Two Attractions to Tour in Sacramento's Capitol District

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California State CapitolCalifornia State CapitolI recently returned from a two-day, three-night trip to Sacramento, and I'm already anxious to return. Traveling on business left me with a limited amount of time to see this city's many attractions, but what I was able to tour in the vicinity of my hotel was fantastic.

I choose the Vizcaya hotel in downtown Sacramento for my accommodations, and from the moment I arrived, I felt I'd lucked out. The Hotel's pillared portico and tall windows give it an elegant appearance, and the beautiful gardens and iron fountains nearby emphasized its charming appearance.

My only regret on seeing the Vizcaya was that I was traveling alone. It would be the ideal place for a romantic weekend getaway, and there were several couples staying there when I was in town. I booked my room several months in advance online at, and I was delighted with the rates, service, facilities, and best of all the location of the Vizcaya.

I didn't put much effort into researching attractions in Sacramento prior to my visit, and I had no expectations or real idea what the city was like. I instantly felt comfortable and welcome there, and during my short stay, I was very happy to find it was as pleasant and easygoing as it seemed at first sight. I found the Capitol District area around my hotel pretty and slightly reminiscent of Washington D.C. The main difference was the more upbeat feel of the place, and of course, the palm trees and sequoias.

Touring California's State Capitol

A tour of the State Capitol was a natural choice given the close proximity to my hotel. I've bypassed touring the U.S. Capitol twice on trips to Washington due to lines, and I was delighted to find there was no wait at all to access Sacramento's picturesque look-alike. There are guided tours offered, but I chose to take a self-guided tour of the State Capitol instead. The interior is as stately as the exterior suggests it will be, and I spent almost three hours wandering around exploring the building.

Senate Gallery, California State CapitolSenate Gallery, California State CapitolThere are a number of intriguing exhibits on display at the State Capitol. I was particularly impressed with their collection of outstanding paintings. The paintings all focus on some aspect of California - the people, geography, landscape and historic locations. There are paintings in both the historic West Wing of the building as well as the East Annex. The West Wing paintings generally date from around the late 19th century, while much of the East Annex artwork is more modern, dating from around the mid-20th century.

If you like portraits, you'll also enjoy the impressive collection of Governor's portraits displayed throughout halls and rooms at the Capitol. It is interesting to see the styles and artists each governor has chosen for their portrait, especially the portrait by Don Bachardy of Governor Edmund G. "Jerry " Brown, Jr.

In addition to the governor's portraits, you can see two outstanding portraits of two presidents at California's State Capitol. There is an incredible painting of President George Washington in the Senate Chamber. This is a copy of the original by Gilbert Stuart believed to have been painted by his daughter, Jane Stuart. A portrait of President Abraham Lincoln by artist William Cogswell graces the Assembly Chambers.

These are just a few examples of some of the artwork and artifacts at the Capitol that kept me intrigued for hours on my visit. The Flag Collection and antique furnishings were equally impressive. The Capitol building is a terrific place to learn about California's history and view some outstanding art at the same time.

California State Indian Museum

I had originally hoped to tour more than one attraction in Sacramento each day, but I spent too long at the State Capitol. Sightseeing was put aside until the second morning of my visit. This time I head to the California State Indian Museum, which is not far from the Capitol building.

Navajo Indian BasketNavajo Indian BasketIf you're interested in Indian cultures or the history of California, you'll find this museum as intriguing as I did. It is not flashy or overly upscale, but it contains plenty of information about California's prehistoric inhabitants. I was surprised to learn more than 150 tribal groups once populated California.

The exhibits at the California State Indian Museum include beautiful as well as interesting artifacts, including beadwork, clothing and basketry. I especially enjoyed seeing the photographs of indigenous people that have been donated to the museum.

Without making detailed plans or extravagant arrangements, I found two attractions in Sacramento near my hotel that I thoroughly enjoyed. There were of course several other attractions with a historic or artistic focus, and plenty of shops, restaurants and parks in the Capitol District to explore. If you are interested in cultural attractions, history and museums, the area around the State Capitol won't disappoint.

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