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Sacramento Pride Festival 2012
Capitol Mall
400 to 700 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-3855

Price: $10 entry fee for festival/free children 5 and younger/free parade
Date and Hours: Sat, June 2 – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; parade from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The Sacramento Pride Festival began in 1970 as a way to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, often seen as the start of the gay rights movement in the United States. Now in its 28th year, the festival and its accompanying parade have become an iconic part of life in California’s capital city, raising funds for the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center. The nonprofit charity offers services including support groups, assistance to at-risk members of the LGBTIQ community, and HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

Getting There/Parking

Guests driving to the event may choose one of three parking structures offering a special flat fee of $10 for all-day festival parking, with a portion of the money donated back to pride. For driving directions and details on where to park, click here.

Parking is also available on the street and in other garages. Be aware that on-street parking laws are enforced on Saturdays, so keeping an eye on the meter will be important.

Festival sponsor Sacramento Regional Transit suggests guests take light rail for an easy, no-hassle experience. Click here for details. The festival also offers a free bicycle corral near the 7th Street entrance, but riders must supply their own bike locks.

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The Parade

The nationally renowned Sacramento Pride Parade is, by far, the highlight of the city’s pride festival. Participants in the parade have included everything from the Wells Fargo Bank Stagecoach to Sacramento Police and Fire departments. The parade starts at 4th and N streets and ends on 10th and N streets in downtown Sacramento. The parade route along Capitol Mall fills up quickly, so plan on arriving at least 30 minutes to an hour early to get a good spot for the 11 a.m. parade kickoff.

Related: Best Places for Women’s History in Sacramento

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Performances, attractions and activities for everyone will take place all over the Capitol Mall during the festival. Headline entertainers on the Capitol City Stage include international recording artist Jeff Timmons, singer/songwriters Kaylah Marin and Tyler Rich and Phi Phi O’Hara, the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” superstar of season 4. Music, dance and other performances including talented Sacramento-area artists will be featured on the River City Stage throughout the day.

Don’t just sit and watch the parade, get up on your feet and start moving in pride’s two dance pavilions. Local DJs will spin a multi-genre mix of hot dance music including Latin, country and club hits.

Take the tykes to explore the Stanford Youth Solutions and Sierra Forever Families Kid Zone in front of the Wells Fargo building. Because children younger than 5 get in to the festival for free, it is a particularly great chance to have fun with them without breaking the bank. Play summer games, do art projects, visit the jump house and spin the prize wheel in the zone.

Shop, eat and learn
More than 200 vendors and exhibitors participate in the festival, offering guests the chance to shop, eat and play to their hearts’ content. The Kennedy Gallery Art Zone is new to pride this year, and will feature local art and artists at their best. A wide variety of food vendors will be at the festival to offer tantalizing treats for every taste bud. Local LGBT-friendly businesses will be on hand recruiting new employees, and guests may meet political candidates to talk about the issues that are important to them.

Vendors will be on hand with shopping steals and deals, and booths offering health screenings, HIV testing and educational materials. The City of Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter will be in the parade and at the festival with adoptable pets. Keep an eye out for some of the stars of the California State Fair as well.

Where to Stay
Sacramento Pride draws people from all over California and beyond, and many festival visitors wish to stay and explore more of the city’s charms. The lovely Citizen Hotel is offering a special $99 room rate on Pride weekend; click here for details.

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Delta King Riverboat Hotel
1000 Front St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 444-5464

Price: from $159

The Delta King is an authentic 1920s-era riverboat, a floating hotel docked in historic Old Sacramento. Beautifully restored, the king is now a unique modern hotel with two restaurants, a wine school and two professional theaters. Its Sunday champagne brunch is stellar.

Amber House Bed and Breakfast
1315 22nd St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 444-8085

Price: from $169 to 279

The warm and elegant Amber House offers old-world charm in the heart of Sacramento’s vibrant midtown. Guests may choose rooms with options such as a Jacuzzi, private deck or canopy bed. Make the trip for Sacramento Pride even more special with additional room amenities including champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, rose petals and scented bath salts.

Dining Away from the Festival

1100 O St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 498-1744

Local residents rub elbows with politicos and other area notables at this small Mexican eatery. Famous for huge, inexpensive and delicious breakfast burritos and savory machaca, the restaurant also features the best homemade tortillas and beans in the area.

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Bangkok Garden
3230 Arena Blvd., Ste 215
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 285-0608

This small restaurant has some of the best Thai cuisine in California. Try the yum nuea salad, a tantalizing combination of beef, spice, lime and mint, along with the heady tom kha soup made with seafood, coconut milk, kaffir and lemongrass. Locals also rave about the pad thai and roasted duck over spinach appetizer.

Check out CBS Local’s Guide to Celebrating Sacramento Pride

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.