sac·ra·ment [sak-ruh-muh nt], noun: a visible sign of inward grace; something regarded as possessing a sacred character
When people ask me where I am from, I tell them California, though I am not a native of the Golden State. I lived in San Francisco from 2003 to 2007, and Sacramento from 2007 to 2012. San Francisco is a magical city all its own however, contrary to the popular song, I left my heart in Sacramento. I didn’t really enjoy much in 2007 and 2008, but things began to open up for me in 2009, and from that point on I savored every bite of California’s Capital City.
Sacramento is flat and spread out: bicycle-friendly, fun on a Vespa and easy to navigate. The center of town, called the Midtown Grid, is mapped out in letter and number named streets. Life on “the Grid” is interesting and entertaining. There is always something to do, ranging in price from “Free!” to “I Emptied My Wallet in 5 Seconds” (I was usually better at the first). Restaurants, cafés, record stores: you name it and it is probably here.
Small Businesses seem supported, appreciated and loved by the locals. Although some places have been here for years and others have closed, most have acquired loyal clientele that wouldn’t dream of shopping at big box retailers. Friendships and relationships are formed over unique gift purchases, well-prepared dishes or fabulous haircuts that keep people coming back.
Outside of the Grid, you have wonderful neighborhoods like Curtis Park and bigger areas like Natomas. If you enjoy driving, you might try venturing out to Carmichael or Elk Grove; the suburbs have a restaurant and shopping culture all their own. If you are a naturalist, Sacramento has the American River for rafting and swimming, huge parks for relaxing or enjoying music festivals, and plenty of year-round Organic Farmer’s Markets.
Building a community often takes time but the search pays off once you make connections. In my 5 years in Sacramento, I found a great dentist, an excellent optometry office, the best tax advisor, a wonderful hair stylist and an incredible Women’s Fitness Program. I also frequented the same delicious restaurants, became a regular shopper in many small stores, and favored some night spots within stumbling distance of my affordable Midtown apartments. (Rent is half the cost of San Francisco, another reason to love Sactown!)
Never mind the Kings basketball! The real crowned jewel is Midtown, encrusted with businesses that are gems.
If you ever visit Sacramento, I encourage you to try some of my favorite places. If you are lucky enough to move there, talk to people you meet (most are friendly in Sacramento) and make it a point to do something fun. The definition of Sacrament(o) includes “inward grace,” which hopefully arouses outward intrigue. Enjoy!
Links on this page, in the photos and other Sacramento favorites include:
Bars/Restaurants – Azul, La Fiesta Taqueria, Tres Hermanas, Tapa the World, Weatherstone, Los Gallos Taqueria, Shady Lady, Crepeville, Coffee Garden, Los Compadres, Taqueria Garibaldi, Press Club, Ernesto’s, Zocalo
Businesses/Serivces: KAIA Fit, Dr. Therese O’Brien, Nicole Moen of Hair to Dye For, Thrift Town, La Superior Supermercados, Beers Books, Barber’s Shop Automotive, The Beat, Sacramento365, University Arts, Space 07 Salon, PeraDice Gifts, Spanglish Arte, Midtown Business Association, Downtown Grid, Organic Farmer’s Markets, Eye Designs Optometry, Bicycle Kitchen, Brenda Duran of Tax Support Services, Melissa Uroff Photography
Festivals/Parks/Music: Chalk It Up!, McKinley Park, Sierra 2 Center (Curtis Park), Concerts in the Park, Sacramento Music Festival, Fremont Park, Elk Grove Park, Sacto MoFo, City of Vain, Mike Blanchard and The Californios, Andy Vaughn of Hypnotic IV and Bright Faces