If you live in Northern California, more specifically, in the Sacramento region, and are looking for a fun day trip, may I suggest Folsom, California?
Folsom is in Sacramento County and the city's most famous moniker is the song, "Folsom Prison Blues," by the incomparable Johnny Cash. Cash's influence on Folsom has even been rewarded with a trail named after the country legend. Yes, the Folsom prison is iconic with the city of Folsom and is a major economic factor for the city, but it is not likely you are going to Folsom to visit the prison, however, there is a Folsom Prison museum worth visiting.
Folsom provides incredible recreational opportunities and is prime for history and culture enthusiasts. Folsom is prime for shoppers too. There is everything from "mom and pop" boutiques to the convenience of modern shopping malls or even spending some time at the outlet mall.
Old Folsom: The Folsom Historic District
When we spend the day in Folsom, and it's not at Folsom Lake, we choose to go to Old Folsom or the Folsom Historic District, "the place where the west came and stayed." Historic Sutter Street takes you back to the Gold Rush era. Sutter Street is lined with historical buildings that may once have been saloons or brothels, but now are restaurants, boutiques, bars, and gift shops.
The restaurants that we really enjoy in Old Folsom are the Sutter Street Steakhouse, Pizzaria Classico or Q'bole Cocina & Cantina. I have not had a better ribeye steak than at Sutter Street Steakhouse! A classic steakhouse, more for dinner, with classic ambiance and fantastic service, I highly recommend the Sutter Street Steakhouse.
May we recommend these restaurants in Old Folsom?
When we go to Old Folsom for the day, during the afternoon, we love to grab a pizza at Pizzaria Classico. At one time, right across Riley Street from Pizzaria Classico, was Chicago Fire Pizza, a much more popular destination and often too crowded for our likes. We chose instead to patronize Pizzaria Classico, and are so glad we did. We thought, first, that the pizza was better, and there were much fewer people. Today, Chicago Fire Pizza is no longer in Old Folsom, so Pizzaria Classico is the only pizza in the area, and we are thankful for that.
Our other restaurant of choice is Q'bole Cocina & Cantina. Q'Bole sits right on Sutter Street. It is upstairs and provides outdoor seating where you can watch the people and entertainment below. Q'Bole is a fun atmosphere where you can sip on margaritas and enjoy some excellent Mexican food. Some other restaurants in Old Folsom that we have yet to try, but seem to be popular, would be J.Wild's Livery & Feed (in the old Chicago Fire Pizza building on Sutter and Riley), the Powerhouse Pub, a long-time established music venue, Plank Craft Kitchen and Bar, the Fat Rabbit Public House (an Irish Pub) and Scott's Seafood Roundhouse.
Folsom Culture and History
If culture is your wheelhouse, Folsom offers the Harris Center, a regional performing arts center, where visitors get to experience performances like the theater, musical drama, and dance. The Harris Center has three stages and a beautiful mezzanine and hosts around 400 events throughout the year.
Take a trip to the Folsom Historic Museum. There is a ton of history in Folsom. The museum depicts the discovery of gold in California, the formation of mining camps, and the prison and the native people of Folsom. If you are a railroad historian, Folsom's legacy is the railroad system and there is much to see and learn.
The Folsom Prison Museum is a fascinating trove into the history of California's second-oldest prison. The Folsom Prison Museum, also known as the National Big House Museum, is situated in the same complex as the active Folsom Prison. Explore the many artifacts and stories from inmates and correctional officers. Tickets cost just $2.00.
The Folsom Powerhouse is also a popular destination for history buffs. The park is a historic site that preserves a power station that was built in 1895. It is one of the first AC hydroelectric power plants in the United States. Visitors can not only see the history of Folsom, but also the history of Sacramento.
If outdoor recreation is your thing, there is nothing better than spending a hot Summer day at beautiful Folsom Lake. Folsom Lake is our "home" lake. Activities on or in the water could be dependent upon the years' rainfall. Unfortunately for us, 2021's rainfall was not bountiful, and really enjoying the lake was a challenge, and of course, 2020 brought the pandemic, and the lake was closed for the Spring months. We look forward, fingers crossed, to a good rainfall year late 2021 into 2022 so we can once again enjoy the warmer waters of Folsom Lake. If it would be your first time at Folsom Lake, and you have your family in tow, I suggest heading to Granite Bay Main Beach. It is the main beach with plenty of parking, water toy rentals, lifeguards, restrooms, and a designated swimming area. The size of the beach area is dependant upon the water levels. If there is a lot of water, then the beach area is reduced, but there are MANY shaded picnic tables to set up your picnic, but with high water, it's an easy walk to the water. If the water is lower, then there is much more beach to lay down your blanket, but it means a bit longer walk to the water and restrooms.
Lake Natoma, which flows alongside Old Folsom is a great spot for paddle boarding and kayaking. No motorized boating is allowed on Lake Natoma. Actually, you can bring a motorized boat, but there is a 5mph speed limit. There are a number of entry points to put your watercraft in. Lake Natoma is a 500-acre water reservoir of the Nimbus Dam at the American River that flows from Folsom Lake. The Sacramento State Aquatic center sits at the heel of Lake Natoma, and there you can rent canoes, stand-up paddleboards, or kayaks for the day. On the north side of Lake Natoma, sits the historic Negro Bar recreational facility that dates back to the Gold Rush Era, where African-Americans settled their own mining camps, a huge part of the area's history.
There are many trails to explore, some along the American River Parkway that runs adjacent to Lake Natoma, as well as trails inside the Folsom Lake footprint. There is also the Johnny Cash trail which is a popular trail that goes through the Folsom Historic District at Sutter Street and to Folsom Lake. The trail is 2.5 miles long that traverses over two scenic bridges ( The Rainbow bridge is a must) and installations and can take you to the prison. There are several art installations dedicated to Cash that includes two seven-foot-tall bronze guitars being played by Cash's silhouette.
There is much to see and do in historic Folsom, California. My suggestion is to start first on Sutter Street. Grab a bite to eat, then take a stroll to the Rainbow Bridge and take some photos. Return back to Sutter Street and go through the shops. In the Wintertime, you can even go ice skating at their outdoor rink. Sutter Street is a great place to start for these reasons. The history alone is incredible. You feel like you're in the Old West. Once you're finished exploring Sutter Street, grab your swimsuits and beach towels, and enjoy a nice day on the water.
Comments / 0