Help us enjoy a summer in Sacramento!
June 4, 2008 10:36 PM   Subscribe

Help us enjoy a summer in Sacramento!

Although I've been a resident of the Sacramento area for the past couple of years, the demands of college- and work-life have kept me busy and away from all of the potentially great things to be found here. Now that my girlfriend is coming to spend the summer with me, I'm at a loss of how we can spend our time beyond the wonderful personal moments to be had in a cozy couch, a welcoming cafe, a scrumptious restaurant, the frisky bed, etc. What are some of the relatively unknown, off-the-beaten-path, odd, and/or exciting activities/places we can enjoy together?

Even Google is at a loss of how to help me on this one, and so I now turn to you almighty hive mind!
posted by mahoganyslide to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
when you have a free evening, go to zocalo. make sure you get the churro for dessert.

The Trash Film Orgy is quite an experience, especially on a good year when the zombie parade is really well attended (this year has a pretty good looking lineup too.)

lake natomas has a lot of great picnic areas and if you are adventurous there used to be an awesome rope swing around there (probably gone now)
posted by Large Marge at 10:55 PM on June 4, 2008

River rafting: white water and the relaxing kind.

Visit the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to check out the baby salmon and trout.
posted by jamaro at 11:03 PM on June 4, 2008

Go to the American River. At some parts there's ton of people hanging out at the beach. The bike trail is beautiful.
Old town is kind of fun. At Candy Heaven you can get some free samples but if you take too many they yell at you. I like to go and get frozen chocolate dipped bananas.
You could check out second saturday, the last one was huge. It's when the free art galleries around midtown open up for the night and give out free wine and cheese. There's also a lot of live music.
Check out all the cool places on Yelp. Definitely go to the Tower Cafe.
Check out an Imax movie.
Taking a walk around the Capitol gardens is fun if you're into that sort of thing.
There's a huge rock climbing gym called Pipeworks on N. 16th Street. It's like a huge warehouse with tons of different climbs and it's very laid back and not very expensive if you just want to try it out for a day.
It's also right near Capitol Casino Cafe which has AWESOME food.
posted by ad4pt at 11:59 PM on June 4, 2008

Old Ironsides is a great dive bar with good live music.
posted by TheCoug at 1:27 AM on June 5, 2008

I heard there was some kind of problem with second saturday - the city giving the galleries grief about needing liquor licenses or some such BS. But if it's still going on, give that a shot.

The Jazz festival should still be coming to Old Town on an annual basis. Also, if you visit old town, check out the train museum, and definitely, DEFINITELY find the store called Evangeline's - that's one of my favorite shops in all the city.

The Capitol gardens is cool but so is the capital - pretty sure you can still get free tours of it. Also Sutter's Fort can be kinda fun to check out, especially when they have all those people dressed up in period clothes and staying there for the week or whatever it is. If you're up for a drive, they do the same thing up in Coloma, near Placerville - its an old gold town on a river and it feels like walking back in time.

The Jelly Belly factory is also a bit of a drive (down 5 towards SF) but a fun place to see/tour.

You can find lots of local public events, by category on the left-hand side, here.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:43 AM on June 5, 2008

Definitely take a stroll through this thread, too.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:47 AM on June 5, 2008

Pancake Circus for good coffee shop food, breakfast esp. Watch the almond growers video and try free samples of flavored almonds and almond milk.
posted by jvilter at 7:38 AM on June 5, 2008

Awwww, come on up here to Lake Tahoe for a day. Up here where I live in Incline Village, there are a few clothing optional beaches you can hike into. Gorgeous spots, some fairly secluded. Lots of other pretty beaches for regular folks too. There's ton to do up here - kayaking, hiking, camping, etc. MeMail me if you want directions.
posted by HeyAllie at 8:30 AM on June 5, 2008

You are also a very short drive (an hour or so) to some quite wonderful small scale wineries up in the Foothills; namely the Nevada City Winery (in Nevada City obviously, near Grass Valley north of Auburn), and the Fair Play Region near Placerville. Nevada City is also a neat little foothill tourist town with lots of opportunities to wander around and explore. The Fair Play Region is a collection of wineries ranging from tiny to moderate sized and they also have a couple of Bed and Breakfast places (the Fitzgerald Winery in particular - bring your economic stimulus check, it aint cheap but it is beautiful!).
posted by elendil71 at 9:21 AM on June 5, 2008

Do you live on the grid?

Honestly, if you're living in Carmichael or something you can still enjoy Sacramento, but summer nights downtown are where it is at. The thing with Sacramento is that it is one of the best cities in the world when you know people, but seems really boring when you don't. There are a good number of off-the-radar venues and Sacramento is definitely a house party town. Luckily I've found that people in Sacramento are waaay more outgoing than other, more urban towns (you can't really afford to snub people in Sac) so you should be able to meet people pretty quickly. I grew up there, so that helped me build a network of friends really fast. If you're in your 20s, and still amenable to raging, here's what I would suggest:

1. Old I is usually pretty good; lipstick even without Shaun Slaughter is still going to be a can't miss night, but it is on a tuesday. other bars include Press Club (basically 80s night/bachelorette party headquarters during the end of the week; still, great bartenders, great bouncers. I used to play wednesday nights there, some of my friends still do the thurs/fri nights. Lots of people still go here to dance, although there is a heavy frat contingent), Benny's (AKA 21st & Q street grill, which has an awesome patio. varies from being totally locals-only to crazy overcrowded), Flame Club (cheapest drinks in the world. only really worth going here if you go with a few friends -- a serious dive). Streets of London -- good food, patio, foosball, trivia nights on sunday! gets a little crowded in the evenings. Golden Bear - kinda more expensive, decent patio, can be crowded.
2. Buy cruisers and bike everywhere. the grid is totally bikeable. Be careful, because lots of people have been getting hit by cars lately.
3. waterworld. Seriously. go with a bunch of people. rafting is also good, but again, it's only going to be fun if you go with a ton of people. in the same vein, California State Fair, if you've never been. It sucks a little, but it has a lot of sentimental value for me and is pretty campy.
4. second saturdays are pretty big events for downtown. i find them a little too annoyingly crowded, and there's lots of bad work in sacramento, but it's the one day of the month sacramento looks like a true pedestrian city.
5. There's a snowcone place on ... I wanna say 9th and V. Go get snowcones and yes, go to old sac. It's a little touristy and silly, but lots of fun. there's a great bar there that brews their own beer (they have a vanilla ale that's pretty good) and is never crowded -- want to say hogshead brewery.
6. get to know people and go river rafting, to bbq's, house parties, etc.
7. other things/places to look out for: horsecow events, bows & arrows, olipom, flatspot,
8. semi-secrets: there's a bar under the mall at the end of K street ... called ... i can't remember -- the airporter? It used to be there so you could get a drink before you got on the super shuttle to go to the airport; it's nothing special, but it is fun to check out. south sac is HUGE, has tons of great little ethnic dives and weird stores. Lots of fun to drive through. West sac also has a bunch of absolutely awesome motel signs and a couple of good burger places. I like to bike out there and then hang out on that side of the river.
9 heckasac has a pretty good rundown of what most of the locals of a certain age/group are doing on any particular weekend. She links to a lot of other blogs that'll have event mentions. Mostly after you know people, everyone just *knows* what is going on that night. it is that small of a town.
10. go thrifting. huge sac activity. thrift towns are typically my favorite; the one on Stockton is pretty shopped out, but forms a loop with some goodwills, a salvation army, and deseret thrift's (deseret's are also pretty good). The thrift town in del paso/north sac is pretty good. Go garage sale-ing on bikes (this is the one activity that is usually more fruitful in the suburbs)!
11. bike ride to davis and kick it.
12. go to a river cats game. Seriously, unless you really hate baseball, river cats games are fun. minor leagues for the win.

Jeez, really, I'm forgetting tons of stuff. that pretty much describes my sacto summers though. there is nothing better than a summer night in sacramento; it almost makes all the heat and mosquitoes worth it. man, now I want to go bbqing in sac.

hmm, looking at other people's:

zocolo's is good, but ernesto's (run by the same people) is cheaper and a little more relaxed. i'd go there over zocalo's. rope swings can often be found anywhere along the american river, and are HELLA FUN but get cut down by the rangers as they come across them. In the last couple years I've seen them constantly at the guy west bridge near CSUS, where they're pretty easy to put up. If you've never gone rope swinging before, do it (tip, a rope swing is best made from a waterski rope).
tower cafe is cool; if you've never been there; tower theater is one of the last places to see limited release films in sac.
ha, pancake circus is a dive classic, although i wouldn't call their food *good*. You must eat there -- for the full sac experience, you must be absolutely hungover or still drunk. Other good breakfasts in sac can be had at the fox & goose or crepeville (chain, but good). speaking of the full sac experience, the big post-bar-close hotspots are: Willie's, Hot Rods, Lyons, and, gah, I can't remember his name ... but the guy with the hot dog stand outside of Press.

If you're less into the sac party experience, I'd look into the sac theater company (not sure they do summer plays though -- it might be all music circus at this point, which is still pretty cool), sailing on Lake Natomas, bicycle rides on the American River Bike trail, Eppie's Great Race, Mulvaney's restaurant (downtown), um, Old Soul Cafe, Nishiki's. More 'formal' events will be in the Bee, less formal will be in the SN&R or Midtown Monthly.

i'm going to cut off this flow of consciousness here, but if you have any questions or anything mefimail me or ask in-thread.
posted by fishfucker at 11:21 AM on June 5, 2008

Here's a list of cool stuff:
* Go to a RiverCats game. It's cheap and you don't even have to like baseball. It's fun to just sit there and hang out. Plus, the ballpark's view of Downtown Sacramento is pretty nice.
* Go to the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival in Land Park. Again, fun to hang out even if you're not into Shakespeare. You could also do a picnic in the park.
* B Street Theatre consistently does great plays. There are tons of other theater and music options.
* Second Saturday is great, as other commenters have noted.
* We've got one of the best bike trails in the country. You can literally ride 70 miles round trip and only cross a single two lane road. You can also ride 5 miles. Up to you.
* In the heat of summer, rent sit-on-top kayaks at Lake Natoma. The water in Lake Natoma is COLD, which is frickin' great when it's 100 degrees. (You don't need to be a Sac State student to rent a boat.)
* The Sacramento Natural Foods Coop does all sorts of events and classes. The local REI does lots of outdoor events.
* It sounds like you're already aware of this, but Midtown Sacramento has excellent, excellent restaurant scene. Moxie is one of my favorites.

Sacramento Magazine (which is otherwise kind of lame) has a nice list of things to do here.

Other places:
You're two hours from the Bay Area and all it has to offer. Same for Lake Tahoe. You're 3 1/2 hours from Yosemite National Park. It's actually very possible to go to Yosemite and back as a long day trip, especially if you're just tooling around the valley.
posted by cnc at 5:21 PM on June 5, 2008

I wanted to second a road trip to Nevada County (1hr). The Yuba River has some excellent swimming holes and is one of my favorite places in the world.
posted by calitocarolina at 6:18 PM on June 5, 2008

The Sacramento Yelp community is pretty active. Here is the Events board:

You should definitely get bikes if you don't have them already! Sacramento is very easily bikeable, and the American River bike trail is awesome! I just discovered Sutter's Landing. You take 28th street all the way up past C and B. You go up over the railroad tracks and follow the bike trail until you get to the river. There is a skate park out there too.

Davis is fun too, and a reasonable bike ride away.
posted by apricot at 5:22 PM on June 6, 2008

I just remembered: Stockton Blvd is known for having a big Southeast Asian population and lots of restaurants and markets. It was in Saveur magazine this month.

You can also drive down highway 160 and check out the delta. The Courtland Pear Fair is out that way:
posted by apricot at 5:27 PM on June 6, 2008

Yeah, another vote for Sacramento Yelp. Check out the Market Club mixed in with the warehouses on 5th below broadway; check out all the farmers markets; visit the drive-in before they really do close it after this summer. There are lots of cooking classes, good live theater, plenty of live music. As apricot notes, Stockton Blvd has a million great SE asian markets and restaurants and snackshops. Email me for more...
posted by luriete at 8:13 PM on June 30, 2008

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