Gov. Gavin Newsom’s inauguration Monday was preceded by a bit of news mostly relevant to Sacramento. The former San Francisco mayor, once dismissive of the state’s capitol city, announced last Friday he would move his family from Marin County to the Governor’s Mansion upon assuming office.
In a 2012 interview with hotel magnate Chip Conley on “The Gavin Newsom Show,” a short-lived talk show featuring prominent Californians alongside the then-lieutenant governor, Newsom famously described Sacramento as “just so dull.” He only visited the state’s capital about once a week, he said, because “there’s no reason.”
Things have changed since 2012. UC Davis cops don’t pepper spray sitting students anymore, Newsom is no longer second fiddle to Jerry Brown, and Sacramento isn’t the sleepy city it once was — especially not where he’ll be living.
At 1526 H St., the Governor’s Mansion sits between midtown and downtown in a neighborhood that doubles as both one of the city’s most historic and vibrant. Sacramento may never be San Francisco, but it has lots to offer the city’s most recent Bay Area transplants.
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Newsom and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom made the move to Sacramento with their four children ages 2 to 9. If the family stays for the entirety of Newsom’s first term, they’ll all be enrolled in Sacramento’s schools by the last of the four years.
Gavin attended both Catholic and public schools growing up, while Jennifer went to a small private high school after a public K-8 education. The closest neighborhood private school is St. Francis of Assisi K-8, should they choose to go that route. For a small class setting, Sacramento Country Day School is a top K-12 option with a $20,000- to $25,000-a-year price point to match.
If the governor and his wife want to enroll the kids in public schools – it’s not that crazy, they already live in public housing – Theodore Judah and Phoebe A. Hearst elementary schools finished among the region’s best in 2017 standardized math test scores.
The Newsom family isn’t limited to humans, either. The Truitt Bark Park is a mile from their two dogs’ new home and down the street from Midtown Animal Hospital, where the family’s pups or rabbit might eventually need treatment.
Newsom once told the travel website Peek that his favorite restaurant in San Francisco was Michael Mina, the Michelin-star, ultra-modern restaurant in the city’s Financial District. A Middle Eastern restaurant offering six-course dinners for $195 per person (wine pairings an additional $180) will admittedly be hard to find in Sacramento.
But for the culinary skills of a former Michael Mina sous chef, Newsom can dine at Revival on food from Patrick Prager, who also headed the kitchen at Cliff House in San Francisco. Localis and The Firehouse also sell seven- and five-course tasting menus, respectively, and more affordable Halal options have flourished off the grid. For a slightly more family-friendly night, the Governor’s Mansion is also within walking distance of Lucca, Mikuni, Zocalo and Paesanos.
The Newsoms appear to be more wine folks than beer swiggers. Gavin founded PlumpJack Wines in 1992 thanks to an investment from Gordon Getty, and the business now boasts 14 properties statewide. Though he quit drinking for two years after admitting to an affair with his former campaign manager’s wife in 2007, Newsom told wine blogger Steve Hemioff in 2015 that an occasional glass of merlot is no longer a problem.
A short drive out to Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg gets the Newsoms access to wares from 15 local wineries, plus food trucks for the kids and a dog-friendly patio. For a date night in town, Downtown & Vine, The Rind and 58 Degrees & Holding Co. are all within seven blocks of the Governor’s Mansion.
Newsom already got down to Golden 1 Center for Saturday’s Kings-Warriors game (leaving his Golden State jersey back in Marin County) and a Sunday benefit concert with Common and Pitbull that reportedly raised $5 million for Camp Fire victims. Had he been in office a year earlier, he could have seen his favorite band Train when they came through with Hall & Oates last May.
A night out could mean taking in a play at the new Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts, a walk through the Crocker Art Museum or a trip across the street to Broadway Sacramento (previously known as the California Musical Theatre or Music Circus). A Sacramento Republic FC game might especially appeal to the First Partner, who played college soccer at Stanford University.
Kid-friendly options at the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town and Funderland are all blocks apart in Land Park, and not far from neighborhood institution Vic’s Ice Cream. The Nimbus Fish Hatchery requires a trip to Gold River, but has hands-on educational programs for visitors of all ages.
People have been resettling from San Francisco to Sacramento for years now, and the Newsoms can surely find places to go and things to do in their new town. What’s the beauty of the Pacific Ocean compared to the American River, anyway?