You may be a railroad buff, or a vintage car enthusiast. Perhaps your main interest is in art through the ages, or just good California history. All of that, and much, much more is available in the museums that are spread throughout the region. Learn something new, or visit the museum that houses your favorite pastime. Check out the list below for some of the many offerings here.
Fountain-Tallman Museum
524 Main St.
Placerville, CA 95667
(530) 626-0773
www.eldoradocountyhistoricalsociety.org

The history of Sacramento is tightly interwoven with the El Dorado County town of Placerville. Long ago, this historic spot on the way to the gold fields in nearby Coloma turned into a bustling burg, serving the miners and gold panners who flocked to the area in search of riches. What was it like back then? The Fountain-Tallman Museum has the answers to that question. The stone building that houses the museum was built in 1852, and finished in 1853. Inside you’ll find the everyday lives of the people from that era on display. This is history wrapped up in a historical building in an equally historic gold rush town, beautifully preserved. Treat yourself to the wonders here.

Lake Tahoe Maritime Museum
5205 West Lake Blvd.
Homewood, CA 96141
(530) 525-9253
www.tahoemaritimemuseum.org

It is impossible to consider the history of Sacramento without also including Lake Tahoe. This superbly wonderful alpine lake is linked with Sacramento in many different ways. The maritime museum is full of the lake’s history, from stem to stern. Some of the original boats that plied the lake are here. The photos and stories are fascinating. You will absolutely want to spend the day wandering here. When you are done, your knowledge of the lake, the boats, the commerce, and recreational history of the lake will be vastly enriched. You’ll be back; it’s that good.

California State Railroad Museum
125 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 445-7387
www.csrmf.org

Here’s a simple reality: without the railroads, there wouldn’t be much of a Sacramento history. The iron horses are as much a part of the city and the area as gold, water and politics. Some of the most astounding railroad engines, cars and railroad memorabilia are here under one very large roof. When you’re done absorbing the sights and sounds of the railroad, head outside to enjoy a spring time walk along the mighty Sacramento river. You are in Old Sacramento. A short walk takes you into the vibrant modern day downtown Sacramento, which is a fine place to spend a few beautiful spring days.

Related: Best Day Trips For Under $100 In The Sacramento Area

California Automobile Museum
2200 Front St.
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 442-6802
www.calautomuseum.org

Go back in time to 1885. Did cars exist then? They did, and the 150 permanent car collection here starts with the 1885 versions of cars. Things have changed a bit over the years. Take a stroll through automotive history. When you’re done with the permanent collection, head to the current exhibit. This part of the museum changes on a regular basis. What you’ll see could be just about anything that has to do with cars. From the exotic to the super finned wonders of the ’50s, the exhibitions that are hand picked by the curator are extraordinary. Enjoy a day in car land, and see just how much has changed over the years.

United States Bicycling Hall Of Fame
303 3rd St.
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 341-3263
www.usbhof.org

Bicycles have been around for a very long time. Some of them are hardly recognizable as bikes. This museum has some pretty interesting bikes, and the early ones, from the 1800’s, are really quite loosely related to what we ride these days. The evolution of these pedal powered beauties will bring a smile to your face as you wonder how anyone actually rode some of them. The museum offers a view of just about every kind of bicycle construction ever used. Take home some vintage style memorabilia, and fire up your passion for riding your own two wheeled wonder bike.

Related: Best Exhibits For Kids In Sacramento

Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 41 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 Examiner.com.