Friday, April 24, 2009

Sacramento Saturdays

One Saturday evening each month the sidewalks in Sacramento's Midtown are teeming with people, New York-style, and restaurants, cafes and art galleries are abuzz with the kind of vibe you don't usually associate with the sleepy state capitol.
This is the area -- between 18th and 26th Streets a few blocks north of the capitol -- where the 2nd Saturday ArtWalk takes place on, yes, the second Saturday of each month. Businesses, including a couple of dozen art galleries, stay open until at least 9 p.m. and offer wine-and-cheese receptions while showcasing their collections of sculpture, painting and other types of art. Street musicians and bands perform outside, people mingle and wander the usually quiet neighborhood and, all in all, it's quite a happening.
The ArtWalk capped a full day in Sacramento where I traveled with a group of travel writers recently. We toured a couple of new hotels, including Le Rivage, a luxury property on the Sacramento River (and home of the local outpost of Scott's Seafood) two miles from downtown, and the snazzy The Citizen, (at right) which Joie De Vivre Hospitality opened in November. The San Francisco- based company, known for its unique and themed hotels in the Bay Area, completely remodeled a handsome 82-year old office tower downtown. The 198-room boutique hotel, with its elegant Art Deco lobby and restaurant, adds a touch of chic to Sacramento's chain-based hotel scene.
I was also able to check out a new exhibit of beautiful Indian baskets from 20 different California tribes at the California Museum (on display until March 14, 2010). It's amazing to see the intricate work such as that done by the Achumawi tribe of Shasta County whose baskets (below), made in 1900, were woven from pine roots, willow shoots, grass and other fibers.
A few blocks south in Old Sacramento I stopped in to revisit everyone's favorite railroad museum, the California State Railroad Museum. Even if you're not a rail buff, you'll understand why people get obsessive about trains when you hop on the steam locomotives, read about the engineering feat of laying track through the Sierras and see the golden "Lost Spike" up close.
Before setting out on the ArtWalk, we had a lovely dinner at Mulvaney's B&L where chef Patrick Mulvaney emphasizes local ingredients and American comfort food served under the tall ceilings of a restored 1893 firehouse. There seems to be more reason than ever to check out Sacramento.

1 comment:

Suzi said...

What great information! I'm putting 2nd Saturday Artwalks on my calendar for my next visit to Sacramento.