If you stroll past the Residence Inn in Sacramento, you’ll spot a stoic Johnny Cash gazing toward Folsom, California, the neighboring city where the Man in Black famously recorded “At Folsom Prison,” one of the most influential albums in American music. Sacramento's love of music and murals go hand-in-hand; each part of a vibrant cultural scene begging to be explored.

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Group of people riding a Chartered boat in The Sacramento River
Sac Brew Boat

On rainy days, locals peruse the Crocker Art Museum’s extensive collection. On view this spring: “Black Artists in America: From Civil Rights to the Bicentennial,” an exhibition featuring “many of the most important artists working throughout the United States during the midcentury,” according to its curator. Broadway Sacramento hosts productions of the buzziest shows around (“Mean Girls,” “Hamilton,” “Company”) while the B Street Theatre bends towards the avant-garde. In September, visitors flock to Sacramento for the Farm-to-Fork Festival, which celebrates ingredients sourced within 150 miles of Sacramento.

Old Sacramento
Carlos Eliason

What really distinguishes Sacramento from its coastal brethren, though, is its unwavering commitment to the people who call the city home. As Sac’s popularity (and population) has grown, locals have fought relentlessly to prevent displacement. Last year, the Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to approve zoning changes that will soon make room for more affordable housing. And in March 2024, Sacramento County approved a groundbreaking guaranteed income program that, starting in July, will give low-income Black and Native American families no-strings-attached payments of $725 a month.