If you only have time for a few activities around Sacramento, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re spending some time outside. At the northern end of California’s central valley and just an hour from the coast, this area is beautiful nearly year-round. Cloudless skies in spring, delta breezes in summer, and cool fall afternoons — how could you even think about staying indoors?
There are some fun outdoor spots to explore in Sacramento proper. Old Sacramento is (not surprisingly) the oldest part of downtown, and has been preserved and restored since its heyday over a century ago. Horse-drawn carriages are probably the most fun way to get shown around this historic neighborhood. The Capitol building is also quite impressive, and the park and grounds that surround it are impeccably kept and a great place for a walk.
For hiking and camping, you almost have too many options to choose from. Folsom Lake is probably the closest large recreation area, but its only another hour to Yosemite or the Eastern Sierras. If you’re just looking for a day hike in a beautiful setting, though, there are options that are even closer, like the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.
Of course, it can get hot, and when it does the smartest thing to do is to take to the water. Both the Sacramento river and American river run through town, and there are boating, rafting, and strolling opportunities along and in between its banks. And in the suburbs and just out of town, a number of beautiful lakes are the perfect locations for a houseboat or canoe rental and a day spent on the water. Or for sitting back with your fishing pole in the water, waiting for a big bite.
And it can get cold, although not that cold in Sacramento itself. This area rarely even gets an overnight frost. But to the east lie the Sierras, and that means skiing. Tahoe alone has seven ski resorts, of varying size and expense. Come out and rent a room or a chalet, and stay for a couple nights to discover what your favorite resort and run are.
Last but not least, a wonderful way to see the surrounding countryside is to go wine tasting. Whether you choose to visit the big shots of Napa and Sonoma or the smaller family-run wineries of the Sierra foothills and to the south of Sac, you’ll get to see some of the area’s most beautiful scenery. And once you’ll get there, you’ll be richly rewarded with some of the world’s best vino.