Your Sacramento teenager travel guide! Best things to do with teens when there on a high school capitol tour, family trip or sports competition weekend.
Traveling to California is currently giving me some of my favorite memories with my family. We are there often for sports competitions, school tours etc. Luckily though, the often underrated city has much to offer. You get every kind of nature you can think, great food and some really fun stops for sightseeing & photo opps… You literally have it all.
Sacramento is one of the best spots to visit in California with the family so here are my best tips from where to stay, what to eat, fun things to do for a great trip with your high school aged kiddos.
Table of Contents
Where To Stay
The flights have been booked, the school break has begun, and the next step in planning your trip is finding a place to stay. With so many options, how do you narrow it down?
Some cities really don’t have bad options of locations, but there are some places that set you up to be around the most spots on your list.
We enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt in Downtown Sacramento. Staying in downtown in any city you visit is a dream. It’s right by all of the shops, restaurants, and attractions that you really want to see and experience while you’re there.
Close to the river too, you really get all of the different scenes and spots that Sacramento has to offer in this wonderful downtown area.
And of course, as with most cities, Downtown Sacramento really is the hot spot for all of the different landmarks and you’re walking distance to most of them staying right downtown.
Sacramento Travel Guide: Things To Do
Finding something to do in a new city is either overwhelming with all of the options or underwhelming trying to figure out that the options even are. Sacramento is honestly a happy mix of great options to explore, but not too overwhelming and you really can’t go wrong with any of them if you ask me.
Here you’ll find some highlights from our last couple trips to the city.
Zoo And Fairytale Town Next Door
The Sacramento zoo is honestly not the hugest or the flashiest in the county (you’ll have to head to San Diego with your teens for that recommendation), but everyone I know LOVES THIS ZOO! It was my favorite as well because the cozy size of it all. The animal enclosures are very close and open, like you can just basically pet anything if you wanted! We even had a fun couple run ins with safe animals walking around.
After you’re done visiting all of the animals and experiencing the fun wildlife, there’s plenty to do around that same area.
Once you’re leaving the zoo, if you’ve got little ones along as well, you’ve got to check out Fairytale Town next door to the zoo. It’s an amusement park with all of the themes leaning towards different fairy tales that your kids (and even your teens) will recognize and love. From pirates to superheroes, you’re going to love the magic of the stories coming to life and a fun Instagram photo spot for the big kids.
They hold special events throughout the year so check it out while you’re planning your trip so you’re sure to catch an event that may be going on while you’re in the city!
Crocker Art Museum
The Crocker is not just an art museum, but an education center as well. This museum is a must see for art lovers, and you must experience the several floors of incredible art on display here in Sacramento.
There is something to attract all ages, and if you check the calendar, they are known for their after hours party featuring live music and creativity all around. You’ll find something really fun for everyone in the travel group and many of their contemporary and trending exhibits will speak to your teenagers, like this amazing work we all immediately fell in love with.
Old Town & The Tower Bridge
Old Town Sacramento is filled of fun and history, just like you would expect from the historic part of any city or town. Featuring iconic educational locations like the Transcendental Railroad and the Gold Rush monuments, there is lots to see and learn about.
We love just walking around this area and make sure you stop to play a few old fashion shooting games, our son loved this part!
The Tower Bridge is a sight to see while there in Old Town, and it’s a stunning vision to take in, also another great photo spot for an iconic trip album. You can travel across it from one side of the river, and it is most beautiful at sunset every day when you can see the sun going down over the water. Also, how cool is this dinner on the bridge option?! It’s on my list for next time.
Once you’ve spent the afternoon shopping in Old Town and the evening eating at the local favorites, wander over to the bridge and check out all of its beautiful sights.
Bring on more history! The stunning Capital Building of California is open to visitors to tour and admire all of the history and beauty within. You can learn all about the history of not just Sacramento’s local history, but you can dive into the state history and all of its rich past. Our kids did a high school tour here, but you can go on your own most days to see it all.
If you’re loving all of the educational stops in Sacramento, add this one to the list.
Almost any and all downtown areas are going to have some sort of a space unofficially dedicated to some sort of graffiti or street artwork from the locals. Sacramento has some beautiful murals around town, and they are totally worth checking out. This one attached to a great Taco shop in midtown was our favorite.
Leland Stanford Mansion
Another simply stunning building, this is an office space for the Governor, but it’s so pretty you might as well pass by it and take it all in!
We did the tour simply because it looked pretty, but I’m so glad we did. The Stanford family is the family that founded Stanford University and during the tour they talk all about their journey as a family, losing their son and how th college was launched as a memorial to him. It was so sweet to hear it all and the continued work they do. If your kid has any desire to go to college anywhere, it’s an inspiring story for how education can change lives.
Midtown Farmers Market
Farmer’s markets in any city is a must, as buying the foods and crops local to the area is such a tasty experience! This one has a fun makers section that was a hit with the whole family.
Wal Public Market
This market isn’t just for your local wines, fruits, and honey, this is a killer antique and vintage shopping space that you can wander around and find some really cool gems.
Where To Eat In Sacramento With Teens
Some of the best parts of traveling is getting to try all of the food options that you don’t have back home. Sacramento does pretty great on this. I mean it’s not our Las Vegas with teens foodie dream or anything, but they have a strong showing of great independently owned restaurants in lots of tiers that your big kids will enjoy.
The local favorite and such a great place for the whole family. Burgers, bar food and truffle fries that I still dream about! They also host a brunch we tried once, which although a little fancy for my dinner loving family was really tasty.
Fox and Goose
A really cool space that is also a music venue. You might just discover your new favorite underground artist!
Grange has a little bit high end, but approachable and delicious food. We went as a celebration after a big dance competition and it was as good as I imagined.
Meet And Eat
Delicious dining that is farm to table so you can really taste the California come through the plates, if you know what I mean? 😉
Stunning Italian food! This restaurant has a line down the block almost every night & I was so excited when we finally got into it. It was really good and a hearty way to end any travel day.
Great atmosphere with really good Mexican cuisine and pretty large margaritas for momma! They had the best ceviche I’ve ever tasted, don’t miss that.
Beast & Bounty
The fanciest restaurant on the list. My son is a major foodie and loves getting to try out trending places. Unless you have teens that are very into food, you might want to skip this one. But for my boy, it was his hands down favorite! They also have an amazing brunch – get reservations far in advance.
Something sweet to top it all off, or start the day with! We got donuts for the friends when we were here last time and everyone loved it.
Salt & Straw
Our families favorite Portland based ice cream opened up shop in Sac and seeing that logo always opens up more room in our tummy. If you haven’t tried it yet, their flavors are life changing.
Temple Coffee Roasters
Need a little bit of caffeine to keep the trip fun? Temple Coffee Roasters is the best independent shop in Sacramento hands down.
Are you so ready to get going on this Sacramento trip with your teens?! As you’re building your itinerary, some of these spots need to be on it and need to be a part of your travel plans.
The cool part about exploring new cities is finding spots that you would never know about just by reading travel guides, so have fun exploring on your own too and finding new and cool spaces that you fall in love with and create memories in with your teens, just like we did. Let me know if you find anything I should add next time we go!
If your next destination is Chicago, I have the tips for making the most out of even one day in the Windy City and lots of cities. See our travel with teens city guides for more.