Your Guide to Spending a Full Day in Downtown Sacramento, Mapped
Whether you are a long-time resident or you’re new to Sacramento, it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day living and forget about the amazing attractions in the heart of downtown. And of course, if you’re visiting the city, you will most likely want to experience downtown Sacramento to the fullest.
Downtown Sacramento has experienced a renaissance of sorts in the last several years, spearheaded by amazing organizations like the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. In the last decade, the downtown area received over $1 billion in private and public investments — and that is just the beginning.
Use our step-by-step itinerary to plan out a complete day downtown, or simply glean some activities or destinations to create your own schedule! Whatever you do, enjoy your day exploring downtown Sacramento and all its glory.
8 a.m. | Start With Coffee
Photo Courtesy of Temple Coffee Roasters
Any good day starts with coffee. Thankfully, there is no shortage of coffee shops in the Sacramento area. One of our favorites in the downtown area is Temple Coffee Roasters, an award-winning and well-respected artisan roaster with several locations throughout the city. Their downtown space is a modern, light-filled and airy cafe with an open floor plan, featuring large handmade communal tables and a pour-over bar. It is centrally located, so you can easily begin to explore the city after you enjoy your cup of coffee, which is crafted with extreme care. It all goes back to the intentional sourcing and meticulous roasting that Temple is so passionate about. Pair your drink of choice with a sweet or savory pastry to get fuel for your busy day!
9 a.m. | Visit a Park
Photo Courtesy of the City of Sacramento, Carlos Eliason
If you order your coffee and pastry to go, you can step just outside Temple to start your morning in Cesar Chavez Plaza, a popular and central park with a beautiful fountain. During the evenings, the plaza often hosts events, but in the morning, this is a peaceful spot to start your day, with or without coffee in hand. With all the activity in store, it’s a perfect place to relax and get your bearings in the city!
10 a.m. | Get a History Lesson
Most museums in Sacramento open their doors at 10 a.m. Whether you’re a visitor or local, it’s always valuable to visit a local museum. In fact, sometimes tourists have seen more museums than those who have lived in Sacramento for years! You have a few options for your tour through history. And all three are in basically the same location in the heart of downtown.
The Leland Stanford Mansion was originally built in 1856 and was later purchased and remodeled by Leland and Jane Stanford, the former of which served as the governor of California from 1862 to 1863. It later served as the office for three governors and has a fascinating history spanning over 150 years. Today, the 19,000-square-foot mansion serves as a museum, where visitors can receive a tour highlighting its exquisite details. Tours begin every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last tour starting at 4 p.m.
The California Museum aims to engage, educate and enlighten people about California’s rich history, its diversity, and its unique influence on the world of ideas, innovation, art and culture. They do so through interactive experiences and a myriad of fascinating exhibits, spanning from the Gold Rush era to the present day. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, from 12–5 p.m. on Sundays, and is closed on Mondays.
And of course, the California State Capitol Museum is an excellent choice. This free museum offers an exciting integration of the past, present and future of California as you explore the present-day workings of the state’s seat of government. The museum is open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are available hourly from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
12 p.m. | Grab Lunch
Photo Courtesy of Cafeteria 15L
Stop for a bite to eat at one of our favorite lunch spots in the city. Make your way towards the K Street Corridor, where you will likely be spending much of your day! Cafeteria 15L is situated on the corner of 15th and L Street, which you could probably guess from the name. On your way, be sure to take a stroll through the beautiful International World Peace Rose Gardens, situated in the shadow of the capitol building!
Cafeteria 15L serves a brilliant and colorful lunch menu, featuring a variety of small plates, soups, salads, seafood and sandwiches. Their menu is perhaps best enjoyed out on their dreamy courtyard with couch seating, fire pits, romantic cabanas and space heaters.
2 p.m. | Sip on Regional Wine
If you missed out on the drink menu at Cafeteria 15L, you might opt for a glass of wine just around the corner at Downtown & Vine. This boutique wine bar offers an excellent selection of both local and global wines, plus a variety of artisanal cheeses and meats to snack on. We are so close to Napa Valley and its renowned wines, so it’s only right to sample and savor them during your downtown adventure. Plus, Downtown & Vine has an extensive retail space, which means you can take your favorite bottle home with you!
3:30 p.m. | Head to Downtown Commons
Photo Courtesy of Revival at the Sawyer
Make your way to the brand new Downtown Commons, a vibrant mixed-use development next to the Golden 1 Center. There is so much to do and see here, whether you want to go bowling at Punch Bowl Social, shop at Urban Outfitters, see a movie at Century DOCO and XD, or take in spectacular city views at the rooftop bar at Revival at the Sawyer. This sleek indoor-outdoor lounge is the perfect place to relax with a drink or small bite while you take in views of the surrounding cityscape. Keep in mind there is a dress code at Revival, which means you should dress to impress!
5:30 p.m. | Enjoy Dinner
Escape to the farm while staying in the heart of downtown with a visit to Ella Dining Room & Bar, a luxe eatery with a focus on farm-to-table food. They are “dedicated to promoting local, sustainable growers, farmers, ranchers and artisans while creating delicious food, impeccable service and a nurturing, vibrant downtown neighborhood atmosphere.” The elegant and inviting interior at Ella will provide the ideal setting for enjoying their fresh and forward-thinking New American and French-style cooking, including seafood, steaks, pastas, and salads, plus a fresh cold seafood bar with oysters, shrimp and more. Dine al fresco on the patio or retreat to the extravagant interior with brilliant touches — like window shutters on the ceiling!
7:30 p.m. | See a Show
Photo Courtesy of Crest Theatre
If you end up dining at Ella Dining Room & Bar, you are just steps away from the historic Crest Theatre, where you can see a film, concert or some sort of live performance. Take a look at the calendar to see if there is something planned when you’ll be spending time downtown! Crest Theatre was originally built in 1912 and has since undergone several revitalization projects. It is filled with history and charm, providing an ideal setting for seeing a live show or film.
10 p.m. | Top Off the Night With a Drink
Top off a successful day in downtown Sacramento with a craft cocktail or local brew. Thankfully, you won’t have to travel far if you see a show at Crest Theatre, as Empress Tavern is located just downstairs. That’s right — this cozy underground tavern is located in the basement of the theater! If the show ends well past 10, you may have to travel a bit further, as Empress Tavern closes at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and even earlier on weekdays.
Thankfully, you have plenty of latenight options downtown. Take a short Uber or Lyft ride to R Street, where you’ll find a concentration of hotspots, including the Shady Lady Saloon, R15, Bottle & Barlow, and Fox & Goose, most of which stay open as late as 2 a.m.!
Enjoy the day!
What are your favorite things to do downtown? Let us know in the comments below.