Enjoy Historic Architecture And Amazing Food At This California Destination

When someone says "California," you will likely think of Los Angeles and its popular attractions. Or it could bring San Francisco's famous landmarks to mind. However, there is a lesser-known city that deserves as much hype: Sacramento. Located about an hour and a half away from San Francisco, Sacramento has the honor of being the capital of California. Likewise, it's No. 3 on WalletHub's 2023 "Best Foodie Cities in America" list. 

Sacramento was officially founded in 1848 and thrived thanks to the California Gold Rush. By 1849, the area, now known as the Old Sacramento Waterfront, had been established on the Sacramento River. Old Sacramento Waterfront became a National Historic Landmark in 1965. With shops, restaurants, and more, it has since become a must-see on a Sacramento trip. It's the heart of the city, and reviewers on Tripadvisor agree, noting the beauty of the historic old-west architecture. The 28-acre site has 53 buildings, many built during the Gold Rush. 

Thanks to restorations in the 1960s, some are still in use, including the 1853 B.F. Hastings Building, home to the Sacramento Visitor Center. Tourists can walk the streets and explore the Old Sacramento Waterfront while learning about California's history. Add delicious meals along the way, and you've got a jam-packed itinerary.

Peak into the past with these Old Sacramento Waterfront attractions

Old Sacramento Waterfront allows guests to see a Wild West town as it was. If you want to take in the historic setting in style, consider a leisurely carriage or wagon ride from Top Hand Ranch Company. As for attractions, Old Sacramento Waterfront is home to the top-rated California State Railroad Museum. It has several vintage locomotives used in California and Nevada from the 1800s and 1900s. At the time of this publication, tickets range from $6 to $12.

Only a short walk away, visitors will find the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot and the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station. Both are reconstructions of buildings from the 1800s. Nevertheless, they provide visitors with further information about the importance of the railroad to Sacramento. Then there's the Sacramento History Museum. Housed in a reproduction of Sacramento's City Hall, built in 1854 and demolished in 1913, the museum is dedicated to preserving California's past through artifacts and more. Tickets range from $5 to $10.

The Sacramento History Museum also has a distinct underground tour. Guides take guests below Old Sacramento, where they discuss floods that occurred in the mid-19th century and how this led the city to raise the streets by 20 feet. Visitors can also hop on a Historic River Cruise from City Cruises, a scenic and educational tour of Old Sacramento. If staying overnight, The Delta King is on the water and is a restored riverboat from 1927.

Sacramento and its Farm-to-Fork fame

Dining options at Old Sacramento Waterfront are plentiful. Rio City Café, for example, is located on the water and has views of the Tower Bridge. Its menu has seafood, sandwiches, and more. For burgers and drinks in a Western-style ambiance, head to Fanny Ann's Saloon. However, other parts of Sacramento have even more to offer visitors. In fact, Sacramento is known as the Farm-to-Fork Capital. What exactly does this mean? The city is surrounded by farmland that provides local restaurants with top-quality ingredients. 

Sacramento celebrates this distinction every September by throwing a food and music-filled Farm-to-Fork Festival. Even if you're not around in September, Sacramento has various Farm-to-Fork restaurants. Hook & Ladder in the Richmond Grove neighborhood has an industrial-style setting and is reasonably priced. Dinner entrées include oxtail cavatelli and roasted summer squash. Bambi Vegan Tacos in Midtown is an affordable option. Menu highlights include their cremini mushroom Bambi taco (pictured) and their Al Pastor taco, made with spicy mushrooms. 

Most Farm-to-Fork restaurants, like the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Downtown Sacramento, are higher priced and upscale. This Michelin-rated establishment serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Entrées on its dinner menu includes Miso-marinated black cod and day boat scallops. All in all, Sacramento is a low-key destination that history or food lovers should not miss.