Plan Your Day Trip to Sacramento: Attractions & Dining Tips


Sacramento, the capital city of California, is a mere 90 miles northeast of San Francisco, making it an ideal destination for a day trip. With its rich history, diverse culture, and a plethora of attractions, Sacramento offers visitors a unique experience that’s distinct from the bustling metropolis of San Francisco.

Key Points

  • Exploring the historical and cultural significance of Sacramento as a day trip destination from San Francisco.
  • Essential tips for planning a seamless day trip, including transportation options and timing.
  • Highlighting must-visit attractions and local eateries to enhance the day trip experience.

Planning Your Day Trip: Essentials to Know

The distance between San Francisco and Sacramento is approximately 90 miles, with an estimated travel time of 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic. When planning your day trip, consider the following transportation options:

  • Driving: Interstate 80 is the most direct route, offering a scenic drive through the Bay Area and into the Central Valley.
  • Public Transit: Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor train service runs between San Francisco and Sacramento, with multiple departures throughout the day.
  • Guided Tours: Several companies offer guided day trips from San Francisco to Sacramento, which can be a convenient option for those who prefer not to drive.

The best time to visit Sacramento is during the spring (March to May) or fall (September to November) when temperatures are mild and crowds are smaller.

Must-Visit Attractions in Sacramento

  • California State Capitol: Tour the historic Capitol building and stroll through the surrounding gardens.
  • Old Sacramento Waterfront: Step back in time and explore the Gold Rush-era buildings and museums.
  • Sacramento History Museum: Dive into the city’s past and learn about its role in California’s history.
  • Crocker Art Museum: Admire the collection of Californian and European art housed in a stunning Victorian-era mansion.

Culinary Delights: Sacramento’s Food Scene

Sacramento is at the forefront of the farm-to-fork movement, thanks to its location in the heart of California’s agricultural region. Some top restaurants for a lunch stop include:

  • The Waterboy: Enjoy seasonal, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in a charming Midtown setting.
  • Ella Dining Room and Bar: Savor contemporary American fare in an elegant atmosphere.
  • Magpie Cafe: Sample locally-sourced, creative dishes in a casual, rustic-chic environment.

For coffee and snacks, check out Temple Coffee Roasters, Insight Coffee Roasters, or Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates.

Outdoor Activities and Nature Explorations

  • American River Parkway: This 23-mile parkway offers hiking and biking trails, fishing spots, and picnic areas.
  • William Land Park: Enjoy the lush gardens, zoo, and golf course at this sprawling city park.

Shopping and Souvenirs: Bringing a Piece of Sacramento Home

  • Midtown Farmers Market: Held on Saturdays, this market features local produce, artisanal goods, and live music.
  • Old Sacramento Waterfront: Browse unique shops selling everything from vintage toys to handmade jewelry.

Cultural and Historical Insights: Museums and Tours

  • Sacramento Historical City Cemetery: Take a guided tour of this 19th-century cemetery and learn about the city’s early residents.
  • California State Railroad Museum: Explore the state’s railroad history through exhibits and restored locomotives.

Evening Return: Ending Your Day Trip on a High Note

Before heading back to San Francisco, catch the sunset at the Tower Bridge or along the Sacramento River. For evening dining options, consider:

  • The Firehouse Restaurant: Dine in a beautifully restored 1850s firehouse in Old Sacramento.
  • Mulvaney’s B&L: Enjoy farm-to-table cuisine in a charming, brick-walled space.


What is the best way to travel from San Francisco to Sacramento for a day trip?

The best way to travel depends on your preferences. Driving offers flexibility, while taking the train or a guided tour can be more relaxing.

Can you recommend any guided tours for a day trip to Sacramento from San Francisco?

Several companies, such as Tower Tours and Gray Line, offer guided day trips from San Francisco to Sacramento.

What are some kid-friendly activities in Sacramento for a day trip?

The Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town, and the California State Railroad Museum are all great options for families with children.

Are there any hidden gems in Sacramento that day trippers shouldn’t miss?

The Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park and the Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park offer fascinating glimpses into Sacramento’s past.

How can I make the most out of my day trip from San Francisco to Sacramento?

Plan ahead, prioritize the attractions you most want to see, and allow time for leisurely meals and breaks to fully enjoy your Sacramento experience.

SF Citizen Team

About the author

SF Citizen is your local guide to San Francisco, leading you through the city's iconic landmarks, hidden gems, and vibrant experiences. From the historic echoes of the Gold Rush era to stunning hikes in Muir Woods and the rich culinary scene, we provide meticulously curated explorations of this dynamic city. Whether you're planning your next adventure, considering a move, or exploring from afar, SF Citizen navigates you through the diverse neighborhoods, cultural scenes, and outdoor activities, helping you discover and connect with the city's soul.