This is a bit of a different travel guide since I actually planned nothing about this trip. Let me explain.
One of my best friends lives in Sacramento and so when we recently planned a trip to go see her to celebrate her birthday, all I did was pack my bags and show up. The planning was up to her. To be honest, she planned such a stellar itinerary that I’m not sure how different mine would have been had I tried to do it myself. I most likely would have wound up doing a similar – if not identical – trip. I usually write travel guides over trips where I’ve planned every detail. Every restaurant, every boutique, every activity. I wondered if I would write one on a trip I had no hand in planning because the credit wouldn’t be due to me or any work I had done, but it was just such a fun weekend that I decided anyone going to Sacramento should have the same opportunity to have as great of a trip as I did so…thank you to my friend, Shannon for the inspiration behind:
3 Days in Sacramento, California!
On our first day, we worked out and had a breakfast of avocado toast and coffee at the house while we got ready for the day. And then it was time to head out for my favorite activity: wine tasting! Sacramento isn’t actually very far away from Napa, but Shannon introduced me to a new wine region I had never been to before, Apple Hill – in Placerville, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. If you want to go tasting in California wine country, but want a more relaxed setting and pay $5 a tasting as compared to Napa’s $20+ a tasting, then Apple Hill is for you.
Our first stop was to High Hill Ranch for some apple donuts. High Hill is also home to the largest craft fair in Northern California and it’s open daily! We only stayed long enough to enjoy a donut so we could move on to the wineries, but there were so many fun looking tents and stalls! But, even if that’s not really your scene, you definitely should go for the donuts!
The first winery on our agenda was Lewis Grace, a beautiful property on the original Pony Express route. Our tasting menu came with about 4 extras just because it wasn’t a busy day, we were having a good time drinking the wine and chatting with the ladies working and we got some extra pours out of it. My absolute most favorite wine Lewis Grace offered us was the Torrontés. The flavor profile was so unique: honeysuckle, citrus, dry pear, tangerine and rosemary. You bet your bottom dollar I brought a bottle home (and am still contemplating ordering a case of it).
The second winery was Lava Cap. Their gorgeous property is unique since the soil is volcanic and weathered from ancient ash flows. This gives the grapes a unique minerality and the wine is absolutely delicious. I walked away with two bottles: their American River Red and a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. If I’m being honest, Lava Cap was my favorite vineyard of the day!
We had time for one more winery and so we decided to go check out Fenton Harriet, a family vineyard. The property, complete with large bocce ball courts, is gorgeous even if the tasting room itself leaves a little to be desired. I will be honest and say that I didn’t love their wines, but everyone’s palate is different and so I wouldn’t necessarily let that deter you.
For dinner that night we went to a place called Tiger. I failed to snap any pictures, but it was really good food. Although there’s so many good options for food that I doubt you’d have trouble coming up with a place to try out. The real highlight of the night was The Dive Bar. It’s not what you think. Instead of being an actual dive bar, it’s a pun because – get this – it’s a mermaid bar. Above the bar, there’s a huge glass aquarium that stretches the entire room and inside…mermaids. Swimming around, dancing, doing tricks and even brushing their hair with dinglehoppers Ariel-style. Needless to say, I was entranced. My friends were a little skeptic and not totally sold on going, but I literally could not leave without experiencing it so I paid their covers and dragged them in there. Worth it.
On day two, we checked out the local farmer’s market. I thought I’d seen some pretty good farmer’s markets until I experienced Sacramento’s. I brought home some Thanksgiving themed macarons, but if I could have packed up some strawberries and persimmons and gotten them in my suitcase somehow, I would have!
If you’re lucky enough to catch the market on Saturday, your next stop should be brunch at Pushkins just down the street and around a corner or two. I was told it was “health conscious” brunch stop and to be real, that turned me off. I’m a big bruncher and I wasn’t trying to get a bowl of granola. But oh my woooooow the food was incredible. The place was packed and we had to wait a while, but it was obvious why once we got our food. Freakin’ delicious. Plus, there’s a few boutiques just down the street where you can go shop while you wait!
To work off our brunch, we hopped on some scooters and bikes and did the Sacramento Wide Open Walls Tour. There are art murals on the sides of buildings everywhere and every time you spot one, you can use your phone to scan a QR code and learn about the artist and the story behind the painting.
By late afternoon we had worked up a good sweat and we were ready for snacks and margaritas so we stopped into Cantina Alley. Now listen, y’all know I like my upscale eating options, but if you’re looking for some straight up amazing Mexican food, phenomenal drinks and ambiance that will have you believing you’re actually in Tulum or Merida, then you need to hit up Cantina Alley. And you need to order some elotes.
On Saturday night, we got spiffed up for a night out on the town! Except…we took 15 years to get ready and wound up having dinner at 10:00 at night and then only had time for a nightcap before closing time. BUT! The two places we went are absolute musts for any Sacramento trip.
First, we had dinner Echo & Rig inside of the gorgeous Sawyer hotel downtown. (Well actually, first we stopped for champagne flights at Fizz and then we went across the street to dinner, but we’ll start with Echo & Rig). It exceeded my foodie expectations. Oysters, mushroom soup and sea bass was had…seriously yummm.
After dinner we went to The Bank, simply named since it was indeed a bank and is now a three-level bar with incredible cocktails and it’s just dripping in class and marble everything.
Our third day in Sacramento was Sunday so we started the day by going to church together and then brunch. And this brunch spot is one you cannot miss. The ambiance, the food, the drinks, the everything. It’s absolutely quintessential. Introducing, the Tower Cafe.
There’s a movie theater next door that shows modern films as well as classics.
We hit up some boutiques afterwards, and although I don’t have any pictures to show you, here are the two I would suggest:
Neither have websites otherwise I would have linked them, but just know I drained some serious cash at those two stores and so they are definitely worth going to!
Now…what would you and your friends do to laze away the rest of a Sunday? If your answer is that you would go to a brewery, play corn hole and Heads Up and then chat around a fire pit, then you can hang out with us because that’s exactly what we did…followed by take out Thai. And we wrapped up the trip with Crossfit (ouch…just thinking about my body afterwards hurts all over again) and documentaries the next morning before flying back home.
Every single time I write out a new travel guide, I get the itch to either travel somewhere else immediately or go right back to the places I snapped in these pictures. I love creating these and I hope you all get some good ideas out of them. I love hearing from you and knowing that something I’ve posted helped you plan a trip! This is why I’m so glad I just bit the bullet and started this blog..it’s so fun to get to share my pictures, memories and recommendations here with you. Until next time, friends.