Sacramento, California, is home to fascinating museums and attractions (some completely free), such as the Crocker Art Museum, the California State Railroad Museum, the Discovery Museum Science & Space Center and the California Automobile Museum. Couples looking for romantic things to do in Sacramento, CA, should not miss a stroll through Old Sacramento and a visit to the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park, a beautiful mansion built in 1856. Parents can take their kids to McKinley Park to have fun at the playground and enjoy a picnic in the park.

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1. Crocker Art Museum

Crocker Art Museum
© Crocker Art Museum

The Crocker Art Museum is one of the oldest public art museums in the country and one of the top attractions in Sacramento CA. Judge Edwin B. Crocker was a wealthy businessman who, along his wife, started the art collection in 1869. Eventually, that collection led to a museum, which was established in 1885. The permanent collection includes works from California, several pieces of American art, European paintings and drawings, international ceramics, and African, Asian, and Oceanic art. Experienced docents provide guided tours if you’re interested in an in-depth explanation of the many exhibits. The museum also offers several educational opportunities, studio classes, and access to the Gerald Hansen Library.

216 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-808-7000

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2. California State Railroad Museum

California State Railroad Museum
© Courtesy of alison toon -

Located on I Street in Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is actually a group of six buildings covering over 225,000 square feet. The numerous exhibits are truly fascinating, and they focus on the history of railroads in California and the West. First opened in 1976, the museum has a collection consisting of 21 restored train cars and locomotives. The museum hosts exhibits throughout the year and they also maintain educational programs like adult excursions and school trips. Their large library collection is equally impressive. If you are looking for fun things to do in Sacramento with kids, the museum also offers a variety of train rides.

125 I Street, Sacramento, California, Phone: 916-445-7387

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3. What to Do in Sacramento: California State Capitol Museum

What to Do in Sacramento: California State Capitol Museum
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Located on 10th Street in the downtown area of Sacramento, the California State Capitol Museum includes the grounds and building of the California State Legislature. The historic building dates back to 1869, and the museum belongs to the California state park system. The gardens around the building consist of 40 acres of shrubs and trees from around the world, and there are several beautiful and compelling memorials. Visitors can view short films in the theater and visit many of the restored offices. Group and school tours of the museum are available as well as daily public tours.

1315 10th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-324-0333

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4. Powerhouse Science Center

Powerhouse Science Center
© Powerhouse Science Center

Located on Auburn Boulevard not far from McClellan Airfield, the Powerhouse Science Center (formerly the Discovery Museum Science & Space Center) is an interactive museum for children. The museum features captivating exhibits such as a planetarium, a nature discovery room, and a hands-on archaeology dig, among others. The Challenger Learning Center, an interactive space mission simulator, is particularly popular. The museum focuses on education, and it offers several different kinds of programs such as school field trips, after school programs, summer camps, and homeschool programs. Private events like birthday parties, company meetings, and weddings can also be scheduled at the museum. The Discovery Museum is one of the top things to do in Sacramento CA for families.

3615 Auburn Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95821, 916-575-3942

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5. Things to Do in Sacramento: California Automobile Museum

Things to Do in Sacramento: California Automobile Museum
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Located on Front Street along the Sacramento River, the California Automobile Museum has a collection of over 160 beautifully restored classic cars on display in its large 72,000 square foot facility. The collection includes classic cars, early models, hot rods, muscle cars, racecars, and many other kinds of vehicles that automobile enthusiasts will love. Formerly known as the Towe Auto Museum, the California Automobile Museum seeks to exhibit and preserve the history of the automobile by educating all the visitors who stop by. Because many of the automobiles are on loan to the museum, the exhibits often change, so you will never have the same experience twice. Group tours are available, and they are led by knowledgeable docents. The museum is open every day.

2200 Front Street, Sacrament, CA 96818, 916-442-6802

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6.The Waterboy, Sacramento, California

The Waterboy, Sacramento, California
© The Waterboy

Seasoned restaurateur Rick Mahan established The Waterboy in 1996. This neighborhood restaurant in Midtown Sacramento serves delicious meals and provides outstanding service. Chef Adam Schulze chooses only the freshest meat, vegetables, and seasonings from local farmers and growers in Sacramento Valley. The Waterboy has an exquisite seasonal menu that is greatly influenced by the cuisines of Northern Italy and Southern France. Diners will also appreciate great selections from a wine collection and a full bar of artisanal cocktails and aperitifs. If you are looking for romantic date night ideas in Sacramento, this is a great place to try. The dessert menu is equally impressive, and includes delights such as an affogato, different types of sorbets, and brown butter gateau with summer berries.

2000 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, California, Phone: 916-498-9891

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7. Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento
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Old Sacramento State Historic Park is a 28-acre historic district consisting of more than 100 shops, restaurants, museums, and attractions. Everything is designed to call to mind the time of the Transcontinental Railway and the California Gold Rush. Sitting along the Sacramento River, Old Sacramento started to undergo restorations in the 1960s. Today, it is listed as a State Historic Park as well as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. If you are wondering what to do in Sacramento to learn about the local history, this is a great place to visit. There are many historic buildings in Old Sacramento along with several museums, including the popular Sacramento History Museum. Visitors can take a cruise on historic riverboats, relax in a horse-drawn carriage, and ride on an authentic train from times gone by.

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8. Sacramento Zoo

Sacramento Zoo
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The Sacramento Zoo is located on West Land Park Drive in William Land Park. When it first opened in 1927, the zoo occupied just four acres of land and served as the home of 40 animals; it was known as “the little zoo in the park.” In the 1960’s, however, the zoo expanded to its current 14 acres and is now home to more than 500 animals including amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles. The zoo adheres to principles of conservation, education, and recreation. It also provides visitors with the opportunity to go on self-guided art tours, and they welcome school field trips as well. The Sacramento Zoo is open every day of the week.

3930 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822, 916-808-5888

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9.Things to Do in Sacramento: McKinley Park

Things to Do in Sacramento: McKinley Park
© McKinley Park

Located at 601 Alhambra Boulevard in East Sacramento, McKinley Park is a custom designed park and playground. It was built in just six days by a group of more than 2,000 volunteers from the local community. These volunteers supplied all the funding as well as the equipment and materials. Some of the highlights include the “Alhambra Theater” entrance arch, the Fredrick N. Evans Memorial Rose Garden, the “Tower” bridge, and a riverboat and street trolley, among other fascinating attractions. Visitors will find plenty of opportunities for fun and exercise with the park’s large climbing wall, jogging trail, basketball court, and several play areas for children, including a large tree house.

601 Alhambra Boulevard, Sacramento, California, Phone: 916-452-8011

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10.Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
© Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

The Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park is located on N Street in downtown Sacramento close to the State Capitol Building. Built in 1856 during the California Gold Rush, the mansion is listed as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and it has also been named a California Historical Landmark. Some of the highlights you can find in the 19,000 square foot mansion include historic paintings, gorgeously restored woodwork, sweeping 17 foot high ceilings, and elegant furnishings like gilded mirrors, carved moldings, and refurbished carpets and drapes. Guided group tours and school field trip tours are available, and the Leland Stanford Mansion is open every day.

800 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-324-0575

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11.Casa Garden

Casa Garden
© Casa Garden

Casa Garden, located on the grounds of Sacramento Children’s Home, first opened its doors in 1974. The restaurant is particularly unique as it is mainly volunteers who are responsible for keeping everything running smoothly. The volunteers truly want to be there, so the quality of the service is impeccable. Any tips left by the customers go directly to support the activities and operations of the Children’s Home. The restaurant serves American cuisine in a lively atmosphere where all the seats overlook the beautiful gardens. The menu changes weekly. The terrace at Casa Garden has been a popular location for weddings and family celebrations for several generations in Sacramento.

2760 Sutterville Road, Sacramento, CA 95820, 916-452-2809

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12.Fun Things to Do in Sacramento: Fairytale Town

Fun Things to Do in Sacramento: Fairytale Town
© Fairytale Town

Located on Land Park Drive near the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town has been entertaining and educating children for more than 50 years, inspiring them with its 25 fairytale and nursery rhyme themed play sets. The petting zoo gives children the exciting opportunity to get up close and personal with lambs, pigs, rabbits, and other animals. There are several lush gardens, including the Alphabet Garden where each letter of the alphabet is represented by a plant. Fairytale Town has two stages where performances such as concerts, movies, and storytelling take place. Fairytale Town is open daily from March to October, and Thursday to Sunday from November to February. Read more

3901 Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822, 916-808-7462

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13.Grange Restaurant & Bar

Grange Restaurant & Bar
© Grange Restaurant & Bar

Grange Restaurant & Bar is a sophisticated fine-dining restaurant that offers delectable local cuisine. Executive Chef Oliver Ridgeway infuses every meal with passion, and he has had a remarkable career. Originally from Sussex, England, he served as the Chef de Partie and assistant Sous Chef for the VIP boxes at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Today, he brings his international experience to Sacramento, adding his individual style and flavor to the menu of The Grange. He makes a point to always use local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients in his dishes. For family celebrations, private meetings, or business occasions, Grange has a private dining room that accommodates up to 20 people. An individually prepared prix-fixe menu is available for larger parties.

926 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-492-4450 More things to see in Sacramento: Sutter's Fort, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and Raging Waters Sacramento

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14.One Speed

One Speed
© Photo Courtesy of OneSpeed

Located in the heart of East Sacramento, OneSpeed is a pleasant, relaxed neighborhood pizza joint with an open kitchen and a small, well-stocked bar. OneSpeed serves simple Italian dishes made of fresh, seasonal local ingredients, including antipastos and main courses, but the pizzas are the stars of their show. The veggies come from farms, they smoke their own bacon, and make their own sausage in-house. Ask about their daily specials. Their wine list is extensive and well-selected and they have a rotating range of craft beers on tap plus a large number of bottled beers from all over the world. OneSpeed is a pleasant place to hang out with friends and family while watching the kitchen and the magic that produces your meal.

4818 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95819, Phone: 916-706-1748

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15. The Firehouse, Sacramento, CA

The Firehouse, Sacramento, CA
© The Firehouse

Situated in the heart of the old part of Sacramento, The Firehouse has been one of the favorite spots for fine dining for 55 years. Every Tuesday, celebrated Sommelier Mario Ortiz leads a traditional wine tasting, an activity that always attracts wine aficionados and casual wine drinkers alike. The Firehouse courtyard is open every Monday night until October, and it’s a great choice for a relaxed and romantic dinner. The Firehouse wine collection includes around 16,000 carefully selected bottles from around the globe. Executive Chef Deneb Williams works with local farmers, growers, and fishermen to ensure only the freshest ingredients are used for selections from the seasonal menu. The Firehouse Filet Mignon and the “Day Boat” Fresh Fish are among the most popular specialties at the restaurant.

1112 2nd Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-442-4772

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16.The Waffle Experience

The Waffle Experience
© The Waffle Experience

The Waffle Experience serves innovative waffle-inspired dishes such as waffle sandwiches, waffle hamburgers and waffle salads prepared with fresh local ingredients and hormone-free beef. There are nearly 30 waffle dishes on the menu, including an amazing peanut butter chocolate waffle sandwich for kids.

Chef Michael Donoho has more than 20 years of experience - he worked at the celebrated Waldorf Astoria in Boca Raton, Hotel Nikko of Beverly Hills, and the Gaylord Palms Resorts, among others. Today he adheres to a farm-to-fork concept and works closely with the local farmers to ensure every dish is made with high quality fresh ingredients. He also sources fair trade organic coffee beans from sustainable farms. Stop by for breakfast or lunch.

4391 Gateway Park Blvd., Suite 650 Sacramento, CA 95834, 916-285-0562

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25 Best Things to Do in Sacramento, California