It’s Worth Investing Time in Historic Old Sacramento

I was born in California and never made it to the state capital, until now. One crucial part of that oversight is missing out on the Historic Gold Rush Town of Old Sacramento. For those interested in avoiding the same mistake, it’s a good idea to invest some time exploring this spectacularly preserved piece of California History. A good way to start is by moving right in, with a stay aboard the Delta King Riverboat Hotel. This gracefully refurbished paddleboat floats on the Sacramento River adjacent to Old Sacramento State Historic Park and is the ideal home base to immerse oneself in the slower pace of mid 1800’s California.

First and foremost, don’t rush. Give yourself some time to explore because there’s a lot to see and do. Two days would be the minimum and try to include a weekend which preserves the opportunity to experience the underground tour.

Established in 1849, Old Sacramento is alive and well with the spirit and fervor of the gold rush. Handsome turn of the century buildings are well tended and house a variety of businesses you can explore. Traipsing through the streets and shops is a full day excursion in itself.

Rest assured if you need to revive anytime during your wanderings, they offer the illusive pineapple soft serve frozen treat, Dole whip, also available in mango. Unlike Disneyland, it’s self-serve here, so you can crank out as much of the icy concoction as you can handle, baring a serious case of brain freeze.

And of course no self-respecting gold rush town would be complete without an assortment of saloons. The River City Saloon claims to craft the best bloody Mary’s in Sacramento, but you need be the judge of that.

And Fanny Anns has to be one of the most captivating memorabilia stuffed bars in California. Stopping in for lunch, a cold one or just to browse the wild collection should be high on your to do list.

But the absolute highlight of Old Sacramento, is the California State Railroad Museum. This is a must see appropriate for the entire family.

Start you visit  with the informative movie which explains the back breaking labor and dedication that went into building the North American transcontinental railroad system. If you time it right, call first to be sure, the movie will be followed by a free half hour tour of the museum. No matter how you feel about trains, the amazing dioramas, restored trains, exhibits, dining car, heavy china display and simulation of a nighttime traveling sleeping car, are truly momentous experiences.

Recognition is paid to the workers who slaved through bone-chilling winters and blistering summers from 1863 to 1869 in order to make the dream of connecting the east and west coasts a reality.

Guest can pass through glistening trains of the era that look ready to hit the rails, reminding us of the romance and ease the railway system brought to U.S. travel.

Many cars are manned by costumed docents eager to share how their particular train was instrumental in facilitating everything from delivering mail to providing fine dining for guests.

Mannequin run kitchens and period china recreate the rigors and necessitates of a continually operational system of public transportation.

Be sure to search out the night train sleeping car simulation which is rigged to feel precisely like the real thing.

You can also hone your skills driving the same simulator used to train bullet train drivers. See how well you do manning the helm, followed by the challenging maneuvering of a speeding trains glide into the station.

The California State Railroad Museum is at the top of its game, being both technologically advanced, while also preserving their unique vantage point in the history of railroad travel and California’s involvement in its evolution.

We have to say that Old Sacramento offers such an inspiring glimpse into the past that we wouldn’t mind falling back in time over and over again.

Educational Treasure

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Open to the public since 1996, the Skirball Cultural Center has established itself as one of the world’s most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions and among the leading cultural venues in Los Angeles.  Its mission is to explore the connections between 4000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideas.  It seeks to welcome and inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity in American life, with the aim of building a society in which everyone can feel at home.

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The Asian elephant presides over the entrance to Noah’s Ark, one of the Skirball’s award winning permanent exhibitions. Almost all of the materials used to make the elephant are Asian in origin, including a gong from Thailand, vegetable steamers from Laos, handmade Lokta paper from Nepal, and bronze Thai rain drums engraved with decorative elephants. The deer sports shoehorns as ears. The elegant, endangered Grevy’s zebras are fabricated from wind turbines and keyboards.

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Noah’s ark is an old story, so they chose to use old stuff. Stuff from attics, stuff from e-bay, and some stuff right off the street.  Children and adults alike find a new sense of wonder exploring and becoming one with the animals, the ark and the thrill of creating the rain, thunder and lighting integral to Noah’s story.

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Docents, puppeteers and guests all recreate the tale together in this interactive space.

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Birds Fly, coyotes howl, giraffes stretch their long necks to get a better view, all at the guidance of visitors whims.

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There is great joy found in the identification of the mundane objects used to craft the sculptures inhabiting this space of ingenious simplicity, movement, storytelling and playful artistic expression.

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Not to mention a jungle gym of an ark to climb, crawl through, explore and learn from.  This family friendly collection is a must see for locals and visitors to Los Angeles.

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Current running at the Skirball, is Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution, the first comprehensive retrospective about the life and career of legendary rock impresario Bill Graham (1931–1991). Recognized as one of the most influential concert promoters in history, Graham launched the careers of countless rock & roll legends in the ’60s at his famed Fillmore Auditorium. He conceived of rock & roll as a powerful force for supporting humanitarian causes and was instrumental in the production of milestone benefit concerts such as Live Aid (1985) and Human Rights Now! (1988). As a promoter and manager, he worked with the biggest names in rock, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones.

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The Skirball’s exceptionally well produced exhibitions offer unique glimpses into traditional and non traditional Jewish heritage and culture that is fascinating, entertaining and delightfully educational.

Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone – 310-440-4500    web site – skirball.org