10 Must-Try Outdoor Activities in Sacramento: A Guide to Exploring California’s Capital City


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Sacramento, the capital city of California, offers a plethora of outdoor activities that cater to every interest and skill level. Whether you’re a fan of hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply enjoy soaking in the sun while picnicking in a park, living in Sacramento means that outdoor activities are abundant and accessible. 

Whether you’re looking at homes for sale in Sacramento or considering apartments for rent in the area, you’ll love exploring the great outdoors while enjoying the urban amenities of a bustling city. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the best outdoor activities in Sacramento that you can enjoy year-round.

tower bridge over the sacramento river

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1. Explore the Sacramento River

The Sacramento River is a magnificent waterway that runs through the heart of Sacramento, providing a source of beauty and entertainment for locals and tourists alike. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and paddle down the river, passing by landmarks like the Tower Bridge and the historic Delta King riverboat. Along the way, visitors can spot an array of wildlife, including river otters, beavers, and even eagles. The river is also a popular spot for fishing, with an abundance of fish species such as salmon, steelhead, and striped bass. At night, the river comes to life with the lights of the city reflecting off the water, creating a magical ambiance.

2. Visit the American River Parkway

The American River Parkway is a gem in the heart of Sacramento, providing visitors with a serene and picturesque environment to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The parkway features lush greenery, rocky cliffs, and sandy beaches, all perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing. The parkway is also a popular destination for birdwatchers, with various species of birds that call the river home. There are numerous access points to the parkway, each with its unique scenery and amenities, making it easy for visitors to plan a day out.

3. Hike the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail

The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail is a fantastic trail that offers some of the best views of Sacramento and the surrounding landscape. The trail spans over 32 miles, providing visitors with plenty of opportunities to explore nature and soak in the breathtaking scenery. The trail winds its way along the American River, passing through several parks and landmarks, including the historic Folsom Powerhouse. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely walk, the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail is an excellent option for an outdoor adventure.

4. Visit the William Land Park

The William Land Park is a favorite among Sacramento residents and visitors, offering a vast range of outdoor activities for all ages. The park is home to several sports fields, including baseball, soccer, and basketball, as well as playgrounds, picnic areas, and a golf course. The Sacramento Zoo, located within the park, houses over 500 animals from various corners of the globe. Guests can embark on a journey of discovery to learn about the diverse range of animals or take a train ride through the park for an up-close experience with these fascinating creatures.

sacramento state historic park

5. Stroll through Old Sacramento State Historic Park

Old Sacramento State Historic Park is a must-visit for history buffs and those interested in the rich history of California. The park is home to numerous historic buildings and landmarks that date back to the Gold Rush era, including the Big Four Building, which was once home to the “Big Four” railroad tycoons. You can take a stroll along the wooden boardwalks and admire the beautiful architecture of the buildings, or visit the Sacramento History Museum to learn more about the city’s past. The park features numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops, where visitors can sample local cuisine and buy souvenirs to remember their trip.

6. Take a bike tour of the city

Sacramento is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States, with numerous bike lanes and bike-friendly roads that make it easy to explore the city on two wheels. Visitors can rent a bike from several bike rental companies and take a self-guided tour of the city, passing by historic landmarks such as the California State Capitol, the Tower Bridge, and the Crocker Art Museum. Many Sacramento bike tour companies offer guided tours, which are a great option for anyone who wants to learn about the city’s history and culture while getting some exercise. Some companies also offer specialized tours such as foodie tours, craft beer tours, and cultural tours, allowing visitors to customize their experience.

7. Visit Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is a significant landmark that dates back to the 1840s, serving as a trading post and settlement during the Gold Rush era. Visitors can take a guided tour and learn about the life of John Sutter, the fort’s founder, and the early history of California. Restored buildings such as a blacksmith shop, bakery, and general store are just a few of the historical features within the park. Through various exhibits and artifacts, visitors can experience a window into the past and get a sense of what life was like during the early days of the state. The park hosts many events throughout the year, including living history days, cultural celebrations, and educational programs, making it a great destination for visitors of all ages.

golf ball on a tee

8. Play a round of golf at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex

The Haggin Oaks Golf Complex is a premier golf destination in Sacramento, offering two championship golf courses, a driving range, and a pro shop. The complex features stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including several ponds and lakes, making it a popular spot for golf enthusiasts. The complex also offers lessons and clinics for golfers of all skill levels, making it an excellent option for beginners and seasoned players alike. The pro shop features a vast selection of golf apparel and accessories, as well as club fitting services, making it a one-stop-shop for all your golfing needs. The complex includes a restaurant and bar, making it a great spot for a post-round meal or drink.

9. Visit McKinley Park

The McKinley Park is a beautiful oasis in the heart of Sacramento, offering a range of outdoor activities for visitors. The park features numerous sports fields, including basketball and tennis courts, as well as playgrounds and walking paths. Visitors can also enjoy a splash pad, a rose garden, and a pond. The park’s central location makes it easy for visitors to access, and its peaceful atmosphere makes it a perfect spot for a picnic or a relaxing day out. The park also hosts several events throughout the year, ranging from concerts and festivals to movie nights, making it a great destination for visitors of all ages.

10. Take a day trip to the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

The Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is a beautiful destination just outside of Sacramento, offering numerous outdoor activities for visitors. The park features stunning views of Folsom Lake and the surrounding hills, making it a popular spot for hiking, biking, and picnicking. Visitors can also swim, boat, and fish in the lake, or take a guided tour to learn about the park’s history and ecology. Within the park, visitors can take advantage of various camping and picnic areas, as well as a visitor center showcasing exhibits and educational programs. Additionally, several trails that cater to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike offer a leisurely pace to explore the park’s picturesque landscapes. With its natural beauty and numerous outdoor activities, the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is an excellent option for a day trip from Sacramento.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Chibuzo Ezeokeke

Chibuzo is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about local insights and home improvement. His dream home is a Mediterranean-style house with a large kitchen and plenty of windows.

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