The signs of summer surrounded us. Party boats paraded along the river -- their decks adorned with bikini-clad women and muscle bound men in board shorts. For anyone searching for sunshine, Sacramento seemed happy to oblige. River cafes like Crawdad's had an upbeat and colorful vibe -- not to mention an impressive display of body art.
We were three girlfriends exploring a town with two rivers. One friend had a room at the Marriott and we called it home for the weekend. Yet there was so much to see that we barely made it back to home base.
Yes, there's the California State Capitol Museum tour -- but we didn't take it. Been there, done that. We did walk the grounds and smell perfumed petals in the Victorian World Peace Rose Garden. And we meandered through the state house, soaking up history and chatting with guides who were happy to share what they knew. The governor, they said, was not in.
Those simple words stirred a curiosity in us. Where was Jerry Brown? Back home in Oakland or here in Sacramento, sipping on a latte outside his second-floor loft in a gentrified neighborhood near the Governor's Mansion?
Our guide at the mansion, Joe Wolfenden, had stories to share about Jerry.
"Word has it, he and Anne are thinking about moving back in," he said as he led us through gilded hallways and richly appointed rooms in the stately Victorian that's been empty since Reagan was governor. Seeing a young Jerry's room -- small and spartan with a single bed, bookcase and desk -- made me think that if the governor did move in, he wouldn't spend much to renovate.
After the $5 tour -- one of Sacramento's best bargains -- we grabbed lunch at a trendy midtown restaurant called Lucca. It's a farm-to-fork favorite in a warm brick building I can only imagine is one of Brown's "haunts." Yet there were no Jerry sightings that day, only photos of governors past.
Our adventure continued with the newly expanded Crocker Art Museum -- the first of its kind in the Western United States -- and the Old Sacramento Underground Tour, where streets were razed in the mid-1800s to protect the city from flooding. The evening included a hip happy hour at Firestone Public House and a 3D showing of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." In retrospect, we should have stuck with a chick flick.
We never did see Jerry Brown, but what we did see of Sacramento impressed us. California's capital isn't just for "suits." It's a walkable, tree-lined city, perfect for girlfriends and families and tattooed sun worshippers who like to hang out by the rivers.
FYI: This is the 175th anniversary of John Sutter's landing on the American River -- a year before gold was discovered. Hotel packages and events, including the anniversary celebration of Sutter's Fort, can be found at http://www.visitsacramento.com/.