Folsom is the perfect place for visitors to experience California’s quintessential year-round lifestyle, no matter if you are in the mood for a myriad of outdoor activities, cultural events, shopping, or dining. The city’s history is filled with Gold Rush-era greatness, Johnny Cash, and preservation of its nature and arts.
© Harris Center
The Harris Center for the Arts is an 80,000 square foot regional arts center that provides visitors the opportunity to experience and celebrate works of art across several mediums. The center opened in 2011 and is popular among the community for invoking the creative process through an array of programs that are suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds. The center presently attracts over 150,000 patrons and hosts over 400 public events every year. Concerts, musicals, and conversations fill their event calendar so be sure to stop by and experience the works of Kahulanui, the Folsom Lake Community Concert Association, Music Beyond Borders, and more.
10 College Parkway, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-608-6888
2.Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary
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The Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary has been home to thousands of animals since its opening in 1963. Unlike a traditional zoo, animals at the zoo sanctuary are not bred, sold, or traded and they only take in animals that can’t be released into the wild. Most of the residents are native to North America; some that you’ll come across are mountain lions, sheep, bears, bobcats, tigers, wolves, eagles, and much more. Additional facilities include a gift shop where you can buy clothes, toys, and plush animals, and their Beastro cafe where you can stop for snacks and drinks.
403 Stafford St, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-351-3527
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Housed within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Lake Natoma spans nearly 500 acres and is a sight for several family friendly activities. Locals and visitors head there during the warmer months to go swimming, kayaking, rowing, canoeing, water skiing, fishing, and boating - you can also witness several championship events such as the West Coast College Rowing Championships, which are held on the lake throughout the year. While you’re there, you’ll also be able to explore the historic Negro Bar which is located by the lake on what was once the site of a gold rush era African-American mining camp. Other activities you can partake in around the lake include biking, hiking, picnicking, and horseback riding.
7755 Folsom-Auburn Rd, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-988-0205
4.Folsom Prison Museum
© Folsom Prison Museum
The National Big House Prison Museum, popularly known as the Folsom Prison Museum, was founded in 1975 as a means of chronicling the prison’s colorful history. You’ll be able to explore and learn about the architecture of the prison and how it was structured with gray granite from the surrounding rock quarries. There’s an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia which have unique stories behind them; some of these include old hemp ropes which were used to hang prisoners, several weapons created by inmates, various items from Johnny Cash’s famed concert show, and even an eight-foot-high motorized Ferris wheels which a prisoner made in the 1930s using over 250,000 toothpicks.
300 Prison Rd, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-985-2561
5.Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
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Managed by the California Department of Parks & Recreation, the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is a popular outdoor oasis that can be found on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The park spans nearly 20,000 acres and was established in 1956 after the creation of Folsom Dam. You can spend your time at the park hiking, picnicking, biking, horseback riding, water skiing, boating, or camping. There are 95 miles of trails in the park, including a paved bicycle trail which loops around Lake Natoma. The waters have an abundance of yellow perch, bass, trout, and catfish, making it a wonderful location for fishing as well.
7755 Folsom-Auburn Rd, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-988-0205
6.Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
© Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park is a historical site which preserves one of the first alternating current hydroelectric power stations in the United States. The power house was built in 1895 by architect H. T. Knight and the Sacramento Electric Power & Light Company. It is now recognized as a California Historical Landmark, U.S. National Historic Landmark, and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Visitors will be able to see an exciting part of Sacramento’s history through the structure, which still looks much like it did in 1895, and massive General Electric transformers which are still housed there today.
9980 Greenback Ln, Folsom, CA 95630
7.Folsom Historical Museum
© Folsom Historical Museum
The Folsom Historical Museum, which is operated by the Folsom Historical Society, can be found in the area’s historic downtown location. Within it, visitors will be able to see a collection of treasures and artifacts which preserve and chronicle the settlement and development of the city of Folsom. The fascination exhibits focus on several aspects and events from its past and highlights the Gold Rush era. Many of the exhibits display Folsom’s native people, the discovery of gold, the formation of mining camps, and the many contributions of ethnic groups to this area. Several events are held at the museum throughout the year such as Antique Evaluation Day, 100 Years of Fashion Accessories, and more.
823 Sutter Street, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-985-2707
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Beal’s Point, which can be found beside Folsom Lake’s sandy beach area, Granite Bay, is a lovely place to spend the day outdoors and take in the surrounding views. There are large grassy and shaded areas which can accommodation family picnics and several other activities; amenities such as barbecue pits are available there. A popular pastime is bicycling in the 32-mile long American River trail which starts at Beal’s Point and follows the scenic river to Old Sacramento. Beal’s Point is also one of only two locations on the lake which allow for overnight camping and is popular with campers during the summer months.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area: 7755 Folsom-Auburn Rd, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-988-0205
9.Folsom Premium Outlets
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Folsom Premium Outlets is an outdoor shopping mall that is home to over eighty apparel, footwear, jewelry, and varietal stores. It’s a great place to get some shopping done, buy souvenirs to take back with you, and have a generally good time with friends and family. Some of the shops which can be found at Folsom Premium Outlets are Under Armour, Banana Republic, Michael Kors, Gap, and Sketchers. You’ll be sure to find some great deals on branded items as you stroll through the mall, and don’t forget to take a break and have a snack or meal at cafes and restaurants such as Kristen’s Coffee Corner, tcby, Taco Bell, and DJ’s Grill & Deli.
13000 Folsom Boulevard, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-985-0313
10.Folsom Aquatic Center
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Open to residents and visitors of Folsom during the area’s warmer months, the Folsom Aquatic Center is where everyone goes to cool down and beat the heat. The center is safe and fun for visitors of all ages and includes a water playground for little ones, as well as water slides, diving boards, a lap pool, and much more. The activity pool is fitted with play structures such as water cannons, water sprayers, and tumble buckets that you’ll love getting doused under. Visitors of all ages climb three stories again and again to slide down the thrilling 165-foot spiral water slider which ends with a splash in the pool. Afterwards, you can rest up in the shaded grassy lawns and designated picnic areas that surround the pool and feel at ease as professional, licensed lifeguards watch over everything.
1300 Riley St, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-355-8318
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Folsom Dam was built in 1955 as a multipurpose project executed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The dam is 340-feet tall and comprises a concrete center which is flanked by long earthen wing dams which extend to high ground on both ends. The dam is a beautiful sight to see, but also plays an important role in Folsom as it is controlled for irrigation and domestic use, electrical power generation, preservation of the American River fishery, and it prevents potential flooding from torrential rains, winter storms, and spring snow runoff. Visitors will also be able to see Folsom Lake, which was created by the dam, and further down, Nimbus Dam and the water it holds in Lake Natoma.
7794 Folsom Dam Road, Folsom, CA 95630
12.Johnny Cash Trail
© Johnny Cash Trail
A part of the three-acre Johnny Cash Legacy Park, Johnny Cash Trail is a pedestrian and bike trail that winds through Folsom Prison and Folsom Lake Trail. They combine to honor the legendary Johnny Cash, his music, and his history with the city of Folsom. The ultimate art experience has several installations that pay homage to one of America’s most inspirational musical figures. The eight artworks and displays includes two seven-foot-tall bronze monument guitar picks, laser cut steel poles portraying a silhouette of Cash playing the guitar, and a Greystone Chapel that has excerpts of letters sent to Cash by inmates who attended his concert in 1968.
50 E Natoma St, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-355-7200
13.Granite Bay Beach
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Enjoy the beauty of Folsom Lake at the area’s most popular outdoor recreational area, Granite Bay Beach. Locals and visitors in Folsom flock to the beach for a day of sunbathing, swimming, rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, and playing volleyball. In addition to boat ramps, other amenities offered at Granite Bay Beach include a buoyed swimming area, barbecue pits, large grassy areas perfect for picnicking, and shaded spaces that are great for fun outdoor activities like playing frisbee. The Granite Bay snack bar is perfect for those who want a meal and a drink; they also rent various beach equipment for you to use while there.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area: 7755 Folsom-Auburn Rd, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-988-0205
© Gekkeikan Sake
Producing sake is a Japanese tradition that goes back over 2,000 years ago when rice cultivation was first introduced. Jiemon Okura founded Gekkeikan Sake in 1637, establishing his own sake brewery in Fushimi, a town well known for its refreshing water source. It has, over the years. gained extreme popularity all over the world and eventually the trademark alcoholic beverage opened a second brewery in Folsom, California to meet the increase in demand. You can go on a tour of the state-of-the-art brewery, complete with Japanese garden and a beautiful koi pond. Afterwards, head to the Tasting Room to have a couple of drinks, try some unique snacks, and purchase unique gifts such as sake sets, Japanese dolls, sushi-making accessories, and much more.
1136 Sibley Street, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-985-3111
15.Folsom Valley Railway
© Folsom Valley Railway
Folsom Valley Railway is one of only seven miniature-scale, steam-powered replica railroads that is open to the public in the entire United States- it is also the only 12-inch gauge railroad that remains in the nation. Visitors are invited to go on a unique and intriguing ride that has been running since it started operations in 1970. You’ll be taken on one of two miniature engines that are available and go on a ten-minute loop that’s approximately five miles long. There are several special events held at Folsom Valley Railway throughout the year including Wild Night & Holiday Lights and Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
52 Natoma Street, Folsom, CA 95630
16.Red Bus Brewing Company
© Red Bus Brewing Company
Folsom’s only craft brewery, the Red Bus Brewing Company was established by Erik Schmid, beer expert, longtime Folsom resident, and also owner of The Brewmeister, one of Sacramento’s longest operating wineries/ breweries. You can visit and tour the 7-barrel production brewery or have a drink in their lovely tasting room which is themed around a 1968 Volkswagen bus, hence the name. Visitors will be able to try a wide variety of beers which comprises modern and creative ales and brews alongside more traditional styles. Their open-book policy allows curious visitors to access the full recipes of all their brews and learn about the beer production process too.
802A Reading Street, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-467-7790
17.Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad
© Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad
Head to Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad for a scenic train ride in California’s Gold Country. The preserved railroad was an important aspect of the state’s rich history and can be found in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You’ll be able to enjoy one of their many motorcar rides and scenic trail excursions, which are made available to the public all year long. The rides take you through a fifteen-mile track between Folsom and Latrobe, allowing you to see all the natural beauty of the surrounding area. There are several events held on the train throughout the year such as their Easter Egg Express, Mother’s Day Brunch, and their Hot August Night ride.
155 Placerville Rd, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-597-0107
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Found on the foothills of the Sacramento Valley - Sierra Nevada, Carpenter Hill is a summit that is open all year long. It is popular with visitors who love to go hiking and exploring in Folsom’s naturally beautiful outdoors. It’s a great climb due to its easy access, climb, and accessible location, and the view from the top of the famed Sacramento Valley is one of the best you will see in the area. There’s not much wildlife for you to come across during your hike, but there have been sightings of snakes; mosquitos thrive in the area so be sure to bring your bug spray along.
19.Folsom Pro Rodeo
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Folsom Pro Rodeo has been a community tradition for nearly 60 years. The patriotic event kicks off on Fourth of July weekend and is a wonderful place to meet the area’s residents and have a memorably good time. You’ll get to see and experience so much with their non-stop rodeo action, two-step dancing, and mutton busting. There’s an outstanding display of fireworks nightly as well as a high American glad that arrives via a skydiver. You’ll be able to witness the skills of the rodeo’s Flying Cowboys, the Painted Ladies Drill Team, Rodeo Clown Matt Merritt, and Folsom Diesel Works Saloon Under the Stars.
200 Wool Street, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-985-2698
20.Sutter Street Steakhouse
© Sutter Street Steakhouse
Sutter Street Steakhouse was established by the same creators of the award-winning 5th Street Steakhouse restaurant in Chico, California. It’s become an integral part of the Folsom community and offers their patrons U.S.D.A. Prime cuts of beef, fresh seafood, and a full-service bar to complete a delicious meal. You can find the restaurant in Folsom’s historic downtown district within the renowned Folsom Electric Building. The exquisite cuisine and exceptional service combine to create a gourmet dining experience that you will cherish. Popular items from their menu are the calamari starter with basil aioli, pan seared Alaskan halibut, and their mouthwatering certified Black Angus cut filet mignon.
604 Sutter Street, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-351-9100
© Karen's Bakery
Situated within the heart of historic Old Folsom, Karen’s Bakery is a place filled with delicious gourmet food in a relaxed and casual setting. The cafe takes a fresh approach to the food they serve and has a menu that changes often since most of their ingredients are seasonal to ensure the highest quality. They have a wide variety of baked goods which are perfect for breakfast on the go; you are more than welcome to dine in and have a full breakfast cooked to order. Their lunch menu comprises salads and sandwiches; their daily-made specialty sandwiches are a must-try when you’re there.
705 Gold Lake Drive, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-985-2665
22.Land Ocean New American Grill
© Land Ocean New American Grill
Land Ocean New American Grill is a locally-owned restaurant that was formed by husband and wife duo, Mark and Karoline Platt. The modern steakhouse is cozy and swanky, creating the perfect environment for a romantic dinner with your significant other. Their menu boasts a wide range of hand-cut steak, fresh seafood, delicious sandwiches, and a full bar to complement any meal. Begin your feast with popular starters such as their sweet & spicy wings or spicy garlic mussels. Mains that shouldn’t be missed include the BBQ burger, salmon BLT, filet mignon pasta, lobster tails with broccolini, and the grilled swordfish served with a dill cream sauce.
2720 E. Bidwell Street, Folsom, CA 95630, Phone: 916-983-7000
22 Best Things to Do in Folsom, California
- Harris Center, Photo: Harris Center
- Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, Photo: Courtesy of sandrafotodesign - Fotolia.com
- Lake Natoma, Photo: Courtesy of Kristina - Fotolia.com
- Folsom Prison Museum, Photo: Folsom Prison Museum
- Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of Andy - Fotolia.com
- Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, Photo: Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
- Folsom Historical Museum, Photo: Folsom Historical Museum
- Beal’s Point, Photo: Courtesy of renamarie - Fotolia.com
- Folsom Premium Outlets, Photo: Courtesy of photoprime - Fotolia.com
- Folsom Aquatic Center, Photo: Courtesy of Tropical studio - Fotolia.com
- Folsom Dam, Photo: Courtesy of olga355 - Fotolia.com
- Johnny Cash Trail, Photo: Johnny Cash Trail
- Granite Bay Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Lund - Fotolia.com
- Gekkeikan Sake, Photo: Gekkeikan Sake
- Folsom Valley Railway, Photo: Folsom Valley Railway
- Red Bus Brewing Company, Photo: Red Bus Brewing Company
- Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad, Photo: Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad
- Carpenter Hill, Photo: Courtesy of Khathawuth - Fotolia.com
- Folsom Pro Rodeo, Photo: Courtesy of beatrix kido - Fotolia.com
- Sutter Street Steakhouse, Photo: Sutter Street Steakhouse
- Karen's Bakery, Photo: Karen's Bakery
- Land Ocean New American Grill, Photo: Land Ocean New American Grill
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of sharon hitman - Fotolia.com