By Valerie Heimerich
These quintessential bars in the capital region truly offer something for everyone, whether one prefers a laid-back neighborhood hangout, frenetic dance hall or pedal powered transportation from bar to bar.
1577 Garden Highway
Sacramento, CA 95833
The Sacramento region is rife with waterways, so it’s natural that Virgin Sturgeon is one of the most renowned bars in the area. The floating restaurant and bar, located literally on the Sacramento River, offers great views and caters to the relaxed and congenial patrons who arrive by auto, bike and boat. VS has a fully-stocked bar and inventive bartenders, offering seasonal specials like the vodka, lime, triple sec and cranberry juice Sturgeon Whisper and the White Gummy Bear, made with peach schnapps and raspberry vodka. There is seating both indoors and dockside, and the menu includes everything from light appetizers to a divinely decadent seafood coquille, a creamy dish made with crab meat, shrimp and scallops.
Sac Brew Bike
While not a bar per say, Sac Brew Bike is undeniably a spot-on reflection of Sacramento’s love of bars and beers. Adding wheels to the iconic idea of brew-pub crawls, the 15-passenger shaded bike moves by group pedal power to some of the area’s best pubs and bars. Anyone who says beer isn’t good for your health has never taken this ride, as guests can get quite a workout going from spot to spot. Great grub and other bar drinks can be found as well, but the biggest draw is for beer fanciers. Premier local Brew Bike destinations include Der Biergarten, Kupros Craft House, Karma Brew, Iron Horse Tavern, The Golden Bear, Big Stump Brew Company, Federalist, Firestone and Rubicon.
Related: Best Craft Beer Shops In Sacramento
Swabbies On The River
5871 Garden Highway
Sacramento, CA 95837
Swabbies is a classic spot, perfect for a town called both the River City and the City of Trees. Tucked off the beaten path on Garden Highway, the bar and restaurant looks out over the Sacramento River under a canopy of 60-foot trees. While there is regular seating inside, warm weather draws customers outside to eat and drink at picnic tables, in an unpaved, beach-party-esque setting that would make Jimmy Buffett proud. Live bands frequently perform on the outdoor stage, even during daytime hours, and the full bar includes mojitos, 19 beers on tap and, naturally, margaritas.
Fanny Ann’s Saloon
1023 2nd St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fanny Ann’s has been an Old Sacramento favorite since it opened in 1973. Located in a touristy area and loaded with kitschy décor, the uninitiated might dismiss the three-story restaurant and bar as being too gimmicky. But first-timers quickly join locals in their praise of the saloon’s food, pinball machines, old west decorations, video games, creaky wooden floors, local brews, juicy burgers, garlicky wings, funky-dive vibe and friendly staff. Happy hour deals include beers paired with discounted shots, and weekly events may include music, dancing, karaoke and great deals on drinks like Long Island iced teas and purple hooters.
2000 K St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
No list of quintessential Sacramento hot spots could be complete without Faces, the gay nightclub located in the heart of Midtown. This is anything but a quiet neighborhood bar; the club has 3 separate dance rooms and musical options can include rhythm and blues, ‘90’s tunes, throbbing and frenetic dance music, country line dancing and top 40 tunes. Faces also has spots for karaoke and hookah, and a VIP lounge makes it a good spot for date night. Getting a drink is straightforward and speedy, as there are 15 bar stations scattered through the club. Patrons can enjoy live shows, a taco patio, daily specials and even a heated outdoor swimming pool.