Top 7 Things to do and Attractions in Sacramento (State Capital of California)

While many know about the world-renowned cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego in California, few Singaporeans know that the state capital of California is actually the city of Sacramento. Here are the Top 7 Things to Do and Attractions in Sacramento you should check out while you’re in the Golden State!

Top 7 Things to do and Attractions in Sacramento California

1. California State Capitol

California State Capitol Sacramento
California State Capitol Sacramento
Columbus & Queen Isabella California State Capitol Sacramento
Columbus & Queen Isabella
Paying Taxes Sacramento California
How to pay taxes
Portrait Edmund G Brown Jr California State Capitol Sacramento
Portrait Edmund G Brown Jr
House Chamber California State Capitol Sacramento
House Chamber
Senate Chamber California State Capitol
Senate Chamber
View from California State Capitol Sacramento
The View

Sacramento was officially the state capital in 1854 but previous state capitals included Monterey, San Jose, Vallejo and Benicia. At the California State Capitol (Capitol – the Building, not Capital – the City), you’ll be able to learn history about how banking was done during the Victorian era and of course see the administration that it carries out today!

According to our guide, taxes were paid in coins and in those days, people would make that long arduous journey to pay they dues here. Or they could do it through a local bank who would bring those coins over on their behalf. Believe it or not, not a single bank robbery took place here even though everyone knew that the treasury was full of gold and silver coins. Why? Because each bag of coins would be so heavy that whoever tried to steal them, would very unlikely “see the light of day”!

Within the California State Capitol, you’ll be able to see portraits of current and former Governor, including Mr “I’ll BE BUCK (BACK)!”. However, there is one portrait that stands out in particular – the portrait of current governor Mr Jerry Brown. It is said that he does not want to have a portrait made, so the staff created a portrait of him, which, if you looked carefully, you’d be able to see 2 different faces. The younger version of Mr Brown on the left and the older (and slightly more haggard) version on the right.

While you’re here, you might be able to catch the representatives in action in the House or Senate Chamber. That’s where laws will go back and forth, seeking the required number of votes before being passed into law. The other interesting thing about the Capitol is that you’d be able to see “artist signatures” around the building. Such as additional cones on lamps, inverted triangles on tiles or a gargoyle in the ceiling. Remember to enjoy the view down Capitol Mall before you go!

2. Sacramento Old Town

Sacramento Old Town
Sacramento Old Town
Horse Carriage Sacramento Old Town
Carriage Rides
Historic Buildings Sacramento Old Town
Historic Buildings
Marionette Sacramento Old Town

Sacramento Old Town is probably one of the main attractions in Sacramento. You’ll be able to take shots with historic buildings from the 1800s, take a horse caarriage ride and visit one of the many fine museums here. While here, remember to dine at one of the fine restaurants here or try out (for free) one of the many flavoured salt water taffys!

3. Leland Stanford Museum

Leland Stanford Mansion
Leland Stanford Mansion
Inside Leland Stanford Mansion
Inside Stanford Mansion
Interesting Furniture Leland Stanford Mansion
Original Stanford Block S Leland Stanford Mansion
Original Stanford Block S?

The Leland Standford Mansion was home to Leland Stanford of Stanford University fame. He actually came into fame (and riches) by completing the trans-continental railway at the West Coast. Today, Leland Mansion plays host to foreign dignitaries and is also a museum opened to the public as well.

Also, the entire house was lifted and extended. ENTIRE HOUSE LIFTED AND EXTENDED. This was done in a mere 5.5 months! It was said that, during the off-season, Mr Stanford would get his railway workers to pop by and help speed up construction at his mansion.

Here, you’ll be able to see some of the original furniture pieces and pictures from Mr Stanford’s time. Small chairs for the ladies, ceiling designs and interesting furniture pieces can be found here. In fact, we were pointed to 3 interesting pieces, including a table with a train engraved on its legs; secret owls on a furniture piece and of course the famous Stanford block S furniture – possibly the first/original block S found on the Stanford University logo!

4. Sacramento History Museum

Sacramento History Museum
Sacramento History Museum
Jane Stanford's Wagon Sacramento History Museum
Jane Stanford’s Wagon
Gold Rush Exhibits Sacramento History Museum
Gold Rush
Oldest Building in Sacramento
Oldest Building

Sacramento History Museum has many artifacts about how times were like in the past, especially during the gold rush era. Apparently, gold was first found at one John Sutter’s (Austrian who migrated to US and started Sutter’s Fort to attract settlers around what we know today as Sacramento) mill. When Sutter’s workers started to buy things in town using gold, word started to spread and that was the start of the California Gold Rush. However, the people who actually got rich during the gold rush, was actually not the gold miners (and most certainly not individual gold miners) but merchants like Samuel Brannan. Mr Brannan was a shrewd businessman. When he first got wind of the gold rush, he didnt go hunting for gold. Instead, he started to buy all the pans, sieves and tools in and around town. Probably at the price of 25 cents each and sold at $25. That was where he made his first million (in today’s dollars) over a really short span of time. There are also actual gold nuggets on display. Seeing “gold veins” on platinum was an interesting sight.

Another area of the exhibit shows old school refrigerators, printers and even a Safeway poster from the early 1900s. You’ll understand what we mean by “old school” when you see those inventions.

5. Sutter’s Fort

Panorama of Sutter's Fort
Panorama of Sutter’s Fort
Steve explaining the history of Sutter's Fort
History of Sutter’s Fort
Donner Party Sutter's Fort
Donner Party
Gunsmith Sutter's Fort

John Sutter was actually operating under the Mexican government to give land to people who were willing to settle at Sutter’s Fort. By doing so, he was able to maintain his “role” IF at least 10 families settled each year. His job was to help start a settlement in the center of California (not by the coast like San Francisco). So, he advertised Sutter’s Fort as a safe haven where one could settle, have land and be kept safe. At Sutter’s Fort, one could find food, guns, armed escorts and other basic necessities.

The following paragraph will be a really long one. But if you are not interested in US history, you might want to stick around for this little snippet. So apparently, when the news of gold rush reached the east coast, many started to migrate from the east to the west, in search of riches, land and freedom. One of these parties was the Donner Party. They too were heading to California and have heard about a short-cut known as the Hastings Cutoff. However, unknown to them, Lansford Hastings, was travelling from the West to the East when he developed Hastings Cutoff. Meaning, the water, food supplies and timings while travelling from the East to the West, would have been different. In fact, Lansford Hastings was waiting for the last few members of the Donner Party for 2 weeks before he proceeded with the main group of the party into the plains of California. When the last few members arrived, they only saw a sign telling them NOT to use the Hastings Cutoff. However, they still went ahead and got caught in the bitter winter of 1846. At the mountain pass, the winter got worst and food supplies went low. In the end, the members of the party started to cannibalise in order to survive. When the winter passed, members of Sutter’s Fort sent out search parties and managed to rescue some surviving members of the Donner Party. They were brought back to Sutter’s Fort and nursed back to health.

We were also able to witness the canon demonstration at Sutter’s Fort…

6. California State Railroad Museum

Panorama within California State Railroad Museum
Panorama within California State Railroad Museum
California State Railroad Museum
The Facade
113 Engine California State Railroad Museum
113 Engine
China Displays California State Railroad Museum
China Display

The California State Railroad Museum continued to talk about the history of the trans-continental railroad. Politics, Civil War and characters such as Abraham Lincoln/Leland Stanford was also interlinked by the development of this important railway. There are also picture-worthy actual train models and toy train sets at the museum. One of the most interesting displays for us was the first class travel in those days. Overnight sleeper trains and those classy first class dining. One of those tunes that stood the test of time was the chime for meal times…

7. Delicious Food

Old Town Nachos Fat City Bar
Old Town Nachos
Tauhu Telor Indo Cafe
Tauhu Telor
Gulai Kambing Lamb Soup Indo Cafe
Lamb Soup

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We managed to check out 2 joints at Old Town Sacramento. Fat City Bar as well as Indo Cafe. The Old Town Nachos at Fat City Bar was pretty awesome. Remember to add the pulled pork. At Indo Cafe, we really enjoyed the Tauhu Telor. The peanuty sauce was rich, creamy and flavourful, unlike any other Tauhu Telor we’ve tried. Lastly, we head that the fish and chips at Old Town are really good as well. Happy Hours at O’Mally’s Irish Pub are quite affordable as well. If you have tried one of those, let us know in the comments section below!

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