City Spotlight: Sacramento, California

by Cassandra McCullersJuly 3, 2017

Welcome to sunny Sacramento! Serving as the capital of California since 1854, Sacramento sits nestled between the American and Sacramento Rivers, in the heart of northern California’s Central Valley. The Sacramento metropolitan area is the fourth largest in California and is currently the fastest-growing large city in this state, creating a great opportunity for new businesses and homeowners looking to move to the area. Sacramento has an incredibly rich history, several highly reputable universities and schools, and a wide range of exciting cultural events held year round. Residents and visitors alike are able to enjoy the city’s mild winters and hot summers, cited for being one of the sunniest places on Earth from July through September. The state and county are the city’s largest employers, followed by healthcare industries and information technologies.

Key Facts

  • State: California
  • County: Sacramento
  • Incorporated: February 27, 1850
  • Elevation: 30 ft
  • Area (total): 100.105 sq mi
    • Area (land): 97.915 sq mi
    • Area (water): 2.190 sq mi
  • Population (2010 census): 466,488
    • Population (2016 estimate): 495,234
    • Density: 4,700/sq mi
  • Zip codes: 942xx, 958xx
  • Area codes: 916

Weather and Climate

Sacramento’s hot-summer Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and damp, mild winters. The city gets an average of 18.25 inches of rain per year, spread over 60 days, usually during the winter. There’s an average of 0 inches of snow per year, though the city has experienced snow a few times in the past century. The average relative humidity is 66.5, with more humid winters and drier summers. The average low for January is 38.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average high temperature for July is 92.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The city is very sunny typically, with few overcast or rainy days – in July, Sacramento’s days have an average of 14 hours and 12 minutes of sunshine, making the city one of the sunniest places on the planet.


The extra daylight means extra time to enjoy Sacramento’s wide range of activities, particularly outdoor events and festivals. As one of California’s most celebrated places, the city features a wide selection of parks, historic tours, arts centers, and cultural exhibits. Events for families and children of all ages include Sacramento’s French Film Festival in July, the Shakespeare Festival held each summer, the monthly Second Saturday Art Walk highlighting the work of local artists, and numerous cultural events and programs. The city also features three beautiful public parks: William Land Park with a golf course, picnic area and proximity to the Sacramento Zoo; McKinley Park, a favorite stop in downtown with tennis courts, playgrounds for the kids, open fields and fountains; and Southside Park, which features a swimming and wading pool, jogging trail, lake with fishing piers, handicap-accessible playground, and amphitheater.


As one of the nation’s most diverse and well-integrated cities, the cultural attractions of Sacramento are comparable to European cities, including sections of the older city that are complete with cobbled streets and beautifully restored historic buildings. Old Sacramento is the oldest part of the town except Sutter’s Fort, with many buildings dating back to the 1850s and ’60s. The oldest building in the district is the Lady Adams building, built all the way back in June of 1852! The B.F. Hastings building is another historic landmark, built in 1853 and originally serving both as the western end of the Pony Express and an early seat of the California Supreme Court. You can also take a tour around the neighborhood on a horse-drawn carriage or a steam-hauled train.

If modern culture is more your style, Sacramento does not disappoint. The city offers a fantastic array of theaters, art centers, museums and music venues with something for everyone. The city boasts at least seven different companies of orchestras and singing groups that offer a full season of concerts in the area. Sacramento has not one but two different Film Festivals that are a cultural highlight of the region, held every July and featuring premieres of new French and Japanese films as well as replays of classic masterpieces. And in deference to the lighter side of art, Sacramento also serves as the host of California’s Trash Film Orgy, an infamous summer film festival celebrating the absurd, B-movies, horror genres, and classic monster flicks.


Marketed as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” Sacramento has a delicious array of abundantly available locally sourced food in both restaurants and farmer’s markets. The city’s annual Farm-to-Fork Festival showcases local growers and grocers. Sacramento also has a variety of annual events celebrating its beverage culture, including Cal Expo’s Grape and Gourmet, the California Beer Craft Summit, Sacramento Cocktail Week, and Sacramento Beer Week. There are 60 local microbreweries in the wider region as of 2017, a number that’s been continuing to increase. Sacramento and many places in the surrounding region host a variety of beer festivals. Sacramento also has a vibrant coffee scene, with many well-rated locally owned coffee shops.


Many of Sacramento’s grade schools have mid-range ratings, with a few on the higher end. The city spends an average of $10,020 per student, a bit over two thousand less than the national average. There are about 25.1 students per teacher, 118,258 students per librarian, and 1,220.4 students per counselor, all higher than the national averages. Sacramento has a higher college readiness score on than the average for similarly sized metropolitan areas.

Being a major metropolitan region, the city of Sacramento offers an impressive range of options for higher education. There are currently twenty different universities and colleges with campus locations within 40 miles of the city, providing access to a variety of educational and job training programs, from two-year community colleges and specialty vocation prep schools to fully accredited four-year undergraduate and graduate programs. California State University at Sacramento is one of the area’s largest options, with over 20,000 full time students and 6,000 part time. The U.C. Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento offers a world-renowned training program for future doctors, with a premier research program and small class sizes. The city also offers a wonderful selection of specialty colleges, allowing students to focus their studies in the areas of the arts, technology, design, and religious studies.


Currently the city’s unemployment rate is 6.2%, compared to the national rate of 5.2%. Recent job growth has been positive, with Sacramento jobs increasing by 2.27%.

Cost of living is about 21% higher than the U.S. average, mostly thanks to high housing costs, but is significantly lower than other major California metros, helping drive the city’s recent population growth.

Although Sacramento’s economy got its start with fortunes in gold and railroads, the city’s industries have kept pace with America’s, moving toward the service and retail industries, technology, transportation, healthcare and tourism. The city remains one of the region’s most important ports, connected by a 43 mile channel to the San Francisco Bay and able to load and off-load cargo from large merchant vessels. As the state’s capital, Sacramento’s largest employer is the network of local, city and state governmental agencies, followed by transportation, information technologies, tourism, construction, education and healthcare services.


Similar to many major metropolitan areas, Sacramento’s crime rate is on the higher end, at 7.47 violent crimes and 37.68 property crimes per 1,000 residents, compared to a national average of 3.8 violent crimes and 26 property crimes per 1,000 people. However, the city’s crime rate varies dramatically by neighborhood, with some neighborhoods safer than others. The city’s crime rate has also been declining recently, thanks in part to increased outreach efforts on the part of police and increased police presence in more troubled neighborhoods.


The average commute time in Sacramento is 24 minutes, compared to a national average of 26 minutes. Sacramento also offers a robust public regional transit system, that works as a network of light rail, public buses, and a public dial-a-ride service. Sacramento’s Regional Transit services operates 365 days a year using 76 light rail vehicles and 205 buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and 23 shuttle vans, and supports 22 park-and-ride lots.

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About The Author
Cassandra McCullers
Cassandra is a writer with a background in engineering, enjoying the rural life in the Virginian Appalachians. When not working, she enjoys writing fiction, running a blog, camping, working in the garden, and tending to her flock of chickens! In addition to writing, she has a passion for art and graphic design. Her interests include disaster preparedness, homesteading, landscaping, cooking with natural ingredients, history, and animal husbandry.