Stop reading right now if you feel children should be kept at home under lock and key. If, on the other hand, you’ve personally had occasion to brave major urban centers with a traveling troupe of young ones: this is for you. Because we’re here to tell you how to have a good time and keep stress to a minimum while touring Sacramento, California, the Golden State’s capital city. Despite the fact that there’s no longer a Swarzenegger around to play kindergarten cop.
Topping our list of family friendly things to do in good ol’ Sacramento, California? The Sacramento Zoo. It’s not too big, it’s not too small and it’s a fabulous place to let your charges stretch their legs before you tackle downtown.
From here it’s an easy hop onto Interstate 5 for the trip into downtown Sacramento, where you’ll find most of the main tourist sights. For lunch, try a family-friendly spot like the Old Spaghetti Factory, housed in a former train depot several blocks up from the Capitol building. Thus revived, consider a stroll through said California State Capitol, or some child’s play in the 40 acre Capitol Park surrounding.
The heart and tourist soul of this pleasant city, however, is along the Sacramento River west of the Capitol, in Old Sacramento. Wooden boardwalks link Old West-style souvenir shops, saloons and candy stores while the occasional car rattles down cobbled streets. If your troops are getting restless, skip the salt-water taffy and head for the California State Railroad Museum (sure to please any budding train enthusiast) and buy a ticket for the seasonal steam-powered train ride that runs along the riverfront. Next door, the Sacramento History Museum may inject just the educational tone you’re after, particularly if your offspring are older. Otherwise, we can only recommend retreating to the American River Parkway for a restorative evening picnic close to the water.