Where to Take Out-of-Town Guests in Sacramento
December 22, 2023

Where to Take Out-of-Town Guests in Sacramento

The holidays are all about spending time with friends and family, and many people travel this time of year to visit their loved ones. If you have guests staying with you, you may be wondering how to keep them entertained. Whether they’re new to Sacramento or just looking for new things to do, there’s no need to spend time planning the perfect itinerary — we’ve done all the work for you! From wine tasting to dining, historic sites to natural wonders, following is a list of spots to take out-of-town guests this holiday season (or any time of year). Don’t have guests staying with you? You can also visit these locations on your own and enjoy being a tourist in your own town!

For Foodies

It’s no secret that Sacramento is the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the nation. As such, it has its share of amazing farm-to-fork restaurants to choose from. But it also has plenty of uniquely Sacramento restaurants too, ranging from historic classics to quirky dives. You can even take one of several food tours to sample everything it has to offer! It’s also fun to peruse a farmers’ market to see what’s on offer this time of year. The Davis Farmers’ Market is one of the largest in the state and is open year round. Following are some top spots throughout the region that any food aficionado would love. 

Preserve. Located in Winters, this sophisticated eatery showcases the bounty of the farms in and around Yolo County.

Photo courtesy Firehouse Restaurant

The Firehouse. Located in Old Sacramento, The Firehouse is a Sacramento staple, serving refined meat and seafood dishes in a charming 19th-century firehouse.

Restaurant Josephine. This refined newcomer, located in Auburn, takes a seasonal approach to French classics, such as moules frites and steak tartare.

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Photo courtesy Kru

Kru. This Sacramento-based Japanese restaurant was founded by Billy Ngo, who is known for opening multiple hip spots around the area. They offer contemporary and upscale daily specials as well as tried-and-true sushi and specialty plates.

Frank Fat’s. In operation since 1939, this old-school Chinese restaurant in downtown Sacramento serves elevated Chinese dishes. Their New York steak, brandy-fried chicken and banana cream pie are especially notable.

Photo courtesy Tower Cafe

Tower Café. Eclectic global décor and an internationally inspired menu are the draw at this popular Land Park restaurant, especially for brunch. The custard-soaked French toast alone is worth a visit.

Poor Reds. This historic barbecue joint-slash-bar in the town of El Dorado is world-renowned for inventing the Golden Cadillac cocktail in the 1950s.

Zelda’s. Ask any local for spinoccoli pizza and they’ll send you to this longstanding Chicago-style deep-dish pizza parlor in Midtown Sacramento.

Chando’s. With nine locations in the Sacramento area, this local taco chain has a cult following for its signature street tacos, especially its charbroiled carne asada.

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For the Wine Lover

Sacramento is the epicenter of great Northern California wine growing regions, so there are plenty of spots to take the wine lovers in your life. Local wineries offer not only tastings, but many also offer tours and special events such as food pairings and live music.

Lucid Winery. Located on the R Street corridor in Midtown Sacramento, Lucid is one of only a handful of wineries within the city limits. They produce organic, vegan wines, including chardonnay, rosé and sparkling wine. They also have live music, trivia nights and vendor fairs.

Old Sugar Mill. Housed in a former sugar beet factor in Clarksburg, the Old Sugar Mill is a one-stop shop for wine tasting. It’s home to 14 wineries and often has food trucks and live music on weekends.

Apple Hill. This apple-growing region near Placerville is a popular place to visit with kids come fall. But it’s also a prolific wine-growing region, with local growers such as Boeger and Lava Cap taking advantage of the warm days and cool nights.

Placer Wine Trail. Placer County is another lesser-known wine growing region near Sacramento, and its wine trail stretches from Rocklin to Auburn. Some wineries to check out include Casque Wines in Loomis and Rancho Roble in Lincoln.

For Kids

Have little ones visiting this holiday season? Luckily there are plenty of family-friendly attractions in the greater Sacramento area. Following are a few of our favorites.

Photo courtesy Old Sacramento Waterfront

Old Sacramento. No visit to Sacramento is complete without exploring its old town, a National Historic Landmark made up of 50 Gold Rush-era buildings. Museums, shops and restaurants line the raised boardwalks, and a 100-year-old paddlewheeler sits on the riverfront, which has great views of the iconic Tower Bridge. You can take a carriage ride or tour the Old Sacramento Underground, the city’s original street level before it was raised due to flooding. During the holidays, Old Sacramento is decked to the nines in festive décor and every Thursday through Sunday night you can catch the Theatre of Lights, a dramatic light show choreographed to a reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

California State Railroad Museum. As one of the largest railroad museums in the nation, this Old Sacramento staple attracts kids and adults alike. It has dozens of modern and vintage train cars and it offers excursion rides.

Photo courtesy Quarry Park

Quarry Park Adventures. Do you have a kiddo who likes to climb? This adventure park in Rocklin lets them climb, rappel and zipline their way across a disused granite quarry. Sacramento’s mild weather means outdoor fun even during the winter!

Marshall Gold Discovery Site. There’s gold in them thar hills, and the whole family can learn about its discovery at this state park in Coloma. You can also try your hand at gold panning — who knows, you may even strike it rich!

River Fox Train. Another railroading adventure takes place in West Sacramento, where you and the kids can hop on a vintage train and enjoy the scenery on a 10-mile ride. They have a Magical Christmas Train Ride through Dec. 27 complete with hot cocoa, cookies, and a visit with Santa. They also offer railbikes for those seeking more adrenaline, where you can sit and pedal along the tracks.

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For Outdoorsy Types

Due to its location at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, not to mention its proximity to the Sierra Nevada foothills, Sacramento is a haven for outdoor lovers. Even in the winter, recreational opportunities abound, from hiking and biking to horseback riding and boating.

American River Parkway. Known affectionately as “the jewel of Sacramento,” this paved, multi-use pathway stretches for 32 miles from Old Sacramento in the west to Folsom in the east. Although locals refer to it as the American River Bike Trail, it’s actually used for walking, running, inline skating, and horseback riding as well. It has panoramic views of the river, and along its route are numerous parks and picnic areas. Further east, at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, you can view salmon and trout runs and learn about the local ecosystem.

Auburn State Recreation Area. At the confluence of the North and Middle forks of the American River, the Auburn State Recreation Area is another unique spot for winter hiking. There are miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to challenging, as well as mountain biking and horse trails. There are also opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing and you can gold pan along the banks as well.

Cosumnes River Preserve. Did you know the Sacramento region lies beneath the Pacific Flyway, the north-south route for migrating birds? Winter marks the busy season in the region and one of the best places to go bird watching is the Cosumnes River Preserve in Galt. There are accessible trails through the wetlands, where you can see Sandhill Cranes, Blue Herons, Great Egrets, woodpeckers, geese, ducks, hawks and dozens of other birds. They also offer guided tours.

Folsom Lake. Bordering Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer counties, Folsom Lake is typically associated with summertime activities such as swimming and boating. But it also makes a great day trip in the winter, as it has miles of lakeside trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. There’s even year-round camping! Nearby, in the city of Folsom, you can explore the quaint historic district, go ice skating, and visit Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park.

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Category Neighborhood Guides, Sacramento

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