Old Sacramento – Top Things To Do, Shop and Eat


Old Sacramento, a historic gem located along the banks of the majestic Sacramento River in Northern California, is a living testament to the city’s rich past and vibrant history. Stepping into Old Sacramento is like taking a journey back in time to the Gold Rush era of the mid-19th century. This charming district is a blend of preserved historic buildings, cobblestone streets, and an authentic ambiance that transports visitors to a bygone era.

With its well-preserved architectural buildings, historical museums, and wide assortment of shops and restaurants, Old Sacramento is a must-see neighborhood that allows visitors to experience the spirit of the Wild West and the adventure of the Gold Rush era in an immersive way. It is a place where the past comes alive, offering a glimpse into the heart of California’s origins and history.

A Brief History on Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento‘s history is deeply intertwined with the story of California’s development and expansion. Established in the early 1840s as a bustling riverfront town, it quickly grew into a thriving commercial hub during the California Gold Rush of 1848. The discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada Mountains transformed Old Sacramento into a gateway for countless pioneers and fortune seekers, as it became the western terminus of the Pony Express and a major transportation center.

Tragically, the area endured devastating floods in the 1850s, which led to the city being raised several feet above the high-water mark. This ambitious endeavor created the elevated streets and sidewalks that are now iconic features of the district. Throughout its history, Old Sacramento has witnessed the evolution of transportation, from steamboats to railroads, and it played a pivotal role in shaping California’s growth and prosperity. Today, Old Sacramento remains a historic site, offering a window into the past and preserving the heritage of the Golden State.

Kid-Friendly and Family Fun Things To Do in Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento, with its rich history and charming atmosphere, is not just a destination for history buffs; it’s also a fantastic place for families to enjoy a fun-filled day out. This historic district along the Sacramento River offers a wide array of kid-friendly activities and family-friendly attractions that are sure to create lasting memories.

California State Railroad Museum

All aboard for a journey through time at the California State Railroad Museum! Kids of all ages will be captivated by the impressive collection of historic locomotives and railcars. Don’t miss the opportunity to hop on a vintage train ride along the river, an experience that will leave your little ones wide-eyed with excitement. They also have an entire floor dedicated to kid-friendly interactive games, whimsical model train scenes and a playground.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

For a leisurely and picturesque tour of Old Sacramento, consider taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. It’s a delightful way to explore the cobblestone streets and get a sense of the area’s 19th-century charm. Your kids will love the clip-clop sound of hooves on the streets.

Sacramento History Museum

Inside the Sacramento History Museum, visitors can embark on an immersive journey through time, exploring meticulously curated exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that bring history to life. From the dramatic tales of the Gold Rush and the pioneer days to the stories of Sacramento’s multicultural heritage, the museum offers a comprehensive glimpse into the city’s vibrant history. Whether you’re interested in period costumes, want to learn about gold panning, or simply just want to absorb the wealth of information on display, the Sacramento History Museum is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum

Step into a one-room schoolhouse straight out of the past at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum. This living history site offers educational programs and demonstrations, providing a glimpse into what school life was like in the 1800s. Kids can experience the world of inkwells, slate boards, and quill pens.

Underground Tours

Old Sacramento has a hidden secret beneath its streets. Book an Underground Tour and explore the underground passages on guided tours that reveal the history of the district’s dramatic flooding and how it led to the city’s elevation. Older kids will find the tales of buried buildings and secrets of the past intriguing.

Walk Along the Waterfront

Walking along the waterfront in Old Sacramento is a serene and picturesque experience. There’s a long walking path that meanders on for quite a while. You can see the expansive Sacramento River flowing under the golden Tower Bridge. The fully restored historical Delta King Riverboat from 1927 is permanently docked along the river shore, and you can actually go aboard and either enjoy a meal or spend the night. It’s a perfect place for leisurely walks, taking photographs, and enjoying the fresh air.

Walk From Old Sacramento to Downtown Commons DOCO Center

Downtown Commons (DOCO), is a modern spacious open-air shopping complex featuring a variety of restaurants and well-known chain stores. Additionally, within DOCO, you can find Golden 1 Center, a venue for sports events and musical concerts. Also, the stylish Kimpton The Sawyer Hotel and Punch Bowl Social is also a part of this trendy area.

What makes it even more convenient is the pedestrian tunnel connecting DOCO to Old Sacramento. This means you can reserve a hotel on either side and enjoy seamless walking access to both areas.

What to Eat in Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento is a surprising destination for food enthusiasts. From brunch, to lunch, dinner and then of course sweet desserts, there’s always something new to eat. I should also mention that the type of ambiances and level of fancy varies greatly. There’s plenty of casual fare, some sit down nicer restaurants, and then there’s also sophisticated five star dinning as well. There’s a menu in Old Sacramento for any kind of occasion you can think of.

Rio City Cafe

Located right along the Old Sacramento Waterfront boardwalk, Rio City Cafe has an unrivaled location with sweeping views of some of the area’s most iconic landmarks. Overlooking the serene Sacramento River, the spacious outdoor patio offers guests breathtaking vistas of the Tower Bridge and the Ziggurat pyramid building.

Established 1994, Rio City Cafe is a long-time family-owned restaurant. The building has historical roots, meticulously modeled after the steamship warehouses that lived on the waterfront during the bustling Industrial Revolution and Gold Rush era of the late 1800s.

The food served at Rio City Cafe has seafood dishes, meat entrees like steak, chicken and they also have a vegan menu. On Saturday and Sunday you can get brunch classics. There’s also a cocktails and alcoholic beverages menu.

Whether you prefer the cozy indoors or the scenic outdoors, they provide both options, complete with a well-stocked bar. Our versatile atmosphere effortlessly caters to a variety of occasions, making them the perfect choice for any celebration or gathering.

Joe’s Crab Shack

Joe’s Crab Shack in Old Sacramento is a seafood lover’s paradise with a fun and casual dining experience. With its lively atmosphere and vibrant decor, this restaurant invites you to unwind. Whether you’re in the mood for their hearty servings of crab, flavorful shrimp dishes, or their signature cocktails, Joe’s Crab Shack has something to satisfy every palate. The restaurant’s waterfront location adds to its charm, allowing guests to enjoy picturesque views of the Sacramento River while enjoying a meal. It’s the perfect spot for a family outing, a casual dinner with friends, or a relaxed evening by the river.

The Firehouse

At The Firehouse, prepare to immerse yourself in fine dining that seamlessly combines refinement with everyday exceptionalism right in the heart of Old Sacramento. Delight in the area’s most comprehensive wine selection and savor an unmatched menu crafted from locally-sourced ingredients, all within a welcoming and timeless ambiance. If you’re ever feeling really fancy and want to celebrate an anniversary or adult birthday, this could be the place. If the weather is nice outside, you can opt to sit on their private patio which is hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Old Sacramento.

Frankie’s Pizza

Frankie’s Pizza is a newcomer to Old Sacramento and opened up in 2022. It’s a casual pizza joint with all classics you would expect on the menu, plus some specialty pizzas loaded with a variety of toppings.

The Pilothouse Restaurant on the Delta King

The Pilothouse Restaurant is actually located onboard the historical riverboat Delta King, which is docked in the Sacramento River on the waterfront. This restaurant is the original grand dinning room from back in the 1920s. Talk about a magical meal with river views and a unique surroundings. You can eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, and the food is classic American upscale dinning.

La Terraza

La Terraza Mexican Restaurant is a culinary gem that brings the vibrant flavors of Mexico to this historic district. The menu is a celebration of authentic Mexican cuisine, offering all the favorite Mexican dishes we all enjoy. The restaurant is located on the second level of the building, offering rooftops views of Old Sacramento.


Prepare to be amazed by cereal! Cerealism is a unique dessert bar takes cereal to a whole new level, immersing you in a fun cereal-themed world tucked away in an underground bungalow in Old Town Sacramento. It’s a pastel-painted whimsical scene, as if you’ve walked right into a cereal wonderland reminiscent of the vibrant imagery found on cereal boxes. Everything on the Cerealism menu is sweet and I would consider a good after meal treat.

Blueprint Coffee Project

Blueprint Coffee Project is a modern spot for coffee people and creatives alike. This trendy establishment boasts a sleek, minimalist design that perfectly complements its historic surroundings. With an emphasis on specialty coffee sourced from around the world, every cup is prepared by baristas. The ambiance is as inviting as it is Instagram-worthy, making it a hub for locals and tourists alike to gather, work, or simply unwind.

Bali Kitchen

Since 1998, Bali Kitchen has been a staple in the Sacramento community serving authentic Asian and Indonesian cuisine. Their culinary expertise uses exotic spices that may be unfamiliar to you but promises unforgettable and unique flavors. The vibe is very casual and only focuses on the food. This is a great takeout option for locals who want a good meal with a movie at home.

Willie’s Burgers

Willie’s Burgers is a culinary destination that captures the essence of trendy American comfort food. Their menu boasts an array of juicy burger options, from the classic cheeseburger to inventive specialties. Patrons especially love the chili cheeseburger, and some beignets for dessert.

Underground Tasting Room

The Underground Tasting Room in Old Sacramento is a hidden gem for wine connoisseurs and history buffs alike. Located beneath the city streets, this unique establishment offers a wine tasting experience that is both immersive and educational.

Housed within historic and meticulously preserved underground chambers, the tasting room provides a glimpse into the subterranean history of Old Sacramento, showcasing remnants of the city’s past. As you savor a diverse selection of fine wines, you’ll also learn about the Gold Rush era, the flooding challenges that led to the construction of these underground spaces, and the resilience of the city’s pioneers.

With its blend of history, culture, and exceptional wines, the Underground Tasting Room is a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly enriching and memorable experience in Old Sacramento.

Sweet Treats

From nostalgic candy stores filled with old-fashioned candies and chocolates to ice cream parlors serving up scoops of creamy delights in a myriad of flavors, there’s something to satisfy every sweet craving in Old Sacramento. The list of sweet shops is too long to list, but I can tell you that I like to get caramel apples, salt water taffy and chocolate fudge during my visits.

Where to Shop in Old Sacramento

Cobblestone streets, preserved 19th-century buildings, and a charming ambiance set the stage for a one-of-a-kind shopping excursion. Here, you’ll find a diverse array of boutiques, specialty shops, and artisanal stores that showcase everything from quirky souvenirs, toys, handmade art and gifts, to foodie finds.

Golden Gifts Sports Souvenirs

Whether you’re cheering for a local team or a global sports powerhouse, there’s an extensive array of merchandise and memorabilia to choose from at Golden Gifts. If you have a special sports fan in your life, this could be a great place to shop for gifts.

Chef’s Olive Mix

Chef’s Olive Mix in Old Sacramento is a culinary oasis and specialty store for food enthusiasts. Step inside, and you’ll discover an extensive selection of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars, each with its own unique flavor profile. From the robust intensity of Tuscan herb-infused olive oil to the sweet complexity of raspberry balsamic, Chef’s Olive Mix offers a myriad of options to enhance your culinary creations. The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always on hand to guide you through tastings and offer creative pairing suggestions. Whether you’re an experienced chef or a home cook looking to elevate your dishes, a visit to Chef’s Olive Mix is a flavorful journey that adds a touch of gourmet excellence to your culinary repertoire.

Atrium 916

Atrium is a non-profit community center inside Old Sacramento. They have multiple programs they run with local artists and craft makers. Inside their Old Sac location you can browse the art gallery and store, and shop goods and paintings made by local Sacramento artists.

G. Willikers Toy Emporium

G. Willikers Toy Emporium in Old Sacramento is a delightful spot for toy enthusiasts of all ages. This charming store takes visitors on a nostalgic journey back to simpler times. With its whimsical storefront and an interior that resembles a n old timey toy store, G. Willikers is a treasure trove of toys, games, and novelties. From classic board games and intricate puzzles to vintage-inspired dolls and action figures, there’s something to captivate the imagination of every visitor. Beyond the old classics, they also do have plenty of new and modern trending toys for kids who want the latest and greatest.

McGee’s Old Time Photos

McGee’s Old Time Photos in Old Sacramento offers a unique and immersive experience for those looking to step back in time and have some fun. This photo studio takes visitors on a journey through history by transforming them into characters from a the Gold Rush era. Upon entering McGee’s, you are transported to the days of the Wild West or the Victorian era, complete with period costumes, props, and elaborate backdrops.

The friendly and talented staff at McGee’s ensures that the entire process is both fun and authentic, making it a favorite stop for families, couples, and tourists alike. Whether you want to become a saloon cowboy, a Victorian lady, or a scandalous barmaid, McGee’s Old Time Photos provides a memorable way to capture a piece of history and take home a keepsake that will entertain friends and family.

Sock City

Sock City in Old Sacramento is a quirky and charming boutique that caters to sock enthusiasts and those looking to add a touch of whimsy to their wardrobe. This delightful store stands out amidst the historic surroundings with its colorful and creative window displays, drawing curious shoppers in to explore its vast selection of socks. From funky patterns and vibrant designs to novelty socks that range from animals to famous figures, Sock City offers a vast array of choices to suit every personality and taste. It’s not just a store; it’s a place where individuality is celebrated, and the simple sock becomes a canvas for self-expression. Whether you’re seeking a unique gift or a playful addition to your own wardrobe, Sock City is a must-visit destination in Old Sacramento that promises to add a splash of fun and style to your sock drawer.

Old City Kites

Old City Kites in Old Sacramento is a haven for kite enthusiasts and those seeking outdoor adventure. Nestled amidst the historic streets and scenic riverfront, this charming shop offers a wide variety of kites, from traditional diamond-shaped ones to elaborate and artistic designs. With knowledgeable staff who are passionate about the art of kite flying, Old City Kites provides not just a shopping experience but also a source of expertise and inspiration for kite enthusiasts of all levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to try your hand at kite flying, Old City Kites is the perfect place to find your next high-flying adventure and enjoy the beautiful Sacramento skies. It’s a testament to the timeless joy and wonder that kites bring to people of all ages.

Date Night and Nightlife in Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento comes alive at night, offering a romantic and vibrant setting for date night. The historic streets light up with a warm and inviting glow, creating a charming ambiance for couples looking to spend quality time together. You can take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque waterfront, enjoying the views of the Sacramento River. The area also boasts a variety of restaurants that are open later at night, perfect for a candlelit dinner for two. For those seeking a livelier atmosphere, Old Sacramento offers a range of bars, pubs, and entertainment venues where you can enjoy live music and cocktails. Whether you’re looking for a quiet and intimate evening or a more spirited nightlife experience, Old Sacramento has something to offer every couple looking to create lasting memories in this historic and romantic setting.

Laughs Unlimited Comedy Club

Laughs Unlimited Comedy Club in Old Sacramento is a beloved establishment that has been bringing laughter and entertainment to the heart of the city for decades. This comedy club offers a cozy and intimate setting for comedy enthusiasts to enjoy top-notch stand-up performances. With a talented roster of comedians, both local and national, Laughs Unlimited guarantees a night filled with side-splitting humor and unforgettable moments. The club’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, along with its friendly staff, ensures that patrons have a fantastic time, whether they’re celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking a fun night out.

Fanny Ann’s Saloon

Fanny Ann’s Saloon in Old Sacramento is a legendary establishment that embodies the spirit of the Old West. Housed in a historic building with a rich history, this saloon transports visitors back in time to the days of Gold Rush California. With its rustic decor, wooden furnishings, and dimly lit ambiance, Fanny Ann’s exudes an authentic Wild West charm. Patrons can enjoy a wide selection of drinks, including craft beers and signature cocktails, while savoring hearty pub fare. The saloon is also known for its quirky tradition of allowing visitors to leave their mark by attaching a personal item to the ceiling, creating a whimsical and visually captivating display. Fanny Ann’s Saloon is not just a bar; it’s a living piece of history that invites guests to step into the past and immerse themselves in the lore of Old Sacramento.

Bear & Crown

In 2023, Bear & Crown made its debut within the historic Orleans building in the heart of Old Town Sacramento. Their expansive pub space boasts a fully stocked bar, comfortable lounge seating, intimate booths, a dedicated sports viewing area, billiards tables, and a spacious outdoor patio complete with a cozy fire pit. Whether you’re seeking a spot to kick back and de-stress, catch your favorite game, or organize a special event to create memories with your loved ones and friends, Bear & Crown provides the perfect setting for a memorable experience.

Brannan Manor

Brannan Manor is a historical restaurant and bar in Old Sacramento, which was established in 1847. During the daytime they have a family-friendly environment with a full menu of American classic food and burgers. In the late evening they have cocktails and fine dining for an adult evening out.

Sean Finnegan’s Irish Pub

Sean Finnegan’s Irish Pub is an authentic Irish pub offering an extensive selection of Irish whiskeys, beers, and hearty pub fare, including classic dishes made with corned beef and Irish cheese. They especially love to serve their famous Irish coffee!

Last Stop Saloon

Last Stop Saloon is a “saloon style” bar serving drinks such as ice cold beer and tasty cocktails, with a focus on Mezcal and Tequila made drinks. Inside they have billiards and old school arcade games. Kings fans can come and watch all the games. They’re open until 2am for the late night folks, hence the name Last Stop Saloon.

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