Visit. Eat. Smile.
In Sacramento, food is part of every story. While you're getting a great night's sleep in your hotel room, a farmer picks the freshest pears from her tree. A chef arrives, there's a handshake and smiles, and the pear is on its way to be the star of the pear tart you'll eat after dinner.
The city is at your fingertips when you wake up. Sacramento is the authentic California experience, and it's one of the most walkable cities in the state, so you're never far from where you need to be. Gather the family, stop at one of Sacramento's award-winning local coffee bars and grab a pastry to start the day.
Immerse yourself in Gold Rush history as you tour the picturesque Old Sacramento and the waterfront. The kids will be having so much fun bouncing between candy shops, the California State Railroad Museum, the Sacramento History Museum and the Sacramento Old Schoolhouse Museum that they won't even realize they're getting an education on California's past. A restored locomotive blows its whistle and passes one of the restaurants overlooking the Sacramento River and the iconic Tower Bridge, and you realize it's lunchtime.
Sacramento restaurants truly shine, and eating out is as much a part of your Sacramento visit as the sights you'll see and the people you'll meet. As America's Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sacramento is the place to get fresh food from the source. Wander through one of the region's approximately 50 farmers markets on your way to lunch, and you might even see a chef shopping for the day's menu.
Do as the locals do and have lunch on one of Sacramento's many patios. With more than 250 days of sunshine each year, you can't pick a better place for an outdoor meal. Whether you're looking for a quick fresh salad with unique ingredients or something more hearty like the sturgeon that swim in the rivers or the lamb and beef raised on ranches less than 50 miles away, you'll get both the meal you want and a story to share with those back home. And yes, it's OK to post a picture of it on Instagram and Facebook so everyone else can be a little jealous.
Spend the afternoon exploring more of the city. Stroll along the tree-lined streets, visit the World Peace Rose Garden and some of the many memorials in Capitol Park. A tour of the Capitol itself is free, and you might get to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers who run the nation's most populous state and economic powerhouse. The Capitol also recalls its past with preserved rooms showing how things were in the state's infancy.
Another important site is the Crocker Art Museum and its collection of California Impressionist paintings as well as everything from ancient art to contemporary masterpieces. The museum is housed in two wings: a beautifully restored Victorian building and a newly constructed addition completed in 2010. If art isn't on your list, other attractions include the Aerospace Museum of California, the Sacramento Zoo, Sutter's Fort, the California Museum and scores of outdoor activities from bike riding to rafting and birdwatching.
Between seeing all the sights, don't forget to live like a local. In Sacramento, that's easier than just about anywhere else in California. With food so ingrained in Sacramento's culture -- the city has more Zagat-rated restaurants than San Francisco -- step into one of Midtown's restaurants or bars for happy hour. Budget-friendly prices mean the whole family can snack on a variety of small bites, and artisan cocktails showcase the unique tastes of a city in the heart of an agricultural bounty not found anywhere else.
Dinnertime is the perfect moment to reflect on the day, share your impressions on your favorite sights with your family and experience the good times you came here for. In Sacramento, eating isn't just something you need to do -- it's part of the visit. From sushi to vegetarian to burgers, ask any locals on the street, and you'll get their opinion on the best the city has to offer. Even though you'll get different answers, none of them will be wrong. And when your server presents the dessert menu, don't forget to order that pear tart. It's part of the story you'll tell when you get home.
How do we know? You just fed your soul.