Tuesday, April 20, 2010

For many kids growing up in Northern California, Old Sacramento is something of a local Disneyland. There are trains, historic buildings, plenty of candy shoppes and ice cream parlors, and even a riverboat outfitted as an floating hotel.

Nothing embodies a Gold Rush town like Old Sacramento. The area began to flourish when gold was discovered nearby in 1848, at which point the City of Sacramento was founded. Businesses flocked to the waterfront, selling outfitting goods to miners.

Unfortunately, the area was prone to flooding and fires. After several attempts to save the area, including raising the streets above flood level in the 1860s, the commercial district drifted east and the Old Sacramento area became known as one of the worst in the American West.

In the 1960s, efforts began to renovate and restore the area to create the first historic district in the West. According to its website, Old Sacramento has more buildings of historic value condensed into its 28 acres than most areas of similar size in the West.

One of the most stunning and unique features of the district is The Delta King Hotel. Originally christened in 1927 as a ferry between Sacramento and San Francisco, it was completely renovated and restored as a permanently moored hotel in the late 1980s. It sits along the edge of Old Sac's Front St., on the Sacramento River.

Photo top; photo bottom

As you wander from the waterfront over to Front St., you come upon another form of transportation with strong ties to the past--the Central Pacific Railroad passenger station. The station used to be a stop between California and Utah, though now it operates as a tourist line. Nearby is the California State Railroad Museum, a destination in itself.

Outside of discovering all its great history, the most fun thing to do in Old Sacramento is to eat. You can find pretty much anything from fish and chips to pizza, but by far its most signature cuisine is the candy shoppe. There are many, but a standout is Sacramento Sweets, which sells not only amazing hand made taffy (which you can watch them make, by the way), but also has amazing soft serve ice cream. It is one of the original business from the 60s.

A little ice cream, a visit to the train museum, and a sun-drenched walk through the streets of the Wild West proved a day well spent for us!

Historic town photo courtesy here.