From its humble origins, Sacramento has always been a fortune seeker’s city. Captain John A. Sutter first built a small business empire here in New Helvetia, a colony for his Swiss compatriots, only to see his workers desert him and his dream collapse with the discovery of gold at Coloma in 1848. Sutter’s son, however, took advantage of the situation when he laid out Sacramento City on family-deeded land near the boat line terminus. At the entrance to Gold Rush country, the city’s population rocketed to 10,000 within seven months and became California’s capital in 1854.

Today, the city remains the political base for the state, where the lawmakers and others conduct their deals. But the city’s also a good spot for tourists, with Old Sacramento, a downtown arts and entertainment corridor, museums, restaurants, parks and a host of other family-friendly options.