95 Sacramento

PopulationMetro: 1,885,000
Green, bountiful and affluent, California’s capital is big on local stewardship and keeping a good thing going.

Sacramento, California’s state capital, is slow and welcoming, just like every California cliche should be.

Its natural attributes also drive its livability—courtesy of its Mediterranean temperatures. All that help from Mother Nature has stewarded the city towards declaring itself America’s “Farm to Fork Capital,” surrounded by fertile farms that feed a robust fresh-and-local ethos.

Sacramento’s restaurants are only happy to tap the localism. Taste it for yourself at La Cosecha in Cesar Chavez Park, in the heart of the city. The place serves up another local attribute: the city ranks #45 for foreign-born citizens, with Time even declaring it “America’s most diverse city.” In that spirit, eat a few times at casual La Cosecha, a “SacraMexico” cantina, at the outdoor bar while feasting on street food served up by local chef Adam Pechal. The park has a farmers’ market on Wednesdays, too, just one of 40 in the region.

Place 37
Product 8
Programming 4
People 60
Prosperity 35
Promotion 5

The wildfires of October 2017 have certainly destroyed and fouled the local supply chain and the producers that keep it going. That fresh air was choking and locals are still deeply traumatize that their verdant home could become a literal hell so quickly.

But the City of Trees—residents claim more trees per capita than anywhere besides Paris—isn’t a stranger to cataclysmic fires: the Great Conflagration of 1852 burned 40 square blocks of the fledgling city, leaving what is today called Old Sacramento, with its cobbled streets, historic buildings, steam-hauled historic trains, horse drawn carriages and the western terminus of the Pony Express.

Downtown Sacramento

Hokey? Maybe, but it undoubtedly contributes to the city’s #50 rank for Place, a measure of neighborhoods and landmarks, parks and outdoor activities. After the Old West, pedal the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bike Trail along the American River, a 32-mile loop that snakes through a series of parks featuring sand dunes, scenic bridges, oak groves, picnic areas and fishing nooks, kayaking and tubing areas. And for the intrepid—or just overheated—white water rapids of every class are just minutes from town.