California’s capital isn’t just for legislators anymore. Stately buildings, a theater scene, laid-back restaurants, tree-lined streets, define the charming city, which—best of all—has coastal style at inland prices. You’ll likely want a car to get around (just be sure to avoid the city’s rush hour traffic), but buses and shuttles do run between Old Sacramento and the downtown area.
Le Petit Paris
Pick up a straight-from-France scarf at the boutique.
Iceland Skating Rink
Take a few spins at the sweetly dated Iceland Skating Rink (its retro-fab neon sign offers a photo op). $7 adults, $6 kids 12 and under; $2 skate rental
L Wine Lounge & Urban Kitchen
Though the look is coolly modern, the food is warm and rustic: think cassoulet with chorizo and brown-butter gnudi with chanterelles.
The Greens Hotel
From the owners of Limn, a West Coast chain of bleeding-edge furniture showrooms, comes the 27-room, eco-friendly Greens Hotel; it anchors a new mini-complex of hip shops in an otherwise mid-century neighborhood.