We live just a short drive from California’s capitol, and I’ve been wanting to put together a Sacramento city guide for a while now! Sometimes Sac gets overlooked when you think of a travel destination in California, but I’m here to tell ya the city is getting cooler by the minute. So many great independent shops and restaurants are popping up all over, and there’s a ton to do. Read on for our favorite spots to eat, drink, shop, and more — and as always, if you’ve got a little one traveling with you look for baby tips in italics.
Get In & Around
If you’re flying in, Sacramento has a great airport — it’s easy, clean, new, and small enough to navigate but large enough that flights come and go from all over. If you’re driving, it’s even easier. Sacramento is also a really easy city to navigate; most of our recommendations are in the downtown area, which is a grid of streets. Parking is plentiful and you can usually find some for free.
The Citizen Hotel If you love staying in a beautiful spot, book The Citizen ASAP. We stayed there with our wedding party during our wedding weekend and it’s just gorgeous. It’s got a 1920’s vibe with so many photo-worthy spots, and a great restaurant downstairs too.
Comfort Inn A bit farther away from the downtown area, we stayed at the Comfort Inn during our last trip and it was totally enjoyable (and no, this post isn’t sponsored!). It’s really easy if you have a baby, too — they supplied a crib and bedding, and there’s a free breakfast where Henry was all about the waffles. Okay, I was all about the waffles too.
Cafeteria 15L We love this place so much we had our rehearsal dinner here. It’s an awesome spot for brunch or dinner — sit inside if you like hustle and bustle or outside on the patio if you’re looking for something more relaxed and lounge-y. I’m a sucker for their grilled cheese and tomato soup. Ryan is a die-hard chicken and waffles fan. But whatever you do, get the truffle tater tots.
Broderick’s Midtown If you’re into burgers, get yourself here. We went with Henry and it was just loud enough to cover the baby noise but not so loud it was uncomfortable. Ryan manned up and got the burger with mac and cheese on top (yeah you read that right); it was actually kind of perfect for him to split with the little dude. I’m not proud, but I had the chili cheese fries for dinner and if you want something greasy and dirty those bad boys will satisfy your craving for the next six months.
Hot Italian We’ve loved this place forever and I’m pumped to finally be sharing it! Open, airy, easy Italian food (think quick pizzas and salads), and a perfect place for a family to stop and eat lunch or dinner. Don’t think it’s just a kid’s place, though — there were business dudes, couples, all kinds of folks. There’s also a pop-up bike shop there right now which had Ryan in total heaven. Our fave pizzas there are the Stella (proscuitto and mushrooms) and the Murino (pear and honey!).
Shoki Ramen House Good. Ramen. Ohhhhh MAN it’s some good ramen. The friendly servers at Shoki will walk you through the ordering process if you’re a ramen newbie, which is awesome because they have lots of little ways that you can specialize your dish. It’s also about as healthy as you can get for ramen — there’s no MSG, and everything from the broth to the sauces are made fresh on site. If you’re eating with a baby, you can order a few side dishes to make a meal — Henry had tofu and corn and was happy as a clam.
Ginger Elizabeth Macacron fan? Hit up Ginger Elizabeth! They’ve got traditional macs, giant macaron ice cream sandwiches, and a big fat selection of house-made chocolates that are even tastier than they are pretty, if that’s even possible.
Danny’s Mini Donuts Macarons are cute and all, but give me a basket of mini donuts any day of the week. March up to the counter, tell them what sauce you want and whether you’d like sprinkles, and they’ll fix you up some fresh-cooked mini donuts right on the spot.
Grange Bar at The Citizen If you need a pretty spot to stop and have a drink, head downstairs at The Citizen and post up at the bar for a while. The space is filled with light, simple, and lovely. And you can people-watch folks on the street through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Bottle and Barlow We almost felt like we weren’t cool enough to go into this place; a combo barbershop and bar. Like, a legit barbershop with the twirly pole and hot towels and the whole shebang. Even if you don’t need a trim, stop in and have a beer.
The Mill Sacramento is packed to the gills with cool, hipstery coffee shops, and they’re starting to multiply. But my current favorite is The Mill. It’s bright, beautiful, and spare but so perfect in its decor. You can grab a seat inside or outside to sip your coffee or munch on a biscotti. If you’re a chai fan, be sure to try theirs — it’s unlike any other that I’ve had and the mix of spices was spot on.
Warehouse Artist Lofts (WAL) If you can only stop to shop at one place in Sac, make it the WAL! It’s an old building converted to artist lofts upstairs and a very cool market downstairs. You could spend a good few hours here; stop at the cafeteria first for some poke or a sandwich. Then hit the shops. Our faves were the Moroccan rug shop, a killer record store, and Old Gold. They’ve got an incredibly curated selection of vintage clothing, along with lots of cool new apothecary and accessory finds. Mr. Lovely had to hurry me along or I would have stayed forever.
Mark Vintage The adorable couple that owns Mark vintage are the sweetest! They have been collecting and curating vintage forever and their shop is so beautifully selected and arranged. It pretty much made me want to toss out all my stuff and furnish my house with all of their midcentury goodies. We tried to pry their lit “Open” sign away from them but they were too smart to let it go.
Preservation and Co. Preservation is a fun little spot to stop, especially if you need a gift for a host or hostess. They’ve got all kinds of cocktail mixes, salts, sauces, and pickled veggies, all hand crafted and hand packed in Sacramento.
See and Do
The Capitol Building I kid you not, I could spend all. day. here. I love history and old buildings and wandering around all the rooms. Admission is free, and you can pretty much wander freely throughout all the rooms with open doors. You can sit in the senate chamber and the assembly chamber and just… chill. It’s awesome. In lots of rooms they have volunteers who can tell you a bit about the history of what you’re looking at. And the view of the rotunda from the inside is not to be missed. If you take little ones, I’d recommend bringing a stroller and using the elevators. Also, if you can swing it, visit on a weekend when it’s quiet. We were almost alone in the building and it was so quiet Henry took a nap!
American River Bike Trail We tend to bring our bikes along with us if there’s a good bike trail, and this one is beautiful! It was populated enough to not feel isolated but not crowded whatsoever. We got on the trail at Oak River Park and rode west, passing the Sac State University campus. There are awesome river views and even a field of sheep that are pretty friendly if you stop! Also, if you want to bike with little ones, this bike seat is the best thing in the world. We’ve been using it since Henry was about 7 months and it’s a total dream. Easy to attach, easy to get the kid in and out of, and because he’s riding in front of you his center of gravity is right with yours. Try it out. (It’s good for kids up to 33 pounds.)
Old Town If you’re in Sac, a stop in Old Town is almost required! It’s totally overrun with tourists and families but it’s so fun to wander around and see all the old buildings. Walk over by the river for a view of the riverboat (or better yet, hop on!), and be sure to take little kids to see the train engines on the tracks. There are tons of food options, too — everything from down and dirty burgers to upscale spots for a good date night. (And if you want to see where we had our wedding reception, pop into the back patio of The Firehouse!)
Hope you’ve loved our Sacramento City Guide! And be sure to add any of your Sac faves in the comments. xoxo
P.S. See our Tulum City Guide right here!
Hand lettering by Shrimp Salad Circus