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The immediate southern neighbor of Sacramento, Elk Grove rarely gets much attention. For many, it always remains a gateway town to the capital of California, the one you just pass along your trip. But Elk Grove is much more than that, it’s an easygoing destination that boasts relaxing parks, chill-out restaurants, great accommodation options, and wine. The latter may be the best reason to come here, as the Clarksburg wine region is an amazing alternative to Napa Valley and Elk Grove is a perfect base for oenological escapades filled with tastings and long vineyard walks.
Visiting this town is a boutique Northern Californian tourism experience, without any hassle. So here are the best things to do in Elk Grove to have a marvelous time.
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What Is It? While the Clarksburg wine region may not be the most popular wine region in California, it certainly has its charms. Located right next to Elk Grove and occupying the picturesque area near the delta of the Sacramento River, it is a wonderful place to spend an entire day exploring the wines from numerous wineries. There are a myriad of tasting opportunities, great food to accompany the tastings, and natural beauty to serve as the background. There are 35 grape varietals growing that are used for both red and white wines. Be sure to try the trademark local Chenin Blanc, which is on a mission to become the best in the U.S.
Why Do It? You don’t have to go to France and Italy to have a quintessential wine-tasting experience. Clarksburg is a fantastic option close to Sacramento and the Bay Area. Give yourself the joy of visiting winery after winery, embracing the perks of slow tourism, and soaking up the beauty of the pretty surrounding vistas.
Good to Know: The historic Old Sugar Mill in the heart of Clarksburg is the go-to place to taste the majority of local wines. It gathers well-known producers all under one roof. If you’d like a more natural experience, head to Bogle Vineyards where they offer outdoor tastings next to the plantation, check out Heringer Estates with their cool wooden barn and scenic vineyards, or visit the cozy Julietta Winery.
What Is It? Looking for the best place for a picnic? Elk Grove Regional Park is that spot. A beautifully landscaped green area, it’s the gem of this town and the favorite outdoor area of the locals and guests from Sacramento. There are two islands, fields for softball, baseball, and soccer, a Pavillion for special events, and lots of fresh California air.
Good to Know: The park has a cultural edge that music lovers will love. Every July one of its islands hosts a Strauss Festival, Elk Grove’s best event of the year and one that celebrates the music of the great Austrian composer Johann Strauss in a spectacular outdoor setting.
What Is It? Elk Grove is surrounded by wineries and McConnell Estates is one of the most popular ones. Not only does it have 700 acres of vineyards and an extra-scenic setting, but it also regularly organizes different outdoor events. During the summer the winery hosts a series of open-air concerts. Also, every first Friday of the month, from May to September, the venue does a thing called Barn night, which essentially means a great evening with live music accompanied by fine local wine.
Why Do It? It’s the ultimate countryside winery experience that will get you closer to the vineyards, allow you to savor the 15 various types of the “drink of the gods,” and ultimately ensures you have a fantastic time in Elk Grove.
Good to Know: Buy tickets for the events beforehand, as sellouts are not unheard of here.
What Is It? There’s no better way to fully embrace the easygoing atmosphere of Elk Grove than by renting a townhouse in town. This Airbnb would be an ideal pick. With lots of positive reviews and a location in the heart of Elk Grove suburbia, it’s the perfect family accommodation. It features lots of space, a backyard, and a modern design. You will have two bedrooms, a garage for your car, and a fully equipped kitchen.
Why Do It? Spending a few nights at an Airbnb will allow you to better relax on the one hand and have a strategic base for the slow exploration of Elk Grove on the other. Also, this particular townhouse’s location in a quiet and safe neighborhood provides a welcoming respite from the intense city life. Many guests loved the peace this property offers as well as how close it is to the neighborhood park.
Good to Know: This accommodation would work perfectly if you’re coming in a car. It is very close to all of the town’s attractions and would be the perfect Airbnb if you’re in town to visit the nearby wineries. Everything is within a few minutes drive. Be aware that it is not a space for parties and celebrations.
What Is It? With two water slides, a pool with a lazy river, and another larger 25-yard pool, Elk Grove’s Aquatics Center is a great place to visit if you’re into some water fun. Affordable and accessible, it would be awesome for families with children.
Why Do It? While not big by waterpark standards, the Aquatics Center is just right for pleasant water enjoyment. The thematic slides will keep children busy and the spacious instructional pool will give adults a chance to get a good swim in. The Aquatics Center is especially nice during the hot California summers.
Good to Know: Always follow water safety instructions to ensure a smooth visit to the facility. You can also come here for a pool party. Just check the schedule on their website for dates. Pool rental for events and celebrations is also available.
What Is It? One of the best urban park projects in Northern California, The Preserve is a state-of-art green space that aims to restore the natural habitat of Elk Grove in a city setting. In practice, it’s a fantastic place to spend time filled with fields, trees, and outdoor art. Picnicking here is a pleasure, as there are specially designated areas just for it. Keep an eye out for the animals too! You just might spot some owls and bats.
Why Do It? Elk Grove is famous for its green areas, but The Preserve is a next-gen one. Here you can feel the passion of its creators to breathe new life into the area and do what it takes to restore it to its wild glory.
Good to Know: Make sure to see the historic silo that is a part of the agricultural heritage of the area, as well as take a stroll at the charming pistachio orchard.
What Is It? Fancy a challenging yet still fun time? Elk Grove’s Exit Strategy Games is a cool place to visit when you’re in town. Featuring four thematic escape rooms, it’s a great thing to do if you’re looking for an entertaining and intellectual good time in Elk Grove.
Why Do It? Visiting an escape room is an experience that requires teamwork. Whether you’re a group of friends or a family, coming to Exit Strategy Games will be an awesome way to spend time together resolving puzzles.
Good to Know: Exit Strategy Games also organizes escape room team-building, so if your company is looking for interesting ideas, here’s one to consider.
What Is It? Elk Grove takes outdoor recreation seriously. The town has four designated trails that offer a great way to experience the city and its environs on foot. You will pass through parks, wildlife spots, creeks, and the historic district. You can choose from Elk Grove Creek Trail, Foulks Ranch / Laguna Greenbelt, Franklin Creek Trail, Laguna Creek Trail Winds and Connects. All offer great conditions for walking or cycling.
Why Do It? It’s great when the city really cares about its trail infrastructure. You can profit from relaxing walks and easy bike rides. It’s an awesome activity for the whole family and one of Elk Grove’s highlights.
Good to Know: Elk Grove’s official website features an interactive map with all of the trails listed, as well as the bike lanes.