When van life lovers and many others think about California, a few cities instantly come to mind: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Sacramento isn’t on the list nearly as frequently as it should be.
Although Sacramento is the State’s capital city, it isn’t known for the glitz and glamour of L.A., the stunning architecture of San Francisco, or the ideal weather of San Diego. So you might wonder what it is known for and why you should pack up your campervan and visit.
Sacramento is an unsung hero of a destination city in The Golden State, and we want to share 12 of the many reasons why we think it’s lovely and why you should put this vibrant Farm to Fork Capital on your itinerary as soon as possible.
12 Reasons to Visit Sacramento in Your Campervan
As you consider your campervan trip to Sacramento, you might wonder about all the possible adventures along the way there and back and everything in between. We have gathered a list of the best things to do, see, eat, and where you should park your campervan, so let’s explore Sacramento and all the reasons you should pack up and visit.
1. Explore the Fastest Growing City in the State
Since Sacramento is growing by leaps and bounds, it’d be nice to see it as it is before it makes vast changes. It’s always interesting to watch a city amid change, whether cultural, architectural, or otherwise, and Sacramento is changing in multiple ways.
Here are a few ways Sacramento is growing:
- The real estate market reveals a lot about how a city is changing. According to a June 2022 report from the Sacramento Association of Realtors, the city is a seller’s market. That means people are eager to buy in a limited market.
- The California Department of Finance has reported that Sacramento is growing faster than any other major city in the State. Even with a meager population of 500,000, which is small compared to other California cities, Sacramento is bustling and thriving.
2. Savor a Serious Coffee Culture
Over the past 40 years, and inspired by the city’s oldest specialty roaster, Coffee Works, Sacramento’s coffee culture has flourished, rivaling Seattle and Portland, notes the Sacramento News & Review. Today, you’ll find a healthy shot of competition all around town, including the following:
- Pachamama features four locations in northern California, including two in Sacramento. This shop is farm-owned, taking fair trade a step further and much closer to home.
- The Mill stands out by offering premium coffees and teas, and you’ll find locations in Midtown and one in East Sacramento. You can also buy roasted coffee beans through their brand called Bouquet Coffee Roasters.
- Milka Coffee Roasters is all about the ambiance…and the coffee, but the atmosphere is fantastic. You can take a break from campervan life in this beautiful Victorian home serving as a coffee shop in one of three cozy rooms: dining room, living room, and entertainment room.
3. Bask in Nature in and Around Sacramento
Depending on your route to or from Sacramento, you already plan to visit some spectacular nature spots along the way, such as Redwoods National and State Parks and Point Reyes National Seashore. Fortunately, you can enjoy plenty of nature upon arrival in Sacramento at the following spots:
- American River Parkway
- Discovery Park, where the Sacramento and American Rivers converge
- Stevens Trail, featuring 2,800-3,200 feet elevations
4. Venture into Historic Sacramento
Historic Sacramento, also known as Old Sac, is a massive draw for history lovers since the city dates back to the Gold Rush. The neighborhood is brimming with color and character, and you can:
- Stroll the Old Sacramento Waterfront area to see the Old Sacramento State Park, Delta King Historic Riverboat, California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento History Museum & Underground Tour, and Brooks Novelty Antiques & Records.
- Dine at the Firehouse Restaurant, a former firehouse from 1853, and grab a beverage at the old-timey Fanny Ann’s Saloon, named for the famous 1842 steamship that served in the Civil War.
5. Tour the State Capital
It would be easy to assume that San Francisco or Los Angeles was the state capital, but Sacramento has served this purpose since 1854. Part of the reason for the decision that Sacramento was designated the capital city was to support the Gold Rush economy, but it is also a prime location near the Pacific coast and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Make sure to add Capitol Park to learn more facts and history about California’s state capital.
6. Enjoy the Famous Farm to Fork Cuisine
One of Sacramento’s nicknames isn’t “Farm to Fork” for no reason. Another bonus to being so close to the Pacific Coast and rich farmlands and vineyards is that restaurants can get some of the freshest seafood, produce, and the best wines in the country.
A few restaurants you shouldn’t miss include:
- Hook and Ladder Manufacturing Company
- Mendocino Farms
- Maple Cafe
7. Celebrate the Fall and Winter Seasons in Style
If you’re heading to Sacramento in the fall or winter, you’re in great luck. The city celebrates the chillier seasons in fine style. Here are some events and celebrations to consider if you plan to visit from September to January:
- Ain’t Necessarily Dead Fest at Auburn Recreation Dist’s Regional Park. Held in mid-September, this free annual festival features a kid zone, beer garden, food tents, and musical styles from bluegrass to jam bands and more.
- Foxy’s Fall Century Bicycling Event. If you plan to load your bicycles onto the back of your campervan, you might enjoy this fall cycling event held in mid-October.
- Productions at Crest Theatre. If you start celebrating the winter holidays, a play like A Carpenter’s Christmas, might do the trick
8. Take Your Pick from Several Museums to Visit
Sacramento features several museums to help you get to know the city’s history better. A few museums you might visit include the California State Capitol Museum, and California State Railroad Museum. The California Automobile Museum, which maintains 150 vintage autos and race cars that date back 120 years and is among one of the most popular spots to visit in Sacramento.
9. Revel in the Vibrant Art and Music Scene
The city is becoming a hotbed for nightlife and art and a music scene with something for everyone:
- Fine arts abound in Sacramento. Home to 650 murals, the city now hosts the Wide Open Walls mural festival each August, attracting local and international muralists. You can also visit several galleries, artists’ studios, and performing arts venues in Midtown daily.
- The city offers several opportunities to enjoy theater and performing arts, including Geery Theater’s indie shows. Downtown, you’ll find larger theater venues, such as the Wells Fargo Pavilion and the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center where you can catch musicals and plays. Performing arts options include a visit to the Sacramento Ballet and the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera,
- Sacramento’s music scene is growing, with several up-and-coming artists, including SpaceWalker, The Moans, and Write or Die.
10. Feel Cozy in a Family-Friendly Community
If you are traveling with the whole family, you will love the family-friendly atmosphere and events awaiting all of you in Sacramento. Here are a few of our favorite picks the kids will love!
- Seaquest in Folsom, about 20 miles outside of Sacramento, is a petting zoo where you can all learn about and feed the more than 650 rescued animals.
- Urban Air Sacramento is located on Arden Way and has something everyone in the family will love, including bumper cars, a climbing wall, virtual reality games, and much more.
11. Enjoy Staying at Safe and Beautiful Campgrounds
You’ll need a safe and comfortable spot to park your campervan and spend some relaxing downtime with your family. Fortunately, the Sacramento area is surrounded by nature and wildlife, and where you find those wonders, you’ll find great campgrounds. Let’s look at some top picks:
- Beal’s Point Campground in Granite is located on the western shore of the Folsom Lake Recreation Area. It features 49 family-friendly campsites with plenty of standard campground amenities.
- Rancho Seco Recreation Area is a 25-minute drive from Sacramento in Herald, California, and offers guests easy access to the capital city and a beautiful place to rest each evening.
12. Visit the RecVan Store in Fremont, California
Whether you own a RecVan campervan or are interested in buying one, we would love for you to visit our store in Fremont, California, about 108 miles from Sacramento. When you stop in, we can give you a tour of the store and our inventory, and we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions. In the meantime, enjoy fun and safe travels, and enjoy your time in Sacramento!