Things to do on a budget in Sacramento this Fall


The capital of California, Sacramento serves up a captivating mixture of historical and contemporary attractions. The famous district of Old Sacramento harks back to the city’s Gold Rush era, with its charming wooden sidewalks and wagon rides, while new lofts and upscale boutiques are squeezed between ageing mid-century storefronts.

Sunset over Sacramento buildings (Photo: Jeff Turner via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Sacramento is a popular tourist destination, with its thriving cultural scene and buzzing nightlife drawing large numbers throughout the year. Fall is a favourite time to visit for many, with its abundance of trees (not for nothing is the city known as The City of Trees) bursting into beautiful colours and the brisk weather offering respite from the often hot and sticky summers. If you’re planning to come to Sacramento and would like some activity ideas that won’t break the bank, we’ve picked out 12 budget ideas for things to see and do during your stay.

Enjoy Fall foliage in the City of Trees

Sacramento’s famous abundance of trees add to the city’s appeal at all times of year – but never more so than during Fall, when its lavish foliage explodes into a veritable kaleidoscope of Autumnal colours. Wherever you walk in the city you’ll be greeted by such eye-catching seasonal scenes, but one of the best spots to enjoy its Fall foliage is along the Sacramento river, which is flanked on both sides by a myriad of trees.

LOCATION 2336 Esplanade Avenue

(Photo: moonjazz via Flickr)

Experience the Day of the Dead from the comfort of your car

The 11th annual Panteón de Sacramento (‘Sacramento’s Cemetery’) will live on this year after being re-imagined as a moonlit slow drive-through remembrance event. Held on the grounds of The Latino Center of Art & Culture, one of Sacramento’s beloved cultural venues, the event celebrates the powerful traditions of Día de los Muertos (‘Day of the Dead’), and for 2020 will feature as its centrepiece an urban re-creation of a candle-lit Mexico graveyard with an adjoining church and family alteres. A cinema projection will show magical nighttime scenes of people sharing food, music and memories of their departed loved ones. Live acoustic music, mojigangas (giant puppets) and ballet folklorico. All visitors must attend in cars. Reservation through Eventbrite now.

LOCATION 2700 Front Street

(Photo: Andres Alvarez)

Join a fun-filled food tour

Enjoy a sensory feast on a journey around the beautiful Capay Valley, an undiscovered gem right in Sacramento’s back yard, during a mouth-watering Farm Tour. Run by acclaimed local company SacTown Bites, the half-day tour includes wine tasting and small bites, olive oil and vinegar tasting, a hands-on lavender-making activity, an olive mill tour, and a hearty farm-to-fork lunch. Among the main highlights are a visit to a private wine and olive oil and vinegar tasting in the private shaded outdoor Begonia Room, where you’ll get to tuck into tiny treats while learning about the history of family-owned Taber Ranch dating back over a century. The tour culminates with the chance to enjoy a leisurely glass of wine while looking out over the Séka hills for as long as you please

(Photo: Sactownbites)

Celebrate the Autumn Equinox

The Autumnal equinox, one of two moments in a year when the sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night are of equal length, is celebrated each year at an historic river ranch a short drive east of downtown Sacramento. In this urban agricultural oasis, guests are invited to mark the occasion among fellow revellers, with the opportunity to explore the farm and gardens, enjoy live music, and sample seasonal and organic food prepared by prominent local chefs, not to mention lashings of great beer and wine.

LOCATION Soil Borns Farms, Rancho Cordova

Traverse a volcanic mountain range by car

The Sutter Buttes, a small circular complex of eroded volcanic lava domes which rise as buttes above the flat plains of the Sacramento Valley, are among the area’s most impressive – and revered – natural attractions. A great way to enjoy them is on a short Autumn road trip, with the weather at its most atmospheric making it an ideal time to hop in a car and traverse these magical natural wonders. Spanning a 40 mile loop, the Sutter Buttes are the region’s only mountain range you can circle in a day.

(Photo: Shamim Mohamed via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Visit a pumpkin farm

There’s no better way to kick-off the Fall season than an outing to one of the numerous pumpkin patches dotted in and around the Sacramento Valley. Usually located on fully working pumpkin farms, these venues not only offer the chance to pick pumpkins for Halloween but also enjoy attractions including petty zoos, hayrides, jump houses, slides, corn mazes, go-karts, train rides, and more.

Take a drive to Apple Hill

One of the most popular affordable excursions from Sacramento is to Apple Hill, which comes into its own during Fall. A genteel family attraction, the venue is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Sacramento and features more than 50 ranches, as well as wineries, a microbrewery, arts and crafts vendors, fun runs, apple delicacies and more. Be sure to stop off at High Hill Ranch, where you can shop for all things apple-related.

By Paul Joseph