of Sacramento (and near McClellan Park!), Arden Fair Mall is a fantastic choice for a day of shopping. With more than 165 tenants and over 1.1 million square feet of retail space, the two-level shopping mall provides plenty of options for some retail therapy. Originally built in 1957, the center has since expanded to include a unique variety of shops, restaurants, and so much more.
Macy's, JCPenney, Michael Kors, Lucky Brand, Lululemon, Apple, Sephora, and Game Stop are among the many retail options found at Arden Fair Mall. For a bite to eat, BJ’s Restaurant, Taro’s by Mikuni, and Seasons are favorites among Arden Fair’s regular visitors.
Westfield Galleria at Roseville
If you don’t mind a short drive outside of Sacramento, Westfield Galleria at Roseville can be found just about 20 minutes northeast of the city. Much like Arden Fair Mall, the 1.3 million square foot, two-level shopping mall is filled with a wide variety of retailers. Nordstrom, Macy’s and JCPenney make up the Galleria’s featured department stores, while Williams Sonoma, Banana Republic, Crate&Barrel, and Peloton can be found among the center’s 165 retail options.
The Galleria at Roseville is also widely known for its ample selection of luxury retailers. From Louis Vuitton to Tiffany and Co, to Kate Spade and more, there’s certainly no shortage of high-end shopping opportunities. And if a day filled with shopping leaves you working up an appetite, there’s plenty to choose from right onsite: The Cheesecake Factory, Land Ocean, Shake Shack, and Il Fornaio are just a handful of the many restaurants to choose from.
Have some extra free time on your hands? You might also consider heading on over to The Fountains at Roseville – located just across the street from the Galleria at Roseville – for some additional outdoor shopping and dining opportunities. (Plus, a splash pad and park for the kids!)
Enjoy Family Fun in Sacramento
Planning on bringing the whole family along on an upcoming trip to Sacramento? There are plenty of entertainment options fit for all ages and interests. Though it’s near impossible to highlight all that Sacramento has to offer in the family-friendly realm, we’ve rounded up some details on two of the city’s most popular picks for both parents and children to enjoy.
The Sacramento Zoo
For many, the Sacramento Zoo has become a staple attraction whenever the opportunity arises to visit California’s capital city. Located in the beautiful and picturesque William Land Park, the zoo first opened its doors way back in June of 1927. It has since more than tripled from its original 4.2 acres into the sprawling 14.3 acres it includes today. With an average annual attendance of 500,000 people, there’s no doubt the Sacramento Zoo has grown to become one of the most sought-after things to do in Sacramento. Zoo visitors can look forward to checking out hundreds of animals (nearly 500, to be exact!), along with a picture-perfect assortment of botanical life, plus a handful of specialized gardens to enjoy.
Looking for something else to explore at the zoo? After you’ve had a chance to view the animal exhibit areas – which feature more than 120 species of birds, reptiles, ungulates, primates, and carnivores - the Sacramento Zoo also offers an array of additional family-friendly activities, too. Children are sure to love getting up-close with the giraffes at the Tall Wonders of Africa viewing deck. Guests can even opt for the opportunity to purchase tickets to feed the giraffes, which makes for a wonderful photo opportunity to remember your Sacramento trip. If you’re ready to take on some rides, the 32-animal carousel, guided zoo train tour, and Serengeti Cyclone ride offer even more entertainment for zoo-goers.
Operated by the non-profit Sacramento Zoological Society, the Sacramento Zoo prides itself on making animal welfare a top priority. The zoo’s online FAQ page is a fantastic place to start when planning your upcoming visit.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity especially unique to Sacramento, consider heading just across the street from the Sacramento Zoo to Fairytale Town - a bustling children’s play park and outdoor children’s museum. The 3.5-acre venue has welcomed millions of guests since its 1959 grand opening, and continues to be recognized as a Sacramento family-favorite, thanks to its goal of bringing fairytales and nursery rhymes to life.
Visitors can have fun exploring more than 25 colorful play sets, aimed at inspiring imagination, creativity and literacy. Not to mention, a group of farm animals, two performing arts stages and a beautiful display of lush gardens make Fairytale Town a tourist attraction to remember.
Don’t forget: It’s worth checking out Fairytale Town’s calendar of events in advance of your upcoming trip. From puppet shows, to dedicated toddler time, to concerts and more, there are plenty of special happenings to take note of while you’re here.
Check out the Downtown Commons (DOCO) in Sacramento
Hoping to experience Sacramento at its finest? DOCO certainly deserves a spot on your must-see list. Easily accessible from McClellan Park, the dynamic entertainment and lifestyle district has quickly grown into one of the most popular destinations for both tourists and Sacramento-area residents. From nightlife, to restaurants, to shopping and beyond, there’s more than plenty to see and do throughout the Downtown Commons. Not to mention, it’s just a quick jaunt away from Old Town Waterfront and the California State Capitol building, meaning you’ll find yourself close-by to a handful of other visitor favorites, too.
Golden 1 Center Events
Perhaps the most recognized DOCO landmark is the Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA Sacramento Kings basketball team. If you find yourself in Sacramento during NBA season, taking in a game inside of this state-of-the-art venue makes for an opportunity to remember. Named the 2017 Sports Facility of the Year by Sports Business Journal, Golden 1 Center has been recognized for its unique focus on farm-to-fork concessions, 100% solar-powered design, and cutting-edge technology.
Prefer something other than basketball? The arena has also been home to hundreds of sold-out concerts and other performances. With multiple events often taking place each week, there’s a good chance your upcoming Sacramento visit may coincide with a Golden 1 Center event. Be sure to stay in-tune with the arena’s online calendar for the latest schedule of events.
Dining in Sacramento
A visit to the Downtown Commons simply wouldn’t be complete without a chance to experience one of the area’s many dining options. Whether you prefer a casual eatery or hope to enjoy an evening of fine dining and Sacramento’s famous farm-to-fork cuisine, there’s truly an option for everyone.
What exactly do DOCO restaurants have to offer? In a nutshell, you’ll find popular national chains such as Yard House – an American sports bar favorite – and casual spots to grab a quick bite while exploring the DOCO scene – including Pressed Juicery, Burger Lounge, and more.
For a more upscale experience, Echo & Rig Butcher Steakhouse and Fizz Champagne & Bubbles Bar provide both a beautiful atmosphere and a uniquely memorable experience for guests. Have something to celebrate while you’re in town? Punch Bowl Social makes for the perfect combination of food and fun. Visitors can enjoy craft cocktails and delicious eats, all while letting loose with a handful of nostalgic games – including shuffleboard, darts, bowling and more.
Tip: Since DOCO has grown to become especially popular among Sacramento residents throughout the weekend, it’s always beneficial to check if reservations are accepted at many of the area’s local eateries.
Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink
Sacramento may not be known as a winter wonderland, but if you’re paying the city a visit during the winter months, it can surely feel like one. The Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink can be found in the heart of downtown from the months of November to January. (It’s even open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day!) The attraction makes for a fantastic family-friendly outing, or a great teambuilding adventure, if you’ll be in town with colleagues. It’s a staple for the Sacramento holiday season, so be sure to take note of the opportunity for your next wintertime visit.
Aerospace Museum in McClellan Park
Don’t have time to embark on a big adventure during your upcoming trip? If you’re looking for things to do in Sacramento that take up just a small part of your day, the Aerospace Museum of California is a must-see – and it’s located right here in McClellan Park!
Originally founded in 1982 as the McClellan Aviation Museum, it was a historical part of the US Air Force museum system. Following McClellan Air Force Base’s 2001 closure, the local community fought to keep the museum open – and we’re glad they did.
Today, museum visitors can look forward to diving into the fascinating world of flight and technology through hands-on learning exhibits, educational programs, and so much more. The 4-acre park features more than 40 historic aircrafts. Among them, you’ll find both a US Navy Blue Angels fighter and a ‘Top Gun’ F-14 Tomcat. (Both long-time favorites amongst museum visitors!)
The Aerospace Museum’s many activity centers offer guests a hands-on opportunity to learn all things aviation, while group tours provide an inside look at the history of flight and space artifacts. You’ll also find a café onsite, and a unique gift shop (with all proceeds given back to the museum!) for a souvenir or two.
Though the museum is closed Monday through Wednesday, visitors are welcome to explore Thursday through Sunday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
No matter what brings you to California’s capital (or McClellan Park!), you won’t run out of options for fun things to do in Sacramento. To explore more of what McClellan Park has to offer, visit www.mcclellanpark.com. We’d love to hear which activities top your list!