Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — As California’s capital, Sacramento is where the buck stops. Politicians representing 37 million people meet inside the city’s sparkling State Capitol building, where they haggle and twist arms. Now that the California state legislature is back in session, Christopher Arns—author of the new Moon Sacramento & the Gold Country—shares top tips to help visitors plan the perfect “citizen tourist” experience in Sacramento.
1. Watch Democracy Happen: The jewel of Sacramento’s political culture is the California State Capitol. The gleaming white dome was modeled after the US Capitol in Washington DC. If the assembly members or state senators are in session, head inside to either the Assembly or Senate galleries to watch them feverishly debate policy. Just make sure to keep a lid on it: there’s no talking or yelling while lawmakers have the floor!
2. Go Back in Time: After watching the legislature debate, head downstairs to the State Capitol Museum. Exhibits include portraits depicting past governors and 12 jaw-dropping murals that once graced the Capitol Rotunda. Visitors can also check out several historic rooms from the building’s past that are no longer used by state officials, and have been restored to their turn-of-the-century glory.
3. Walk the Halls of Power: Got a bone to pick with your state representative? Head to the east side of the Capitol building and look up a member of the legislature. Granted, your representative is probably pretty busy (so don’t make a scene), but he or she just might be around the office. Legislative sessions usually take a break sometime in the middle of the day, and that’s your best bet to catch lawmakers.
4. Starving for Justice: The State Capitol is frequently a hot destination for political rallies, and all those protestors have to eat sometime. Keep your eyes peeled for food trucks—the wicked 'wich serves sandwiches like the Broderick BLT, made with braised applewood bacon, fried pickled green tomatoes, and spicy blue cheese aioli. Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen is another famous Sactown food truck, serving mouthwatering grub like hot dogs wrapped in bacon.
5. Get Inspired: Stroll over to the California Museum and check out the six-story Constitution Wall. Words and phrases from the California Constitution have been carved into the wall, chosen to inspire visitors to consider the freedoms declared by the document. The multi-colored wall is embedded with metal oxides that change color over time.
6. Park Your Protest: Retrace the steps of California’s most well-known civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez, at Southside Park. Chavez led a famous 260-mile march in 1966 through California’s Central Valley to Sacramento to demand labor rights for migrant workers. Take a moment and check out the park amphitheater’s beautiful mural painted by local Chicano artists in honor of the march.
For more information on the Golden State’s capital city, visit Moon.com and read Christopher Arns’s pieces, Sacramento in the Summertime: Family-Friendly Fun and The Three-Day Best of Sacramento.
About Moon Travel Guides & Moon.com
Moon Travel Guides make independent travel and outdoor exploration fun and accessible. With expert writers delivering a mix of honest insight, first-rate strategic advice, and an essential dose of humor, Moon guidebooks ensure that travelers have an uncommon and entirely satisfying travel experience. Moon not only guides, Moon inspires. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Moon is published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Visit Moon at Moon.com.