San Francisco and Los Angeles are the state’s showcase cities, but California’s political capital has a thriving business scene of its own.
A boomtown during the Gold Rush era, Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California and was the western terminus for the Pony Express. Today, it’s known as a hub for both agricultural activity — the fertile Sacramento Valley region yields fruits and vegetables, almonds, rice, meat, and many other products — and the state government.
Thanks to two airports, two major interstate freeways, an inland shipping port, freight and passenger rail lines, and a regional commuter bus and light-rail system, getting from point A to point B isn’t an issue. Sacramento’s important industries include technology, education, health services, and hospitality. Since the mid-2000s, clean energy technology has been on the rise, with more than 3,000 jobs supported.
Newcomers arriving in Sacramento may be pleasantly surprised to find that congestion and costs are both lower than in California’s other major cities. What else should you know before arriving in Sactown? Read on.
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
Sacramento International Airport (SMF) has frequent daily flights to and from Sea-Tac, and beginning May 4, Delta will add four new ones. The flight takes about an hour and 45 minutes. SMF is a good airport for staying connected—it was ranked as the fifth most tech-friendly commercial airport in the country by PC World magazine, and the LEED-certified Terminal B is flush with outlets and USB ports.
If you have some extra time and a hankering to see the landscape between here and Sacramento, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight will deliver you to your destination in approximately 21 hours. Once you arrive, you’ll likely need to rent a car unless your business takes you downtown only — in that case, a combination of walking and taxis probably will suit your needs.
THE POWER LUNCH
At Ella Dining Room & Bar, “the wine selection and the sommelier are incredible,” says Kirkland-based Eric Horner, vice president of sales and marketing for Woodside Electronics Corporation, which is headquartered 20 minutes from Sacramento. Serving seasonal, high-end cuisine, the elegant restaurant is located near the Sacramento Convention Center Complex and a number of hotels. Try the buttery bone marrow appetizer and the gin and tonic. Horner also likes Grange Restaurant & Bar inside The Citizen Hotel, which perfectly embodies the farm-to-fork ethos of the city.
GET SOME SLEEP
Every room is different at the classic Citizen Hotel, which Horner calls “fantastic.” No matter which room you’re in, you’ll find luxury bedding, a work desk with an ergonomic chair, and plush robes. If you are burning the midnight oil, a 24-hour business center comes in handy. If you are looking to kick back after a long day, check out the political movie library. Located across from the California State Capitol, the recently renovated Hyatt Regency Sacramento offers free Wi-Fi and bike sharing for guests.
OFF THE CLOCK
If you’re staying downtown, there’s no shortage of activities and eateries to keep you occupied. “Most of the best places are within walking distance around the convention center, and since the weather is usually favorable, walking is a good choice,” Horner says. Indeed, sunny days are the norm from mid-spring to mid-fall, and winters are often mild. For days when the weather isn’t so pleasant, those with an interest in history, architecture, and/or politics might want to visit the California State Capitol Museum, where free tours are available on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Like Seattle, Sacramento raised the city streets — leaving a whole world underneath the current sidewalks. Explore that with the hour-long Old Sacramento Underground Tour, which gives you an introduction to life in the early days of the city and the chance to see excavated building foundations, exposed-brick retaining walls, and the long-neglected “hollow sidewalks.”