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Fly into Sacramento International Airport (SMF), located just 20 minutes from downtown. Buses, rideshares, taxis, shuttles, and rental cars are all accessible from the airport. Sacramento Regional Transit operates a network of bus and light rail lines throughout the city that stop at all the major attractions. This is a bike-friendly city, so consider grabbing an e-bike from the privately owned stations around town as a leisurely way to tour the city.
Thanks to its central inland location, Sacramento enjoys hot, dry summers — perfect for tubing on the American River or gawking at the scores of migratory bats that cluster under the nearby Blecher-Freeman Memorial Causeway. Fall and winter are cooler, with winter being the wettest season, which also ushers in bouts of notoriously dense fog. Spring is mild, and a perfect time for strolling streets lined with budding trees.
Visitors are invited into a different era at this museum that is home to 19 carefully restored steam locomotives and other grand vessels that once navigated the state’s vast rail network. You can also explore a 3,300-square-foot display of 1,000 vintage toy trains zipping past doll-sized mountains and towns. Complete your experience by hopping aboard a gondola pulled by a vintage diesel engine for a round-trip excursion along the Sacramento River.
Like Sacramento, this art museum is a marriage of the past and the future. Installed inside a historic circa-1872 Italianate mansion, a bold modern addition was opened in 2010. The Teel Family Pavilion — a modernist expanse of clean lines and glass — tripled the size of the museum. Inside you’ll find a vast collection of Californian art, European paintings, and one of the largest international ceramics collections in the nation. Swing by the store to shop wares made by local artists.
Back in the mid-19th century, the youthful settlement of Sacramento was frequently flooded by the nearby river. The solution? Abandon the original city, and build on top of it. Later, excavations unearthed the subterranean city, and now you can descend below the Sacramento History Museum with tour guides dressed in period garb to explore an underground ghost town.