If you are looking for a one day getaway from San Francisco Bay Area for a weekend or a “staycation” once kids are out of school I suggest you consider Sacramento. It is the capital of California and it has attractions to fill more than just 1 day but if you are looking for quick, easy and inexpensive trip that will be fun and educational then here is the best family road trip itinerary.
Focus your attention for the day on Old Town Sacramento. It is a unique 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park located in the center of the city, next to downtown along the Sacramento River. It depicts how the town looked like at the time of California Gold Rush and you will definitely feel as if you stepped back in time. When you arrive, leave your car for the day at the Parking Garage at I St & 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814 – you will spend the whole day exploring on foot (or train).
Start your exploration by just casually strolling around this 2 x 6 blocks area stopping by at various points of interest. I suggest you make your first stop at the train depot of the California State Railroad Museum and get your tickets for a scenic train ride later (you can choose any departure time you want, the train leaves once an hour, on the hour and each ride is usually full up to capacity). Alternatively, you can book them in advance online on the Museum’s website.
When you continue your walk around the Historic Park I suggest you definitely make these stops:
The Chef’s Olive Mix. (131 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814) It is a tasting room and a store 2-in-1 for olive oils and balsamics. You can taste as many of their products as you would like FREE of charge and you are doing it at your own pace just walking around the store. No one will pressure you into buying anything but if you like something you can bring home a nice souvenir or two.
When you continue further on 2nd street couple of blocks down the road you will see another delicious foodie destination – Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (1039 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814). They sell great premium chocolates and confections. And the best part – they will validate your parking for up to $5 if you spend $5 or more in the store, which means you will get $5 off your parking. Or you can think about it the other way around: you are getting either 2 huge chocolate covered strawberries or 2 scrumptious truffles (or one each) FREE of charge!
After eating a little (or a lot) of delicious chocolate creations turn towards the river and walk to Old Schoolhouse museum. It is a living replica on traditional 1-room school house with a real school master dressed in proper 19th century attire. Kids will love sitting at desks, looking through books, school rules and other memorabilia and the the school master will happily tell you stories about the school and good old days. Entrance is FREE.
Now stroll back along the river, check out Delta King (old riverboat now housing a hotel and a restaurant) and just enjoy the views. A couple more blocks and you are back where you started.
Depending on what time you scheduled the train ride you can either ride first and then visit California State Railroad Museum or vice versa, it’s up to you. The train ride is a scenic 1 hour adventure along the Sacramento River. If the weather is good I strongly suggest an open car.
The museum itself is a paradise for railroad fans, it has beautifully restored engines and train cars on display as well as many other interesting exhibits. The museum store is a destination in itself if you are coming with kids: it has everything from Polar Express to Thomas the Tank Engine toys and memorabilia and much more.
You will spend pretty much the whole day in town so you will need to stop somewhere for lunch. There is no shortage of restaurants and cafes in Old Sacramento but there is one interesting place that I wanted to draw your attention to if you are a fan of french fries. It is called Spud Shack (906 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814) and it offers more than a dozen country specific varieties of fries:
If you found this family road trip itinerary useful, please do me a little favor and share this information with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them with their travel plans. 🙂