Jun 20, 201708:30 AMThe City

15 fun, completely free things to do in the Sacramento region this summer

15 fun, completely free things to do in the Sacramento region this summer

Photo by Matthew Forsberg

Can't stop the feeling at This Is Midtown's second Saturday block party.

Want to join a hot block party on R Street, learn the art of silk screening or watch The Big Lebowski under the stars, all without paying a penny? Check out our annual list of fun ways to spend your free time—literally—in the Sacramento region this summer.

Chalk it Up!

Over 200 artists will use chalk to decorate the 248 sidewalk squares surrounding midtown’s Fremont Park, and the event will be chock-full of concerts by acts like Americana roots singer Jessica Malone and R&B-soul vocalist Lauren Wakefield. After browsing the art walk, let your own creative juices flow at workshops like sugar skull crafting and silk screening. This free festival has been taking art to the streets every Labor Day weekend for more than 25 years to raise funds for area youth arts programs. Sept. 2-4. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fremont Park. 1515 Q St. 213-5059. chalkitup.org

Family Bike Nights

At Safetyville USA, a miniature city on 3.5 acres near Rancho Cordova, kids can ride past pint-sized replicas of Sacramento landmarks like the State Capitol without the dangers of cars and pedestrians. Folks can bring in picnic dinners to eat on the lawn and browse booths from the likes of Sacramento Town Works, Mike’s Bikes and the California Highway Patrol. Safetyville’s staff will be on-site at 6:30 p.m. each night to offer kids tips on bike safety, including hand signals, the importance of wearing a helmet and which direction to ride in bike lanes. Through August 28. Thurs. & Fri. 5:30-8 p.m. Safetyville USA. 3909 Bradshaw Rd. 438-3380. safetycenter.org

Hitch up your wagon at this year's Gold Rush Days celebration in Old Sacramento. (Photo courtesy of Gold Rush Days)

Gold Rush Days

Eureka! For a taste of California’s Wild West days, meander through this festival in Old Sacramento where cowboys ride horses, wagons ramble through the streets and a saloon comes alive with the slap of card games. Take part in a country dance, watch a western film festival and catch shows by costumed musicians and entertainers at the Eagle Theater. Other reenactors will perform key moments from California’s history, like the squatters’ riot of 1850, and little pioneers can try their hand at gold panning or visit the blacksmith’s shop in Artisan Alley. Sept. 2-4. Times vary by date. Old Sacramento. 970-5226. sacramentogoldrushdays.com

Make Music Davis

Channel your inner Stevie Wonder and other musical polymaths in Davis, which for the first time will be participating in a global celebration that takes place in 750 cities around the world annually and invites wannabe virtuosos to play their favorite instrument for a day of music making. So dust off that trumpet from ninth grade and toot your horn at over 10 venues, including many of Davis' parks (look for public pianos stationed around town) and other spots like the Davis Arts Center’s outdoor stage. Amateurs, fear not: Make Music Day, which started in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, allows all levels of talent to join in the fun, with harmonica giveaways and free ukulele and guitar lessons. June 21. 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Various locations. Davis. makemusicdavis.org

Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

This quaint museum in Nevada City honors narrow gauge railroads, which are skinnier than traditional tracks, and boasts a sleek collection of locomotives, passenger coaches and boxcars. Take a docent-led tour that explains how one such railroad, which stretches from Colfax to Nevada City, has helped shape the history of Nevada County since it was first established in 1876. Take a ride on the musuem’s rolling stock by reserving a seat on one of two railbuses, which will take you on a 35-minute trek through the forest from the museum to the Northern Queen Inn and back. Fri.-Tues. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 5 Kidder Ct. Nevada City. ncngrrmuseum.org

Take a ride through the woods on the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum's railbus. (Photo courtesy of museum)

Nimbus Fish Hatchery

Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife raises four million Chinook salmon and 430,000 steelhead trout at this fish hatchery near Rancho Cordova. Get a glimpse of the process at interactive exhibits like the salmon survival wheel in the visitor center or by feeding fish meal to thousands of baby salmon and trout in outdoor pools. Kids can run around at a play structure with a giant cement salmon, and the whole family can meander along the nearby nature trail for a sprawling view of the American River. This June, you might even glimpse salmon being loaded onto tanker trucks bound for Lake Natoma. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m-3 p.m. Sat. & Sun. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nimbus Fish Hatchery. 2001 Nimbus Rd. Gold River. 358-2884. wildlife.ca.gov

Old City Cemetery Tours

The historic Old City Cemetery is open to the public, meaning that any enterprising taphophile (i.e. tombstone tourist) is able to take a self-guided tour. Grab a map of the plots or search the online index dating back to 1849 to find the graves of some of Sacramento’s most famed residents, like Elisabeth Philippine Zimmermann, who survived the Donner party tragedy, or Mark Hopkins Jr., one of the “Big Four” investors who built the Central Pacific Railroad. The cemetery also offers info for a self-guided Early Sacramento Brewers tour with fascinating history on pioneers of the local craft beer movement, like Captain Frank Ruhstaller, whose life and business inspired the modern-day Ruhstaller brewing company. Visitor center open Wed.-Fri. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (Call ahead for weekend hours). Cemetery open daily. 7 a.m.-7 p.m. 1000 Broadway. 448-0811. oldcitycemetery.com

R Street Block Party

It’s no secret we think the R Street Corridor is one of the hottest new neighborhoods in the Sacramento region. See for yourself what all the fuss is about during this bustling street party in the district, featuring a makers' mart and performances from local bands like the Salt Wizards, Meet Cute and Sunmonks. Watch painters create street art and take little ones to the kids’ zone, where they can put on temporary tattoos and flex their creative muscles by learning how to make things like marbled paintings on paper. June 24. 3-8 p.m. 11th and R streets. rstreetblockparty.org

Go dancing in the street at the R Street Block Party (Photo by Eli Margetich @tourdedrone via Instagram)

Sacramento Bastille Day Waiters’ Race & Street Festival

This eighth annual French fête in midtown’s Handle District will feature the singing of the French national anthem in front of a 20-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower. The star attraction of the day is the foot race, during which dozens of bow-tied restaurant servers must speed-walk while carrying a tray laden with two glasses and a bottle of sparkling water; the main competition is followed by a shorter children’s version of the contest, in which glasses and bottles are replaced by water balloons. July 9. 3-5:30 p.m. L Street between 18th and 19th streets. sacramentobastilleday.com

This Is Midtown

Midtown’s 20th Street in front of the MARRS building closes to traffic every second Saturday this summer for a block party that features bands and DJs playing into the night. Between musical acts, you can watch interactive sketches from the Sacramento Comedy Spot, as well as skateboarding exhibitions from local shop PLA Skateboarding. Off-stage attractions include games like ping pong and cornhole. The Resolute Circles Group, a local hula hoop troupe, will also be performing and giving pointers to would-be hoop enthusiasts. Every second Saturday until Sept. 16. 4:30-9 p.m. 20th and K streets. facebook.com/thismidtown

Midtown's Handle District channels Paris for the Sacramento Bastille Day Waiters' Race (Photo courtesy of event organizers)

Sacramento Outdoor Movies

This monthlong inaugural movie series for grown-ups featuring Coen Brothers’ classics in midtown’s Fremont Park will end with the 1988 cult classic The Big Lebowski on June 24, replete with a bar serving the titular character’s signature drink: the White Russian. The evening should be perfect for quizzing your friends on their film quote skills ("That rug really tied the room together, didn't it?"). June 24. 6-11 p.m. 9 p.m. screening. Fremont Park. 1515 Q St. 548-9996. facebook.com/Sacramento-Outdoor-Movies

Click HERE for more free outdoor movie screenings in the Sacramento region.

Concerts in the Park (Downtown Sacramento)

This free concert series, which rocks Cesar Chavez park every Friday night until late July, boasts an eclectic lineup of DJs, up-and-comers and headliners, such as rock-pop foursome Vista Kicks (June 30), surf-rock reggae band Arden Park Roots (July 7) and funk outfit Joy & Madness (July 21). Local spin masters like My Cousin Vinny will also pump up the crowds, and downtown venues—including Coin-Op and Mayahuel—will host after-parties, offering specials for revelers 21 and over. Fridays through July 21. 5-9 p.m. Cesar Chavez Plaza. 910 I St. godowntownsac.com

Concerts in the Park ignites Cesar Chavez plaza in downtown Sacramento (Photo by Eli Margetich)

Concerts in the Park (Carmichael)

Local acts like big band jazz group SwingMasters (June 25) and classic rock band On Air (Aug. 26) will make their way to the stage at the Daniel Bishop Memorial Pavilion in Carmichael Park for this annual concert series. The lineup also includes successful Bay Area blues trio HowellDevine (July 22), which has opened for artists like the late Grammy-winning blues-rock singer Johnny Winter. Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 27. Times vary by date. Carmichael Park. 5750 Grant Ave. Carmichael. 485-5322. carmichaelpark.com

Pops in the Park (East Sacramento)

East Sacramento funks it up for this 26th annual concert series that takes place in parks throughout the tree-lined neighborhood. Tote your lawn chairs and picnic baskets to Glenn Hall Park on June 24 when R&B group Unsupervised, which frequents local venues like Harlows and includes band member (and County Supervisor) Phil Serna on electric guitar—closes out the series with its energetic mix of horns, strings and soulful lyrics. June 24. 6 p.m. Various locations. 808-5240. eastsacpopsinthepark.com

Sacramento Gateway Summer Concert Series (Natomas)

Arrive early to claim your seat at North Natomas shopping center’s free concert series and catch Vacaville country crooner Buck Ford (June 30), who has opened for stars like Vince Gill, Easton Corbin and Dustin Lynch; and folksy singer-songwriter Bri Cauz (Sept. 29), who released her first album, titled Trials & Triumphs, in May. Every last Friday of the month through Sept. 6-9 p.m. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. Sacramento Gateway. 3648 N Freeway Blvd. 419-3800. facebook.com

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