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After the Gold Rush

Linda Eldred, Tourism Coordinator
Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau
(916) 808-8989

A conversation with Linda Eldred, tourism coordinator, Sacramento, California, Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location and size:
Sacramento is centrally located in northern California, 90 miles from San Francisco, 90 miles from Lake Tahoe, 45 miles from world-famous Napa Valley and 150 miles from iconic Yosemite National Park.

The Greater Sacramento area enjoys a robust population of approximately 1 million residents.

What is distinctive about your area?

Sacramento is built on a foundation of colorful gold rush history, beautiful river landscapes, bountiful culinary options and a lively arts and nightlife scene.

The discovery of gold in 1848 in the nearby Sierra foothills attracted fortune seekers from all over the world to Sacramento. The small river city saw a huge boom in population during this time and would soon become the first incorporated city in the new state of California. A few years later, it would become the permanent capital of the Golden State.

Today, Sacramento is a diverse and intriguing city with an often unexpected breadth of activities and experiences for travelers. From outdoor adventures to nights on the town, Sacramento has a little something for everyone.

What are the main group attractions in your area?

The Old Sacramento historic waterfront district is Sacramento’s most popular destination for groups. The 28-acre area takes visitors back in time with its gold-rush-era buildings lining wooden boardwalks. The historic homes of gold rush supply stores, the offices of the Big Four railroad barons, bath houses, saloons and the original California Supreme Court now house riverfront restaurants, a variety of local boutiques and a number of memorable museums, including the California State Railroad Museum.

Groups can also take advantage of local historic tours available on land through the streets of Old Sacramento and on water by way of Hornblower Riverboat Cruises.

Old Sacramento is also home to the Delta King Riverboat, a true Sacramento icon. The boat once offered luxury cruises between Sacramento and San Francisco. Following that, it was put to work during World War II as a cargo ship. After many years, it fell apart and sank to the bottom of the river. In the early 1980s, the Coyne family dredged it up and fully restored it. Today, it is permanently docked in Old Sacramento and houses a boutique hotel, a restaurant, a lounge and two live theaters.

The 145-year-old California state Capitol is a living museum.

Sacramento has been the capital of California since the 1850s, and the magnificent Capitol opened its doors in 1864. The Capitol acts as a “living museum” with today’s elected officials working in the artifact-filled building. The Capitol is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a number of memorials and monuments, among them the California State Vietnam War Memorial.

If groups are in Sacramento on the second Saturday of any given month, they will be treated to the Second Saturday Art Walk. This monthly party started many years ago with just a handful of downtown art galleries staying open later than usual. Today, streets are blocked off all over town, there are bands and performers, food is everywhere, and families and friends just walk the tree-lined midtown streets of Sacramento, taking it all in.

What are the major annual events in your area?

The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee attracts some of the world’s finest musicians to Sacramento each Memorial Day weekend. With more than 100 acts, there is no shortage of entertainment as music lovers from all over the globe flock to the historic streets of Old Sacramento.

Gold Rush Days every Labor Day weekend sets the stage of the Old West. Old Sacramento is filled with the music of the era, gunfights, carriage rides, Pony Express demonstrations, military re-enactments and other experiences common in the 1850s.

Grape and Gourmet in early July offers California’s best of wine and food. More than 800 award-winning California wines, 90 upscale restaurants, live music and dancing, microbrews and cheeses are featured.

The California State Fair turns the fairgrounds into a “city within a city” each August and September. Nearly 1 million visitors savor the memorable delights of this 156-year-old extravaganza that includes exhibits, live entertainment, the Magnificent Midway and food such as deep-fried Twinkies, hamburgers, traditional corn dogs and ice cream cones.

What’s new in your area?

Hornblower Historic Sacramento River Tours recently started offering brunch, dinner and sightseeing riverboat tours. There are several new dining and entertainment venues, including the Cosmopolitan Cabaret dinner theater; the Mix, which offers upscale rooftop cocktails; and the Citizen Hotel, a distinct joie de vivre property that celebrates Sacramento’s political past.

Where are some great places to get a taste of your area?

Sacramento boasts dozens of farmers markets weekly throughout the year, where visitors can buy locally grown produce directly from the source. This is a terrific option for a day trip for bank groups.

Wine tasting remains a popular option, as the Sacramento region has more than 200 wineries, from the Sierra foothills to the California Delta to right in the center of downtown. Our wineries are also in the business to help promote each other, and they often have wine-tasting tours that lead a group from one scenic and aromatic location to another.

The Pilot House Restaurant in the Delta King Hotel offers a monthly “taste menu” featuring four samples of local wines and foods.

Ella’s, the Grange Restaurant in the Citizen Hotel, the Kitc

Old Sacramento is also home to the California State Railroad Museum.

hen, Spataro’s, the Esquire Grill, the Cosmo Cafe, Mulvaney’s Business and Loan, and Chantrelle in the Sterling Hotel all offer menus featuring local foods and wines.

What is one souvenir everyone should bring back from your area?

Stock up on some gold nuggets, an Arnold Schwarzenegger “The Governator” T-shirt, some local wine and our world-famous Blue Diamond almonds.

What is one surprising thing people will find in your area?

Sacramento is the “city of trees” and is said to have more trees per capita than any major city in the United States. Named the most diverse city in America in 2002 by Time magazine, Sacramento is a cosmopolitan mix of all ethnicities and cultures.

Is there an annual event or time of year that a bank group should consider in planning a trip to your area?

Any of the annual events referenced above make for a great bank group outing, but Sacramento is a friendly yet cosmopolitan town any time of the year. Contact us to get more information about seasonal discounts.

What is your Web site address, and what on the site would be particularly helpful to a bank travel planner?

At, contact our tourism sales team to customize any bank travel need.

Are there any special programs and services for groups in your area?

Yes, we offer:

Discover Gold Card for groups staying two nights or more, which entitles the cardholder to discounted admissions to attractions, restaurants and many other entertainment options.

Coach meet-and-greet service in Old Sacramento, where a local expert will advise group members on the specifics of the area and how best to use their time at the wide array of museums, restaurants and shops.

The group-tour organizer is always our priority. Our staff customizes tours and itineraries, escorts groups when possible, sources all travel needs from hotels to restaurants to attractions to technical tours and more. One call does it all at the Sacramento CVB Tourism Department.

We supply brochures, maps, calendars of events, themed itineraries — anything we can to help you sell your Sacramento area tour.

The Sacramento Jazz Jubilee draws the world’s top musicians over Memorial Day weekend.

We are proud of our regional relationships. Our tourism staff has helpful relationships with other convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, attractions and wineries throughout northern California and the entire state to assist bank travel directors in all of their touring needs. We work cooperatively with all of our regional partners and continue to assist, even when your tour crosses into another county.

Tell us one of your favorite stories about Sacramento.

The oldest original building along the wooden boardwalk streets of Old Sacramento dates back to 1852. All structures older than that were destroyed by flooding and fire. In the late 19th century, to prevent floods, city officials decided to raise the level of the city. They brought in enough dirt to fill all the first floors of Sacramento’s waterfront buildings, thereby making the second floor the first floor, the third floor the second floor and so on.

Although they are not yet a regular option, the Old Sacramento Foundation is working on developing underground tours of the original city level.