From show-stopping musical acts to Broadway productions, to world-class museums – the arts are thriving in every corner of Sacramento, California’s capital city. The city offers an ideal mix of large-scale exhibits and performances, along with intimate theaters and galleries to explore.
Here are a few suggestions to whet your cultural appetite.
For Fine Arts
- Sacramento’s art scene is experiencing an exciting resurgence, with captivating galleries dotting the city’s midtown and downtown, and some of the city’s most exciting new artists making their home at the new Warehouse Artists’ Lofts in the city’s R Street corridor.
- Whether you’re an art aficionado or just looking for a fun place to spend an afternoon, Sacramento’s famed Crocker Art Museum can’t be beat. The second oldest purpose-built museum in North America, The Crocker offers the country’s best collection of California art, as well as a renowned ceramics collection, inspiring traveling exhibits and much more. The Crocker is also a great place to introduce your kids to the art world – the museum hosts special programs for infants through adults, and babies are even allowed on certain gallery floors to explore.
- If you’re in the mood to enjoy Sacramento’s excellent weather and its burgeoning art scene, the 2nd Saturday Art Walk is the ideal time. On the second Saturday of each month (with peak season occurring during the summer and early fall), galleries and other small businesses across the region showcase local artists, with many also offering wine tastings, food trucks, live music and more. Visitors are welcome to stroll from place to place, taking in the sights and sounds along the way.
- Public art seems to be everywhere you turn in Sacramento. In August 2016, a group of regional art supporters came together to raise funds to bring artists from all over the world to paint murals throughout the city. The result is a stunning tour of massive art displays on the sides of buildings across downtown and midtown. Pick up a map of the mural’s locations and explore the finished works at your leisure.
- It’s not often that you’d tell a visitor to head under a freeway overpass, but in Sacramento, that’s the place to be. Two area artists recently completed the Bright Underbelly project, a 70,000 square-foot mural on the underside of the freeway at 8th and W streets in downtown Sacramento. Why that location? The spot is home to the largest California Certified Farmers Market in the state, and each week chefs and shoppers from Sacramento, the Bay Area and beyond flock there for fresh foods and veggies. It’s a sight to behold…and you can score amazing food while you’re gazing above.
- Theater fans can take their pick of stages in Sacramento. The city’s annual Broadway Series draws national tours of leading musicals to Sacramento’s classic Community Center Theater from September-June.
- Throughout the summer, the Music Circus brings professional actors and directors to midtown’s Wells Fargo Pavilion for a series of musical performances.
- Additionally, Sacramento Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Capital Stage and other regional playhouses offer shows ranging from original productions to children’s plays.
- The Sacramento Ballet performs for packed houses at both the traditional “Nutcracker Suite” during the holiday season and more avant-garde productions, including its “beer and ballet” fundraisers that pair the region’s breweries with original performances.
- The Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera provides an ideal example of how Sacramento’s art scene is putting a modern spin on traditional mediums. Known for both classical and pops performances, the Symphony’s 2016-2017 season includes tributes to Beethoven and Vivaldi, along with performance tributes to The Beatles and David Bowie.
- Visitors looking to explore Sacramento’s music scene can take in all genres of music at more intimate venues like Ace of Spades (a House of Blues club) and Harlow’s, or enjoy larger concerts at the famed Memorial Auditorium or Crest Theatre.
- Summer visitors should also plan to hit the popular Concerts in the Park . The 14-week series attracts several thousand people every Friday night to the city’s Cesar Chavez Plaza to hear bands ranging from country to rock, along with food vendors, a beer and wine garden and more.
- For major concert tours and performances, Sacramento’s new Golden 1 Center arena is a state-of-the-art facility opened in October 2016 and has already welcomed Sir Paul McCartney, Maroon 5 and more.
- Museum buffs can get their fill on subjects ranging from the Golden State’s railroad to space exploration.
- Explore California’s majestic State Capitol and its surrounding grounds either by a guided or self-guided tour.
- Take a trip through aeronautical history at the Aerospace Museum of California, where younger guests can even climb aboard some cockpits, or bring car enthusiasts out to the massive ‘garage’ at the California Automobile Museum.
- If you’ve got a train enthusiast in your family, then Sacramento’s California State Railroad Museum should definitely be on your itinerary. The museum is one of the largest train museums in the country, where visitors young and young at heart get to climb aboard the trains, listen to re-enactments, learn about how a steam engine works and interact with the incredibly knowledgeable docents. Don’t miss the $1 million toy train collection!
- If you’re visiting during the holiday season, be sure to get your tickets to ride Sacramento’s very own Polar Express ride from the museum to the “North Pole.”
- You’ll also find this kid-friendly style next door at the Sacramento History Museum, where kids are invited to try their luck at panning for gold.
What’s on your to-list for your next visit to Sacramento?
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Anthony Manzanares | Anthony has found travel provides a healthy balance to his day job as a criminal defense attorney. Living on the periphery of blogging for years, he's now decided to flex his creative muscles with a little writing and photography of his own. Anthony's favorite travel destinations are the Caribbean, Italy, and Ireland.