One couple in Sacramento for the holiday - no family - what should we do
December 19, 2013 6:04 PM   Subscribe

The lady and I are hanging out in Sac-town, next week with a little spare time to go out and about. What should we do? Bonus points for holiday-themed ideas.
posted by jander03 to Travel & Transportation around Sacramento, CA (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Santaland Diaries (based on David Sedaris' time as a christmas elf) is playing at the Capital Theater. It got really good reviews on our local NPR station, I was thinking about seeing it myself.

If you have a car, SF and Tahoe are both quite close.
posted by zug at 6:26 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

What sort of stuff do you like doing? I don't know about holiday closures, but can give a few non-holiday-specific food and drink recommendations.
posted by eviemath at 10:53 PM on December 19, 2013

(I will be in Sac for the holidays too!)
posted by eviemath at 10:54 PM on December 19, 2013

If you have a car, drive north to El Dorado County and visit Apple Hill. They have Christmas tree farms and cider and apples, it's great fun!

I can recommend the Santaland Diaries, we saw a production here in Atlanta and had a ball!

While up on Apple Hill, stop into Placerville on the way back. Old Hangtown is full of gold rush history and there are fun shops and restaurants to poke into.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:58 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

"If you have a car, SF and Tahoe are both quite close."

I wouldn't classify either as "quite close". San Francisco is at least one hour & 45 mins from Sacramento, and that's with ideal traffic conditions. Tahoe would be about the same + whatever traffic/weather conditions come in to play. There's a lot to do right in Sacramento. Old Town is fun to walk around, and they have the horse drawn carriage rides which would be a cozy thing to do. Lunch or dinner at Joe's Crab Shack is nice. It's right on the Sacramento River and it's fun to watch the boats go by.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2013

Midtown has much better food and drink than Old Town though. (Can you tell what's important to me on vacation? :-P) The Shady Lady does nice vintage cocktails, and is on the same row as a number of good restaurants. There are some nice independent record shops in Sac too - I like Phono Select for example. For deserts, Rick's Desert Diner isn't the absolute best, but it's decent and it's a whole experience, worth going at least once. If you're really into chocolate though, try out Central Confections and Ginger Elizabeth's. I haven't made an exhaustive study of Sacramento indie coffee shops yet, but so far my favorite is Old Soul (The Alley location, to be precise - it seems to make a small but noticeable difference). If you're looking for vegan eats, there's a little cafe across the street from Rick's Desert Diner whose rueben I highly recommend - it's in the same class of sandwich as the vegan blt from Aux Vivres restaurant in Montreal. Andy Nguyen's is also good, and serves a style of vegetarian/vegan "buddhist meat" dishes that, in the US, I've mostly only seen in Philadelphia. Somewhere in Midtown, in a few block radius from Ginger Elizabeth's I think, is a used bookstore with a good science fiction collection. I'd have to ask my brother for more specific directions.

I'm less helpful for activity recommendations. We'll both miss the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk. Though there's likely tons of holiday stuff going on.
posted by eviemath at 8:58 AM on December 20, 2013

There are two sets of spectacular Christmas lights that I would really recommend seeing. One is in the Fab 40s neighborhood, bounded by 40th and about 46th street and J Street and Folsom Blvd. The lights start somewhere between 40th and 42nd and continue to 46th or 47th.

The other is on Pebble Creek Drive out in Rocklin, a suburb of Sacramento. This is about a 30 minute drive from the other set of lights. In both cases, I'd recommend bundling up, parking and walking, as car traffic will be bad on those streets during the holidays. The Fab 40s lights will probably take 60-90 minutes to walk and the Rocklin lights will take 45-60 minutes. (You can also do a horse carriage ride through the Fab 40's but I'm not sure where you'd go or how you'd coordinate that).

Old Sacramento has a holiday light show that's also cute and attracts a good crowd. Good call by @SoftSummerBreeze on the horse carriage ride in Old Sacramento, though Joe's Crab Shack is a tourist trap. We've got great food in Sacramento. Go somewhere local.

There is a little ice rink at 7th and K where you can go ice skating. (There isn't much else going on in that immediate area, though).

I saw the Santaland Diaries show @zug mentioned and thought this adaptation was well cast and very funny. (And I've seen it before). B Street Theatre does an annual holiday play that's generally very good, though I haven't seen this one.

The State Capitol tour is interesting, especially with the right guide. There are some well-designed memorials in the adjacent Capitol Park, and you can stop for lunch at several good restaurants at 15th and L or 16th and L. I'd also recommend the California Railroad Museum, the California Museum and the Crocker Art Museum.

As some other folks have mentioned, you're going to want to spend your time in Midtown. There are lots of excellent restaurants in the area (Mulvaney's, Waterboy, Moxie, Tuli, Ella, and Grange (both of which are Downtown). Moxie is my personal favorite, less for the food and more for the warm service. There's also good Mexican food in a beautiful space at Zocalo. We've got good Thai and Vietnamese restaurants as well. Post if you're interested.

There is excellent coffee at Old Soul in the alley at 20th and L, Naked Lounge at 15th and Q, Temple at 28th and S and a bunch of others. You can party at 10th and K, 16th and L, 20th and K, 15th and R or 27th and J, if you're into that sort of thing. Have a (GREAT) hot chocolate (and some chocolates to go with it) at Ginger Elizabeth at 19th and L.
posted by cnc at 9:48 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Apple Hill is actually mostly shut down this late in the year (we were just up there). Placerville IS, however, totally worth checking out and Jack Russell Brewery is right outside town (good beer at good prices and a couple of good ciders too). Agree that midtown is cooler than Old Town but it depends what you're into (Midtown is a hipper scene whereas Old Town is a little more touristy and family-oriented). Seconding all of eviemath's suggestions, and will also throw in the other Old Soul location ("at Weatherstone" on 19th street), LowBrau (brats and beer--central location good for people-watching), and Golden Bear (good drinks and surprisingly great food--and brunch!--for what is basically a just a bar). Another favorite of mine is Bows and Arrows (really cute cafe/thrift store). For sweet stuff I recommend Devine Gelateria--they have baked goods too and it truly lives up to its name. There's also the Crocker Art Museum, which had a huge new wing added to it in the past few years and is really cool.

On preview, definitely seconding the suggestion to go check out the lights in the Fab 40's (we're doing that tonight!)
posted by lovableiago at 9:55 AM on December 20, 2013

What you should do, if you have spare time in Sacramento, is go somewhere that isn't Sacramento. SF is generally my choice. Sure, it takes a couple of hours to get there, but then you're in SF, and "what should we do" is no longer a problem.

But I hate Sacramento because I grew up there. YMMV.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:18 PM on December 20, 2013

What you should do, if you have spare time in Sacramento, is go somewhere that isn't
Sacramento. SF is generally my choice. Sure, it takes a couple of hours to get there, but then you're in SF, and "what should we do" is no longer a problem.

But I hate Sacramento because I grew up there. YMMV.

This is nonsense and doesn't answer the question. Sacramento is not San Francisco and no one is saying it is. There is plenty to do in Sacramento. See my post above.
posted by cnc at 2:14 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Also the OP is from SF, according to their profile, so directing them back to SF when they specifically asked a question about Sacramento seems silly.)
posted by eviemath at 5:23 PM on December 20, 2013

The Shady Lady is great. I would also recommend Mikuni's (sushi), Queen Sheba (Ethiopian restaurant on Broadway), and Kasbah Lounge (hookah bar with delicious lentil soup and hummus plates, right next door to a great tapas place, Tapa the World). If you're feeling fancy, check out the restaurant The Kitchen. There are some nice spots in Davis too (Sudwerks, Little Prague, Sophia's Thai Kitchen).

Please don't support the horse-drawn carriages in Old Town.
posted by désoeuvrée at 11:09 AM on December 21, 2013

Great suggestions, thank you. Yes should have mentioned that SF isnt on our list :)
We are likely going to see the santaland diaries and found a nice bar to play cards in. Thanks for all the great suggestions!
posted by jander03 at 2:32 PM on December 22, 2013

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