Save on Gas With These Staycation Ideas Near Sacramento
Ahhh the great American road trip. Nothing defines summer (and youthful abandon) than hopping in the car, the top down, the wind in your hair and the asphalt passing you by. Road trips were the quintessential getaway for much of the 20th century and were considered the most appealing way to escape the ordinary and see the country at the same time.
Enter 2022. Rising gas prices make extended road trips unattainable for many Americans. As of this writing, gas prices averaged $5.85 a gallon, according to the California State Automobile Association. That means a trip to, say, Southern California, with stops along the way, can result in as much as $300 in fuel costs alone.
Luckily, the greater Sacramento area has plenty of places to see and things to do, so you don’t have to go far to feel like you’re a world away. Whether you want to explore your own city or travel a short distance — under an hour — following are some ideas for staycation itineraries in and around the greater Sacramento area.
Step Back in Time
The greater Sacramento area is awash in Gold Rush history, so why not play tourist in your own town? Head to Old Sacramento to explore the Sacramento Railroad Museum or Sacramento History Museum, take a carriage ride along the cobbled streets, and see a 19th-century schoolhouse. You can even go beneath the surface for an underground tour to see the original storefronts before the streets were raised due to flood concerns. And, of course, there are plenty of restaurants and shops to enjoy along the way.
Stay: Book a room at the Delta King hotel, a 19th-century paddlewheeler permanently moored along the riverbank. There’s also a restaurant onsite.
Explore the Delta
The Sacramento River Delta is a little-explored gem right in our backyard. It extends south from the city limits all the way to the Bay Area, accessed by Highway 160, otherwise known as the River Road. A scenic, water-view drive will bring you to numerous attractions along the way, including Clarksburg wine country and the Old Sugar Mill, a collection of 14 local tasting rooms; and the historic town of Locke, a Chinese-American settlement dating to the 1890s. There are water activities, such as fishing, boating, and paddling, a self-guided tour of historic bridges, and quirky bars and eateries.
Stay: Book a room at the historic Art-Deco style Ryde Hotel, built in 1927 and perched on the banks of the Sacramento River.
Get Your Nature Fix
The greater Sacramento area is nestled between some of the most scenic outdoor areas in the state. Whether hiking, biking, kayaking or camping, if you’re seeking a nature fix you have plenty of spots to choose from. For biking, there’s no better spot than the American River Bike Trail, which stretches for 26 miles from Sacramento to Folsom. Once in Folsom, you can hit the waters of Folsom Lake for a bit of kayaking, paddleboarding, or boating. There are even guided fishing tours on the lake! You can also hike, bike or horseback ride along one of the many trails within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.
Another great place to staycation is the historic town of Nevada City. Just an hour from Sacramento, it’s surrounded by the Tahoe National Forest, with miles of forested trails for hiking and mountain biking. There are also numerous lakes nearby, including Scott’s Flat Lake and Rollins Lake, popular for camping and boating. Nevada City also has easy access to the South Yuba River State Park, with opportunities for whitewater rafting and swimming in its emerald green swimming holes.
Stay: Lake Natoma Inn is in the heart of historic Folsom, with access to shops, restaurants and bars. If you’re feeling really outdoorsy, check out the campgrounds dotting Folsom Lake. In Nevada City, check out the Outside Inn, a charming spot with nature-themed rooms in the heart of town; or the Inn Town Campground, which has glamping tents beneath the trees.
Sip Local Wine
Although Napa and Sonoma get all the attention, there are other great wine regions in Northern California, many within minutes of the greater Sacramento area. Spots worth exploring are the El Dorado Wine Trail, which includes the areas of Placerville, Somerset and Fair Play; Yolo County, which includes the areas of Clarksburg, Winters and the Capay Valley; and the Placer Wine Trail, which includes Auburn, Lincoln and Loomis. All of these areas offer laid-back tastings in rural settings, and produce everything from hearty reds to sparkling whites. Plus, many offer tours and host special events such as weekend concerts.
Stay: In Placerville, check out Ponderosa Ridge, a quaint bed-and-breakfast on an apple orchard in the heart of wine country. In Loomis, the Flower Farm Inn is located in a working citrus orchard with expansive gardens and a tasting room onsite. In Yolo County, the Inn at Park Winters is a luxury bed-and-breakfast in a Victorian farmhouse.
It’s no secret that Sacramento is the farm-to-fork capital of the nation! Its surrounding farms, orchards and ranches provide an abundance of food to the city and beyond. Area chefs are proud to highlight this heritage with farm-fresh cuisine that changes with the seasons.
There are numerous food tours that provide a peek behind-the-scenes, allowing guests to sample the bounty that restaurants have to offer. Some to consider include Local Roots Food Tours, which offer three-hour walking tours through some of the city’s hottest culinary neighborhoods; SacTown Bites, which offers farm tours of the Capay Valley and tasting tours of the Delta; and Sacramento Food Tours, which takes participants to some of the city’s best restaurants to taste a variety of dishes and chat with chefs. You can also go out on your own by checking out some of the greater Sacramento area’s best farm-to-fork restaurants or following one of several self-guided agritourism itineraries.
Stay: Because most tours begin in the central city, some good options for lodging include the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel, which has a swanky cocktail lounge on the pool deck; and the Fort Sutter Hotel, which has a farm-to-fork restaurant and bar onsite.
For the Kiddos
Why should grownups have all the fun? Kids need a staycation too. Luckily, the greater Sacramento area has plenty of fun attractions for the littlest travelers. In the Land Park neighborhood, the Sacramento Zoo has been showcasing all types of animals for nearly 100 years! Neighboring Fairytale Town is a nursery-rhyme themed space with climbing structures and a petting zoo, while Funderland has tot-sized thrill rides. Younger kids will also have a blast at the Sacramento Children’s Museum in Rancho Cordova, which features hands-on, interactive exhibits. In Folsom, the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary is another top spot for animal lovers, as it supports animals who are unable to live in the wild.
For older kids (and kids at heart) nothing beats a waterpark for cooling off during summer vacation. Located in the Arden Arcade area, Raging Waters has more than two dozen attractions, including 20 waterslides, a lazy river and a wave pool. In Roseville, Golfland Sunsplash also has waterslides and a wave pool, plus miniature golf, laser tag and an arcade. For the adventurous set, head to Wake Island Waterpark in Pleasant Grove. They offer cable-based wakeboarding, paddleboarding, a human hamster wheel, plus a huge floating aquapark. Velocity Island Park in Woodland is similar, with wakeboarding, an inflatable obstacle course and a sandy beach.
If climbing is your kids’ thing, there are a few options in the greater Sacramento area. Quarry Park Adventures in Rocklin offers all types of aerial challenges, from rock climbing to rappelling to ziplining. They also have paddle boats and weekend concerts at the neighboring amphitheater. In West Sacramento, Tree Top Sac has ropes courses at all heights and levels, ziplines.
Stay: Close to Land Park is the Westin Hotel along the Sacramento River, which offers bike rentals for exploring the area. In Roseville, Larkspur Landing is across the street from Golfland Sunsplash and just a hop, skip and a jump to Quarry Park.