Sacramento: Multi-cultural activities, historic capital sites, beautiful parks
By Jennifer Block

It has always amazed me how many people are unaware of Sacramento and all it has to offer. I hear it all the time, even from Northern Californians: "We’ve stopped in Sacramento for gas, on our way to Lake Tahoe."
The great thing is that people quickly fall in love with Sacramento once they have experienced a little of the city and its people. Whether your interests are peaked by diversity, history, experiences or fun facts, there is something for everyone.

LITTLE TYKE PLEASURES

As a young girl, I always had new adventures with my parents and sister on the weekends. William Land Park was a favorite because we had so many choices in one location. My sister always wanted to go to Fairytale Town. The fairytale theme park offers play sets, special events, live animals and learning gardens.

I preferred the Sacramento Zoo, Funderland and the pony rides. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be as tall as the giraffes. Even as I stand at 5’8", they are still so much taller than I am. Since I am too big for the rides, I just have to watch my nieces have fun on the pint-sized rides at Funderland amusement park and enjoy riding the ponies. Having a picnic and feeding the ducks in the ponds was always an option too. Usually my dad would hit the 9-hole golf course while we occupied ourselves running around.

If my parents were up for a more educational experience, we were off to Sutter’s Fort, Old Sacramento or the Capitol building . John Sutter, founded Sacramento’s earliest settlement in 1839. The fort has daily tours from 10am-5pm. We always loved the living history days that are still scheduled throughout the year.

Old Sacramento
, a 28-acre state park, offers shops, restaurants, museums and living history characters. This can all be found in the greatest concentration of historic buildings in California. The Old Sacramento Schoolhouse , Pony Express Monument and Wells Fargo Museum all offer free admission.

If it had been around when I was young, I’m sure the California State Railroad Museum would have been a favorite. The 100,000-square-foot museum is the most visited interpretive museum of it’s kind in North America. With 21 restored locomotives & cars, and other exhibits, it no wonder they need all that space! I think I was in the fourth grade the first time I took one of the free tours offered at the capitol. The tour and films went right along with my studies in school.

BIKING

If exercise and the great outdoors were on the schedule, we were off to the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bicycle Trail. Even now, when we have guests visiting, we venture to Bike Sacramento, a shop located in Old Sacramento, to rent bikes. Then we hit the 23-mile scenic trail, which stretches from Old Sacramento to Beals Point.
 
MULTI-CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

Sacramento was recently named the most diverse city in the U.S. by Time Magazine. In addition to a variety of great restaurants, there are wonderful festivals that celebrate that diversity. April is usually the host month of Festival de la Familia, a celebration of Latino cultures. Celebrating Asian cultures, the Pacific Rim Festival is held in May. Interested in Greek Culture? The Greek Food Festival, in September, is a must.

YEAR-ROUND FESTIVITIES

Sacramento is also home to other great festivals and events. Kicking off the start of each summer, the largest traditional jazz festival in the world takes place every Memorial Day Weekend. Jumping to Labor Day weekend, the California Gold Rush era comes alive during Gold Rush Days. Experience living history demonstrations and much more. In July, the high-powered boat races of the Bridge-to-Bridge Festival, thrill crowds, as the boats speed down the Old Sacramento Waterfront.

In addition to the fun activities and attractions, I would like to share some fun facts about this city where I grew up. Sacramento just replaced Paris as the city that has more trees per capita than any other city in the world. The Crocker Art Museum is the oldest museum west of the Mississippi. Blue Diamond Almonds, located at 17 & C Streets, led the development of California’s Almond industry. Blue Diamond is now the world leader in almond production and marketing. Almonds are California’s largest food export.

And here’s more tidbits about my beloved town:
*Mark Twain was a special news correspondent with the Sacramento Union Newspaper in 1866.
*Some 10,000 to 15,000 Chinese were instrumental in the construction of the railroad development, beginning in Sacramento and continuing into other parts of California and the country.
*Scandinavians brought dairy farming skills to the Sacramento Valley.
*And finally, in 1853, J.L.L.F. Warren introduced the camellia flower, which he had shipped from the East Coastt. Today, the camellia is the official flower of Sacramento, as well as the namesake for the Camellia Society event held annually in Sacramento.

If you decide to stay overnight, there are a plethora of options from youth hostels to four star hotels. At check-in, be sure to ask for your Sacramento Gold Card. This card gets you discounts, free-bees and 2 for 1’s at many locations around town. This card can only be obtained with an over-night stay at a participating hotel.

For more information on the events and places listed above, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at 916-808-7777. They can answer any of your questions or send you a visitors’ guide.

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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES:

* www.parks.ca.gov : 916-445-4422, for Pioneer Demonstration Days (Sutter’s Fort) and Living History Days (Sutter’s Fort).
* www.californiastaterailroadmuseum.org : 916-445-6646, for Steam Train Excursions and Museum.
* www.calexpo.com :916-443-6223, for Festival de la Familia.
* www.oldsacramento.com : 916-443-6223, for Pacific Rim Festival.
* www.sacjazz.com : 916-372-5277, for Sacramento Jazz Jubilee.
* www.discovergold.org : 800-292-2334, for Bridge-to-Bridge Waterfront Festival, Gold Rush Days.
* www.saczoo.com : 916-264-5885, for Sacramento Zoo.
* www.capitalcitygolf.com/william : 916-277-1207, for William Land Nine-Hole Golf Course, located right by the zoo, Funderland and Fairytale Town.
* www.cityofsacramento.org/parksandrecreation/parks : site for Williams Land Park - Home of the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town, Funderland, pony rides, nine-hole golf course, rock garden, picnic areas and ponds.

Jennifer Block is a proud resident of Sacramento and works for the Hyatt Regency as sales manager. This is her first article for BAFT.

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