Sacramento at a Glance
Location: Northern California
Access: Sacramento International Airport; Interstates 80, 50, 99 and 5; Amtrak California
Hotel rooms: Approximately 16,000 hotel rooms in the greater Sacramento region and more than 2,000 rooms in the downtown core
Sacramento Convention Center
Built: Now closed for a renovation and expansion, but slated to reopen at the end of 2020
Exhibit Space: 160,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 37 breakout rooms, a ballroom and an outdoor plaza
DoubleTree by Hilton Sacramento
Guest rooms: 448
Meeting Space: 28,317 square feet
Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Guest rooms: 505
Meeting Space: 27,000 square feet
Hilton Sacramento Arden West
Guest rooms: 335
Meeting Space: 22,000 square feet
Kimpton Sawyer Hotel
Guest rooms: 250
Meeting Space: 22,000 square feet
It isn’t easy being Sacramento.
Sibling cities San Francisco and Los Angeles are widely known for their beauty and culture. But thanks to a little bit of gumption and natural resources galore, this charming California capital is carving out a reputation for world-class pleasures that will make meeting attendees flip, including a second-to-none cuisine scene that recently garnered its first Michelin star. And Sacramento provides plenty of other goodies, too, like outdoor activities that take advantage of its sublime Mediterranean climate, an upgraded state-of-the-art convention center set to reopen this year and an accessible, relaxed atmosphere that makes everything that much more enjoyable.
Tucked in at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, with a history that hearkens back to California’s gold rush era, this capital city of about a half-million is a fast-growing metropolis with a small-town heart. Meeting attendees and their families will get a kick out of attractions like the Old Sacramento Waterfront, a 28-acre National Historic Landmark District and State Historic Park. Lined with wooden sidewalks and buildings from the city’s 19th-century boomtown days, it offers horse-drawn carriages, costumed re-enactors and other fun.
After stepping back in time, beer lovers might want to quench their thirst aboard the Sac Brew Boat or Brew Bike. Meeting attendees provide the pedal power while tippling a few cold ones, making for a great teambuilding exercise. The Brew Boat can take groups of up to 16, and the six Brew bikes combined can handle 90 people.
From October to April, basketball fans can catch the Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center, which showcases the city’s “can-do spirit,” according to Kari Miskit, Visit Sacramento’s vice president of communications.
“There’s a commitment as a community to making people successful here, so we’re always looking for a way around challenges,” she said. “When we were going to lose our NBA team, there was a grassroots effort to keep it. And now, here they are, in a brand-new arena downtown. So there is a team of people in Sacramento who are excited to help make meetings successful and something memorable.”
Though Sacramento has a spectacular array of more traditional convention and meeting spaces, this festive city isn’t lacking for gathering places with a little more whimsy. Train fans will go gaga for the Smithsonian-affiliate California State Railroad Museum in the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. The institution can accommodate 700 standing guests or 500 seated, and meeting planners are welcome to arrange for catered food and beverages, an after-hours tour or even a chartered train excursion, available to groups of 36 to 300.
California wine is famed around the world, and meeting attendees will appreciate a chance to discover why at Bogle Vineyards and Winery, a 15-minute drive from the city. The winery can host anywhere from six to 120 people in locations like the Vineyard Patio. Or planners can schedule festivities at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park. Open-air events held inside the fort accommodate 300 people, or groups of 25 to 100 can enjoy a pioneer dinner.
“We take care of everything — tables, chairs, rentals, permits — so you can just show up and enjoy,” said Linsey Fredenburg Humes, executive director of Friends of Sutter’s Fort. “Our volunteers join in the fun in historic dress to help provide tours of the fort, answer questions and do demonstrations.”
Major Meeting Spaces
Sacramento is made for meetings, particularly with the November reopening of the Safe Credit Union Convention Center, part of the city’s visionary C3 Project, which includes the newly renovated Memorial Auditorium as well as the soon-to-debut Safe Credit Union Performing Arts Center. The convention center will boast an expanded 160,000-square-foot exhibit hall and a new 40,000-square-foot ballroom next to the existing 24,000-square-foot ballroom, according to Grace Nunez, media and communications specialist for the city of Sacramento. Featuring 37 breakout rooms and a new kitchen, it will also offer a 15,000-square-foot outdoor activities plaza where attendees can enjoy the fabled California sunshine.
“It’s our hope that anyone who visits the new Safe Credit Union Convention Center and Performing Arts District will have an experience beyond what most conventiongoers may expect,” Nunez said. “Guests will be welcomed onto a complex that feels modern and luxurious. The new convention center is only steps from an energetic downtown and is intrinsically linked to arts, dining and entertainment.”
There are multiple hotels in the city that provide prime locations for conferences, like the DoubleTree by Hilton Sacramento, with 448 guest rooms, 28,317 square feet of meeting space, three dedicated ballrooms and a catering team. The 505-room Hyatt Regency Sacramento offers 27,000 square feet of meeting space with outdoor venues overlooking the State Capitol or city skyline. Next to the convention center, it offers a rooftop banquet room to wow attendees as well as an on-site audiovisual team to lend a hand when needed.
After the Meeting
Sacramento offers visitors a smorgasbord of activities, but there is one with which every visitor might want to start: eating. A pioneer in the farm-to-table food movement, the city was awarded its first Michelin star last year. It went to the Kitchen, part of a family restaurant group co-owned by Josh Nelson.
When asked what distinguishes the city’s food scene, Nelson said, “Variety. We grow about 125 different crops, and most of them you can get year-round. We’ve got two rivers, the largest piece of Class 1 soil in the world, and then you combine that with a Mediterranean climate. Sacramento and the surrounding region are suited to grow things year-round in ways that other places aren’t.”
The Kitchen welcomes groups of up to 10 if attendees would like to grab a meal together. Other gastrocentric pursuits in Sacramento include taking a three-hour walking food tour with Local Roots Food Tours and simply browsing the bounty at one of the city’s 40-some farmers markets that operate in the warm-weather months.
Of course, a little exercise in between digging into all that great cuisine might not be a bad idea, and Sac Tour Company features biking, walking and running tours around themes like the city’s architecture, history and outdoor murals. Or adventurers might want to test their mettle on an American River whitewater rafting trip. There are a number of local companies that take paddlers down sections from mild to wild, often with launching sites just 20 miles from the city.