These less widely known destinations in the Sacramento region offer unique opportunities to refresh one’s palate, mind and soul.
Jensen Botanical Garden
8520 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Carmichael, CA 95608
(916) 485-5322

A small sign on Fair Oaks Boulevard is the only indication that this small, serene garden exists. Meant more for peaceful contemplation and the appreciation of nature than for raucous park goers, the 3.5-acre garden includes coastal redwoods, blackberry brambles, magnolias, tulips, daylilies, roses and many other botanical wonders. Visually impaired visitors can explore the textures and aromas of the garden on a specially designed Nature Path for the Blind, and there are many quaint spots to sit and forget about the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Old Town Auburn Walking Tour
Placer County Courthouse
101 Maple St.
Auburn, CA 95603
(530) 889-6500

The gold mining town of Auburn is rich with historical treasures, and docents from the Placer County Museum offer free walking tours seven days a week, rain or shine. Museum Director Ralph Gibson says the tour includes the women’s jail, built in 1905, where an infamous woman was incarnated for murder in 1909. Tour goers meet in the lobby of the 1800s-era county courthouse, a fascinating building in its own right. Gibson says the tour is offered every day except holidays, and notes that the only time it was cancelled was because of smoke in the air from a wildfire in the Mother Lode.

2101 Natomas Crossing Dr., Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 900-4788

Starbread is a tiny Filipino bakery that serves very few items; the chief draw is senorita bread, a treat that does not sound particularly special by mere description. Made with bread dough, sugar, sweetened breadcrumbs and lots of butter, the small, baked rolls are both deceptively simple and highly addictive. The prices are low, and for just $8 a customer can get 20 pieces of hot, buttery senorita bread. The bakery only has one oven, so it can take a few minutes for each batch to come out. Strangely enough, no one seems to get upset about waiting in line; the bread is so delectable that it is worth the wait. In addition to this Natomas location, there is another Starbread on Mack Road in South Sacramento.

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Dobra Zemlja Winery
12505 Steiner Rd.
Plymouth, CA 95669
(209) 245-3183

Dobra Zemlja is a perfect example of a hidden destination. Once in Plymouth, drive down a long, winding lane to reach and explore a secluded wine cave. The Amador County winery, owned and operated by Victoria and Milan Matulich, is only 45 minutes from Sacramento. The atmosphere is relaxed, fun and convivial, and the grounds include a lovely picnic area, surrounded by bird-filled trees, greenery and seasonal flowers. Visitors can sample hearty, unfiltered zinfandels, sangiovese, barbera, viognier, dry rosé and other varietals in the cool and quirky tasting room. Milan Ruz, an excellent table wine, epitomizes the winery’s uniqueness. It comes in a jug that can be brought back and refilled from a tasting room barrel, and Mason jars, elegantly etched with the winery name, are available to take home as wine glasses.

Sand Cove Park Beach
2005 Garden Hwy.
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 808-5200

Tucked away behind an unobtrusive entrance on Garden Highway, this 10+-acre beach on the Sacramento River is a fun destination for those wishing to relax, sunbathe, fish, splash around in the water or play with their dog. Visitors can borrow life jackets for use while at the beach; although the river often looks calm, the strong undercurrents can be dangerous. The beach, home to many types of birds and fish, also has a nature area. Parking and admission are free.

Related: Top Free Date Ideas In Sacramento

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers business, employment, animal rescue, volunteerism and nonprofits. Her work can also be found at