50+ Things to Do in Sacramento When the Weather is Cold or Wet


Now is not the time to think of palm trees and warm sand. Replace those images with the stark beauty of leafless trees against wind-chilled skies. Smell the rain on concrete and listen for winter birdsong. Count the seconds between that bolt of lightning and its inevitable thunderclap. 

Cold weather isn’t so miserable when you embrace all it brings. How can we, in Sacramento, do so? Let us count the ways. 


Ice skating is the classic winter activity. Here are some places to practice your spins, or at least try to stay vertical.


Downtown Sacramento Holiday Ice Rink at 7th and K streets godowntownsac.com

Folsom Historic District’s Magical Ice Rink folsomicerink.com

Holiday Ice Rink at Westfield Galleria at Roseville galleriaatrosevilleonice.com 

Roseville’s Skatetown, which also has two indoor rinks open year-round skatetown-roseville.com


North Sacramento’s Iceland skatesacramento.com



(above) Book of Mormon


If you’re in need of levity during the dark days of winter, Sacramento Theatre Company presents the Shakespeare comedy at Wells Fargo Pavilion Feb. 24–March 20. Directors Kirk Blackinton and Brian Harrower have set the production in the mid-18th-century British Colonial Caribbean and have kept the play awash in comely disguises and cases of mistaken identity. sactheatre.org


There was a time when podcasts were simply a way to catch up on your favorite radio show, but that changed with “Serial,” a riveting 12-part series that became the most popular podcast in the world. “Serial” co-creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder take to the stage at Mondavi Center on March 7. The veteran radio journalists will talk about the cultural phenomenon of their podcast and tell behind-the-scenes stories about creating a new form of modern journalism. mondaviarts.org 


The creators of the animated television comedy “South Park” might seem unlikely candidates for crafting an award-winning Broadway musical, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with “Avenue Q” and “Frozen” co-composer and co-lyricist Robert Lopez, created a huge hit. The religious satire tells the story of two young missionaries sent to a remote village in Uganda, and was awarded nine Tonys, including best musical. California Musical Theatre presents the show March 9–20 at the Community Center Theater. californiamusicaltheatre.com


Winter Is for the Birds

During winter, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in Lodi is home to sandhill cranes, Canada geese, snow geese, tundra swans and other wintering waterfowl. Visitors can tour the reserve on their own or take one of the docent-led tours every Saturday and Sunday through the end of February. Tour tickets must be ordered online in advance. wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour 

The city of Galt hosts the Ninth Annual Winter Bird Festival Jan. 23. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Cosumnes River Preserve and see waterfowl, shorebirds and wildlife in their winter habitat. cosumnes.org

Farther afield, the 17th Annual Snow Goose Festival takes place Jan. 27–31 in Chico. The area attracts a huge wintering population of waterfowl, including the majestic snow goose. snowgoosefestival.org

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters in Davis hosts Duck Days Festival on Feb. 20. The annual event has kids’ activities, a mobile aquarium, mallard ducklings, workshops and field trips for birders, including one to Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, best known as a habitat for the extremely rare falcated duck. yolobasin.org/California-duck-days

To participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 12 to 15, you don’t need to go anywhere unless you want to. During this annual event, people in more than 135 countries count their local bird populations. Register online, then count birds for 15 minutes or longer and submit your results. gbbc.birdcount.org


No More Winter Hair Woes 

Winter—with its cold, damp weather and dry indoor heating—can bring a variety of challenges for most hair types. Carly Giroux, a learning leader at Paul Mitchell The School Sacramento and the owner of Aria Salon in midtown, says hydrating products are the most important way to manage hair that gets frizzy and out of control in winter. She uses Paul Mitchell Hydrocream Whip before styling—a small amount for fine hair, a bigger dollop for coarse and curly hair—and also Paul Mitchell Gloss Drops after styling to fight frizz and give the hair shine. She suggests wearing a scarf on wet days rather than a hat to protect hair from getting damp without winding up with hat hair. 

Maxim Dorosh, co-owner of Seven Hair Design in Roseville, also says that when it comes to having good hair on damp days, it’s all about product. “You want to keep the hair nice and hydrated,” he says. He uses Redken’s Frizz Dismiss products, which include shampoo and conditioner as well as a lightweight spray, oil serum and control cream designed for different hair types. Redken even has finishing sheets to keep in your handbag for smoothing flyaway strands. He prefers Redken but notes any hydrating and frizz-eliminating product is good to use in winter. 


Free Museum Day 

Feb. 6 marks the 19th annual Museum Day in Sacramento. Every year, almost 30 museums offer free admission. Interested in locomotion? California State Railroad Museum has 225,000 square feet of exhibit space that houses 21 meticulously restored locomotives and cars. For something more hands-on, explore Aerospace Museum of California’s flight simulators as well as a great collection of airplanes. At Discovery Museum Science & Space Center, there’s an interactive space-mission simulator consisting of a realistic mission control and spacecraft. Sojourner Truth African American Museum displays art from around the globe representing Sacramento’s multicultural population. And California history buffs can tour Sacramento’s most iconic building, the State Capitol. sacmuseums.org



When the weather is clear, the Community Observatory in Placerville is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Visitors can view stars, planets, galaxies and other celestial phenomena through the observatory’s 17-inch and 14-inch reflecting telescopes. A live HD video feed from the smaller scope is displayed on a 60-inch flat-screen television. Docents with a passion for astronomy are on hand to run the telescopes and provide information. Admission is free, although donations are welcome. communityobservatory.com



What’s the appeal of frozen treats in winter? Delicious seasonal flavors! With its white gelato base (think vanilla but without the vanilla flavoring), DEVINE GELATERIA & CAFE in midtown created a ground cinnamon with honey gelato as well as an apple pie gelato made with Devine’s housemade apple pie filing. Chocolate lovers can indulge in the chocolate-orange gelato, and for those eschewing dairy, there are two pear options, champagne poached pear sorbetto and spiced pear sorbetto, as well as apple cider sorbetto. And when blood oranges are ripe this winter (exact months vary), enjoy one of Devine’s most popular flavors: strawberry blood orange sorbetto. CORNFLOWER CREAMERY in downtown Sacramento, which makes artisanal ice cream from locally sourced ingredients, offers a seasonal menu. Selections include limoncello, persimmon, orange cream and dark chocolate cranberry ice creams.



A cracking outdoor fire in winter conjures primal pleasure. Here are a few places to fall under the spell of the flame. 

Sienna restaurant in El Dorado Hills has fireplaces in the front patio bar area and on the side patio, in addition to two indoors. siennarestaurants.com

Midtown’s Lucca Restaurant & Bar is known for a completely covered patio with heaters and a fireplace. luccarestaurant.com

Seasons 52 at Arden Fair boasts a modern, glassed-in fireplace. seasons52.com 

Cafe Bernardo at Pavilions invites patrons to lounge on the patio next to the flaming patio heaters. paragarys.com 

The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar in midtown has two outdoor fireplaces: one on the covered back patio and one on the front patio. theredrabbit.net

Land Park’s Riverside Clubhouse has a fireplace on the enclosed back patio as well as one inside in the lounge. riversideclubhouse.com

Cafeteria 15L’s covered patio invites you to sit on comfy couches by the modern outdoor fire pit even on cold, rainy days. cafeteria15l.com 



You don’t have to wait until Second Saturday anymore for an art walk in Sacramento. On the first Friday of each month, galleries and art studios of the R Street Art District open their doors from 6 to 9 p.m. The artists, who are part of the R Street corridor revival, are on hand to talk about their work. Beatnik Studios, 1810 Gallery, Warehouse Artist Lofts and Public Market, ARTHOUSE, Raphael Delgado Art Studio and Insight Coffee Roasters participate. Check the R Street Corridor First Fridays Facebook page for exhibits and information. 





Although you might expect less fog because of the drought, according to KCRA 3 chief meteorologist Mark Finan, last winter Sacramento had 45 days with dense fog for at least part of the day, whereas the average is about 32. He explains Sacramento’s foggy days come between storms: Clear nights with light winds create the right conditions. With fewer storms last winter, there were more days for fog to form. Finan says he hopes this winter will have more storms. If so, there may be fewer foggy days than last year. But even though fog can be beautiful, transforming a familiar landscape into something muted and ethereal, roads can be treacherous, so drivers are advised to be especially cautious. 



At THE RED RABBIT, bartender Chris Sinclair serves a lot of hot toddies during the winter—they’re made with Korbel brandy, lemon juice, honey, hot water, orange or lemon peel and seasonal spices like clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. His hot apple cider is a people-pleaser. He concocts it with Apple Hill cider, aged French or Spanish rum, cinnamon and a little honey or maple syrup. For a cold winter cocktail, Sinclair suggests Red Rabbit’s Clarified Milk Punch: rum, pineapple syrup spiced with nutmeg and clove, cream and a little bit of lime juice. Or try a Flip: It’s similar to a sour but spicier, includes a whole egg and is topped with cinnamon and nutmeg. 

SHADY LADY SALOON general manager Carl Wenger says Anna’s Irish Coffee is popular in winter. Shady Lady’s recipe includes the traditional fresh-brewed coffee and Irish whiskey, but the whipped cream is flavored with Madagascar vanilla-infused Angostura bitters. The saloon also offers a salted-caramel Irish Coffee. Another winter favorite is Hot Buttered Rum. (See recipe.) For cold cocktails, try Shady Lady’s Italian Revolver, a blend of smoky Scotch whisky, Borghetti coffee liqueur and orange bitters. 

Photography by SUYEN TORRES



After the bustle of the holiday season, renew your spirit with arts and crafts, cooking, comedy, culture or movement.


Painting can be intimidating, but with a little wine and all the right equipment, you, too, can create a masterpiece. Painted. Studios provides instruction, materials and wine, and you provide the finished product. Dates are posted at paintedstudios.com/calendar, 410 Palladio Parkway, Suite #1621, Folsom. Cost: $35–$40, additional for beverages


In addition to taking classes at local community colleges, you can sign up to learn German at Sacramento Turn Verein (sacramentoturnverein.com), French at Alliance Française de Sacramento (afsacramento.org), Italian at Sacramento Italian Cultural Society (italiancenter.net) and Spanish at Casa de Español (casadeespanol.org). 


Want to refine your dance moves—or simply get a few? The Ballroom of Sacramento offers private dance lessons as well as group lessons for things like Introduction to Ballroom Dances, Beginning Swing, Beginning Country Two Step, American Rumba and lots more. 6009 Folsom Blvd. theballroomofsacramento.com


Learn how to use that DSLR you got for Christmas during a weekend photography intensive. Rocky Mountain School of Photography offers a two-day class on how to use your digital camera to its full capabilities, so you can take even better family photos worthy of framing. Jan. 16–17, 8 a.m.–4:45 p.m., Courtyard Marriot Sacramento Midtown, 4422 Y St. Cost: $149 single day, $199 two days. rmsp.com 

For one-on-one instruction to demystify your camera, schedule a one- or two-hour appointment at PhotoSource. 6346 Elvas Ave. photosource.biz

Mike’s Camera offers a variety of photography classes, including two-hour basic and advanced DSLR courses that will explain things like ISO, white balance and histograms. 2200 J St. mikescamera.com

(above) Lorenzo Feher at PhotoSource
Photography by Marc Thomas Kallweit


Comedy Spot’s comedy school offers eight-week courses on stand-up, improv and sketch. Not quite ready to commit to a class? Drop by the improv lab, held every Wednesday evening. 1812 J. St., Suite 9. saccomedyspot.com


Relax your mind and learn how to create beautifully intricate zentangles—an art technique combining repeating patterns and lines while doodling. (Yes, doodling!) Zentangles have become popular for sparking creativity and tranquility for artists of any experience level. Jan. 23, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Learning Exchange, 1111 Howe Ave., #115. Cost: $49 class, $10 materials. learningexchange.com


Local food legend Elaine Corn teaches a hands-on series at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op that will show you cooking basics and promises that by the end you’ll be able to “cook without recipes and chop like a TV chef.” Other winter courses include sushi making and one-pot meals. Jan. 9, 16 and 23, 9 a.m.–noon, 1914 Alhambra Blvd. Cost: $175–$195 for all three classes. sacfoodcoop.com—Sarah Stidham contributed to this story.



To get yourself primed for hours and hours of Official Super Bowl 50 Snacking, start your Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 7, at the annual California Family Fitness Super Sunday Run. The Sacramento Running Association hosts this collection of 5K, 10K and kids races at Sacramento State. Courses start at Hornet Stadium and take a pleasant meander either through the campus or across Guy West Bridge, then through the Campus Commons neighborhood before ending back at Hornet Stadium. runsupersunday.org



Even when it’s pouring, and assuming you park your car in your own garage, you can arrive at some fun destinations without feeling a drop of rain on your skin.

Sutter Street Steakhouse in historic Folsom has a parking garage beneath its building. Take an elevator to the restaurant. In addition to beef, the eatery serves seafood, lots of tasty vegetable side dishes and has a full bar with an extensive wine list. sutterstreetsteakhouse.com

You can also dine at Il Fornaio without having to step into the rain. The Wells Fargo building on Capitol Mall, where the restaurant is located, has a five-story parking structure. Enter on either Fourth or Fifth streets and take the elevator to the first floor. Il Fornaio validates for up to two hours of parking. In addition to serving food, the elegant Italian restaurant offers cooking classes several times per month, as well as wine tastings. ilfornaio.com/sacramento

​For movie-goers, Century Downtown Plaza 7 remains open during the construction of Golden 1 Center. Park underneath and take the elevator straight to the theater. Bring your parking ticket; the theater validates for up to four hours. In January, you can look forward to “Ride Along 2” and “Kung Fu Panda 3.” cinemark.com



Local brewers are crafting heartier beers for winter. BIKE DOG BREWING COMPANY in West Sacramento has a big winter warmer called Wee Heavy. Brewer A.J. Tendick says that Scottish malt and yeast give this boozy (11 percent alcohol), dark, malty monster its name. Bike Dog also offers its East Coast IPA. The brew looks like an amber but has a big wallop of hops. It mashes up West Coast hops with English crystal malt and an East Coast yeast strain known for being a little fruity. 

BERRYESSA BREWING CO. co-founder Lori Nicolini Miller says the Winters-based brewery offers its usual standards—House IPA, Double Tap IPA, Whippersnapper English Mild Brown, Common Sense California Common Ale—and also a few seasonal brews, including Baltic Porter and Big Brown Beaver Strong Brown Ale. 



Folsom Tap House offers 12 televisions and a pet-friendly patio with two more televisions so you and your well-mannered pet can watch the game. Arrive early to enjoy special beers and food for each team; the restaurant fills up fast. folsomtaphouse.com

Located on historic R Street downtown, R15 is a comfortable place to watch sports. The bar features 14 flat-screen TVs and lots of seating. Two “living rooms” right off the pool room have TV monitors, sectional couches and tables. 15R offers the Cafe Bernardo menu as well as a special bar menu. On game days, $12 buckets of beer and $2 pitchers keep sports fans happy. paragarys.com

Bar 101 in Old Roseville boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and 14 televisions, plus a 10-foot monster HD television. The bar has 27 rotating beers on tap and a full kitchen that serves New American fusion food. bar101roseville.com 

University of Beer in midtown (there’s also one in Davis) has 18 televisions in the bar, plus five on the patio. Choose from 100 beers on tap plus 30 bottled beers. theuob.com



(above) Jeff Dunham and Walter
Photography by Todd Rosenberg

BRENDAN SCHAUB, a mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight, and BRYAN CALLEN, an actor and comedian, host a wildly popular uncut and unedited weekly FOX Sports podcast called “The Fighter and The Kid.” The duo comes to Sacramento for a live podcast on Jan. 7 at Punch Line Comedy Club. punchlinesac.com

CHRISTOPHER TITUS will play the Crest Theatre Feb. 27. The comedian came to national prominence with his darkly comedic sitcom, “Titus,” which ran on FOX from 2000 to 2002. He is known for sharing personal anecdotes of dysfunctional moments, and his new material again journeys through his personal life, “proving” why he is not qualified to be a father, and why childless couples win. crestsacramento.com

JEFF DUNHAM appears at Sleep Train Arena March 10 on his Perfectly Unbalanced national tour. The internationally acclaimed ventriloquist and comic will be bringing his beloved troupe of dummy sidekicks, including Walter the Grumpy Retiree, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, the beer-fueled redneck Bubba J, the manic purple creature Peanut, the spicy pepper from south of the border, Jose Jalapeño, and Little Jeff, a mini-version of Dunham himself. sleeptrainarena.com



by Antoinette Ranit

Stay warm and chic in this day coat, $365. Available at J. Crew at Arden Fair; (916) 924-3657; jcrew.com 

As timeless as the little black dress, the color camel is back again to add a soft, stylish touch to your winter wardrobe. “I have been stocking my wardrobe with this color, and I feel polished every time I wear it,” says Sacramento style consultant Karri Grant. Camel coordinates with other winter colors like merlot and olive and effortlessly flatters skin tones from fair to dark. Grant says that camel items are also a great investment. “When you purchase classics like camel, you will find they have a longer shelf life in your wardrobe, allowing you more bang for your buck,” she adds.