Blessed with over 250 days of sunshine a year, California’s capital city is also known for its robust selection of outdoor activities. Thanks to an array of hiking and biking trails, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and fishing, we guarantee you won’t stay idle long in this blue-sky city.
We’re sharing some of our favorite outdoor activities and venues around the “City of Trees,” and after a long day out in the sunshine, know you can rest easy at the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel — because there’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool after a day of exploring, chic cocktail in hand.
If you’re lucky, you may even catch a concert night when the Kings are playing at home.
(Discover) Discovery Park
First things first, beeline to the venerable Discovery Park, a beloved 302-acre urban wonder filled with heritage oaks and situated at the scenic confluence of two iconic rivers — the American and Sacramento.
Here you can participate in boating, fishing, and archery, and there are also trails for horseback riding, biking, and hiking. The park also has some lovely picnic spots, so make sure to grab a sandwich prior to heading over — The Sandwich Spot and Ike’s are local favorites.
Out and Back Again
Running parallel to the American River, take a stroll along the 32-mile paved expanse of the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, which was established in 1974. You can hop on the trail after exploring Discovery Park, walking as far along the river as you’d like.
Just outside of town, hikers and mountain bikers alike take to Fairy Falls, an easy 5.3-mile loop. At the halfway point, you can even dip into the refreshing waterfall or jump into the swimming hole — an absolute must on a warm spring day.
If it’s solitude you crave, the 17.5-mile South Fork American River Trail offers stellar river views and bird watching for enthusiasts. Looking for a more challenging and rigorous trek? Near Winters, the Homestead Trail & Blue Ridge Loop is known for its heart-spikingly steep hikes. Or venture out and visit the 10.5-mile Mount Tallac Trail which is home to its namesake 9,735-ft mountain and provides sweeping views of Lake Tahoe and beyond.
Hit the Pavement
Before leaving the hotel, make sure to grab a custom-designed PUBLIC bike, perfect for riding around town. Head to Sacramento’s American River Parkway, which is a haven for cyclists and shares bike trails along the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. And the best part? After working up a sweat on the parkway, you’ll find several access points for a refreshing river plunge — so make sure to wear your suit.
If looking for an extra-long bike ride, nearby Davis has long been considered one of the country’s most bike-friendly towns, boasting over 100 miles of bike paths for motivated riders. With its banked S-curves and moderate climbs, you can pedal along the 5.5-mile Granite Bay Trail or hit the 9.5-mile Sacramento River Parkway.
Long distance bikers can also follow the parkway trail to Folsom, an early Gold Country town made famous in Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues.
Just Around the River Bend
Take in the beauty of the American River from a kayak or test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard — the popular outfit Flow offers board rentals and gear alongside a bevy of fitness classes and yoga offerings.
Along the American River in the Sierra Foothills, you can get a boost of adrenaline on a whitewater rafting trip with organizations like Whitewater Adventures, American River Raft Rentals, and River Rat Raft and Bike. For seasoned Class IV-V rafting trips, Middle Fork provides an exciting (and challenging) stretch of rapids.
If angling for a slower pace, cast your fishing line at Lake Natoma, just outside the city. Or drop by a swimming hole in the Nimbus Dam Recreation Area – you can also check out spots like the nearby Willam B. Pond Recreation Area and Watt Avenue Access Park.
Whether you went on a 10+ mile hike, rode your bike all the way to Folsom and back while singing Johnny Cash, or read a book in the shade of Discovery Park, you can rest easy after making your way back to the Sawyer. Visit the pool deck for a refreshing dip, grab a cocktail at Revival, or enjoy a treat-yourself-worthy meal at Echo & Rig, a steakhouse bringing the craft of butchery to the community.
Where to stay: The Kimpton Sawyer Hotel