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Trip Report Surprising Sacramento

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I bet that if you asked Brits who were planning a trip to the USA, “Will you be visiting Sacramento?” you would be hard pressed to find one who was. It is not a city that is high on our list of destinations, which is a great pity as I can testify from our four days there this August. Even some Californians answering my Fodor request for advice about things to do there were dismissive, suggesting out of town attractions to fill out our time.

The trip was to celebrate my 70th birthday and we spent 4 days in town before boarding the California Zephyr to Chicago. Against all advice we dumped the rental car and explored on foot, a decision that proved to be absolutely right. Sacramento is a walkable city – even for a pair of geriatrics!

With temperatures touching 100 under cloudless skies we paced our days, taking the shady side of streets, calling in at some of the great variety of cafes and restaurants, visiting the Railroad Museum, Crocker Gallery, Old Town History Museum, getting a guided tour of the Capitol and a trip underground to understand how the city was jacked up to conquer flooding. We watched Tower Bridge being raised, experiencing similar excitement to that felt by tourists in London when our Tower Bridge is opened. Capitol Park is an oasis, landscaped and labelled, with a beautiful rose-garden dedicated to peace juxtaposed with a heart-rending memorial listing the many Californians who fought in Vietnam and did not return. Firemen also have a memorial there and we had lumps in our throats knowing that many new names would soon be added.

What we especially enjoyed was meeting locals, whether seeking directions on the riverside pathway, swapping stories with barmen, waiting staff, front desk people, tourist information helpers and anyone who heard our “not from around here” accents and were kind enough to initiate a conversation. People seem to have time in Sacramento.

I hope that this short piece will encourage those who might have not considered including the city in their itinerary to give it a try. You will not be disappointed. There are other attractions, particularly live theatre, music etc., that we did not have time for. So, as an ex-Governor of the State once famously said, “I will be back!”

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