Sacramento and the Gold Country: Places to Explore

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Sacramento

All around the Golden State's seat of government you'll experience echoes of the gold-rush days, most notably in Old Sacramento, whose wooden sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages on cobblestone streets lend the waterfront district a 19th-century feel. The California State Railroad Museums and other venues hold artifacts of state and national significance, and historic buildings house shops and restaurants. River cruises and train rides are fun family diversions for an hour or two.

Due east of Old Sacramento is downtown, whose noteworthy landmarks are the Capitol building and the surrounding Capitol Park. The convention center is also here. A persistent homeless problem and a scattering of boarded-up storefronts diminish the area's appeal somewhat.

Farther east, starting at about 15th Street, lies the city's most interesting neighborhood, midtown, a vibrant mix of genteel Victorian edifices, ultramodern lofts, and innovative restaurants and cozy wine bars. The neighborhood, which is so cool it's got its own magazine (www.midtownmonthly.net), springs to life on the second Saturday evening of the month, when art galleries hold open houses and the sidewalks are packed. A few intersections are jumping most evenings when the weather's good; they include the corner of 20th and L streets in what's known as Lavender Heights, the center of the city's gay and lesbian community.

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