Nine under-the-radar summer activities for Sactown visitors and staycationers alike

Sacbrewbike Blog
Photo courtesy of Sacramento Brew Bike
The Sacramento Brew Bike accommodates up to 15 riders on its tour of midtown watering holes.

Summer travel season means that many Sacramentans will expect—and be expected to entertain—family, friends and other guests from out of town. When landmarks like the State Capitol and Sutter’s Fort are checked off the list, where to go next? Try riding on a bicycle built for 15, touring a local sake factory, strolling through 100 acres of tranquil gardens, or one of these other unique regional attractions off the beaten path.

Grown-Up Bike Tours
Experience the best of Sacramento’s hopping craft beer scene as one of 15 passengers on the Sac Brew Bike. During their two-hour tours, you’ll help pedal the bike to three local brewpubs (unless you’re in one of the five “cheater seats,” in which case you’ll just be taken along for the ride). Riders are treated to discounted drinks from places like Kupros and Der Biergarten before it’s time to pedal to the next location—with the help of your tour guide/designated driver. Alternatively, stay tuned for Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours, which is slated to open in September with sightseeing tours, dinner tours and happy hour tours. Brew Bike: $20-$25. 952-7973. Off the Chain: 903-3987.

Old Sacramento Walking Tours
You may already know about the Sacramento History Museum’s Underground Tours, which are hour-long walking expeditions that reveal how the city looked before the streets were raised due to flooding over 150 years ago. But Hysterical Walks and Rides’ Old Sac Tours and the Old Sacramento Speakeasy Tour also provide unique looks back in time. On the former, hear comical ghost stories or shocking tales of historic criminals as you follow your costumed guide through back alleyways; on the Speakeasy Tour, learn about the underground liquor trade as you stop for a drink at places like the Prohibition-style River City Saloon and the Delta King, which was home to jazz bands and gamblers when the 18th Amendment was the law of the land. Hysterical Walks and Rides: $15-$20. Fridays and Saturdays. J & 2nd streets. 441-2527. Speakeasy Tour: $10. July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20. 5:30-8 p.m. 916 2nd Street. 442-8575.

Old City Cemetery Tours
Dying to know where some of Sacramento’s most famous historical residents reside? The City Cemetery, established in 1849, is the final resting place of Sacramento city founder John Sutter Jr., Donner Party survivors and thousands of other settlers and pioneers. Take a self-guided tour through the nearly 30-acre property, or attend one of the docent-led tours like “Spiritualism and Suffrage” (July 12) or “Bad Poetry and Purple Prose” (Aug. 16). Plus, check out the Historic Rose Garden, where antique roses transported across the country in wagon trains or across the ocean in pioneer ships now grow. Free. Closed Wed. and Thurs. Guided tours: Sat. at 10 a.m. 1000 Broadway. 448-0811.

Local Roots Food Tours
If you’ve been wanting to try a new restaurant but don’t know which one of Sacramento’s many unique eateries to visit first, grab a spot on one of these delicious, educational walking tours featured in Sactown’s 2014 Best of the City story. Over the course of three and a half hours, you’ll stop at about six restaurants, try a healthy portion of a specially chosen dish at a table set just for your tour group, and hear from the chefs themselves. Each tour is different, so locals and visitors alike can delight in discovering Sacramento’s hidden gems and classic restaurants: Learn about the Sutter District and East Sacramento on the “Origins of Sacramento Food and History Walking Tour,” or see midtown’s murals in between food and wine pairings on the “Urban Art, Food and Libations” tour. $60-$68. 1-800-407-8918.

Among other artifacts, Folsom Prison Museum showcases memorabilia from Johnny Cash's historic performance. (Photo by Rocor / via Flickr)

Folsom Prison Museum
You probably wouldn't want to visit the actual stage where Johnny Cash played in 1968 (it’s inside a working maximum security prison), but you can see the original stone entrance from this 900-square-foot museum next door. In addition to a room devoted to Man in Black memorabilia, the museum showcases items dating from the beginning of the prison’s construction in 1878. See old ropes used to hang prisoners, hand-cranked Gatling guns used to defend the prison’s granite walls during their 38-year period of construction, and an inmate-created, eight-foot motorized replica of a Ferris Wheel constructed in the 1930s out of more than 250,000 toothpicks. $2 (cash only). 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. 312 3rd St. Represa. 985-2561 ext. 4589.   

Gekkeikan Sake Tour
Founded in 1637 in Japan, this 14th-generation, family-owned sake company has its American brewery headquarters in Folsom. On weekdays and second Saturdays, take a free self-guided tour of the production facility, where picture windows afford views of the entire process from rice milling to bottling. After the tour, visit the tasting room for complimentary samples of several varieties of the all-natural fermented rice beverage or house-made plum wine. The facilities even have a koi pond and Japanese garden to complete the exotic experience, as well as a gift shop offering Japanese dishes, sushi-making utensils and (of course) sake. Free. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Second Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 1136 Sibley St. Folsom. 985-3111.

Gold Rush Tours
There (was) gold in them thar hills, so drive up to El Dorado County to see where it all began. Take a guided walking tour through Coloma’s Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park to see historic spots like a replica of the sawmill where James Marshall first found gold in 1848, take a gold panning lesson or stop by the museum to see gold samples and Native American baskets. On your way back to modernity, stop at the Gold Bug Mine in Placerville, where you can take a self-guided tour of the 352-foot, hard rock mine that dates back to 1888. Marshall Gold Discovery SHP: $8 per vehicle. Guided tours: $3; $2 for children. Gold panning: $7. 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily (until Labor Day). 310 Back St. Coloma. 530-622-3470.  Gold Bug Mine: $3-$6 for mine tours. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. 2635 Gold Bug Lane. Placerville. 530-642-5207.

Davis Arboretum
Tucked away on the campus of UC Davis is a 100-acre expanse of tranquil gardens that will transport you away from the urban bustle nearby. Walk or jog along the 3.5-mile loop that runs through the arboretum’s 18 gardens, including the shady T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove, one of the largest collections of the towering trees outside their natural habitat, and the new Valley Heritage Garden, full of sunflowers and other regional flora. Or, pack a picnic (breakfast, lunch, or dinner—the arboretum never closes) to enjoy along Lake Spafford in the East Asian Collection. Folk Music Jam Sessions on every other Friday starting July 18 add an even more rustic atmosphere—making you almost forget you’re still in the city. Free. Open all day, every day. Folk Music Jam Sessions: alternate Fridays July 18-Sept. 26, 12-1 p.m. Wyatt Deck. 530-752-4880.

Aerospace Museum
A few miles’ drive from Sacramento’s Sutter’s Fort and Crocker Art Museum is the lesser known, but equally educational and entertaining Aerospace Museum of California. The museum’s 4-acre, outdoor Air Park displays more than 40 historic aircraft, including planes flown by the US Air Force and Navy and an F-14 Tomcat like the fighter jet from Top Gun. Inside, exhibits include a flight simulation center, a manned exploration of Mars exhibit and the Wright Brothers’ J-5 engine. Only a few cockpits are open during regular hours, but bring the kids on July 19 for a Planes-themed open-cockpit party hosted by Radio Disney. $5-$8. Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 3200 Freedom Park Drive. McClellan Park. 643-3192.