The Best Time to Visit Sacramento

Sacramento skyline and riverfront at dusk

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For the best mix of weather and available activities, the best time to visit Sacramento is from mid-June to late September. That's when you can go whitewater rafting on the American River, play outdoors all day, and attend the California State Fair.

If you're looking to explore Sacramento's rich history and don't mind spending a lot of time indoors, you can get lower prices for flights and lodging during the winter off-season, especially when the California State Legislature is in recess between September through November. Find out the best things to do in Sacramento any time of year.

Weather

"Unbearable" is a word that would seldom be used to describe Sacramento weather any time of year. Summers are hot, but spring and fall are moderate. It can rain in the winter, making indoor activities more desirable than outdoor, but never fear: Sacramento has lots of things you can do inside.

You can get all the detailed information you need in the guide to Sacramento weather and climate.

Sacramento in the Spring

Sacramento's spring weather is "just right" as Goldilocks might say, with little chance of rain and cloudless skies. 

Events to check out:

  • Amgen Tour of California. The American version of the Tour de France bicycle race passes through Sacramento and sometimes ends there.

Sacramento in the Summer

Summer is a good time for all kinds of outdoor activities, especially if they're water-related. In most years, you can go rafting on the American River's Class II and Class IV rapids. The river is also good for kayaking and fishing. Find plenty of general information and commercial outfitters (and river conditions) on the American River website.

Although average temperatures may lead you to believe that it hardly ever exceeds 100 degrees F in Sacramento, triple-digit highs are not uncommon. It's best to check short-range forecasts if you're trying to avoid overheating.

Events to check out:

  • California State Fair is one of Sacramento's most acclaimed summer attractions, held in July. Things to do at the fair include checking out the animals and produce, eating wild and crazy junk food (including just about anything deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, or both), and enjoying concerts from some top-name performers. To avoid the heat, check the weather forecast to choose one of the cooler days during its run, go early on a hot day or arrive after sundown.
  • Wide Open Walls is an annual street party and concert held in August to celebrate the city's murals and mural artists.

    Sacramento in the Fall

    Sacramento's fall weather is just as pleasant as it is in the spring, although winter rains occasionally start toward the end of the season.

    If you're an animal lover, you can do some of the best bird watching in America at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour's drive north of town. More than 600,000 ducks and 200,000 geese spend the winter in the wetlands from October through February. The best viewing months are November and December.

    Between the beginning of September and the end of November when the California State Legislature is in recess, it’s easier to find hotel rooms and prices are lower, especially in the Capitol area.

    Events to check out:

    • Gold Rush Days celebrates 1850s Sacramento and the Gold Rush, a pivotal event in its history. It is held in early September.
    • Apple-Picking Season at Apple Hill east of Sacramento starts in September when you can buy apples, pick apples, and visit pumpkin patches.
    • Farm-to-Fork Festival in September celebrates Sacramento's central location in the heartland of agriculture with wine-tasting, a two-day festival, and meals created by local chefs.
    • California Brewers Festival in mid-September brings together about 100 breweries and their creations in one place. And there are enough food trucks to ensure you won't have to drink on an empty stomach.
    • California Capitol Airshow features the US Air Force's Thunderbirds precision flying team, classic flying machines, and few showy planes like the Grumman Ag Cat, a cute little biplane used for agriculture. It happens in late September.

    Sacramento in the Winter

    Winter is Sacramento's coldest season. In some years, it gets lots of rain, most of it concentrated into a few big storms. You can plan for sunny days, but you should also have a backup plan that includes the city's indoor attractions and museums. 

    On the plus side, when the legislature is away during their winter recess, hotel rooms are at their lowest levels all year.

    Events to check out: