On Labor Day Weekend, the citizens of Sacramento (500,000 population) know where they can go to kick up some dirt.
In fact, more than 200 tons of dirt will be dumped on the streets of Old Sacramento during the town’s annual Gold Rush Days. Free admission. Lots of storytelling, gunfight re-enactments, period music and trick roping.
Native Californian Patricia Johnson (no relation to the city’s celebrity mayor, Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star with the Phoenix Suns) tells us where the locals enjoy spending their time, year round and while they’re enjoying the festivities. As senior archivist at the Center for Sacramento History, she certainly knows the storied city well.
Good Cowboy Bar: River City Saloon, with a 1905 Brunswick bar. The best time to go is during the day, when servers are dressed in period costume.
Popular Local Hangout: Shady Lady Saloon, in the new R Street Corridor, serving “tried and true” classic cocktails.
Favorite Local Cuisine: The Squeeze Inn, for the “Squeeze with Cheese” skirt burger. People flock to this place and “squeeze in” for a memorable burger.
Best Art Gallery of the West: The 125-year-old Crocker Art Museum, which opens a new wing on October 10.
Best Bookstores of the West: Probably a push between Beers Books and Time Tested Books. Barry Cassidy Rare Books is also a great resource for books printed as early as the 1800s.
Historic Site Most Schoolchildren Visit: Sutter’s Fort, where John Sutter first opened shop in 1841 before the big gold discovery seven years later.
Do-Not-Miss Attractions: Old Sacramento State Historic Park (including the California State Railroad Museum) on the riverfront in downtown.
Popular Local Event: Each May, thousands attend the Jazz Festival & Jubilee, held in Old Town since 1974.
Local Radio Personality: The Scottish-born Jeffrey Callison, whose “Insight” on Capital Public Radio shares topics such as the history of the California State Fair and the latest on K Street redevelopment.
Average House Cost: $159,000.
Avg. Temperature: Fall/Winter: 70s-40s, Spring/Summer: 90s-60s. Even though the summers can get hot, it’s a “dry heat.”
Little-Known Fact: Sacramento is the only city in California to raise its streets physically a minimum of 18 feet to protect from flooding. The work took place in the early 1860s-70s. Today the remnants of the original city are featured on a guided tour in Old Sacramento, from May through October.
Latest gossip: Work is underway to redevelop the former Union Pacific Railyards. The site may include a new basketball arena for the Sacramento Kings, while some of the historic Southern Pacific Locomotive Works buildings will be saved.