Top Sacramento Sights to See on Your California Trip


Embark on a captivating journey from the historic streets of Sacramento to the iconic landmarks of San Francisco, experiencing a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty along the way. This 90-mile route offers a diverse array of attractions, from Gold Rush-era sites and vibrant urban centers to picturesque landscapes and outdoor adventures.

Key Points

  • Sacramento, the state capital, boasts a rich history and cultural significance as the starting point for this memorable journey.
  • The region features must-visit outdoor attractions and activities, showcasing Northern California’s natural wonders.
  • The route seamlessly combines urban exploration with opportunities to immerse oneself in breathtaking natural settings en route to San Francisco.

Sacramento: A Gateway to Northern California’s Treasures

Sacramento, founded in 1850, has played a pivotal role in California’s history, serving as the state capital and a hub during the Gold Rush era. Today, the city offers a fascinating glimpse into the past while embracing a vibrant and modern culture.

Historical Landmarks and Museums

Delve into Sacramento’s rich history by visiting the California State Railroad Museum, which houses 19 lavishly restored locomotives from the 1860s and numerous railroad cars. Explore Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, a restored 1840s fort that was a crucial trading post during the early days of the city. For automotive enthusiasts, the California Automobile Museum showcases an impressive collection of vintage and classic vehicles.

Outdoor Adventures and Family Fun

Sacramento offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and family-friendly activities. The American River Parkway provides miles of trails for hiking, biking, and fishing. The Sacramento Zoo is home to over 140 species of animals across its 15-acre grounds. Fairytale Town brings beloved nursery rhymes and storybook characters to life, delighting children of all ages.

Culinary Delights and Shopping

Indulge in fresh, locally-sourced produce and artisanal goods at the Midtown Farmers Market. The Old Sacramento Waterfront district features historic buildings, unique shops, and waterfront dining. Sacramento is also known for its thriving wine and craft beer scene, with numerous local wineries and breweries to explore.

The Scenic Route: Discovering Hidden Gems

As you journey from Sacramento to San Francisco, take the time to discover the hidden gems and lesser-known attractions that dot the picturesque landscape.

Nature’s Marvels

The Cosumnes River Preserve, spanning over 50,000 acres, offers a haven for wildlife and opportunities for hiking and birdwatching. Briones Regional Park, with its rolling hills and stunning vistas, provides a perfect setting for outdoor activities and picnics. No trip would be complete without a visit to Muir Woods National Monument, home to towering old-growth redwoods that inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

Charming Small Towns

Explore the historic town of Locke, founded by Chinese immigrants in the early 1900s, and discover its unique heritage. Stroll through the charming downtown area of Martinez, known for its antique shops and quaint cafes. Visit Sonoma Plaza, a historic town square surrounded by shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms.

Unique Experiences

Stay at Jellystone Park™ Tower Park, a family-friendly campground offering a variety of activities and amenities. Pick your own fresh berries at Daisy Creek Farms, a U-Pick farm featuring a wide selection of seasonal fruits. For car enthusiasts, The Cobra Experience in Martinez is a must-visit, showcasing an impressive collection of Shelby Cobra cars.

San Francisco: The Iconic City by the Bay

As you arrive in San Francisco, prepare to be captivated by the city’s iconic landmarks, vibrant neighborhoods, and endless opportunities for exploration.

Iconic Landmarks and Attractions

No visit to San Francisco would be complete without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, the city’s most recognizable symbol. Take a ferry to Alcatraz Island, the former prison turned national park, and learn about its fascinating history. Explore the lively atmosphere of Fisherman’s Wharf, known for its seafood restaurants, street performers, and souvenir shops.

Cultural Exploration

Immerse yourself in the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, with its bustling streets, authentic cuisine, and cultural landmarks. Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), which houses an extensive collection of contemporary and modern art. Discover the vibrant LGBTQ+ culture and history in the Castro District, known for its colorful streets and lively nightlife.

Outdoor Activities and Parks

Golden Gate Park, spanning over 1,000 acres, offers a variety of attractions, including the California Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Enjoy stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline from Crissy Field, a former military airfield turned waterfront park. Hike the scenic trails at Lands End Lookout, which offers breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the ruins of the Sutro Baths.

Beyond San Francisco: Day Trips and Excursions

While San Francisco offers endless attractions, the surrounding region provides even more opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Wine Country Wonders

Explore the world-renowned Napa Valley, known for its picturesque vineyards and exceptional wineries. Sonoma County offers a more relaxed wine tasting experience, with charming small towns and a focus on artisanal products.

Coastal Escapes

Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the world’s premier aquariums, and stroll along the historic Cannery Row. Point Reyes National Seashore offers stunning coastal landscapes, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Mountain Adventures

Experience the year-round beauty of Lake Tahoe, known for its crystal-clear waters, ski resorts, and outdoor activities. Yosemite National Park, with its iconic granite cliffs, waterfalls, and diverse landscapes, is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.


What are the top historical sites to visit in Sacramento?

Some of the top historical sites in Sacramento include the California State Railroad Museum, Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, and the Old Sacramento Waterfront district.

Can you recommend family-friendly activities between Sacramento and San Francisco?

Family-friendly activities along the route include visiting Fairytale Town in Sacramento, staying at Jellystone Park™ Tower Park, and picking fresh berries at Daisy Creek Farms.

What are some must-see natural attractions near San Francisco?

Must-see natural attractions near San Francisco include Muir Woods National Monument, Golden Gate Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore.

Where can I experience wine tasting in the region?

You can experience wine tasting in the world-famous Napa Valley and the more relaxed Sonoma County, both known for their exceptional wineries and picturesque landscapes.

Are there any recommended day trips from San Francisco to natural parks or coastal areas?

Recommended day trips from San Francisco include visiting Yosemite National Park, exploring the coastal beauty of Monterey Bay and Cannery Row, and hiking in Point Reyes National Seashore.

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.