Over spring break this year we opted for a short weekend away. We looked around for a drive under 5 hours that would place us in an area we hadn’t explored before. Sacramento fit that description perfectly! We opted to stay in a Marriott Residence Inn (we had a few Marriott points to spare from my husband’s work travels) near the Capitol building with great restaurants and a nearby Westfield shopping mall (on the teen daughter’s must list).
Driving around in the downtown portion of Sacramento was surprisingly easy to navigate and we were very excited to explore the ‘Old Town’ area near the river. Specifically we were there to take the “Underground Tour”. My little boy was very confused about what that meant. And as far as we could tell it meant we would see areas of the city that have been recently excavated directly UNDER the oldest buildings in town!
It turns out Sacramento was built near two large rivers that (back in the 1850’s gold rush time) flooded nearly every year. Floods destroyed the fledgling city multiple times. In fact, as far as cities most likely to flood today, Sacramento is rated worse than New Orleans even! (According to our guide, who was dressed in period clothes and complete with a pretend Scottish accent—we believed him).
After years of the flooding and rebuilding and a few fires thrown in for good measure… the townspeople decided to move the whole city up in the air as much as 14 feet! (Why didn’t they just move inland we wondered?)
The whole tour was about an hour and was the perfect amount of time for a family with 4 kids ages 5-14. Wireless earphones made hearing the guide easy and we were able to walk around without having to hoover right next to the guide. My little boy was in heaven, walking under buildings and hearing about the Wild West era of the gold rush. (Sutter’s Fort: the original ‘49er gold rush site is just up the street a few miles from Old Town.) Prices for the tour are $15 for adults and $10 for children. 5 and under are free (but won’t get earphones). Call ahead… the Underground tours book up fast!
And now on to the shopping in Old Town. My girls enjoyed the Underground tour a lot, but they LOVED the shopping in and around Old Town. Little hat shops, and souvenir shops and cute little toy and funky finds types of shops. While the girls shopped, the boys spent time in the nearby RailRoad Museum. Everyone was happy!
All around Old Town was the perfect family activity in Sacramento!