Sacramento Essentials

Now that you're in Sacramento, this guide will make sure you're not hungry, thirsty or bored!
By: Kris Bordessa

Food and Drink Essentials: The Best Places To...


Trader Joe’s
5 locations in the Sacramento area
This small grocer specializes in reasonably priced natural and hard-to-find foods, promising that their eggs are always cage-free and their private label products are never made with genetically modified foods. Need another reason to shop TJ’s? Check out their wine and beer selection. Offering budget-wise beverages for those who imbibe, you’ll find “two buck Chuck," a light-on-the-pocketbook wine made exclusively for Trader Joe’s by Charles Shaw; it's shelved alongside a large selection of quality beer and wine.


Morant's Old Fashioned Sausage Kitchen
5001 Franklin Blvd.
A longtime Sacramento business, Morant’s features handcrafted sausage, served up with a side of German. It’s common for customers to order their fresh or dried sausages in the native language of the owner. In addition to sausages, you’ll find old-fashioned hot dogs, lunchmeat and cheeses.


Sunday Farmer's Market
Corner of Eighth and W streets
Find in-season fruits and vegetables, along with honey, baked goods and herbs, at the Sunday Farmer’s Market. Get there early for the best selection (and to avoid the summertime heat), but if you’re looking for a bargain, keep an eye on the vendors who are packing up, they’d rather sell it cheap than cart it back to the farm.


La Bonne Soupe
920 Eighth St. between I & J
This downtown hole in the wall is a one-man show, with each meal prepared by owner and Frenchman, Daniel Pont, as it’s ordered. It’s common to find lines stretching out the door, so save this stop for an unhurried day. Seating space is at a premium, but if the weather’s nice, enjoy your meal as take-out at nearby City Park Plaza, only a block away.


Hawaiian Style Grill
8259 Laguna Blvd.
Elk Grove
Owned and operated by former Oahu local boys, Hawaiian Style Grill serves up a little aloha with their island-style plate lunches. This place is nothing fancy; it’s a cafeteria-style joint and meals are served in takeout containers (leftovers are likely with the regular size portions!). Chicken katsu, teriyaki or lau lau are, of course, served with “two scoops rice.” Visit Friday night for the informal pau hana (end of work) Hawaiian music jam session.


Gunther’s Ice Cream
2801 Franklin Blvd.
Since 1949, the iconic neon Jugglin’ Joe sign has been tossing scoops of ice cream at this sweet spot and never misses. This Sacramento landmark serves up fresh ice cream made on site, with a side of nostalgia. Hot summer nights bring locals out to cool down with a cone, a milkshake or a real fruit freeze.

Entertainment Essentials: The Best Places To...


Granite Arch Climbing Center
11335-G Folsom Blvd.
Rancho Cordova
California’s largest rock climbing gym provides residents year-round access to challenging courses. A draw for kids and adults alike, guests can take classes, learn to belay, practice bouldering (climbing without a rope), or simply drop in for a day of fun and exercise.


Raley Field
400 Ballpark Drive
During baseball season, the Sacramento Rivercats -- the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics baseball team -- give fans a chance to get out to a great ballgame. Bargain-hunters and families will find that the lawn seats are the best option, both for their reasonable price and the chance to move about freely before the seventh inning stretch.


Old Sacramento
Located along the Sacramento River, the wooden sidewalks and cobbled roads of Old Sacramento lead to historical treasures. This 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park is home to several museums, most notably the California State Railroad Museum where you can climb aboard old steam engines or watch miniatures rumble down the tracks.


Arco Arena
One Sports Parkway
If you’re looking for pro sports in Sacramento, Arco arena is the only game in town. Home to the NBA Sacramento Kings as well as the WNBA Monarchs, Arco is the place to catch some great basketball moves. You’ll also find a variety of entertainment hosted at Arco, including concerts, circuses and for motor heads, monster truck rallies.

Nightlife Essentials: The Best Places To...


Bonn Lair
3651 J St.
Located in East Sac, Bonn Lair is a British-style pub with a large assortment of imported beer on tap. The menu features traditional pub food (think shepherd’s pie), but it’s also common for patrons to bring food in from nearby restaurants.


Crest Theatre
1013 K St.
The historic Crest Theatre offers one of Sacramento’s most elegant settings, making it a perfect date-night destination. A million-dollar restoration in the 1990s returned the Crest to its 1920s Art Deco roots, and today the gilded theater features classic and modern films as well as concerts, comedy shows and community events.


Java Town
2416 16th St.
Located in Midtown, this community-minded coffee joint also serves beer and wine, along with a simple menu of sandwiches, pizza by the slice and healthy snacks. Live music several nights a week draws a hip crowd for an eclectic mix of jazz, punk and open mike.


2801 Capitol Ave.
Born and raised in Bologna, Biba Caggiano opened her namesake restaurant in 1986, bringing the taste of Italy to Sacramento. Featuring live piano nightly, the award-winning Biba offers a menu that changes seasonally, allowing the chefs to serve only the freshest ingredients along with the housemade pasta. Biba spends plenty of time at the restaurant and if you bring along one of the many cookbooks she has written, she’ll happily autograph it for you while you’re there.

Outdoor Essentials: The Best Places To...


Effie Yeaw Nature Center
Ancil Hoffman County Park
2850 San Lorenzo Way

Located within the American River Parkway, Effie Yeaw Nature Center features an indoor discovery center complete with animal residents like owls, hawks and snakes. Outside, you’ll find a replica Native American village and three self-guided nature trails that let visitors get up close with pond life, native plants and animal habitats. Watch out for snakes!


Sacramento Zoo
Land Park Drive & 16th Ave.
Situated within William Land Park, the Sacramento Zoo sits on more than 14 acres and is home to an assortment of exotic animals including snow leopards, reticulated giraffes, chimpanzees and ring-tailed lemurs. The manageable size of this zoo makes it possible to see all of the exhibits in a day, and still have time to explore nearby Fairytale Town.

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