Even though we have been married for a couple of years we still enjoy "date night".
There are farmers markets every day of the week in Sacramento, but the best is the under-the-freeway market on Sunday – the fish, meat, honey, nut, veggie, wine vendors are all excellent.
You can always walk 1.5 blocks away to the Asian farmers market at 5th and Broadway, just don't buy a live duck unless you really know what to do with it – that one has even better prices but a more limited selection but the fresh tofu can't be beat.
There's also a midtown FM on Saturday and another at McKinley Park, also on Saturday I think, that are OK, but the one under the freeway at 6th and X on Sundays from 7 am to 11 is really the best one.
If you park at the end of the road at sutter's landing park, you can take a nice walk along one of the paths through the bushes to the water and the river bank is nice and clean along this area due to the effort by volunteers who keep it pretty nice and the water is sparking. You can put your toes in and walk along the sand quite a ways. You can also walk the bike path to the train tracks and see the bats come out just after sunset.
Pretty much all of South Sacramento between Elk Grove and Land Park/Curtis Park should be avoided, with the exception of Greenhaven, South Land Park, and Pocket (nice neighborhoods).
Tahoe Park and Elmhurst are good, Oak Park and everything south is bad.
Generally avoid anything North of the American River, and West of Business 80. That includes South Natomas, North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights and everything in-between.
North Natomas is generally nice though (North of I-80).
North Highlands and most of Foothill Farms should be avoided. Especially North Highlands. The closer to McClellan Air Force Base the worse it gets.
Some parts of Arden-Arcade should also be avoided.
Particularly the Northern part. Areas like Howe Park, Wyda way, Cottage way, Marconi Ave etc can be dangerous. Basically any place that has a collection of low-income rentals.
Parts of Citrus Heights, Carmichael, and Fair Oaks can be sketchy, but for the most part those are pretty nice areas.
The most popular neighborhoods in the city are Midtown, Downtown, East Sac, Land Park, and Curtis Park.
Tahoe Park, Elmhurst, and Med Center (North Oak Park) are also popular. West Sacramento also has some great things going on on the other side of the river. Greenhaven, South Land Park, and Pocket are the more suburban nice parts of the city, located further south.
If you don't want to be in the central city, generally the further out you go the better.
Folsom, El Dorado Hills, and pretty much all of South Placer County (Rocklin, Roseville, Lincoln, Granite Bay) are all idyllic suburban paradise's.
Further in than that you have nice suburban areas in Arden (some of the richest neighborhoods in Sac are in Arden near the river), the areas around Sac State, Fair Oaks, Carmichael, Orangevale, La Riviera (except for a couple of areas around Folsom Blvd and Watt Ave), most of Citrus Heights are all nice.
Elk Grove is a big middle-class suburb.
Generally a pretty nice, safe place. There aren't any ghettos in Elk Grove, but it is very close to South Sacramento, especially in the northern part of the city, so there is some spillover in crime. Most of Elk Grove is very nice and there are plenty of upscale suburban areas.
Generally anything south of Calvine Rd is fine.
Rancho Cordova is a pretty diverse middle-class suburb. There are some shitty, dangerous neighborhoods, and some brand-new nice neighborhoods, and everything in between.
Just don't buy or sign a lease without checking out the neighborhood and doing research.
Sacramento is weird in that we have some really dangerous neighborhoods that are right next to some really nice neighborhoods. Often only separated by a freeway, railroad tracks, or major road. For example Meadowview is a very dangerous neighborhood separated only by an overpass from Pocket, a relatively wealthy neighborhood.
Also, depending on where you're from, a lot of our "ghettos" don't look like ghettos.
They look like typical suburban neighborhoods with single-story homes and relatively decent looking apartment buildings. Looks can be deceiving.
Do some research and ask questions. Check police records. Don't be silly.
Looking back on this, I forgot to add Hollywood Park into the nicer neighborhoods of the city. The area around Fruitridge and Freeport is a nice, quiet middle-class neighborhood that doesn't get enough love.
Sac has a lot to offer people. This list is by no means finished. For example I didn't add Granite Bay, our neighbor to the east, has an incredible network of mountain bike single track along Folsom Lake - beginner to advanced, and all on legal trails.
Lake Natoma has awesome dirt riding too, althogh some trails are not quite so, um, permitted. Check out Meetup for organized rides from Hammerin' Wheels and other groups.
- Be amazed or creeped out by more than 7 million living and dead insect specimens at the Bohart Museum of Entomology in Davis.
- Programmers, coders, entrepreneurs, makers, inventors, and those who aspire to be one of these--find workspace, resources, meet-ups, and classes at the Hacker Lab..
- Pub crawls are the past, The Brew Bike is the future.
- Get into a duel at Sacramento Sword School, Sacramento Fencing Club, or Hristov-Csikany Fencing.
- Exercise your 2nd amendment rights on the ranges at The Gun Room in Elk Grove or The Gun Range. Rent one of their hand cannons or bring your own.
- Build superior intelligence--or some sort of contraption to feed your cat for you--with the Sacramento Area Robotics Group.
- Take your 4x4, dirtbike, or ATV off-road at Prairie City SVRA
- If motorcross is your bag, hit the track at Prairie City MX (private track) or Riverfront MX Park in Marysville. Rental bikes and lessons are available at both.
- Play a round of Citizens of Catan and enjoy a tasty brew with the enchanting /u/respectfully_disagre and her Beer and Boardgames group.
- Buy some gold pans or a sluice box at Black Sheep Mining and head for the hills--just like the 49ers that first "rushed" to the area. experts say more than 80% of the motherlode is still waiting to be found--and gold prices are still higher than they've been in decades.
- Borrow a boat and find the secret party island.
- Like to Knit? Enjoy a good chat? Join a Knit and Chat at Knitique: a Yarn Boutique in Elk Grove.
- Play disc golf at one of several courses in the area.
- Can't get enough 2nd Saturday? Try 3rd Saturday in Roseville, 3rd Saturday in Placerville, or 2nd Friday in Davis.
- Cast you some spells and slang them multi-sided dice at Great Escape Games in Sacramento, A1 Comics in Sacramento and Roseville, Olde World Gaming in Elk Grove, and/or GamersCircle Comics in Folsom.
- Catch some indoor waves at Surf Xtreme
- Paintball it up at Capital Edge, Surf Xtreme, or Davis Paintball,
- Airsoft your ass off at Ukau’s.
- Go Geocaching for one of the thousands of great hides in the area.
- Join an intergalactic war for local landmarks and public art in the Google-produced, GPS-Dependent MMORPG, Ingress.
- Hunt for ghosts with Elk Grove Paranormal Investigations.
- Preserve and explore the area's unique history and heritage by joining or supporting groups such as the Sacramento County Historical Society, Preservation Sacramento, and Sacramento Modern.
- Watch people drive really fast at Sacramento Raceway (drags), All American Speedway(short track), and Placerville Speedway (dirt).
- Drive your own car really fast at Sacramento Raceway's Wednesday Night Street Legal Drags. You can run your mom's Hyundai, or...
- Rent a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, or Bentley from LA Luxury Car Rental. They'll deliver it right to your door.
- Purchase the sweetest sweet corn in all the land at the Davis Ranch in Sloughhouse.
- When you're done in Sloughhouse, head a little further up the Jackson Highway (just past Rancho Murieta), hang a left on Michigan Bar Road, and cross the bridge (it's safe, trust me!) for one of the most historic, beautiful, and adventurous road trips in the entire area. Make sure you bring a hearty vehicle (not a rented Ferrari) and avoid during winter and spring.
- Grind some rails at Sacramento, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rocklin, and Citrus Heights skate parks.
- Catch some air at Elk Grove, Oak Creek, and Elkhorn BMX parks.
- Become a confident public speaker with the Toastmasters.
- Take a short drive to Rancho Seco Lake for picnics, swimming, fishing, and hiking.Watch out for three-headed frogs.
- Check out Sacramento's other professional sports teams--The Sacramento Sirens (women's tackle football), Sacramento Gold (men's soccer), California Storm (women's soccer), or Sacramento Surge (men's indoor soccer)
- Enjoy the fast-paced, bonecrushing action of roller derby with the Sac City Rollers and Sacred City Derby Girls.
- Join a bocce league at the East Portal Bocce Club.
- Watch some slobberknockers at live Total Wrestling Federation and Supreme Pro Wrestling events. If you'd rather lay the smack down on some jabroni yourself, both promotions offer training.
- Join a fraternal organization like the Elks or Odd Fellows for cheap drinks/meals, camaraderie, and old school cool--all for a good cause.
- Explore the amazing Vernal Pools of Mather Field--an endangered habitat.
- Buy some tricks, attend magic workshops, and become the next David Blaine at Grand Illusions.
- Take in a sultry and sexy burlesque show--there's four local troupes to choose from
- Learn about wild edibles in the area with the Sacramento Foragers.
- Live your Hunger Games fantasies at the Discovery Park Archery Range and Wilderness Archery in Rocklin.
- Football season is here! The Sacramento region boasts some of the best high school programs in the state. Check out top notch teams like Grant, Elk Grove, Folsom, and Del Oro to see potential division 1 and NFL players of the future.
- Learn about bizarre and fascinating surgical implements of the past at the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical History Museum. Entry is free.
- Partake in Mike Tyson's favorite hobby with the Fort Sutter Pigeon Racing Club.
- If Live-Action Role Play (LARP) floats your boat, Sacramento Valley Amtgard has the battles, weapons workshops, and skills classes you've been looking for.
- Become the king of Pho ("Pho King", get it? HAW HAW HAW HAW) or the apple of Daddy Dave Leatherby's eye by conquering some of the eating challenges and contests in the area. Make sure to take your Lipitor.
- Take in a play at one of Sacramento's smaller, edgier, more contemporary community theatre companies--like the Big Idea Theatre or Kolt Run Creations.
- Take acting classes from acting coach to the Sacramento stars, Ed Claudio.
- Write and produce your own play at the Thistle Dew Theatre Playwright Workshop.
- Enjoy some dirt cheap entertainment with one man band Winko Ljizz at the Acoustic Sanctuary.
- Party down and help kids with the Active 20-30 or Women's 20-30 social clubs.
- I don't know any chess puns to make here, but if you're into chess, you should join the Sacramento Chess Club.
- Join a pickup basketball game at one of Sactown's best streetball courts.
- Enjoy your favorite horror flicks in a whole new way with Amber's Sweets--one of the nation's premier shadow casting troupes.
- Take butchering classes at Taylor's Market and become the master of meats.
- Learn to prepare fabulous meals at home with cooking classes at Good Eats, Sac Food Coop, or Le Cordon Bleu's Bleu Ribbon KItchen.
- See 1500-4000 year old petroglyphs, rock art, and grinding holes at the Maidu Museum and Historic Site in Roseville.
- Take the plunge at SkyDance Skydiving in Davis or Parachute Center in Lodi.
- If you'd rather fly the plane than jump out of it, take pilot lessons at Sacramento Executive Airport.
- Produce and broadcast your own TV and radio programs at Access Sacramento.
- Play that weird sport you always watch when nothing else is on during the Winter Olympics with the Wine Country Curling Club at Skate Town in Roseville.
Also the Ultimate Frisbee community here in California is very welcoming of those new to the sport. It is one of the fastest growing coed sports out there. Norther California is a huge center for this sports and most of the champions of world tournaments have originated in this area.
In general I want to tell you what convinced us to try Sacramento.
Some of the aspects that we considered were:
- How is the crime? What I have read said it was above the national average.
- How does car insurance compare to national averages?
- Cost of living is notoriously high in California, how does Sacramento compare to the CA average?
How Is The Crime?
Depends on where you are. There are definitely good areas and bad areas, your price range will kind of set your crime rate. Here's a crime map to help you visualize.
How Does Car Insurance Compare?
That depends, again, a huge amount on where you live.
CA is in the higher side of car insurance rates nationally in general, but most car insurance prices are going to be fairly tightly tied to the crime rate where you park your car at night.
Cost Of Living
Sacramento is much cheaper than many parts of California.
It's still 'city priced' though. You'd spend about time and a half the Sac prices to live in SF, for instance. Here is a side by side of the two, replace San Francisco with your city (or one nearby) to get a comparable estimate to you.
I've never lived in Sacramento proper, but I've lived in a few of the surrounding areas. There's a decent amount of things to do: community festivals, sports, music scene, etc. You don't really need to go anywhere else. If you do want to get out SF is about 2 hours away; skiing at Tahoe is about 2 hours the other way.
I will be honest, CA isn't as great as many make it out to be.
When most people think of CA weather, they're thinking of like Santa Barbera or San Diego (where the ocean is still always pretty cold anyways). It's rarely cold enough to hail in Sacramento, though it will get that cold some times.
Summers always have heat waves that get above a high of 100.
The average high temp in July is a dry 94 with a low around 60. Summers are rough by coastal California standards, but really not bad, all considered, compared to a whole lot of the country. Cool night, low humidity, and cool temps within 90 minutes either direction go a LONG ways.
That's the gist.
What do you like to do? What are you hoping to get out of California?
First, Sacramento is not San Francisco or even San Jose.
It simply has never had the population density of either of those two places. However, it is the oldest incorporated city in California, so attempting to apply the label embryonic to its development seems unnecessarily harsh and inappropriate.
If you're into an active lifestyle (assuming you mean exercising and whatnot), then Sacramento is a place full of people who have that in common. Plenty of sidewalks to jog, bike trails to ride, and decent weather to do that all in.
We are one of the most diverse cities in the country. We have some wildly eclectic, affordable, and impressive restaurants. There are a large number of artisans of every stripe here in Sacramento.
And of course, I concur with everybody saying that Sacramento is close to the bay in the west, which includes many of the majorly-known cities in California, such as most of the "San-cities."
To the east, a 2 hour drive on Highway 50 will take you to the famous Lake Tahoe upon the border of CA and NV.
Sacramento itself is in the embryonic stage of major developments including an entertainment and sports complex, public transportation (i.e. light-rail, streetcar, and Amtrak), and a river waterfront.
If we want better public transportation, it is absolutely necessary that it's used frequently. The same goes for any new amenity/development that the city takes on.
We Sacramentans have plenty to be excited about if all these developments birth healthily and are used frequently.
Every city has its unique list of pros and cons.
I think that's a good thing. The things that concern me most are those that encourage a more homogenous urban experience — I would prefer a downtown that is full of variety: Housing, entertainment, shopping, and dining experiences that are unique to the area. I don't want to live in San Francisco 2.0, or even California's version of Portland.
Both of those cities are awesome, and we can borrow ideas from them, but both are unique for reasons that simply cannot be duplicated.
Sacramento is pretty much a middle-class city, with suburbs that probably look a lot like the suburbs of Columbus where I grew up.
Columbus is almost twice as large as Sacramento in terms of population, as well as area, which means in terms of density they're about the same.
Columbus = 223.1 mi² Sacramento = 100.1 mi²
Both Sacramento and Columbus have metropolitan area populations of about the same size, roughly 2 million. One difference between Columbus and Sacramento is that the city is surrounded by what some call "The Uncity" which is a fully built out bunch of neighborhoods that aren't in any city limit, just the unincorporated county--if you included them in the city population it would probably be close to that of Columbus.
You have to take in to account that much of the county is also at play here.
The city of Sacramento is small, but the urban/suburban areas encompass much of the county. Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Citrus Heights, and Folsom are all cities within Sacramento County. The county is 995 square miles. You wont be able to tell where the city ends and the county begins aside from the color of the street signs. It can be a little misleading to look and see that the city is only 100 square miles.
Midtown Sacramento is mostly low-rise, it and the neighborhoods around Midtown remind me a bit of parts of Cleveland like German Village, Victorian Village or Old Towne East, except the homes are a bit newer and made of wood rather than brick.
Downtown Sacramento is a bit smaller scale than downtown Cleveland, judging that we're a smaller and younger city.
Midtown is very, very mixed economically--in some ways it is characterized as "low income" because it includes a lot of young people who don't make a lot of money yet (service industry, low-level state employees and office workers), and a lot of seniors, who are retired, but generally it still has a very middle-class feel. Like Columbus, we're a state capital, but of a much larger and more populous state, so our biggest local "industry" is government, including the higher echelons of government agencies.
That's very middle-class work.