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This eight-day tour explores both the Bay Area and the Capital Region of the Golden State – yielding attractions like Old Town Sacramento, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, University of California Davis and Berkley, the Oakland Museum, and Stockton marinas.
Day 1: Sacramento
Take US 50 northeast for tour of Folsom and historic Sutter Street. A Visitor Center and the Chamber are in historic Folsom Depot, 200 Wool Street, (916) 985-2698, for information. Sites to visit are Folsom Railroad Turntable, behind depot; Folsom Powerhouse, Leidesdorff and Riley, (916) 985-4843, in 1895 it was the first hydroelectric plant in the country; Folsom Prison Museum, Bldg. #8, first house inside walk-in gate at old prison, (916) 985-2561, Ext. 4589, artifacts back to 1800s, Folsom History Museum and Wells Fargo Building, 823 Sutter Street, (916) 985-2707; Folsom Dam Tour, 7794 Folsom Blvd., (916) 988-1707. Gekkeikan Sake, 1136 Sibley Street, (916) 985-3111, offers tour of Japanese gardens, koi pond, brewery and tasting room.
Returning to Sacramento, stop at Frasinetti’s Winery & Restaurant, (916) 383-2444, 7395 Frasinetti Road, south of US 50 off Florin Road in South Sacramento, the oldest winery in Sacramento Valley. Sacramento Zoo, 3930 West Land Park Drive, (916) 808-5888, has a rare collection of cats, primates and birds. One fourth of the species are endangered. Port of Sacramento, Harbor Blvd. in West Sacramento, West Coast’s northernmost inland facility, terminus of 90-mile deep-water channel connecting with Pacific Ocean.
California’s capitol city has a colorful and interesting history that can still be seen by a visit to Old Town Sacramento stretched along the Sacramento River, between Tower and 1st Street bridges. A self-guided walking tour brochure is available at visitor center on Front and K Street. California State Railroad Museum, 125 I Street, (916) 445-7387, the largest interpretive museum of its kind at 100,000 square feet is nearby. It houses 21 restored locomotives, rail cars and exhibits about the Transcontinental and Sacramento Valley Railroads.
Other historical attractions to visit are: the Sacramento History Museum, 191 I Street, (916) 264-7057, that exhibits articles from everyday life of area residents; Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park, 27th and L Streets, (916) 445-4422, the early domain of founder John Sutter, who in 1839 began construction of his adobe walled compound; B. F. Hastings & Co. Building, 2nd Street at J, (916) 445-7387, home to companies such as Wells Fargo and the final station for the Pony Express and the first transcontinental telegraph line; and the California State Indian Museum, 2618 K Street, (916) 324-0971, with its excellent collection of Native Americans historical artifacts.
The Blue Diamond Growers Visitors Center, 1701 C Street, (916) 446-8439, is the largest almond processing plant in the world and you can take home some treats from its popular gift shop. See the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, (916) 442-6802, with its extensive collection of antique Ford automobiles and trucks, and the Crocker Art Museum, 2nd & O Streets, (916) 808-7000, the first public art museum in the West opened in 1872 which just recently opened a $100 million expansion bringing a modern feeling to a historic building.
Take a tour of the Governor’s Mansion, 16th and H, (916) 323-3047, built in 1877 and housed 13 of the state’s chief executives. Visit the Leland Stanford Mansion, 8th and N, (916) 324-0575, built in 1857 for the former Governor and Transcontinental railroad magnate. The California Military Museum, 1119 Second Street, Old Sacramento, (916) 442-2883, provides exhibits and artifacts connected to the state’s militia and military history.
Make time for a scenic river cruise on the Sacramento River aboard Hornblower Cruises and Events,” L Street Landing, (916) 444-2925, which also offers cocktail, lunch and dinner excursions on selected days of the week. In keeping with the city’s railroad history, Sacramento Southern Railroad, (916) 322-7112, runs 45 minute weekend journeys downriver from May through September and in the spirit of selected holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.
Day 2: Davis / Dixon / Vacaville / Fairfield
Depart on I-80 to Davis, take 113 north to Woodland and visit the Hays Antique Truck Museum, 2000 East Main, (530) 666-1044, for largest collection of antique trucks in country. University of California-Davis is the focal point of town and is home to one of the best and largest departments on wine-making and viticulture. Bicycles reign supreme here.
Near Dixon is Nature Conservancy’s 1,500-acre Jepson Prairie Preserve of native grasslands and wildflowers. Permission required to visit. Call Cosumnes River Preserve, (916) 684-2816. At Fairfield, see the vintage aircraft collection at Travis Air Museum, Bldg. #80, Travis Air Force Base, (707) 424-5605.
Tour the famous Herman Goelitz (Jelly Bean) Candy Company, 2400 North Watney Way, (707) 428-2800, and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, 3101 Busch Drive, (707) 429-7595 in Fairfield. Solano County history is featured at the Vacaville Museum, (707) 447-4513. Factory Stores at Nut Tree are located at junction of I-505 and I-80 in Vacaville.
Continue to Sacramento and check with your Best Western host for current evening activities ranging from NBA basketball and ice hockey to professional theater and concerts. BENICIA At Cordelia take I-680 to Benicia, the last site of the state capitol before Sacramento (1853-54). Visit the beautifully restored Benicia Capitol State Historic Park, 1st & G Street, (707) 745-3385, home to the Senate, the Assembly, and Treasury.
Day 3: Oakland
Take I-780 to I-80 east to Vallejo, exit on Marine World Parkway, for a day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, call (707) 643-ORCA (6722) for schedule and information. It is an incredible, close-up experience with exotic animals of land and sea.
Take I-80 into Oakland. For best in-hand guide of area, get a copy of the Oakland Book from the Oakland Convention & Visitors Authority, 550 10th Street, Ste. 214, 94607, (800) 2-OAKLAND or (510) 839-9000.
Day 4: Bay Area
Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak Street, (510) 318-8400, adjacent Kaiser Convention Center, is three museums in one celebrating the natural and cultural history of the state. Allow three hours for visit. Chinatown, with shops and restaurants, is close by on 10th Street.
The Camron-Stanford House, 1418 Lakeside Drive, (510) 874-7802, built in 1876 and home to Josiah Stanford, brother of Leland Stanford of railroad fame, is just north. Nearby Lake Merritt is a 155-acre, saltwater man-made lake that is an urban phenomenon. Rides are available on the weekends on the Merritt Queen, Sailboat House, 568 Bellevue Ave., (510) 444-3807.
Another must visit is Jack London’s Waterfront area, south end of Broadway and the waterfront, with Jack London’s Cabin, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. Nearby is Jack London Village, a great shopping and restaurant area including the Jack London Museum where the writer’s life unfolds through exhibits of his books, papers and possessions. Also here is Samuel’s Gallery, (510) 452-2059, offering extensive collections of African-American art and gifts. Free tours of the Port of Oakland, (510) 627-1188, depart from here in the summer. City Center, the Oakland Museum Sculpture Court, and Preservation Park, a collection of 19th century Victorian houses relocated to prevent destruction, are in the area of 14th & Broadway and worth seeing.
Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, (510) 465-6400, a National Landmark for its art deco design, is open during events and for guided tours on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. Walking tours for period architecture of the city are available through Oakland Heritage Alliance, (510) 763-9218. Check with your Best Western host for suggestions on current evening activities.
Day 5: San Francisco
Visit University of California at Berkeley by taking Highway 24 north to Telegraph Avenue exit and following it to the campus. Established as the College of Oakland by scholars from eastern US in mid 1800s, it became a state school in 1868.
On campus, take in Sather Tower for a panoramic view of the area, University Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Avenue, (510) 642-0808, Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Kroeber Hall, and the Botanical Gardens, Centennial Drive, off Stadium Rimway. Plan lunch in the famed “Gourmet Ghetto” area off Shattuck Avenue and Walnut Street. Excellent options of delis and cafes. Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau is at 1834 University Avenue, (510) 549-7040.
Day 6: Oakland
Depart on Highway 24 north to I-680 and Walnut Creek. Take it south to Danville for a visit to Eugene O’Neill’s Taos House, (925) 838-0249, site from which he wrote several plays. Two tours a day are offered from downtown by buses. Call for schedule.
Check out the Behring Auto Museum in the Blackhawk Plaza mall, (925) 736-2277, an extensive collection of antique cars including cars belonging to Clark Gable and Rudolph Valentino. Continue south on I-680 to Dublin and take I-580 east to I-205, following it north to Stockton.
Day 7: Stockton / Manteca / Lodi
Stockton is one of the major port cities on the well-known California Delta – a system of waterways meandering over 1,000 miles. You can rent boats (from fishing to houseboats) at Herman & Helen’s Marina at Venice Island Ferry, (800) 676-4841 or (290) 951-4634 or Paradise Point Marina, 8095 rio Blanco Road, (209) 952-1000, to spend a day or a week fishing, water skiing or just lazily exploring miles of inland waterways along this amazing Delta.
The Stockton/San Joaquin Convention & Visitors Bureau, 46 W. Fremont, (877) 778-6258 or (209) 938-1555, has two excellent tour brochures with maps. They take you through the historical towns of Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Lockeford, and Lodi in the northern and southern parts of the county, identifying sites to visit. The tours are 60 and 90 miles respectively. There are several wineries in the area with tasting rooms including Franzia Bros. on 120 in Ripon and Delicato, 12001 Highway 99 South, Manteca.
Day 8: Sacramento
Depart on I-5 north to Sacramento. At Twin Cities Road exit, take it west to the almost ghost town of Locke, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and last of the rural Chinatowns. In the 1920s and 30s, it was home to over 2,000 Chinese residents. Check out the other small towns along the Sacramento River, such as Walnut Grove, before heading north on 160 through the historical river towns to Sacramento.