Outdoor Fun in Sacramento: A Guide to Top Activities

Sacramento is a place full of amazing outdoor spots, from the American River Parkway to the various parks, gardens, and trails throughout the city. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, outdoor activities in Sacramento will make your stay wonderful. There are a lot of options and there are a couple of details you may need to know before choosing an option.

outdoor activities in sacramento

Hiking nearby the American River Parkway

As far as hiking goes, look no further than the American River Parkway. This fun outdoor activity in Sacramento consists of a trail system is the perfect place for visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and explore the nature surrounding the city. The Parkway spans 32 miles (51.5 km) of paved and unpaved trails along the scenic American River, and there are plenty of access points, including William B. Pond Recreation Area, Sunrise Recreation Area, and Lake Natoma. Be sure to bring a map, sunscreen, and plenty of water, and stay alert for wildlife.

Biking in the American River Bike Trail

The Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, better known as the American River Bike Trail, is a 32-mile paved trail that runs from Sacramento to Folsom Lake. This outdoor activity is perfect for both seasoned cyclists and beginners alike, with a relatively flat terrain and plenty of restrooms, picnic areas, and bike rental shops along the way. You will definitely want to stop at the numerous picturesque spots, including the Watt Avenue Bridge and Discovery Park.

Kayaking in the lakes and rivers

For visitors who love water adventures, kayaking in Sacramento’s picturesque waters is highly recommended. Both Lake Natoma and the American River offer incredible kayaking experiences for visitors. You can simply rent a kayak yourself or opt for a guided kayak tour. Rowing along American River Parkway’s cool waters, you can marvel at the myriad of wildlife that call this place home.

Rock Climbing at the Granite Arch Climbing Center 

Sacramento provides various opportunities to experience rock climbing. City lifers may love to look into Granite Arch Climbing Center to experience the thrill of indoor rock climbing. But if you’re craving outdoor climbing, check out Donner Summit or Lover’s Leap in Tahoe National Forest. This place boasts classic climbing routes outside and offers various levels of challenges.

activities outdoor in sacramento

Walking through the Urban Parks

For those who want to embrace nature without leaving the bustling city center, Sacramento has plenty of parks to offer. From Southside Park to Capitol Park, all of these parks offer stunning views and walking paths among vibrant flowers and plants. In the case of Capitol Park, visitors are allowed to walk through memorials to citizens who’ve made remarkable contributions to Sacramento.

Common questions about outdoor activities in Sacramento

Are there any entrance fees for the outdoor activities?

Most of the outdoor activities mentioned in this guide are free of charge. However, some facilities, such as the Granite Arch Climbing Center, do require an entrance fee. Additionally, recreational areas like the William B. Pond Recreation Area may require a day-use fee for parking. It is always best to check the specific requirements of each location before your visit. As for equipment rentals, like bicycles or kayaks, these would be at additional costs which can vary based on rental duration and type of equipment.

Can I bring my pet with me on these outdoor activities?

Pets are welcome in many outdoor spaces in Sacramento, including trails and parks. Remember, though, each location may have its own set of rules. On the American River Parkway, for example, dogs are allowed on a leash. Similarly, most urban parks accommodate pets, provided they are kept under control. However, it’s important to note that pets may not be permitted in certain areas, such as Lake Natoma and some climbing centers, for safety reasons. Always check the specific pet policies of each location before you plan your visit.

What should I have in consideration if I want to bring my children to these outdoor activities?

When planning outdoor activities with children in Sacramento, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, the nature of the activity should be age-appropriate and safely achievable by the child. For example, while parks and easy hiking trails may be great for children of all ages, rock climbing might be more suitable for older children and teenagers. Secondly, ensure all necessary safety gear and equipment are available and correctly sized for your child, especially for activities like biking or kayaking. Always keep an eye on weather forecasts and plan accordingly to avoid extreme weather conditions. Lastly, keep in mind the availability and location of amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and resting spots, as children may need frequent breaks. It’s always a good idea to reach out in advance to the relevant authorities or service providers to understand any specific guidelines or restrictions for children.

sacramento outdoor activities


Sacramento’s outdoor scene is truly remarkable. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or someone who wants to experience nature at a more leisurely pace, the city has something to offer. Furthermore, Sacramento’s outdoor activities will leave you feeling refreshed, reinvigorated, and closer to nature, facilitating a deeper appreciation for the environment and also giving you a chance to fully explore all that the city has to offer.

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