Toward the end of Winter Break last year, our family found ourselves in need of a change of scenery. We weren't feeling ambitious enough to go to Tahoe and hoped to fill about 24 hours with something new.
My parents always choose Embassy Suites hotels when they take our kids on road trips because they have indoor pools; complimentary breakfast buffets; and, as implied by the name, the rooms are suites, meaning a pull out couch in a separate room from the master bed. Inspired by them, I booked a room in Sacramento and we packed our bags.
We drove, but you can certainly take the train. Anna wrote about taking the Amtrak to Sacramento here.
The train station is about six blocks from the Embassy Suites. Assuming you have kids under 10 and luggage, you'll probably want to hop in a taxi. If you arrive early in the day, you might go straight to the Train Museum, adjacent to the Train Station.
About three big blocks between the train station and the hotel, there is a perfect pit stop. If you can make the walk from there to Evangeline's Costume Museum/Toy/Gift shop, then you might be able to make the walk from Evangeline's to the Embassy Suites hotel.
The hotel has a glass elevator, which we allowed our kids to ride up and down on their own. A free happy hour invites you to sit on the ground floor with a drink while you watch your children ride the elevator.
Or, take advantage of the indoor pool. The intense fumes of chlorine make this windowless room with a pool and Jacuzzi hard to take for those who aren't wearing goggles, but the aforementioned happy hour drinks made it a bit more tolerable to sit on a lounge chair while my kids swam.
Old Town Sacramento is a walkable strip of shops and attractions. We walked to a restaurant for dinner, choosing an unremarkable Italian joint from the touristy strip closest to us. If you want the full tourist experience, consider Joe's Crab Shack, a seafood chain with plenty for the kids to look at.
The next day, we traveled six blocks up the Capitol Mall, as the street is named, to see the Capitol Building. You can enter the building and look around quite a few areas, including a hall of portraits of past governors. (Don't miss this. Arnold's picture is larger than life in a way that no one else's is, while Jerry Brown's is a work of modern art, bucking the established style of portraiture.)
Throughout the building, there are a variety of displays and artwork, sculptures and signage worth seeing.
We entered the gallery where the State Senators meet. No one was there during our visit, since it was over the holidays, but we could see where the assigned seats are and how votes get displayed on a digital board.
The architecture of the building alone, however conveyed to the kids that we were some place important.
While that was the extent of our adventures in Sacramento for our 24 hours in the capitol, the folks at Fairytale Town have let us know that they hope East Bay families will come visit. Maybe next time!
photos of Sacramento, Whitney Moss; Fairytale Town photo courtesy Fairytale Town.