The Best Things to Do in Elk Grove
Rolling farmlands — and yes, elk — once defined the landscape that is now the City of Elk Grove, about 20 minutes south of Sacramento. It was founded as a stop for stagecoaches traveling between San Francisco and Sacramento, its namesake Elk Grove Hotel providing much-needed shelter and food for weary travelers. The small hamlet retained its rural charm for decades, but in the 1980s, a housing boom developed the land into suburban neighborhoods.
Today, Elk Grove is a vibrant, family-friendly city known for its many community parks and great schools. It’s a bustling shopping area, with national retailers and big-box stores as well as independent boutiques. Its dining scene is also thriving, with high-end restaurants and national chains alongside smaller, independently owned eateries offering cuisine from every corner of the globe. Surrounded by vineyards, the area also has a growing wine industry. Following are some of the top things to do when visiting Elk Grove.
Enjoy a Great Meal
Elk Grove has plenty of dining options to choose from, ranging from fine dining to hole-in-the-wall comfort food spots. In addition to many national chains, there are many locally-owned spots featuring global dishes, including ramen, dumplings, gyros, sushi, hot pot, crepes and everything in between.
For a celebratory meal, try Boulevard Bistro, which was named one of the top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America by Open Table in 2017! The menu focuses on regional American cuisine and California wine. Another good choice is Palermo Ristorante Italiano, which serves traditional Italian fare. Housed in a 100-year-old building, Sheldon Inn is an upscale restaurant and bar known for its classic French, American and Portuguese cuisine.
If you’re looking for something more laid back, check out Journey to the Dumpling, which offers Chinese-inspired bites like soup dumplings, steamed shrimp dumplings and BBQ pork buns. Another option is Old Town Pizza & Tap House, which serves brick-oven pies alongside craft beer. Craving sushi? Try Yoshi Japanese Restaurant, which serves specialty rolls, hand rolls, sashimi, and other Japanese dishes.
Sample Local Wine (or Beer!)
You don’t have to go to the big city to indulge in a thriving wine and beer culture. Elk Grove has several wineries and breweries where you can relax with family and friends or celebrate special events. McConnell Estates Winery is the largest in the area, and features a tasting room in a 100-year-old farmhouse. They also host many special events throughout the year, including summer concerts and holiday shopping nights. Other choices include Vannatta Winery, which specializes in hand-crafted, small-batch Old World wines, and Adkins Family Vineyards, which produces varietals including Zinfandel and Chardonnay. If you’re looking to spend a day in a lovely setting, check out Bradley Ranch Winery, which not only has great wines, it also hosts events such as concerts, craft fairs, cornhole tournaments, family festivals, and holiday events.
If beer is more your thing, you’ll find it in Elk Grove. Several craft breweries can be found here, including Flatland Brewing Company, which pours brews such as Flannel Shirt coffee stout and Therapy Session hazy IPA. Other spots include Tilted Mash Brewing and Waterman Brewing Company, which offers live music, trivia nights, and karaoke alongside their IPAs, lagers, and sours.
Elk Grove is a shopping mecca, known for its shopping centers, national retailers and big-box stores that sell everything from clothing and shoes to sporting goods and electronics. But it also has plenty of mom-and-pop shops where you can find one-of-a-kind gifts, antiques, fashion and other items. The Red Door, in historic Old Town Elk Grove, sells vintage and antique home décor. The Secret Garden is a locally-owned nursery that also sells pottery, house plants, and garden decor, or check out A Seat at the Table Books, which has all the latest titles as well as an on-site café and events like poetry readings, movie nights, and storytime.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Did you know Elk Grove is home to more than 90 neighborhood and community parks? One of the largest is Elk Grove Regional Park, which has a fishing lake, multi-use trail, disc golf course, bike park and swim center. Derr-Okamoto Park has a skate park and BMX park, as well as a seasonal sprayground. Elk Grove is home to three aquatics centers, which feature pools and water slides.
Elk Grove is also home to Stone Lakes Refuge, where you can hike or paddle through the natural habitats of more than 200 species of birds as well as deer, otters, raccoons, foxes and other critters. Nearby is the Cosumnes River Preserve, another hotspot for birders, including the cranes, egrets and hawks. Another great place to get in touch with nature is The Preserve at District56, a 28-acre passive park that serves as a habitat restoration of wetlands, native grasslands, and native oak forest. There’s even a historic pistachio orchard. Or, head out on the Laguna Creek Trail, popular for bird watching and wildlife viewing.
Attend a Community Event
Elk Grove is a bustling community that loves to celebrate! Locals come together to browse farmers markets, listen to outdoor music and nosh on goodies from food truck meetups. Annual events include the Salute to the Red, White & Blue, Giant Pumpkin Festival, Strauss Festival, and Multicultural Festival. There are plenty of other events throughout the year as well, including holiday events, races, campouts and comedy.
Come Home to Elk Grove
Should you decide to lay down roots in Elk Grove, there is no shortage of homes to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a large, multi-story home to accommodate a growing family or a sleek condo with all the amenities of resort living, you’ll find it here. Whether new construction or luxury estates, Elk Grove has something to suit all tastes and all budgets.