There's something about the weather that everybody loves / They call it the Indian spring of Sacramento / And when the sun is up in the sky / The wind is blowing by the riverside, most every day." (-Middle Of The Road, "Sacramento") Read Guide >
Sacramento may not be known for tourist guide page turning, but its locals give The Tree City a bohemian and a "we try harder" vibe. There are stories told by park rangers there that start with a Sacramentan offering to take a photo of a group of tourists in front of the Capitol, and end with the photo being taken and the camera being returned. Not bad, Sacramento.
Actually, Ronald Reagan was the last California governor to occupy the Governor's Mansion located at 1526 H Street in the Carmichael suburb - not covered here. But you can live like a movie star and/or politician in other Sactown hoods.
Old Sacramento: Why not start with Sacramento's austere beginnings and eventual gold rush headquarters? Lying along the Sacramento River, Old Sacramento (Old Sac - did you really think there wasn't a nickname?) is now a 28-acre neighborhood of recreations and tourist attractions. Featuring everything one might expect of a re-booming boom town - dining, shopping, all sorts of live entertainment, saloons/pubs, and old-west store fronts and facades that make you feel you're on the set of Bonanza, all that’s missing is an ample supply of living spaces. Yes, apartments are limited in Old Sac, though there are a couple of luxury buildings (converted, so the architecture can be alluring) and lofts nearby. There's also a smattering of older-smallish apartment buildings in the half-mile range. Think of Old Sacramento as Atlantic City without the Atlantic, casinos, or Donald Trump - phew. 1 BR $900, 2 BR around $1,175.
Downtown: The home of the State Capitol (pretty impressive for history and architecture buffs) and Westfield Downtown Plaza (pretty impressive for food court and Macy's buffs), Downtown Sacramento is the city's most cosmopolitan neighborhood. The Sacramento Ballet, Philharmonic Orchestra, and Wells Fargo Pavilion (theater in the round) all provide settings for your cultural urges. The dozens of bars and clubs handle all your social purges. Public transportation (including light rail) is here, but parking is difficult. Downtown Sacramento is always buzzing with something - just think of all those politicians (largest state government in the country) vying to be the next one not on Twitter. Choose from a wide range of apartments in Downtown: Modern apartment developments are $1,000 - $1,500 for a 1 BR (add $300 - $500 for a 2 BR) and there are many smaller homes and buildings with apartments (with little or no amenities) for $700 for a 1 BR, $875 for a 2 BR. With a range so wide, suffice it to say you get what you pay for.
Midtown: As the Tree City, you might be thinking that Sacramento probably has trees somewhere. You’re right, it does! Midtown is their showcase with arbor-canopied streets and the colorfully majestic Victorian houses under which they sit. Sutter's Fort and an actual winery are located in Midtown. Here you’ll find a younger vibe with loads of clubs, bars, and come-as-you-are restaurants. There is a large Asian community with roots from the gold rush that calls Midtown Sacramento home. Lavender Heights, part of the bouquet of Midtown, is the city's largest gay and lesbian community. Midtown is one of Sacramento's more expensive rental choices with 1 BR apartments for $700 (basic yet nice) - $1,200+ (top notch Victorian or townhouse development). Add $350 - $700 for the 2nd BR.
Uptown: Sacramento is a city of many nicknames. Uptown used to be called North Sacramento until North Sacramento became, well, uptown. Possibly inspired by Billy Joel or George and Weesie, Uptown is now where art lovers gather. Of course, where there's artists, there's art buyers. Where there's art buyers there's fancy restaurants and cafés. Where there's all of these things in one place, there's possibly bratty children. The handy Point West neighborhood should handle that with the Arden Fair Mall (Apple Store), movie theaters, and name recognized dining and lodging. 1 BR apartments with nice but standard amenities are around $700, 2 BR for $875. There is some variation as this area tends to have older, smaller complexes - take the landscaped courtyard or big pool out of the equation and rents fluctuate.
East Sacramento: East Sac is a prized location - Ronald Reagan lived here for all but 4 months as Governor. The quality of life here is a bit mellower than in other areas and it’s home to 32-acre McKinley Park and the uber-beautiful "Fabulous Forties" neighborhood. Due to its relative tranquility but proximity to Midtown, the Capitol, and freeways, East Sacramento has experienced relatively high price escalation. This, however, is not hurting its popularity - especially with outdoorsy folks who appreciate East Sac's commitment to biking and walking. Apartments in East Sac are generally in the form of homes rather than complexes, except closer to Cal State Sac. Sometimes duplexes, sometimes cottages, either way you’re looking at around $675 - $900 for a 1 BR, $850 - $1,200 for a 2 BR.
Natomas: The last holdout in the rapid redevelopment of Sacramento, Natomas' growth may have become vastly more fertile with the building of the Power Balance Pavilion - home to the NBA's Sacramento Kings. In the N.W. quadrant of the city, Natomas (There's North and South, but they're fairly close and intertwined) has the Sacramento and American rivers nearby (closer to South Natomas, but the Kings play closer to North - anyway, everybody relax, there's no Mason-Dixon line). In other words, Natomas is an active place that is Sacramento's most up and coming. It’s also one of the more ethnically woven parts of the city and has the easiest access to major highways and the airport. 1 BR is around $675, 2 BR about $900.
Sacramento is growing rapidly and has a population of about 500,000. In the last 10 years the Sacramento vicinity has grown by 16 percent and has outpaced the rest of the state by 6 percent. So what does that actually mean? Obviously people have their eyes on the Big Tomato and it’s attracting a wide range of people and funds. Furthermore, as the capital city to the most populous state, there's approximately 75,000 state jobs. Maybe Sacramento doesn't host the Oscars, but the employment picture and the cultural distinctions and diversions alone make Sacramento riper than a California Valencia Orange for those on the move.
From the Gipper, to the Governator, to past and current Governor Moonbeam (and let us not forget Grey Davis, who had no nickname because he had two last names and was fired) Sacramento's nickname obsession is quirky. But all these fine gentlemen would tell you that their fair city has decent public transportation and is somewhat closely knit, but not so much as to rid yourself of your automobile, especially if it's a Prius.
They would also say bring along your favorite furry buddy, including Bonzo (Ronald Reagan would have said that's cool). After all, this is California. Sacramento is pet friendly with lots of good walking spots and many trees to claim. However, breed restrictions often apply and 40 lb. weight limits are not uncommon.
Now go forth and pan for gold.
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