Crocker Art Museum/ Credit: Karen Boruff

Crocker Art Museum/ Credit: Karen Boruff

The trivia tree around here is deeply rooted. Is there really an underground Sacramento? Ghosts, anyone? The rail yards, rivers, military airfields, Victorian mansions, cemeteries and the nearby Sierra are ripe for tidbits that should please anyone’s palate.

California State Railroad Museum
111 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-7387

Is this train museum, a California State Park, the largest museum of its kind in North America? All aboard, it is! This tribute to the Iron Horse has 21 fully and lovingly restored locomotives and cars. The earliest date back to 1862. There are small engines, big engines and some absolutely gargantuan. Walk through old rail cars, marvel at the beauty of these wonderful trains and know that there isn’t anything bigger or better in all of North America.

The Eagle Theater
921 Front St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 323-6343

What was the first theater in California? The Eagle Theater in Old Sacramento claims that title. The original structure was built on the Embarcadero in 1849. Not long after it was built, one of the famous floods from the Sacramento River destroyed it. A replica of the building invites your curiosity today in Old Sacramento. The first show was a full-on minstrel show, bringing a bit of culture to this gold rush town.

Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
1515 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 808-5291

Think back, way back. The year is 1964 and surfing was a big deal, even in a place so far from ocean waves as Sacramento. What group is synonymous with the music of surfing? If you guessed the Beach Boys, you are hanging 10. The group’s album “Beach Boys Concert” was recorded live at the iconic Memorial Auditorium.

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Crocker Museum
216 O St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 808-7000

Who were the Big Four, what did they do and what does it have to do with Sacramento? A hint: they backed the transcontinental railroad, which started in Sacramento. These four men were extremely wealthy and got together above Hopkins Hardware Store in Old Sac, determined to get the choo-choos chugging. They were Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington and Mark Hopkins. Railroad designer Theodor Judah was also present. The Crocker Museum was Charles Crocker’s home.

Sacramento Underground Tours
101 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 808-7059

You’ve decided to take your guests to Old Sacramento to enjoy a walk in the past. What surprise do you have for them? First, the street you are walking on isn’t actually ground level. You are at the second story level. The next surprise is that you can tour the original street level of Sacramento by going to the Sacramento History Museum and taking the underground tour. For about an hour, you’ll literally be underground, perusing what was street level 150 years ago. You’ll lean why it isn’t street level anymore too.

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Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. In 2010 he retired from teaching after 36 years . He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at