Coolling off in the American River. Photo: Sarah Rich
Sacramentans cherish the American River Parkway, a shady, 32-mile greenbelt meandering from the Old Sacramento historic district to sprawling Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. This jewel in the crown of the Sacramento County Regional Park System has many access points and offers an unlimited opportunity to stroll and splash with your best friend. First-time visitors can get a feel for the parkway by hiking north from Old Sac for about three-quarters of a mile to the Sacramento River Water Intake Structure, an unexpectedly delightful piece of architecture with public art and river views. Enter the parkway upstream at Ancil Hoffman Park or Nimbus Fish Hatchery to explore woodsy sections of the trail where coyotes, deer and wild turkeys often are spotted.
Visitors who want to see more of Sacramento than its marquee attractions should head to William Land Park, snugged into one of the city’s loveliest neighborhoods. The 166-acre preserve just south of downtown is home to a zoo, a golf course and an amusement park that are off limits to dogs, but it's laced with canine-friendly paths, dotted with ponds (look out for the geese) and well equipped with shady picnic areas. Mark your calendar for the annual Doggy Dash and Bark in the Park Festival held here every June to benefit the Sacramento SPCA. For off-leash fun, pop Rover in the car and head to one of the city's nine fenced and well-maintained dog parks.