Daytrips & Getaways picks
Get away in the best way with recommendations from SN&R’s pique adventurers
Downtown Woodland day trip
Woodland may be only 15 or so minutes northwest of Sacramento, but it feels like a completely different world. The town, incorporated in 1871, was built from the ground up as a farming community, and its agricultural roots still run deep. Long revered by Sacto people for its treasure-filled thrift stores and tasty taco truck offerings, Woodland’s revitalized downtown district is also worth exploring.
The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, certainly, it’s rich with old-school character and charm. Drive down Main Street and take in gorgeous, period-perfect storefronts such as the Corner Drug Co., which looks like it was transported right out of a Frank Capra film. This pharmacy, which originally opened in 1897, will do more than just fill that prescription, it also stocks cool toys, gifts and an impressive array of retro candies (602 Main Street; cornerdrugco.com).
Morgan’s on Main is another destination for a modern farm-to-fork menu that demonstrates why the restaurant considers its food a “love letter” to Woodland. There’s a lot of steak on the menu, but adventurous eaters will want to try out one of the many bounty-inspired soups and salads, or the mushroom and risotto “meatloaf” (614 Main Street; morgans-on-main.com). After, grab a beer at the Blue Note Brewing Company. Located in an alley behind Main Street, it’s billed as an “artisan nano-brewery,” with a limited six-barrel system. In addition to the requisite IPAs and pale ales, other must-trys include the Sour Blackberry Funk, a sour aged in red wine barrels, and the Cocomotion, a porter made with coconut and cocoa nibs (750 Dead Cat Alley in Woodland; bluenotebrewingcompany.com).
If you’re seeking a little culture, check out the historic Woodland Opera House’s schedule of theatrical productions and concerts (340 2nd Street in Woodland; woodlandoperahouse.org) or head down a a few blocks to the newly restored State Theatre. Originally opened in 1936 the theater boasts blockbuster flicks, luxury recliners and a full beer and wine menu—in short it makes for the perfect escape on a hot summer afternoon (322 Main Street; cinemawest.com).
Finally, it might not be on the Chamber of Commerce’s list of highlights, but no trip to Woodland would be complete without a stop at one of downtown’s old-school mainstays. Pop into the Stag Bar for a cheap beer, a game of darts and live music for that quintessential dive bar vibe, complete with hot rod and pinup girl posters (506 Main Street; facebook.com/thestagbar). R.L.
A river road runs through it
Old River Road day trip
For some, the Old River Road is little more than a quiet gateway between Woodland and West Sacramento, but day trip adventurers love the route for its sleepy beauty. Take Harbor Boulevard in West Sacramento until it meets the Sacramento River to snake around its bank, past the levees and railroad tracks, under 1-80 and northwest toward the Sacramento International Airport. There may not be much along the way, but there are a few fun detours to keep you busy on a lazy afternoon.
The Sacramento Bypass Wildlife Area sprawls across 360 acres teeming with birds, crawling critters, fish and plants. It’s a prime spot for bird-watching, wildflower hunting or simply becoming one with nature (wildlife.ca.gov). Wildlife-watching will work up an appetite of course; one option is the Elkhorn Country Saloon. This self-described honky-tonk offers live country music and a hearty menu that’s heavy on the pork and beef because, you know, America (18398 Old River Road in West Sacramento; elkhorncountrysaloon.com).
Those seeking something a little bit more upscale might venture across the waterway to Pearl on the River. The bistro’s menu emphasizes southern-inspired California fare such as crispy risotto cakes, a shrimp po’boy sandwich and shrimp and grits (1379 Garden Highway; pearlontheriver.com). If you just need a drink and a riverfront view, pop on over to Swabbies on the River. With its festive, umbrella-shaded patio, Swabbies is a popular brunch destination with the bloody Mary’s and mimosas to get the job done. Located near the airport, it’s a lovely place to sit back, order another drink and watch planes float across the sky. (5871 Garden Highway; swabbies.com). R.L.
A tasty bit of history
Here at the intersection of wine and gold, amid the antiquing tourists, the Victorian homes with rose-filled front yards and porches laden with comfy chairs, visitors can window-shop at real estate offices and search for that cabin in the woods while their minds conjure escapist fantasies.
Working up a thirst is easy in this charming old mining town, with its high sidewalks and plentiful shops, like Fine Eye Gallery (71 Main Street) for modern American crafts and fashions, or Water Street Antiques and Furniture (33 Main Street) for recycled functional art furniture from around the world. Across the street is Creekside Antiques (22 Main Street) featuring a treasure trove of collectibles.
Drop into the Scott Harvey tasting room (79 Main Street) for a swig of awesome barbera or zinfandel from some of the oldest vines in the county, and don’t miss the Tempranillo at stylish Yorba (51 Hanford Street). Hang out on the front porch of Greg Baiocchi’s wine room (82 Main Street), or sit at a shaded table in the yard that features “junk plantings” outside The Antique Gardener shop (80 Main Street), and savor Greg’s deeply flavored, soulful Rhones that may bring to mind a chorus of sultry clarinets and saxophones.
Visit Hit Provisions (78 Main Street), part deli, part beer/dance hall, part bottle shop and part live music venue where you can get anything from charcuterie to draught beers. Lovers of Nebbiolo should not miss the Matthew Gibson Tasting Room (140 Hanford Street), where you can also taste cabernet and primitivo. Who knew there was Nebbiolo growing in Jackson?
Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Buffalo Chips (76 Main Street), a sweet as pie old-fashioned kitchen, where the atmosphere is as warm and homey as the food. High ceilings and sassy waitresses will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into another century. The French fries are awesome and the BLT is worth every messy napkin.
Gold Dust Pizza (20 Eureka Street) makes pie to die for, and your sweet tooth will love Sutter Creek Ice Cream Emporium (51 Main Street).
Plan to arrive on a second Saturday to do a guided tour at Sutter Creek’s historic Knight Foundry, (81 Eureka Street), America’s last water-powered foundry and machine shop and a premier relic of Mother Lode gold mining history.
Stay at the historic Hotel Sutter (53 Main Street), where the bar is always busy and the restaurant boasts top-notch fare. Or enjoy a poetically English-style stay at the Grey Gables (161 Hanford Street), where each room is named for a famous English author, and the generous breakfasts will fuel you for a day of adventure. L.N.