By Juliet Farmer

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

California State Capitol
10th and L Streets
Sacramento, CA 94248
(916) 324-0333
Hours: Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days)
Directory Listing;

The California State Capitol is a wonderful place to explore the history and culture of California, as well as marvel at various art works and architecture influenced by and influencing the state.

Guests can explore all public areas of the California State Capitol and its surrounding park daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for free. Whether you want to brush up on your California history, take a group tour, learn about the construction of the Capitol, or view permanent art collections, murals and artifacts, you can do any/all of the above, all under one vast roof.

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

Outside, Capitol Park boasts hundreds of trees and flowering shrubs, representing more than 450 varieties, as well as a Civil War Memorial Grove and a life-sized statue of Father Junipero Serra, the Roman Catholic missionary sent by Spain to help colonize California. The park’s many war memorials include the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the California Veterans Memorial, honoring veterans from the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish- American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War.

The California State Capitol’s historic flag collection, antique furnishings and artifacts, presidential portraits, governor portraits, murals, paintings, sculptures and architecture make for a free, interesting and beautiful way to get to know California.

Also of note is a regular showing of Capitol Visions, a 10-minute film shown every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the basement theater. The adjacent Gift Shop is open 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. weekdays and 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekends.

Photo Credit: Juliet Farmer

California State Capitol tours are conducted on the hour from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Tip: If you go, note that all bags are checked upon entry to the Capitol, and, except for service dogs, dogs are only allowed on leash in the park—be sure to pick up after your pooch. In addition, no skateboarding, roller skating, biking or roller blading is permitted in the Park.)

The north and south entrances of the Capitol Annex, restrooms and elevators are all wheelchair accessible, and hearing devices are available upon request at the tour office in the basement (Room B27). Metered parking is available on the streets surrounding the Capitol, and there is a parking garage at the corner of 10th and L Streets.

Below is an overview of the main areas of interest inside the California State Capitol:

Art Collections

The Capitol Collection is comprised of the Permanent Collection, the Loan Collection, and the Biennial Senate Contemporary Art Collection, which altogether encompasses hundreds of prized paintings, murals, statues, and antique furniture reflecting California’s history.

Landscapes, seascapes, still life, and paintings make up the Permanent Collection and are displayed in either the west wing (for works created from 1870 to 1910) or the East Annex (for works created from 1920 to 1950).

The Loan Collection’s more than 100 paintings are on display in the first floor of the west wing in legislative conference rooms and leadership offices.

For the Senate’s Biennial California Contemporary Art Collection, each senator selects an artist representative of his or her district, and the collection is on display for two years in offices behind the Senate Chambers.


Two murals grace the Capitol. The first, located in the west wing basement rotunda, is Arthur Mathew’s interpretation of California’s past and future during 1914 to 1915. The second, located in the East Annex’s John L. Burton Room on the fourth floor, is a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project created during the Great Depression.

Governor Portraits

In 1931, the Legislature began the tradition of commissioning portraits of California’s governors, of which 36 are now on display in the west wing.

Historic Flag Collection

A collection of 50 historic flags carried in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I are exhibited four at a time at various events annually.

Furnishings & Artifacts

There are rooms on display at the California State Capitol that will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, thanks in part to the Renaissance Revival furnishings that boast ornate carvings, often made to look like buildings in miniature. All furniture and artifacts on display in museum rooms are representative of 1870 to 1910.

Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella

The center of the first floor rotunda features a large statuary group, Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella, which was gifted to the State of California in 1883.

Presidential Portraits

The Senate Chamber’s portrait of George Washington, presented to the Senate in 1854, is a copy of an original by Gilbert Stuart and the oldest artifact in the Capitol. The Assembly Chamber’s portrait of Abraham Lincoln was painted by William Cogswell and hung on display in 1909.

Juliet Farmer was born and raised in Sacramento, where she resides with her husband, two cats, and rescued greyhound. She is a freelance writer who regularly writes about food, pets, health and wellness, entertainment, and more.