If you’re one for “spoke and wheel” getaways, the centrally located state capital makes a great hub for day trips throughout the region. Of course, you and Sparky might find so much to do that you won’t even want to leave town. Mid-November is the height of the fall foliage season here, and the city’s lush parks—Capitol Park downtown; Land Park just to the south of downtown, McKinley Park in East Sac and the 32-mile American River Parkway—are great places to stretch your legs and soak up the color. Add some pink to the scarlet and gold with a visit to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, about 20 miles east of downtown, where you can watch salmon and steelhead spawning in the river and flailing up the fish ladder now through March.
Don’t overlook the Old Sacramento historic district, the city’s touristic hub, where 19th-century buildings fronted by wooden sidewalks create an Old West atmosphere on the banks of the Sacramento River. The real buzz in Sactown these days, however, isn’t in the tried-and-true, but in the city’s urban revival.
Visitors with dogs in tow will find much to capture their interest along the R Street corridor between 10th and 15th streets, Sac’s newest hotspot for F&B, entertainment and dog- and people-watching. The recently opened WAL (Warehouse Artist Lofts) complex has brought new energy and a hip urban vibe to the district, and dog-friendly patio dining is available at a growing number of venues so long as the weather is fair. You may have to wait for a table at popular hotspots such as Iron Horse Tavern, Shoki Ramen or Burgers & Brew, but the street scene is so engaging that your furry friend’s tail will keep wagging and you probably won’t mind a bit.
Sac’s growing reputation as a farm-to-fork capital has expanded to the farm-to-glass category, with some 17 craft breweries and counting operating within the city limits. Establishment that don’t serve food but offer food-truck fare instead are almost universally dog-friendly. Warehouse-style Track 7 near Sacramento City College is a particular favorite with the dog-as-accessory crowd, offering indoor, picnic-table seating and a warm, family-friendly vibe (BYO snacks, dominoes or chess game if you like). New on the scene, and with an insider feel, is the Ruhstaller Sacramento taproom downtown. The revived brand, named after a local 19th-century brew baron, has received many accolades and attracted a loyal following. Its speakeasy-style taproom room is marked only with a sidewalk sandwich board bearing the stenciled, Kennedy-esque face of “Jimmy,” meant to embody can-do spirit, and instructions to ring the bell. Do so, and you’ll be admitted to the rustic-urban taproom in the basement of a former JC Penney store.
Word to the wise: parking in this area can be problematic due to on going construction of Golden One Center, future home of the Sacramento Kings, so be prepared to circle the block a time or two before finding a landing spot. Better yet, find a dog-friendly Uber driver to drop you off at the door!
Photo Credit: Eileen McFall (CC)