Memorial Day weekend – the de facto summer season kickoff – offers plenty of opportunities for recreation, hanging out, kicking back and otherwise chilling.
Beginning Friday, with weather expected to be seasonal, Sacramento and the surrounding region come alive with the opening acts of summer. The annual music festival cranks up, pro teams are in action at home, food and drink are available in generous portions, and solemn observances of Americans’ sacrifices throw light on the reason for the holiday. And there’s a fair.
The following are 10 of the myriad things to do in and about Sacramento:
1. Listen to the music: The second year into a new era, the Sacramento Music Festival begins its four-day run on Friday, kicking off a long Memorial Day weekend of multiple artists and genres.
Overall, it is the 43rd annual appearance of what began as the Old Sacramento Dixieland Jazz Jubilee in 1974, focusing then on a venerable music form that turned the event into one of the country’s premier Dixieland get-togethers. The change to a more general musical focus – though jazz remains a significant part of the event – came over the last few years as organizers attempted to attract crowds of more diverse ages, considering that Dixieland crowds, though generally robust, skewed older.
The festival this year is concentrated in and around Old Sacramento, with 13 venues. Fifteen parking lots have been designated, some in and adjacent to Old Sacramento, others scattered in the downtown grid, the farthest flung being off of 16th Street, about a mile from Old Sac.
Tickets are available on the music festival website and at the event.
(Note: Yes, we know BottleRock is going on in Napa during the weekend, but that music festival is sold out.)
2. Get together and eat: The headline on a recent story by The Bee’s Debbie Arrington is “What’s great to grill? Just about anything,” and putting fruit, vegetables and other nontraditional food over the coals can result in tremendous eating. Of course, ribs and other old-school BBQ fare always are in favor for a big, warm-weather holiday. Many supermarkets are offering significant sale specials to coincide with the big weekend.
Want a burger but don’t feel like cooking it yourself? The Bee’s Carla Meyer writes that Localis, the eatery at 21st and S streets in midtown, is offering a really good one. And if you prefer vegetarian fare, Meyer looked favorably on Veg, a restaurant at 25th and J streets, and its falafel burger.
3. Go outdoors to float, hike or ride: Waterways such as the American River continue to enjoy relatively high flows, making rafting and kayaking conditions ideal.
The Sacramento Bee’s Brad Branan writes that in addition to getting on the water, another option close to Sacramento is hiking near Lake Berryessa. If it’s too hot in the Sacramento area – and temperatures are expected to be in the 90s Sunday and Monday – consider a drive to the coast for a hike or a beach retreat.
A recent story about spring activities in the region has suggestions that still apply for biking and hiking, with plentiful opportunities still viable.
4. Take in a game: The Sacramento River Cats are in town throughout the weekend, playing the Oklahoma City Dodgers at Raley Field in night games (7:05 p.m. start) Friday and Saturday, and day games (1:05 p.m. start) Sunday and Monday. Fireworks are scheduled to follow Saturday night’s game.
Ticket costs range from $10 to $35 and can be purchased on the River Cats’ website and at Raley Field.
On Saturday, Republic FC, Sacramento’s entry in the United Soccer League, plays Swope Park Rangers KC in a 7:30 p.m. match at Bonney Field.
Tickets are available on the Republic FC website.
5. Drink some beer: OK, that might sound a little scruffy when set up as a stand-alone thing to do for a weekend (or even a significant part thereof), but with Sacramento now rightly considered to be, according to The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, a “beer destination,” why not spend some quality time finding out which beers are part of your destiny.
Plenty of craft breweries are in the city, and plenty more make their homes in the general capital region. Cabs and designated drivers are easily found. It’s win-win for everybody.
In addition, for this year’s Sacramento Beer Week in February and March, a map of Sacramento breweries was created, including an interactive version, locating breweries as far west as Winters (Berryessa Brewing Co.), as far north as Yuba City (Sutter Buttes Brewing Co.), up in the foothills to Nevada City (Ol’ Republic and Three Forks brewing companies), as far east as the Apple Hill region (Jack Russell Brewing), and south to Elk Grove (Tilted Mash and Flatland Brewing). Davis, Woodland, out Interstate 80 through Roseville and Auburn and on to far-off Highway 49 (Amador Brewing) – along with Sacramento proper – there’s home-grown brew a-plenty.
6. When in doubt, go fishing: Some people consider fishing the least-stressful pursuit known to humans. So many approaches, so many streams and lakes in the valley or up in the mountains. So many species of fish, from prized, hulking striped bass to trout flashing through cold-water streams – the bounty seems endless.
Consult The Bee’s weekly Fishing Line report to learn about conditions at waterways throughout Northern California.
Fishing licenses are available at many retail outlets as well as on the state Department of Fish and Wildlife website.
7. Not THE fair, but a really good one: Look over at Cal Expo as you drive by on Capital City Freeway or one of the nearby surface streets, and you’ll think, “What the ... ?” A little early for the state fair, no? A little early, yes. That fair going on the entirety of Memorial Day weekend is the Sacramento County Fair, an annual ag soiree that draws up to 75,000 attendees each year, the fair’s official website states.
That’s quite a growth curve for an event that drew 14,000 in 1991.
The county fair has all the attractions: carnival rides, plenty of good fair food, as detailed by The Bee’s Al Pierleoni, bull riding and monster truck shows, livestock and farming exhibits, commercial showcases, live music and other entertainment features.
Cal Expo is at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento.
8. Watch the race: The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday. Unless you have a quick flight and a ticket to the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, checking it out on television is your way to view one of the great sports spectacles of the year. It will be broadcast on ABC. The race starts at about 9:15 a.m., though coverage begins well before that.
Another thing: It really is quite a tradition.
9. Head to Tahoe: Many folks consider Tahoe to be the far-east border of the Sacramento region, so it’s a good fit. Weather is supposed to be ideal, the lake is blue as ever – or nearly so – and even if you don’t want to go to the casinos, the outdoor opportunities are many and varied. But the casinos are pretty slick.
Be ready for fairly heavy traffic. And always stay on 16.
10. Honoring the fallen: Memorial Day exists to remember and honor Americans who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Several ceremonies are planned to focus on that main aspect of the holiday, including an early gathering on Friday at Sacramento’s Arden Fair mall, in front of Seasons 52 restaurant.
Among other ceremonies are these:
▪ On Monday, a commemoration ceremony is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the Sacramento VA Medical Center in Mather.
▪ Hosted by the Davis Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6949 and the Davis Cemetery District, a ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at Davis Cemetery features the Davis Brass Ensemble, Davis Children’s Chorale, the Davis High School Madrigals, Carol Kessler, and a keynote speaker. Davis Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts will place flags on the graves of veterans early that morning and pick them up that evening.
▪ The 50th annual North Highlands Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. until noon Monday beginning at the corner of I Street and Watt avenue. The parade, presented by Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 4647, will include decorated floats, equestrians, marching bands, classic vehicles, drill teams, color guard, and more. Immediately following the parade a gathering will be held at VFW Post 4647 for the parade viewers and participants featuring hot dogs, sodas, and beer (plus a no-host bar) .
▪ At noon Monday, the 25th annual California Mexican American Veterans Memorial ceremony will be held at the west end of the state Capitol.
▪ A ceremony hosted by Citrus Heights American Legion Post #637 and Veterans of Foreign Wars will be held at 10:30 a.m. at Sylvan Cemetery, featuring music and guest speakers.