Visiting. Sacramento/SF/aroung the areas Where to go?

rosebacopa2(4MN)February 7, 2011


I am a Minnesota Gardener who will be flying into Sacremento in a couple of weeks to spend a few days and would like some suggestions as to some things to do and see in the area/areas.

We can do some driving to other cities and counties to experience some different things.

Any suggestions?.

They will be truly affreciated!


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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

It will be spring in Sacramento, our last frost date is February 14th. Sacramento has a rose garden in a park, too early for you. My favorite nursery is High Hand in Loomis, north of Sacramento. They have lots of Japanese maples and artsy stuff. It's a nice place to have lunch but they don't serve it everyday. We have a beautiful state capital to tour. It sits in a grand old park. Old Sac has shops and a railroad museum.

"Located 30 miles south of San Francisco, Filoli is an historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century." I have not been but plan to check it out myself this spring. Maybe someone could tell us of their trip. Hope you have fun.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 11:11PM
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norcal916(USDA 9 / Sunset 14)

As far as local gardens are concerned my favorite spot in Sacramento would be Capitol Park. Plants and trees from around the world including some nice 'exotic' species that you don't see growing outdoors in Minnesota! Of course the State Capitol building is located there so that's a must see. Old Sacramento is the other main tourist destination and Sacramento city law actually requires all tourists to visit ;-) As far as other out-of-town gardens, I would say my favorite is San Francisco Botanical garden in Golden Gate park. I can spend hours walking around there. If you get the chance to head into San Francisco then that is a must see if you like plants and gardens.Many Australina, Chilean, and Meditteranean type plants. Lots of exotic and unusual species.

"San Francisco�s unique Botanical Garden inspires visitors with an extraordinary diversity of plants from Mediterranean climates around the world. Included in the Garden�s collection are over 7500 varieties of rare and unusual plants that can be successfully grown in the San Francisco Bay Area"

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 12:43AM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

The de Young museum is in the park also. A full day is to see an exhibit at the museum and walk the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. There is a tropical greenhouse too. Across form the museum is another museum of science I think. Start early and don't mess around because they close the gardens an hour before dusk which is early on these short days. There are lots of other non gardening things to do in San Francisco. You better stay the night, lol! Bring a coat.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:21AM
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University of California-Davis has an arboretum or something. I've never been, but Davis is 15 minutes out of Sacramento.
University of California-Berkeley has a botanical garden. 1 hour out of Sacramento and within 10 minutes of San Francisco and its delights if you wish to make a day of it.
Filoli is 90+ minutes from Sacto.
Ruth Bancroft Garden is near Walnut Creek...not sure if it is open regularly yet. I hear it is very cool. That would be a lttle less than an hour out of Sacto. and kind of on the way to Berkeley and SF (30 minutes from Walnut Creek to Berkeley, more or less).
Being from MN, you've probably seen enough lakes, but Lake Tahoe is kinda awesome, although it is Winter and there may be snow and difficult traveling conditions if there is, but it is about 2 hours from Sacto. Just for natural beauty it is hard to beat.
You can google all these places for the official info.
You should be here now...the weather is spectacular!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 1:40PM
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What kind of gardening do you do? Fruit, flowers, veggies??? That might help direct you to what kind of places are recommended.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Hey thanks everyone for some great ideas..
I mostly have perennials but lately have been into succulents which in California should be perennials.. I imagine.
Also anyone know of any good places to eat?
That Loomis nursery sounds like a fun place to eat.
I am really tired of snow and nothing green..

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 4:25PM
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Dan Staley

I used to live in Sacto for many years and went to the Bay Area often. The arb at UCD is OK, IMHO not destination-worthy. Capitol Park is the only thing I can think of worth the trip, chain with a trip up to Gold Country and drive Hwy 49 if all is green and a sunny day. I liked Tapas on J St, or Paesano's on...on...O St maybe? Been a while.

Filoli used to require an appointment, worth it. SFO has many things in Golden Gate Park including the new museum which is a must-see. UCB arb is nice. Much more to see and do in Bay Area.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 5:18PM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

High Hand has a web site you can look at. We plan to go out Feb 19 for Wings and Wine. It is to support a bird rescue organization. They sell big J maples, large pots, bronze fountains, gift shop, Oriental rugs and support an artist area. Oh, the last time we were there they had funky furniture out of reclaimed wood with geegaws and a $2,500 price tag. DH liked it but thought I could make it. He does metal projects, I do wood. I have been trying to talk him into a big rustic thing for the living room, sort of shabby sheik. I had no idea funky was to his tastes. The main building is an old huge fruit packing shed. The eating area is a nice glass house and they have a smoke pizza oven outside. Watch your speed because the cops of Loomis are active sorts.
The Davis arboretum is more natural plants and a long walk. I like nature up to a point but am more into water hog plants in not so tasteful colors. It's a place my sister, retired science teacher liked.
I have been thinking of going to Filoli this spring. Brent and Becky's Bulbs has podcasts that I listen to while exercising. Brent told of a visit there and he said they have a spring bulb display.

Here is a link that might be useful: High Hand

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 6:59PM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

You might try the Virgin Sturgeon off of Garden Highway, which is the levy road. It is a barge on the river that we use to like. I remember it was closed at least once because it sunk. I think it gets 3 star reviews. Maybe not elegant but a relaxing place to watch the water go by. It's close to down town, Old Sac and Capital Park. By the way we have a history of flooding here. In 1862 they buried the first floor and made the second floor street level. You can see this in some of the old building in Old Sac.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 7:17PM
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Muir Woods National Monument. You won't be disappointed!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:05PM
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Dan Staley

Second the Muir Woods, and lunch in Stinson Beach for the coast drive, and on the way back in go to Little Italy neighborhood in SF for repast and walk up to Coit Tower for the view. I reiterate the newly-rebuilt Calif Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Nat Rec Area has been nicely many things to do in Bay to stay across in East Bay for cheaper hotel.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 1:26PM
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You say you are flying in to Sacramento--NOT San Francisco. Please be aware that although SF is only 100 miles from Sacramento, it also often wins the "worst traffic in the nation" award, and that depending on the time you travel, you could easily be spending 2 to 4 hours in traffic EACH WAY from Sacramento, plus finding parking at each spot you visit is difficult and expensive. If you only have a few days to spend, going to San Francisco "proper" might suck up a lot of your time. A day trip without SO much traffic would be going to Napa or Sonoma, and then maybe a quick trip over the Golden Gate and back again to travel a little up the coast for some beautiful views. That would be a lot of driving, but not getting so bogged down in Oakland/City traffic jams.

If you want less traffic stress, real California history and a great garden center, I recommend the trip I take to my office in Nevada City up Highway 49. Nevada City is an original gold-mining town, with lots of artsy shops to spend the day in and some really good restaurants. On the way there is Eisley's Nursery, where they have lots of unique little plants and a big garden shop with really cool things (like a complete selection of all sizes and tones of garden chimes, including the huge one outside with tubes as big as a man! I think it sells for $700-$800)

Here is a link to Eisley's:

I've also included a link to a list of garden centers in the area, for you to read through yourself. A famous nursery here is Capital Nursery with 3 stores, but they don't have as large a selection as Eisley's.

Feel free to e-mail me privately from My Page if you have more questions!

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 4:21PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I've been to all the botanic gardens mentioned so far, and would recommend UC Davis as having parts that feature nice displays of perennials that are more adapted to California drought conditions, but most of the gardens are mostly larger growing trees and shrubs. UC Berkeley Botanic Garden is fantastic and well maintained, and has the most complete native plants section in the area, and African hill is great this time of year with lots of aloes and South African bulbs in bloom. Tilden Botanic Garden is also in Berkeley, and well worth a visit for the natives from around the state. The Ruth Bancroft Garden is also a fantastic one of a kind botanic garden, well worth a visit. Over in San Francisco, all of Golden Gate Park is special, with the San Francisco Botanic Garden, the Conservatory, the Japanese Tea Gardens and the museums all worth a visit. There is also a special retail nursery called Flora Grubb, in the Bayview District that is a must see for what fun an urban California retail nursery can be, they even have a great coffee bar on the premises, as well as a book store.

If you are looking to see more natural sorts of places while visiting, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods State Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, the Presidio are all worth a visit. If you are willing to head a bit further south, the Filoli Gardens are beautiful in a more formal way, as representative of an estate garden style, and heading on down to Santa Cruz area, the South African collection of proteas will be in spectacular full bloom at the UC Santa Cruz Botanic Garden. Continuing the drive down to Carmel/Monterey, and a visit to Point Lobos State Park or doing the 17 mile drive on the Monterey Peninsula or on down to have lunch or dinner at Nepenthe Restaurant on the Big Sur coast can be wonderful as well.

It will be a lot of driving, and allow enough time to get between spots, or simply concentrate on one area, and come back for another visit again...

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:19PM
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Oh my, there is SO much I would like to do.. We are arriving Thursday mid day and have only Thursday, Friday and Saturday to do our "vacationing".
I think eating on a river barge would be a very unique experience.

A specialty and/or a big nursery is a high priority for me. I am hoping to maybe pick up some unique small succulents, one of my latest plant passions.

I am torn with what to do. My husband and I want to do some hiking not too vigorous, see green (not white snow),and maybe get to an outlet mall ??
We would both like to get to the Muir woods -without a lot of traffic- have to look at the map.

I just want to see a lot of blooming flowers. Our winter has sure been long here.

We both hope to get some cool nature photos too.

Wish we had more time!
I really need to sit down and study a tour book to see if going to SF is too much of a time commitment or maybe we should do that another time.
Thanks, Carla for the traffic thought!

What would any of you do with only 2 1/2 days?

I need to look up all these great suggestions and make some decisions, we don't even have hotel or B&B reservations.

All of these comments/suggestions have been very helpful.
Thanks so much California Gardeners!

Lynn in Minnesota

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:35PM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

Darn, your timing is not good. We are having a big storm coming in. Old Sac has covered walks, gift shops and restaurants and bars. Virgin Sturgeon is a hole in the wall sort of place. There are other restaurants on Garden Hyw so you can chose your level of eatery. As far as traffic goes, our freeways get congested with Friday afternoon traffic coming out of San Fran to the mountains and Sunday coming back.
I have enjoyed this post because I have been reminded of good places to go and great places I have not been.

My big orange chipper I am so proud of is in the background. Aren't you jealous? The 4th of July follies are hanging on the fence. The back ground in winter pictures is always cluttered.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 12:18PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Yes, the latest forecast is for rain all week, possibly into the weekend as well, so traveling and outdoor sightseeing conditions won't be ideal. You will have missed out on our past month of spring-like weather and full sun, but I presume that there has been lots of low lying Tule/Ground fog in the Sacramento Valley that we haven't been getting here by the bay.

One other thought on premiere retail nurseries, I would highly recommend a visit to Annie's Annuals Nursery in Richmond, which is just before Berkeley off Hwy 80, and can also be visited on the way continuing across the San Rafael/Richmond Bridge connecting you to Marin County and Mount Tamalpais/Muir Woods, and then a short drive over the Golden Gate Bridge into Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco Botanic Garden and perhaps the Conservatory(indoors and so rain protected) and the Japanese Tea Garden. I will repeat again that Flora Grubb Nursery in the Bayview District is a one of a kind place that will knock your socks off, as will Annies Annuals, for the overwhelmingly diverse selection of plants she offers, as well as doing mail order to your home state. Google search these two if you are interested, as they both have web sites, are on Facebook, and have lots of pictures to get you excited about visiting them.

Too bad you will miss the warm/dry weather we have been enjoying the past month, bring rain gear and umbrellas for your trip, no help for it, as we need more rain to fill our reservoirs and snow in the Sierras.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 2:18PM
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Dan Staley

That's not the type of system that will rain for 3 days straight, there will be breaks. Nonetheless, in that far too short of a time, spend your time in the Bay Area and if raining that day, go to the CA Academy of Sciences museum in GG Park. Go to the ocean, either direction. Pt Lobos is fantastic but a drive, nothing wrong with the beaches S of Half Moon Bay or along Sonoma coast.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 12:29AM
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Muir Woods is beautiful in the rain. The trees catch most of it. Golden Gate Park shouldn't be missed.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 2:10AM
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Hello All
We are back from our California trip.
Nice to have an extended stay due to our flight home Being cancelled -- blizzard in Minnesota.
We got two extra beautiful days.( no rain then!)
Thanks for all of your great ideas! We were able to do the Muir Wooda in the rain,Lodi winery,golden gate park conservatory of flowers ( inside spot out of the rain), Annies Annuals was a great referral ! Got 8 fabulous succulents to take home. Took my Sacramento friend to Capital nursery and helped her plant things? It was so much fuN to garden in February!
Thanks again, next time will try to do some more of your great suggestions!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 9:20PM
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lisascenic Urban Gardener, Oakland CA

it sounds like you hit some great spots.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 6:58PM
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