SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Located near the center of California, Sacramento is an ideal launching point to visit some of the state's most popular destinations.
Drive two hours to the west, there are beaches, the Bay Area and the Napa wine country. Head east, Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains and numerous ski resorts are within a short drive.
But Sacramento also has plenty to offer for those who want to stick around in the valley. The city even just placed No. 14 on a Forbes list of America's coolest cities. Here are five free things to do in the Californian capitol.
Sacramento was a hub of the Gold Rush days in the 1800s, and many structures from that era have been preserved along the eastern bank of the Sacramento River just west of downtown. Among the historic buildings are the 1849 Eagle Theatre, the 1855 Big Four Building and the 1853 B.F. Hastings Building, which was once home to the California Supreme Court.
The buildings are part of Old Sacramento State Historic Park, and you can wander around for free and admire the old facades. The park is also home to several museums, including the California State Railroad Museum and the Sacramento History Museum, which do charge admission.
The iconic Tower Bridge is just to the south along the river, where sea lions can occasionally be seen from the bank.
STATE CAPITOL BUILDING
Built from 1860-74, California's Capitol is one of the most beautiful in the U.S., a must-stop for anyone visiting Sacramento. The majestic dome was built to look like the U.S. Capitol and the interior is filled with ornate details like marble floors, carved wooden shutters and Corinthian columns. Free tours are available and the California State Capitol Museum is a great way to see some of the history of the building. The grounds are worth checking out, too, 40 acres (16 hectares) filled with trees and plants from around the world — many with labels telling what they are.
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