Heritage Tourism of the Old and Not-So-OldPosted on May 3, 2011 – 6:27 AM | by Admin
By William Burg
Until recently, tours of Sacramento were limited to Old Sacramento, in a sort of designated “history petting zoo.” Aside from a few places like Sutter’s Fort, anything east of Interstate 5 was considered insufficiently historic to be worthy of its own tour program. Increased interest in Sacramento’s 20th century heritage, historic architecture, public art, and in the natural world so close to Downtown Sacramento, has spurred new and popular tour programs. Some are run by nonprofits and volunteers, but a growing number of successful for-profit tours serve an expanding market for heritage tourism. Here’s a rundown of some of the best.
HOSF Old Sacramento Tours
The new Underground Tour program gets all the attention, but the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation also operates above-ground tours, based from the Sacramento History Museum at 101 I Street. Regular tours are offered every Saturday at 11 AM, and cost $7 for adults and $5 for children. Themes include early Sacramento architecture, the city’s Gold Rush legacy, and special themes including political history, medicine, the waterfront, and 1960s redevelopment.
DSP Downtown Tours
The Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP) offers tours that stretch from Old Sacramento to the heart of the business district. Subjects include early Sacramento history, historic architecture, commerce, public art, Gladding-McBean tile, and the Speakeasy Tour. The Speakeasy Tour, focusing on the Prohibition era (and how Sacramentans basically ignored Prohibition) is by far the most popular, requiring prepaid registration that typically sells out within a day. Starting in May, DSP will offer a new Rock & Roll Tour, covering the story of live rock music in Sacramento from the 1950s to the 1990s. Tours cost $10 and occur throughout the week.
Alkali Flat Food & History Tours
Chef Lisa Armstrong recently started a series of tours combining her interests in local food and local history, focusing on Alkali Flat and downtown Sacramento. Each tour costs $42-58 but includes gourmet food and tours of landmark buildings. Some of the stops include Grange at the Cal-West Building (Citizen Hotel), Tuli Bistro at the Hale Mansion (Sterling Hotel) and Ambrosia Café at the Hotel Regis. Future tours will include stops at landmarks like The Firehouse at (Sacramento Engine Co. No. 3) and Luigi’s Slice in the old Mayflower warehouse (aka MARRS.)
Practical Cycle History Tours
Based in Old Sacramento in the historic Brannan Building, Practical Cycle combines bike sales and rental with a series of guided tour programs. Tours last two hours, and tour subjects include breweries and food, architecture, religion, and general Sacramento history. Call for tour schedule and price.
Fast Eddie Bike Tours
Cyclist and local history enthusiast Ed Hakari offers two alternating history bike tours at 10 AM every Tuesday, meeting at 23rd Street between K and L. Tours cost $25 and include a bike, helmet, snacks and water. One tour explores urban art and Midtown history, while the other delivers riders to key landmarks and lesser-known Downtown and Midtown sites of historic interest. Fast Eddie can also charter tours any other day of the week for groups of 4 or more people.
Sacramento Tree Foundation Tree Tours
Sacramento Tree Foundation hosts several free guided tree tours throughout the Sacramento area. One of these tours is a Tree Tour of Capitol Park, next scheduled for June 4 at 10 AM. The two-hour tour explores the wide variety of rare and unusual trees planted in Capitol Park, which for all practical purposes serves as a city arboretum. In addition to tree identification, the Sacramento Tree Foundation tours also teach basic tree care and the roles that trees play in a neighborhood.
Old City Cemetery Tours
Best known for their Halloween tours, which invariably sell out weeks in advance, the Old City Cemetery Committee offers tours year-round. Generally held on the first Saturday at 10 AM, each monthly program covers a different topic related to some of the Cemetery’s most notable residents. Events on the third Saturday focus on the flora of the Cemetery, especially their renowned rose garden. Tours are held without charge, but donations are encouraged. On Friday, May 13 at 7 PM, the Cemetery Committee will hold a “Friday the 13th Twilight Tour,” a fundraiser for the Cemetery (cost $10) that will focus on Cemetery residents who were the victims of fatal bouts of bad luck.
Self-Guided History Tours
For those who don’t want to be constrained by a schedule, nonprofit Sacramento Heritage Inc. maintains several self-guided walking tours of downtown Sacramento, the Old City Cemetery, Oak Park, Boulevard Park and Curtis Park, on their website. Download and print, or view online with a smartphone, and you can explore a neighborhood’s history on your own schedule.