Welcome to Old Sacramento

Experience a one of a kind visit to Old Sacramento. The unique 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park is located along the beautiful Sacramento River. Bustling with activity, the district is alive with shopping, dining, entertainment, historical attractions and world-renowned museums set within the time of the California Gold Rush and the Transcontinental Railroad.

Experience History

Relive the California Gold Rush and discover Sacramento's rich history

In 1839 John Sutter arrived on the shore of the American River near its confluence with the Sacramento River. With the promise of a Mexican land grant, Sutter and his landing party established Sutter's Fort. As the settlement grew and became permanent, it attracted other businessmen looking for opportunities. Sutter and the people he attracted created a commercial center in the area, but it was the Gold Rush in 1848 that created the City of Sacramento.

When gold was discovered in the nearby foothills by James Marshall, local merchant Sam Brannan rushed to open a store near the Sacramento River to take advantage of the convenient waterfront location. What was then called Sutter's Embarcadero was soon known as the City of Sacramento. The city rapidly grew into a trading center for miners outfitting themselves for the gold fields.

Early Sacramento's waterfront location was prime for commercial success, but was prone to severe flooding. The city also fell victim to repeated fires engulfing its hastily constructed buildings composed mainly of wood and canvas. In 1850 the new city experienced its first devastating flood and in 1852 the city was again wiped out by high water. It was apparent that drastic measures would have to be taken if it was to be saved.

In 1853 a mammoth project was proposed to raise the city above the flood level. The ambitious and expensive proposal was not fully accepted until another devastating flood swept through the city in 1862. Within a few years, thousands of cubic yards of earth were brought in on wagons and the daring scheme to raise the street level began. The original street level can be seen throughout Old Sacramento under the boardwalks and in basements.

The center of the commercial district gradually moved east and the original part of the city on Sutter's Embarcadero became known as the worst skid row west of Chicago. Reformers, ministers, politicians and others spoke out against conditions in this part of the city, but little was done to change the basic conditions.

In the mid-1960's, a plan was set forth to redevelop the area and through it, the first historic district in the West was created. Today, with 53 historic buildings, Old Sacramento has more buildings of historic value condensed into its 28 acres than most areas of similar size in the west. Registered as a National and California Historic Landmark, the properties in the district are primarily owned by private owners, with individual businesses leasing shops and offices. The area has flourished and is once again a thriving commercial trade center.

Arts and Culture

Crocker Art Museum

The Museum's exhibitions include works from the permanent collection as well as a diverse schedule of approximately 20 changing exhibitions per year. The Crocker's permanent collection includes more than 14,000 works of art, boasting one of the state's premier collections of California art, a world-renowned collection of Master Drawings , and rapidly growing Asian art and International Ceramics collections. You can view works from our collection on Digital Crocker .

The Crocker hosts changing exhibitions that represent a diverse range of media, time periods and cultures. Find a listing of current and upcoming changing exhibitions.

Discovery Museum

Who we are: The Discovery Museum of Sacramento is a Family-Focused educational institution dedicated to enriching the lives of local residents and visitors to the Sacramento region by encouraging the exploration of history, science, and space.

Discovery Space Center

As a public non-profit organization, the Science & Space Center strives to bring the excitement of scientific discovery to students, families, and all members of our community. Each exhibit features interactive, hands-on activities and search-and-find guides based on state science standards.

Visit today: Discover, learn, and enjoy!

Current Exhibits

The Mobile Discovery Center is Coming!!
Friday, February 5th

Click on the truck for more information

January 16, 2010 - August 26, 2010
Gee Whiz Geology : An Exhibit About Rocks, Fossils and Dinosaurs

What's Happening This Weekend

12th Annual Sacramento
Museum Day
February 6th, 2010

Click here to learn more from Cosmos,
the Official representative of Museum Day

February 7, 2010
12:30pm to 3:00pm
Dinosaur Art
Learn all about dinosaurs and how they were discovered in the Gee Whiz Geology exhibit. Role-play as you dress up as a famous paleontologist and “find” artifacts. Show off your art skills in prehistoric fashion by designing a Dinosaur Mural to take home. Remember to bring a camera for unforgettable photos in the dinosaur petting zoo!

Visit live animals in the Nature Discovery Hall

Birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects are here waiting to help you learn about their fascinating lives and habitats. All year: 12:00pm and 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday; July and August: 2:00pm Monday-Friday .

Visit the Planetarium !

Learn about the local night sky in Northern California's only public planetarium. 20-minute star shows introduce you to our celestial neighborhood.*

All year: 1:00pm and 3:00pm Saturday and Sunday July and August: 3:00pm Monday-Friday .

*Visitors must be 4 years old or older, please.

Family craft fun

The Science & Space Center offers make and take crafts for children, ten years old and under, every Saturday and Sunday. These crafts are, suitable for the entire family to work on together. All year: 12:30pm to 3:00pm Saturday and Sunday.

Sacramento History Museum

Old Sacramento is a living historic district. The Historic Old Sacramento Foundation's mission is to convey the importance of historic Sacramento...
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Fall Historical Walking Tours

Sacramento City: California's Gold Rush Legacy , a fascinating and entertaining tour hosted by one of Sacramento's colorful characters from the past ...
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Ghost Tours

Join us for an Old Sacramento tradition presented by the Old Sacramento Living History Program. Walk the streets of Old Sacramento on a journey ...
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Exhibitions at the Sacramento History Museum

Visitors to the Sacramento History Museum have a unique opportunity to delve into multiple aspects of the rich and diverse history of the Sacramento region. By exploring both permanent and temporary exhibitions visitors will gain a deeper understanding of the development of Sacramento City and County, and its unique place in the history of California and the nation.

Upon entering the museum the first exhibition visitors will view is currently under construction and scheduled to open July 2009. The exhibit, Gold, Greed and Speculation: The Beginnings of Sacramento City provides an overview of the first half century of the city's history. Also on the first floor is the Agricultural Gallery which tells the story of the region's contribution as one of the world's richest agricultural areas, producing wheat, rice and an array of fruits and vegetables. The third floor Community Gallery provides a chronological narrative of the region and the people that have shaped its past and future.

Special short term exhibits highlight selected periods of time, events, people or collections that interpret in greater depth the stories of the region. Both permanent and short term exhibitions will provide visitors the opportunity to explore the origins of their community and to discover the ways that history plays an active role in how we live our lives.


California State Railroad Museum
Located in Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is a complex of historic facilities and unique attractions. Widely regarded as North America's most popular railroad museum, there is something here for everyone! Throughout the year, experience lavishly restored trains, engaging exhibits, and unique special events.


River Otter Taxi Company
From Old Sacramento to marinas, restaurants and shops along the Sacramento River, River Otter Taxi Company—the sturdy 24-seat boat makes the placid round trip in about an hour and a quarter. Some of the notable destinations along the way include Chevy's, Crawdads and Woody's. Sacramento River Cats (minor league baseball) fans travel on the river taxi from convenient parking in downtown Sacramento to Raley Field on the West Bank of the Sacramento River.


Discovery Museum
The Discovery Museum Gold Rush History Center is one of several museums operated under the auspices of a nonprofit organization also in charge of the Discovery Museum Science and Space Center and Challenger Learning Center. The Discovery Museum History Center is a recommended stop in your vacation or journey to Sacramento. While many visit the California State Capitol, Old Sacramento features world class museums displaying artifacts, exhibits and information about California's golden past and Sacramento's growth during the discovery of gold in the mid-1800's.


California State Capitol Tours
Free guided tours of the State Capitol are given seven days per week (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day, when the Capitol is closed). Tours are approximately one hour in length. Tour size is limited, so tickets for public tours are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning 30 minutes before each tour. Groups of 10 or more cannot be accommodated on these tours -- please see GROUP TOUR RESERVATIONS below. The Tour Office is located in room B-27 in the basement of the historic wing of the Capitol (near 11th and L Street entrance).


Sutter's Fort
Sutter's Fort stands as the oldest restored Fort in the United States. Today, the Fort is furnished and reconstructed to reflect its 1846 appearance. Many activities and programs recreate the past thanks to the volunteers who give their time to share their love of California History.


Governor's Mansion Tours
The Governor's mansion, built in 1877, has 14-foot ceilings, crystal chandeliers, ornate moldings, Persian carpets, Italian marble fireplaces and French mirrors. Many Governors' wives, including Nancy Reagan, have remodeled the home. Among the famous guests who stayed in the mansion were Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy. Each room is furnished from a different era, so the tour is also a history of furniture. Tours are on the hour and guides must accompany visitors.


Crocker Art Museum
The longest continuously operating art museum in the West, the Crocker Art Museum was founded in 1885 and remains the leading art institution for the California Capital Region and Central Valley. The Museum, which is housed in one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture in the United States, offers a diverse spectrum of special exhibitions, events and programs to augment its collections of California, European and Asian artworks, and International Ceramics.


Sacramento Zoo
Within our 14.5 acres there are over 600 animals comprised of over 140 different species at the Zoo. We specialize in rare and endangered animals from Reptiles to Mammals, Birds to Amphibians and more. You can find: photos, animal facts sheets and details about all your favorite creatures at the Zoo.


Hard Rock CafÉ
Featuring memorabilia from rock's most legendary performers. Serving the best down-home American food, seasoned with a healthy dose of Rock n' Roll! (916) 441-5591


Downtown Plaza
Sacramento's vibrant landmark shopping complex featuring Macy's, Hard Rock Cafe, United Artists Theaters plus two sunlit levels of specialty shops, restaurants and entertainment places that create worlds of downtown excitement. Located between 4th and 7th on K Street.


Fairytale Town
Let your imagination run wild at Fairytale Town, a 2.5-acre children's play park and outdoor children's museum that brings fairytales and nursery rhymes to life!


Towe Auto Museum
Explore the history of the automobile and its influence on our lives – past, present & future. Enjoy the California Automobile Museum’s exciting collection of over 160 classic cars, race cars, muscle cars, hot rods and early models displayed throughout 72,000 square feet of museum space.Â


Thunder Valley Casino
Thunder Valley Casino has over 85,000 square feet of gaming floor. The spacious layout allows guests the opportunity to move freely about the gaming floor in search of their favorite slots or table games. Step onto the gaming floor and enjoy over 2,400 slot machines. If live gaming action gets your juices flowing, pull up a seat at one of the 98 table games and you’ll experience complete satisfaction.


Sacramento River Train
Enjoy dinner, brunch or lunch aboard the Sacramento RiverTrain. This train features a sparkling gold exterior reflecting the area’s Gold Rush heritage and 1,000-feet of blue waves that are a tribute to the Sacramento River that follows the train’s route. While you roll along, enjoy a great combination of scenery, food & entertainment.


Sutter Gold Mine Tours
1 hour guided tour provides a chance to see the famous Mother Lode quartz vein structure from the inside. Ride the Boss Buggy Shuttle deep into the mine and see the inner workings of a modern gold mine. Learn about the history of the Gold Rush and the geology of the area. Above ground activities: gemstone mining, gold panning, mining movies in the Gold Theatre, picnicking.


Leland Stanford State Historic Park
The Leland Stanford Mansion is a stunning example of the splendor and elegance of the Victorian era in California.


McKinley Park
Located on H Street near 33rd Street, this 1.5-acre garden, created in 1928, features more than 1,000 rose bushes, tree roses and blooming annuals. New award-winning varieties are planted in the garden each year. This site is a favorite Sacramento park for weddings and outdoor seasonal events.


William Land Park Golf Coarse
This 9-hole layout, at 5208 yards, has the length and difficulty of many 18-hole courses. With a pair of par-four holes and one par-five, even low handicappers will find their skills challenged. In fact, many regulars consider the par-three, third hole to be one of the best holes north of Pebble Beach. William Land Park Golf Course maturity is evident in the large trees lining the fairways and lush, manicured greens.


K-Street Mall
Starting at the fountains and grove of dwarf palms outside the Convention Center at 13th and K Streets, the mall extends six blocks west to the Downtown Plaza. Along the way there are two specialty movie theaters (Esquire IMAX and The Crest, a renovated repertory theater), diverse shops, bars, sidewalk cafes and restaurants. Through the years, artists have graced some of the old buildings with murals.


California State Fair
The Cal Expo fairgrounds come alive every summer as the State Fair becomes a "city within a city" that hosts nearly one million visitors. Folks come from near and far for the memorable delights of this 156-year-old extravaganza that includes exciting exhibits, amazing attractions, live entertainment, and the Magnificent Midway.


Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings are a professional basketball team based in Sacramento and are members of the National Basketball Association (NBA).


Raging Waters
Located in the heart of the city, Raging Waters Sacramento features more than 25 exhilarating water attractions, breath-taking slides, crystal clear pools and fun-filled activities for children and adults of all ages. Raging Waters, Sacramento is the perfect destination for families of all ages!


Hornblower Cruises
Join the legendary Hornblower dining experience as you leisurely cruise on the Sacramento River. Unlike any other Sacramento dining experience the Hornblower combines great food, nautical surroundings and ever-changing views.


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