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

20freethingscollage2016 Sactownmagazine
Photos courtesy of event organizers; Chalk it Up photo by Kristina Petkov
Clockwise from top left: Old Sacramento's Gold Rush Days, UC Davis Folk Jam Sessions, outdoor movie screenings and Chalk It Up

On Monday, summertime officially arrived (and brought the temperatures to prove it!), and there's a ton to do here in the River City, but you don't need to kill your bank account to have a great time. We've rounded up 20 fabulously free things to do throughout the Sacramento region, from evening concerts to outdoor movies to a fun run with zombies.

Bastille Day Waiters’ Race & Street Festival

Celebrate la joie de vivre in midtown during the seventh annual Sacramento Bastille Day waiters’ race and street festival, during which up to 50 local servers will aim to speed-walk around the block twice without spilling the bottle and glasses of water balancing precariously on their trays. The festival will also feature a children’s race, costumed street performers, French music, street food and the debut of a new 20-foot aluminum Eiffel Tower. July 10. 3-6 p.m. (Race starts at 3:30 p.m.) L St. between 18th & 19th streets. 447-1960. sacramentobastilleday.com

Chalk it Up

Fremont Park will once again be chalk-full of art enthusiasts at this 25th annual festival, which raises money for youth art programs. Local artists will take their talents to the streets to create art on the 238 sidewalk squares that surround the midtown park. The free three-day festival will also include live music and lessons in painting, sugar-skull crafting, and Tapigami (the art of making small figures out of tape). Sept. 3-5. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fremont Park. 15th and P streets. 213-5059. chalkitup.org

Concerts in the Park

Downtown’s annual summer concert series at Cesar Chavez Plaza celebrates its 25th anniversary with a diverse lineup of local and nationally touring acts, including hometown rock-reggae quartet Arden Park Roots (June 24); Tyler Rich (July 8), a Nashville-based but Yuba City-raised country singer whose song “California Grown” is an ode to his home state; blues-rock band Drop Dead Red (July 15); and The Brodys, a rock band that has been an area staple since 1995 (July 29). Every Friday except July 1. Cesar Chavez Plaza. 910 I St. godowntownsac.com

Concerts in the Park at Cesar Chavez Plaza

Concerts on the Square

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the bands at this year’s Concert on the Square series in Roseville have it covered. Expect to hear everything from ’80s hair metal anthems to Taylor Swift love songs with bands like Swift Country (July 16), Foreigner Unauthorized (Aug. 20), and rock-country quintet The Cripple Creek Band (Sept 14). 331 Vernon Street. Roseville. 774-5200. roseville.ca.us

Crocker Art Museum Block Party

The Crocker Museum will throw its third art-centric block party of the year at Colonial Heights Library. Take in live ceramics demos, pop inside pop-up art galleries and listen to music provided the Library of Musiclandria, a local "library" for musical instruments. Live music will carry on throughout the evening as local acts storm the stage, including SpaceWalker, Shawn Thwaites Rebel Quartet, and The Honeybee Trio. July 9. 12-7 p.m. Colonial Heights Library. 4799 Stockton Blvd. 808-1059. crockerblockbyblock.org

Effie Yeaw Nature Center Adventures

Answer the call of the wild this summer at Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael. The park will host several exciting walks and programs, like the Beginning Bird Walk on June 25, during which longtime local birder Rich Howard will lead guests on a hike in search of the area’s common birds, including woodpeckers and red-tailed hawks. The following day on June 26, celebrate the nature center’s 40th anniversary with a guided solstice stroll, in which a naturalist will point out the flora and fauna of the 100-acre preserve. And just before Independence Day, on July 2, join the American River the Beautiful guided hike to learn about the birds, plants and geology of the nearby waterway. Times vary by date. 2850 San Lorenzo Way. Carmichael. 489-4918. sacnaturecenter.net

Effie Yeaw Nature Center will lead free guided hikes this summer.

Family Bike Nights

Grab your helmets and take the kids to the Safety Center's Safetyville USA for this sixth annual program, held Thursday and Friday evenings through Aug. 26. Here bicycle riders of all ages can get behind the handlebars to explore Safetyville’s 3.5 acre miniature replica of Sacramento, including landmark structures like the State Capitol. Experts will be on hand to provide tips on riding safely through the real streets, including fitting a helmet and giving hand signals. Thurs. & Fri. 5:30-8 p.m. Safetyville USA. 3909 Bradshaw Rd. 438-3380. safetycenter.org

Folk Jam Sessions

Anyone—from veteran fiddlers to novice guitarists—is invited to bring an instrument and take part in these jam sessions hosted by UC Davis at its picturesque arboretum. The public is invited to listen to the resonant thrum of mandolins, the pick and strum of guitar chords, and the wheeze of accordions, for one hour every other Friday until Sept. 23.  Fridays, July 1, 15 & 29; Aug. 12 & 26; Sept. 9 & 23. 12-1 p.m. Wyatt Deck at UC Davis Arboretum. Parking at Old Davis Rd. and Arboretum Dr. in Davis. arboretum.ucdavis.edu

Folsom Lake Symphony

For its sixth annual free outdoor season opener, this Sierra foothills group presents “Dancin’ in the Street,” a program that includes Voices of Spring, waltzes by Austrian composer Johann Strauss the Younger; the vibrant Danzon No. 2 by contemporary Mexican composer Arturo Marquez, inspired by memories of the traditional dance halls of Veracruz and Mexico City; Dave Brubeck’s complex and rhythmic Unsquare Dance, featuring a seven-beat looping phrase and a melody derived from country music; and a medley of Duke Ellington songs, including “Satin Doll” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Sept. 8. 6:30 p.m. El Dorado Hills Town Center. 4634 Town Center Blvd. El Dorado Hills. 357-6718. folsomlakesymphony.com

Gold Rush Days

For a taste of the Wild West in Sacramento, head to this three-day interactive event held in Old Sacramento over Labor Day Weekend. Costumed entertainers straight out of 1850 will perform skits and street dramas re-enacting the day-to-day life of gold miners and civilians during Sacramento’s bygone days. Hop on a horse-drawn wagon for a ride, take the kids gold panning and sip sarsaparilla at the Embarcadero Tent City. Sept. 3-5. Sat. & Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Old Sacramento. 808-7777. sacramentogoldrushdays.com

Multicultural Festival

This fifth annual fête put on by the city of Elk Grove celebrates the region’s diversity with dance demonstrations by Afro-Peruvian, Native American, Hmong and Indian troupes, and music from the likes of the Gary Mendoza Band (blues) and Chalice Star (reggae-roots). Tiny attendees can visit an international petting zoo replete with Nigerian dwarf goats, llamas and pot-bellied pigs, and stop by booths to create their own flags, learn the art of origami, and put together a giant puzzle of a world map. Don’t miss the “Taste of Diversity” contest, in which competitors must create a culturally specific recipe featuring a particular ingredient, Iron Chef-style. Aug. 27. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Elk Grove Regional Park. 9950 Elk Grove-Florin Rd. Elk Grove. 691-2489. elkgrovecity.org

Old City Cemetery Tour

Grab a self-guided tour map at this historic Sacramento cemetery and meander through points of interest like the historic rose gardens, a monument reputed to be California’s first Civil War memorial, and tombstones of lawmakers and statesmen who took part in California’s foundation, like Nathaniel Goodell, an architect who helped plan the California Governor’s Mansion in 1877. Or, hop on a free guided tour held every first Saturday of the month this summer at 10 a.m. In the spooky "A Dozen Ways to Die" tour (Sept. 3), docents share stories about the ill-fated demise of the city’s former residents from the likes of cholera. During the "Tales of the Transcontinental Railroad" tour (Aug. 6), your guide will provide insight into Sacramento’s storied Gold Rush past and the railroad engineers who paved the way for its future. Open daily. 7 a.m. -7 p.m. 1000 Broadway. 448-0811. oldcitycemetery.com

Sacramento Gateway Presents: Summer Concert Series

Bring your lawn chairs to the Sacramento Gateway in Natomas for this free concert series on the last Friday of each summer month, through September. This year’s lineup features the Nunchuck Taylor Band (June 24), a high-energy quintet playing pop tunes across multiple genres, including dance, rock, hip hop and country; Nickel Slots (July 29), which plays "Americana with attitude," styling its songs after Johnny Cash and The Clash; and Thunder Cover (Aug. 26), a Sacramento cover band playing songs from the likes of The Beatles, Nirvana, Tom Petty, the Foo Fighters and more. 6-9 p.m. Sacramento Gateway. 3648 N Freeway Blvd. Natomas. 419-3800. sacramentogateway.com

Sacramento Zombie Walk

Amble down the R Street corridor on the hunt for braaaains! at this 16th annual paranormal parade, complete with an undead marching band, a “Thriller” flash mob and live music from local punk band The Secretions. Professional makeup artists will be on hand to ghoulify your visage—including Roseville-based Nicole Chilelli, who earned first place in season three of the Syfy reality competition Face Off. Guests can also catch a late-night outdoor screening of the campy 1992 horror classic Army of Darkness. Aug. 20. 4-11 p.m. Roosevelt Park. 1615 9th Street. saczombiewalk.com

Participants in the annual Sacramento Zombie Walk

Sacramento Public Library Programs

Sacramento’s public libraries are offering free art classes, lectures and children’s programs throughout the summer, like a mural-making event dedicated to the summer Olympic games (June 22 & July 27 at 3:30 p.m.), a high-energy magic show with local magician Trevor Wyatt (June 30), and an Animals at the Library (July 14) featuring biologist Lisa Seto and her eye-popping critters, including a royal python and a bearded dragon. In August and September, kids and adults can learn crafts like kite making, bead making and creating Japanese Kokeshi wooden dolls. Times and locations vary by event. saclibrary.org

Free Outdoor Movie Screenings

Movie in the Park (Roseville)
Hop from park to park in Roseville for these family-friendly movie screenings, offering classics like Field of Dreams and modern flicks like Zootopia.
    • June 25 Cinderella (Maidu Park, 1550 Maidu Dr.)
    • July 9 Field of Dreams (Crestmont Park, 1500 Champion Oaks Dr.)
    • July 23 Aladdin (James W. Wanish Park, 1351 Junction Blvd.)
    • Aug. 13 Minions (Buljan Park, 150 Hallissy Dr.)
    • Aug. 27 Zootopia (Fred Festersen Park, 2150 Village Green Dr.)
7:30 p.m. seating. Sundown screening. Various locations. rcona.org

Summer Movies in the Park (Arden-Arcade)
The Fulton-El Camino Recreation & Park District is opening up its lawns to moviegoers at parks throughout Arden-Arcade this summer.
    • July 1 Moana (“Dive-In” at Cottage Pool, 3097 Cottage Way)
    • July 22 Stand by Me (Howe Park, 2201 Cottage Way)
    • Aug. 12 How to Train Your Dragon 2 (“Dive-In” at Cottage Pool, 3097 Cottage Way)
    • Aug. 26 Inside Out (Seely Park, 3000 Pope Ave.)
($2.50 for "Dive-In"s). Non-Dive-In screening will feature cartoons at 8:30 p.m. Main movie screening for all parks start at 9 p.m. 927-8302. Various locations. fecrecpark.com

Movies in the Park (Fair Oaks)
Grab some lawn chairs for this family-focused movie night series at Village Park, which invites attendees to play a round of flag football or dodgeball before each movie. Prior to the Cars screening on July 15, kids can make their own cars out of cardboard boxes on a first-come-first-serve basis beginning at 6:30 p.m.
    • July 15 Cars
    • Aug. 19 Inside Out
8:45 p.m. screening. Village Park. 4238 Main St. Fair Oaks. fairoakspark.org

Evening in the Park (Rocklin)
Take in some recent blockbusters at Rocklin’s expansive Johnson-Springview Park.
    • July 15 Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    • Aug. 5 Inside Out
7 p.m. screening. Johnson-Springview Park. 5460 5th St. Rocklin. 625-5000. rocklin.ca.us

Screen on the Green (South Natomas and River Park)
Bring the kids to the park for these two movie nights with free popcorn hosted by Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris and Pops in the Park.
    • Aug. 19 Milo & Otis (South Natomas Park, 2921 Truxel Rd.)
    • Aug. 20 Hook (Glenn Hall Park, Sandburg and Carlson drives)
8:15 p.m. screening. 808-5240. Various locations. sacscreenonthegreen.com

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