With its important historical museums and tours, Old Sacramento has been the hot spot in California’s capital for decades, but there are numerous new kids on the block, impressive to say the least, that are vying for attention nowadays. The beauty is, you can have it all in this warm, welcoming and expanding metro.
Meetings Today recently checked in to The Citizen, a hip boutique hotel brimming with old-school character, then checked out some of the new, newly revitalized and longtime draws in the city with Lucy Steffens, director of travel media/film commissioner for Visit Sacramento.
For venues, Golden 1 Center is a shiny new addition complete with bold architecture, plenty of fantastic artwork and a food program that goes well beyond traditional arena fare.
The arena, which debuted last October as the centerpiece of the city’s redevelopment and the most technologically advanced in the country, is home to the NBA’s Kings basketball team and also stages major concerts and other performances and sports events. It is also designed with some of the most innovative and attractive event venues for groups, from sleek skyboxes to ultra-cool eateries and nightclubs. The arena can accommodate intimate corporate groups all the way up to large-scale conventions.
Food and drink is a highlight at Golden 1 Center, and Sacramento’s tagline “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” is readily apparent in the offerings, with 90 percent of Chef Michael Tuohy’s ingredients sourced within 150 miles of the venue. You’ll also find plenty of local craft brew and distilled spirits.
Art is another standout feature, from the retro reclaimed neon signs of restaurants and shops, including the original Tower Records, to a Jeff Koons sculpture.
Golden 1 Center is a block from DOCO (Downtown Commons), a three-acre plaza that is opening in phases this year with restaurants, designer clothing stores, farmers markets and outdoor concerts. Additionally, the Sawyer, a 250-room Kimpton hotel, will debut this year on the Golden 1 Center site.
Meanwhile, the venerable Crocker Art Museum, a top spot for group events, recently wrapped up a $100 million expansion. We stopped by the museum, boasting gorgeous interior spaces with natural light. Its galleries are adorned with intriguing artwork, from permanent collections of European, American, ceramics and photography pieces to changing exhibits. The magnificent Dale Chihuly glass sculpture definitely caught our eye.
The Historic R Street Corridor is another perfect place to experience the city’s eclectic and evolving offerings. Trendy cafes, bars and restaurants, many with sidewalk seating, line the ever-revitalizing avenue, while artisan outposts are popping up everywhere. Visiting a shoemaker, a vintage clothes store and a vinyl record shop was a fun way to spend some leisure time in the city.
Meanwhile, the restaurant scene continues to blossom. Sacramento has become renowned for its slow food movement, considering the bounty of fresh produce, dairy, meat, poultry, fish, wine and craft beer nearby, and the many farmers markets and annual events such as the Farm-to-Fork Festival, Farm-to-Fork Gala Dinner and others. We were lucky enough to indulge in a couple standout eateries.
In Midtown, Mulvaney’s B&L, which opened in 2006 in an 1893 former brick firehouse, is as happening and delicious as ever, with a menu of New American fare that changes daily based on what’s in season and locally available. Proprietors Patrick and Bobbin Mulvaney added the B&L acronym (Building & Loan) to the name as an ode to the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, in which George Bailey’s family business, Bailey Bros. Building & Loan, holds the community together. Community is a key part of Mulvaney’s popularity and success over the years, from its customers to its purveyors to the beneficiaries of the couple’s philanthropic work.
In addition to Mulvaney’s inviting restaurant and garden patio, Next Door (the official name), is dedicated event space filled with character. One room holds 30 seated, and a larger room accommodates 120 seated or 200 for cocktail receptions.
Another prominent couple on the Sacramento culinary scene, Randall Selland and Nancy Zimmer, opened Ella Dining Room and Bar about a decade ago as part of their family of Sacramento restaurants, and that, too, remains one of the city’s go-to places for fine, locally sourced food and drink.
Leading the locavore movement in the center of bustling downtown, Ella, named after the couple’s granddaughter, specializes in New American and French-style cooking. Whether you’re enjoying freshly shucked local oysters with a glass of bubbly, a farm-fresh salad or a creatively crafted seafood dish, experiencing Ella is a treat. Private dining and special events are available in unique and versatile spaces.