Gay Sacramento: The Bars

Author: , July 30th, 2014

The gay bars in Sacramento are pretty much all clustered at the corner of 20th and K Streets in what’s called Lavender Heights – ok, it’s flat, but just go with it.

Here’s a run-down of the gay bars down in midtown Sacramento.


Faces Gay Bar, SacramentoFaces
2000 K Street

Here you’ll find Faces, the oldest gay bar in the city with three dance floors, on the southeastern corner.

Faces has been around for years and years, and, according to the folks on Yelp, there’s a very mixed crowd here, a cover of $10-20 depending on the time, and lots of straight bachelorette parties.

There’s even a pool here, though we’re not sure who’d wanna use a pool at a gay bar.

Faces has three dance floors.

Head Hunters Gay Bar, SacramentoHeadhunters
1930 K Street

Then there’s our favorite, Headhunters on the southwestern corner, with both a bar and restaurant (burgers, fries, etc).

Headhunters is a more laid-back bar – a great place to go with friends for a drink and some conversation.

Headhunters is also the new (last year or two) location for Drag Queen Bingo, held on the first Thursday of each month.

Get there early – it fills up quickly.

The Depot
2001 K. Street

Then there’s The Depot, on the northeastern corner, with music but no dance floors (though one is planned). The Depot also has pool tables and theme nights.

The Depot has a lesbian night on Fridays.

Badlands Gay Bar, SacramentoBadlands
2003 K St.

And there’s Badlands, adjacent and connected to The Depot, with a large dance floor and weekly events. Badlands has a drag night on Fridays.

2007 K Street

Next to the Depot and Badlands, up on the top floor, you’ll find Sidetrax – with a great drag show and competition ever Sunday night starting at 8 PM. Sidetrax also hosts a lesbian night on Thursdays, as well as other weekly events – check their website for details.

Mercantile Saloon
1928 L St, Sacramento

There’s also the Mercantile Saloon, more of a divey neighborhood bar with a reputation for strong drinks, a diverse crowd, and a lot of smokers out on the patio – it’s about a block south of the other bars in the right side of 20th.

If you want to sober up after a night at the bars, you’ll find a Peets Coffee at the far end of the Maars Building, just up the street at 20th and J.

Sacramento Gay Travel Resources

Gay Sacramento: Where to Eat

Author: , July 25th, 2014


Sacramento has a great foodie scene – it’s one of the pioneers in the Farm to Fork movement, emphasizing local ingredients being used wherever possible.

We’ve lived her for 11 years now, and some of our favorites have come and gone (miss you, Masque!) but there are still many great restaurants in the Sacramento area.

Here are our current favorites:

1801 Capitol Ave

Until recently, we only had one favorite Mexican restaurant in town, and on the balance, it’s still our favorite. it’s called Zocalo, and specializes in a modern Mexican cuisine – authentic dishes done very well, with a modern twist. zocalo is in the heart of Midtown, at capital and 18th streets.

The building was an old car dealership, and then a garage. The architecture is been redone, but still has its historic roots, with floor-to-ceiling windows that let intensive light, and a beautiful Mexican themed decor. zocalo is also one of the most gay friendly restaurants in Sacramento, regularly supporting the pride parade and festival.

Chef Ryan Rose, although not gay, is also very friendly, and has some great, innovative dishes. one of our favorites is the enchiladas going to want though – chicken enchiladas with a comment your green sauce.Surprisingly, the French toast here at brunch is also amazing. Put this restaurant on your must-eat list next time you’re in Sacramento.

1200 K Street

Our other, new favorite Mexican place is Mayahuel, on K Street and 12th. It’s a little smaller than Zocalo, but it’s gorgeous inside.

Its theme is tequila – in fact, its official name is Mayahuel Restaurant and Tequila Museum – and there are even tequila lockers you can rent on an ongoing basis to have a bottle of your favorite brand held for you.

The Mexican food here is also elevated – they have a creamy poblano pepper soup that’s to die for. And Mayahuel is also gay friendly – they host a monthly mixer for gay men in their event room next door to the restaurant.

Pizza RockPizza Rock
1020 K Street

In the mood for a great pizza? Pizza Rock, the brainchild of award winning chef Tony Gemignani (he’s an American chef who won the World Pizza Cup Championship for his pizza in Naples!) offers pizza four ways – Italian, American, Sicilian and Calzone.

The decor is awesome, within an homage to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting on the ceiling – except instead of touching fingers, God is handing electric guitar to Adam.

The baked brie here is amazing, there’s an fantastic salads, and you can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas. The place is a bit loud though, so don’t come here planning have a conversation, unless you ask to be seated outside on a nice evening.

PorchThe Porch
1815 K St Sacramento

The Porch is a new find for us – this cozy midtown restaurant specializes in comfort food. Pulled pork sandwiches, french fries, hamburgers, and more – but with a gourmet twist.

As the name suggests, the restaurant has a large porch along the front, where you can sit outside and watch the people go by as you enjoy your lunch or dinner.

The baked brie here comes with a different homemade jam each time, and all have been delicious. This one is also a great place for conversations – there’s a TV on the bar side but the volume is turned off. Porch has a great hang-out vibe.

Downtown and VineDowntown and Vine
1200 K Street

Just down the block from Mayahuel is another new find. Downtown and Vine specializes in pairing wine with some amazing edibles. And while the focus here is clearly on the wine, the food was surprisingly good.

For a light lunch, we had their cheese and meat plate and a side of humus that came with five different veggies piled around the dish.

The food is simple but top-notch, and the restaurant, though small, is quiet and low key, the perfect place to hang out, cool down on a hot summer day, eat, drink, and be Mary. 😛

1800 L Street

Tapa the World
2115 J. Street

There are a couple good tapas places in midtown – Aioli, just a block up 18th Street from Zocalo, and Tapa the World, at J. Street and 21st.

Both have a great selection of tapas plates – small plates you can order together ane eat family-style – of the two, Tapa the World has a wide variety of cuisines, while Aioli sticks mostly to Spanish dishes.

Cafeteria 15LCafeteria 15L
1116 15th St.

As the name suggests, 15L is at the corder of 15th and L streets. They have a gorgeous open dining room – almost a dining hall – and an outdoor patio too, as well as outdoor seating along the street. But it’s not a cafeteria per se: you order at the table, and food is brought to you.

The cuisine is gourmet American – burgers, tater tots, sliders, chicken strips, and much more – like Porch, comfort food, but done well.

It’s also just around the corner from the convention center and Community Center theatre.

Hock Farm
1415 L Street

Just a block west of 15L on L street, Hock Farm is the only one of the Paragary restaurants on our list. Randy Paragary is the restaurant king in sacramento, with at least 13 restaurants in the greater Sacramento area.

Hock Farm has a nice earthy feel, and specializes in farm to For dishes, with an emphasis on locally-sourced food.

It’s named after John Sutter’s Hock Farm, originally established in the area in 1841. It’s a great place for a tasty local meal, and the food is gourmet but not “fancy.”

Cafe Vinoteca
3535 Fair Oaks Blvd #C

Although it’s not in the downtown core, it’s only ten minutes away by car on Highway 50. Caffe Vinoteca is an old-school Italian restaurant – cute and casual – and a neighborhood gem.

The food is surprisingly good. This is one of those places the locals go, and it’s not uncommon to have an actual Italian speaking waiter here too, for that extra touch of authenticity.

The restaurant has been around for years and years, but they upped their game this last year or two, and the food wend from decent to terrific.

Andy's Candy ApothecaryAndy’s Candy Apothecary
1012 9th St.

Want a little something sweet after dinner? Andy’s Candy Apothecary won a contest last year for one new business to get start-u capital and a year’s rent in a downtown location.

The owner’s concept was chosen, and now he runs a great little candy shop not far from the Capitol, and more importantly, just two blocks from the location of the new Kings basketball arena, to open in 2016.

He sells prepackaged candy (the lemon cream almonds are amazing) and individual gourmet candies – perfect for a little sweetness after a heavy dinner.

Devine GelateriaDevine Gelateria
1221 19th St.

We’re suckers for a good gelato, and Devine never disappoints. They’re a locally owned shop, and usually display between twenty and thirty flavors at once – more on the weekends.

They also have a cute little patio in the back and seating that spills out in the front onto the sidewalk.

It’s ideal for a hot spring or summer day.

We hope you enjoy some of our choices – there are so many more places here to explore too. Check out Eat the Grid for more ideas.

Sacramento Gay Travel Resources

Gay Sacramento: Shopping

Author: , July 21st, 2014

Welcome to Sacramento

Sacramento has some great shopping – there’s even a great little gay owned shop in Midtown.

Peradice SacramentoIt’s called Peradice Cards and Gifts, and it’s filled with lots of cool things – some fabulous wallets covered with vintage art and maps, gay flags and other paraphernalia, and even LGBT themed cards – attending a same sex wedding? Peradice has you covered.

The store is tucked away on 24th street just north of J St. – stop by if you’re in town.

Speaking of J Street, there are lots of great shops along this main thoroughfare through town. Sacramento is a bit like Portland, Oregon, in that its downtown has small blocks that are easily walkable, and it retains a bit of that small town feel.

The downtown is laid out in a grid, with alphabet streets (A, B, C) running east-west and numbered streets running north-south.

For J street, start at about 16th and J and walk east – you’ll find an eclectic mix of shops along this stretch, up until about 24th, where you can turn the corner and visit Peradice.

Old SacramentoAnother great spot in downtown for shopping is Old Sacramento. It’s sandwiched between Highway 5 and the Sacramento River, and has some great shops, including Fun & Games, one of our favorite local game shops.. There are shops for old-time candy, period clothing shops, and even a place that sells all kinds of those Russian nesting dolls.

If it’s outlet shopping you crave, Folsom, about 20 minutes east by car via Highway 50, has a large outlet mall, Folsom Premium Outlets.

Palladio FolsomAnd while you’re out in Folsom, check out the Palladio, a gorgeous outdoor mall. It’s still filling up shops-wise, but be sure to visit Kwirkworld, a cool and very gay friendly gift shop with lots of cool, unique things. There’s also a Kirklands store here, with amazing home furnishings.

There’s one more great outdoor “lifestyle center” in the area – The Fountains at Roseville – about 25 minutes NE of Sacramento via Highway 50. There’s a Z Gallerie, a gelato place, a Whole Foods, a Peets Coffe, and much more here to explore. Plus did I mention the fountains?

You may have to dig a little to find it, but the Sacramento area has some great shopping.

Sacramento Gay Travel Resources

Gay Sacramento: Overview

Author: , July 20th, 2014

Gay Sacramento

Gay SacramentoThis month, we’re turning the focus to Sacramento – our own current hometown. Sacramento is an unlikely gay travel destination – a cowtown in the heart of the California central valley. We never thought we’d live here… right up until we did.

Sacramento started to grow up in the early two thousandsies… as thousands of Bay Areans migrated out of the region looking for cheaper housing when the SF market heated up.

Gay SacramentoAll of these new residents wanted culture like they had in The City, and Sacramento responded, and started to change.

Midtown evolved to become an incubator for some great new restaurants, new theatres popped up all over town, and no fewer than five condo towers were proposed.

And then came the crash.

Gay SacramentoAll the condo towers fell by the wayside. Restaurants closed. And a glacial freeze settled over the evolution of the city.

Things are finally melting, and the catalyst is an unlikely source.

For years, the Maloofs, the family that owned the Sacramento Kings basketball team, threatened to leave unless the region paid for a brand-new arena for the team, while flaunting their wealth, not a great way to win over your detractors.

Gay SacramentoBut last year the Maloofs sold the team, and sa deal was inked for a new arena in the heart of downtown, replacing part of a decrepit mall close to the Capitol.

This new stadium, to be built in two years, has helped to reinforce a trend already in play as the economy improved in the state and the region.

Now new developments are starting to pop up, and many more are planned, both adjacent to the new arena and all around the downtown and midtown core.

Gay SacramentoThere are a number of great explicitly gay things to do here, from our gay corner with four varied bars at 21st and K to our own gay theatre troop. But there are also many gay friendly things you will likely enjoy.

Most of what we will talk about is within “The Grid” – the downtown and midtown area bounded by Interstate 5 on the west, Highway 50 on the south, Business 80 on the east, and the American River on the north.

Over the next week, we’ll share some of gay Sacramento with you, and show you why it’s a great destination for LGBT travelers.

Sacramento Gay Travel Resources

Exploring Sacramento’s Gay Side: Where to Stay

Author: , November 4th, 2011

While there are no gay-owned accommodations that we know about in downtown Sacramento, there are a few great gay-friendy options:

The Citizen Hotel, SacramentoThe Citizen Hotel
926 J. St.

The Citizen Hotel is boutique chain Joie di Vivre’s first forray into the Sacramento market. Just two blocks from the Capitol (and a block from the Crest Theater and Pizza Rock, it’s convenient to everything… but the neighborhood is a little skeevy.

The Citizen Hotel, SacramentoThe hotel has a policical theme, and the rooms are beautifully decorated.

Higher-floor rooms feature great views of downtown Sac and the Capitol building, and there’s even a restaurant on-site – The Grange – with great street watching views.

if you like a smaller hotel that’s full of charm in Sacramento’s urban core, the Citizen may be the place for you.

Inn at Parkside, SacramentoThe Inn at Parkside
2116 Sixth St, Sacramento, CA
1 916 658-1818

The Inn at Parkside is a beautiful bed and breakfast inn in the southwestern corner of Midtown. Formerly gay owned, the inn changed hands in June of 2008, and the new owners, Daniel and Diane, are also very gay friendly.

The Inn has two buildings – the older structure, The Historic Fong Mansion, was built in 1936, and has a more traditional bed and breakfast/antique feel, especially in the common rooms. The newer structure was built in the last couple years, and is much more modern feeling.

The Inn at ParksideBut regardless of feel, both buildings have beautifully furnished and decorated rooms, including warm, soothing colors and some really cool beds, jetted bath tubs, and showers (ask for the room with the double shower head and three body-blasting jets; or for the voyeurs out there, the room with the shower in the bedroom).

The Inn at Parkside also features a full spa (and yes, long-time readers will know we asked, there is a shower). The enture basement floor of the Fing Mansion houses the spa, with a serene waiting room, multiple massage rooms, and even one with tabels for two and a soothing hot tub bath.

If you like the bed and breakfast atmosphere, complete with dining room, common sitting room with fireplace (Sacramento bans fireplace fires on certain days for air quality reasons, FYI), and an older, more settled feel, The Fong Mansion side is for you. If, OTOH, you prefer more of a self-catering, boutique hotel feel, request a room in the newer building (but don’t worry, you’ll still get breakfast!).

While you’re not right in the heart of midtown, you’re in a quiet neighborhood just a few short blocks from the Capitol Building and the rest of the reviving areas of the city center. Note, there are two freeways a few blocks away, but the windows are double paned, and you don’t hear the road noise at all inside.

If your travel plans are bringing you to Sacramento and you want to stay in a well-run, comfortable, beautiful B&B, the Inn at Parkside is perfect for you.

Whatever brings you to Sacramento – business, pleasure, just passing through – you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. This former Cow Town is growing up, and although there are some growing pains, Sacramento is rapidly maturing into a gay friendly cultural, retail, and epicurean center for the Central Valley and Northern California.

Previous Section: Other Things to Do in Sacramento

Exploring Sacramento’s Gay Side: Other Things to Do

Author: , November 4th, 2011

There are a number of other great things for the gay or lesbian traveller to do in Sacramento’s Midtown area. Here are a few of our favorites:

Sacramento ZooThe Sacramento Zoo
3930 West Land Park Dr.

The Sacramento Zoo is a small zoo by big-city standards, but because of that, it’s easy to navigate – and it has a decent selection of animals from around the world.

Sacramento ZooThe new Sea Otter enclosure opened literally days after we went the last time, but there was something really awesome – they let you feed the giraffes.

I’ve never been this close to not one, but two giraffes – the zookeepers let you into an enclosed area and then give you branches to feed to the beautiful giraffes, who lean over the fence to take them out of your hands. It was an amazing, magical moment, and I have the pics to prove it.

Budget an hour or two to see the whole zoo – it’s located a few blocks south of the Midtown grid.

Crocker MuseumThe Crocker Museum
216 O Street

We visited the Crocker for the first time a couple months ago. Originally the private home of the Crocker Family, the Crocker underwent a major expansion a year or two ago, and now includes a much larger and more modern wing just west of the original mansion.

Crocker MuseumThe day we visited, the Crocker had several shows from the impressionist era, along with a display of student art, which was by far the most fascinating – each of the students posted a description of what the piece meant to them, and the works were eclectic and fascinating.

See one of the pieces at right.

The Crocker is located on the western edge of the Midtown grid.

Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento

In the western edge of the Midtown Sacramento grid, you’ll find Old Sacramento – a two block wide strip of historical shops and restaurants that will take you back to the cowboy era. There’s even a new underground tour, that takes you below the city streets to the original settlement, before the streets were raised to avoid the regular flooding that used to plague Sacramento.

And yes, that’s my father on our last visit to Old Sac.  Closest I’ve gotten to getting him into drag. 🙂

If you have a little time to kill, the Capitol Grounds (basically a city park) is a great place to wander through, if you have a little time to kill. The grounds have several war memorials (below left), a reproduction of the Liberty Bell (below right), statues, surprising details (see the hearts below). trees from around the Golden State, enchanting ponds, and a virtual army of cute squirrels (below center right) who aren’t at all afraid of people.

There’s also the stunning Capitol Building itself, which is best viewed from 10th Street.

Previous section: Where to Eat in Gay Sacramento | Next Section: Where to Stay in Gay Sacramento

Exploring Sacramento’s Gay Side: Where to Eat

Author: , November 4th, 2011

Sacramento’s Midtown has some outstanding gay friendly and gay owned restaurants, and here are a few of our most favorite:

Lucca Restaurant SacramentoLucca
1615 J St, Sacramento, CA
1 916 669-5300

One of our favorite restaurants anywhere, Lucca offers fantastic Italian food, a warm, inviting atmosphere, and a very friendly wait-staff.
The owners are HUGELY gay friendly, hosting a number of gay-supportive events during the year, including the VIP party next week for the huge No on 8 Rally being held in Sacramento on 2/16.

Lucca Restaurant SacramentoThe restaurant also has the distinction (depending on how you look at it) of being one of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite restaurants in Sacramento, so you may catch a glimpse of him there.

Formely a museum, Lucca’s exposed brick walls and comfortable booth seating contribute to the warm, welcoming ambiance of the place, but the patio is the true star here. Open year-round, with heaters in the winter and a great backdrop of green bushes and trickling fountains, it’s the perfect place to enjoy lunch or dinner al fresco.

Lucca Restaurant SacramentoOur favorites include the gnocchi (made with ricotta in a delicious red sauce – ask for basil instead of spinach) and the Chicken Saltimbocca. For dessert, the creme de brulet is fantastic – three small dishes with different flavors (try the hazelnut!) but everything is fantastic.

Ask for Lauren and tell her Mark and Scott sent you – you can’t go wrong here. Lucca is just a couple small blocks from the Convention Center, and just six small blocks from the Capitol Building on J Street – on the map, just a little to the right and above the Capitol grounds.

Zocalo Restaurant, SacramentoZocalo
1801 Capitol Ave
1 916 441-0303

Another great, also very gay friendly and supportive restaurant, Zocalo is the place to go in Sacramento for great, innovative Mexican food. Like Lucca, everything is good here.

Located in an old car dealership from the 1920’s, Zocalo has a modern, upbeat feeling, with huge indoor palm trees, comfortable booths, and an innovative decor.

Standouts here include the Enchiladas Guanajuato (to die for), the Empanadas, and the Pera salad. But everything here is good, even the cilantro rice that comes as a side with your meal.

Zocalo Restaurant, SacramentoLike Lucca, Zocalo has an outdoor eating area, although it’s not usable in really cool or rainy weather. Still, when the weather is nice, this is a great place to enjoy lunch and people watch.

Zocalo becomes a nightclub late at night after the diners clear out, and although it’s not a gay spot, per se, it is a very friendly place, and has a young crowd late at night. At 16th and Capitol, it’s just two blocks from the edge of the Capitol grounds, and just three blocks from the convention center. Zocalo’s in the heart of a booming area of downtown, and is credited with helping jump-start the revitalization of this area.

On the map, it’s just to the right of the Capitol grounds. Main picture courtesy of the Zocalo website.

Pizza Rock, SacramentoPizza Rock
1020 K St.

A new favorite is Pizza Rock – at 10th and K – Chef Tony Gemignani is an American Chef who has won prizes in Naples, Italy for his pizzas – served five different ways, evey one we’ve had here has been fantastic. And the baked formaggio as an appetizer is to die for. Decorated in a funky, cool way with God handing Adam a rock guitar on the ceiling, Pizza Rock has a cool but casual atmosphere (though the music can be a little loud at times). Plus, it’s right across the street from the Crest Theater, one of two local art-house theaters in downtown Sac.

Pizza Rock, SacramentoPizza Rock, SacramentoPizza Rock, Sacramento

Parking is free (with validation from the Crest or Pizza Rock) at the garage around the corner at 10th and L Streets. This area, while up and coming, is a little sketchy, so be prepared – it’s well worth the visit. These guys also own Dive Bar next door, where you can see live mermaids (male and female) swimming in their acquarium.

Masullo Pizza, SacramentoMasullo Pizza, just south of the downtown grid, is another great pizza place with a cute Italian waiter; or try Hot Italian on 16th for authentic Italian pizza in a funky, modern atmosphere. The photo at right was taken at a dinner with friends at Masullo Pizza.

Other favorites include Aioli, just up the street on 18th on the same block as Zocalo, a cute Tapas place that’s usually crazy-busy at night, and serves a wonderful selection of small-plate dishes to share with your friends for an unusual meal.

Paesano's, SacramentoPaesano’s Pizzeria, across the street from Zocalo, is also usually fairly good, and it has a warm, friendly, inviting atmosphere to go with its simple Italian dishes.

For a good gay-owned place, try Hot Rod’s Burgers, just around the corner from the gay bars. It’s basically a diner, but a cute one, and the food’s actually really good, perfect for lunch or a late night snack in between bar-hopping – open until 1 am (2 am Friday/Saturday).

The Grange, SacramentoIf you’re staying at the Citizen Hotel or if you’re at The Crest, another dining option is The Grange, the Citizen’s in-house restaurant, with great street watching and a classy, comfortable decor.

And for something sweet, try Ginger Elizabeth (below middle), a desert spot just around the corner from Zocalo that sells divine chocolates, all created by the former dessert chef from Masque, a wonderful 5 star restaurant in our own town of El Dorado Hills that was forced to close by the bad economy and increased competition.

Try the Giuanduja (chocolate and raspberry cake) for a taste of Masque’s former glory.

Previous Section: Sacramento Gay Shopping | Next Section: Other Things to Do in Sacramento

Exploring Sacramento’s Gay Side: Shopping

Author: , November 4th, 2011

Gay SacramentoSacramento used to boast three gay owned boutique stores, but the guys from Etc. shut it down and retired to Mexico (they are missed) and the shop at the gay and lesbian center closed because it was too expensive for the center to run.

G SpotSacramento’s only remaining gay shop, the G-Spot (pictured next to Hot Rods at right), offers mostly greeting card and sex supplies… lots of lubes and dildos. Conveniently located next to Badlands and close to all the bars, it’s also open most of the night.

In general, J Street, from about 18th to 26th, is one of the best shopping districts in Midtown, with lots of little boutique shops.

Valley Rainbow Pages

There are also Starbucks (2), an art supplies store, several little furniture stores, a great used bookstore (just off J) and much more.

For more gay businesses, you can pick up the Valley Rainbow Pages (at right), Sacramento’s free guide to gay and lesbian owned and friendly businesses, at Etc., Something Fabulous, any of the gay bars, and at a number of other venues in Midtown, or visit their website at

For more shopping ideas, click on the map of Midtown below for a larger version.

Shop the Grid - Sacramento

Second Saturday

If you’re in town on the second saturday of each month, you need to know about Second Saturday, Sacramento’s monthly Art Walk. With 34 participating galleries in Midtown (and an additional 5 galleries on Del Paso Blvd, 5 minutes north by car), this is a big deal. On a warm summer night, it can draw thousands and thousands of people, so even if you don’t participate, it’ll impact you if you’re in Midtown. Make any restaurant reservations early, and be aware that traffic may get snarled, especially on J Street and around Zocalo/Capitol/18th Street area, which seems to be a hub for the event.

It is an enjoyable night, but we recommend starting early – have dinner at five or wait and have a late dinner (with reservations) around 8, and in the meantime, walk the grid and see some of the great local art galleries. Our favorite is the Sacramento Art Complex, on K between 21st and 22nd, just a block from the bars – it’s an office building recently converted to an artist incubator, where you can find the work of dozens of artists, including some of the nicest local work we’ve seen.

A word of warning – the later it gets, the rowdier Second Saturday gets, as some of the visitors get into their second and third beers, so go early. We also recommend parking off the street – there’s a state garage in 17th between L and Capitol that’s opened to the public specifically for Second Saturday – the rates are reasonable, and your car (if you have one with you) is safe from the crowds.

You can find more info at, and a larger version of the map below by cliciking on the image, or by going to

Second Saturday Sacramento

Previous Section: Sacramento’s Gay Nightlife | Next Section: Where to Eat in Sacramento

Exploring Sacramento’s Gay Side: About the City

Author: , November 4th, 2011

Gay Sacramento

Gay SacramentoAlthough it’s the Capitol of the state of California, Sacramento has always lagged behind Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego in population, culture, and recreational opportunities. But after a decade of Bay Area influx, the character of the area is shifting, even as the drop-off of the real estate market has closed off the spigot.

The newer arrivals, accustomed to the culture of the San Francisco Bay Area, have brought some of it with them, including some fantastic restaurants and local entertainment, and also bringing demand for some of the finer things.

The Midtown area, basically a square bounded by the railyard on the north, the Sacramento River and Highway 5 on the west, Highway 80/Highway 50 on the south, and Business Highway 80 on the east. In the map below (thanks, Google!), the big green area in the middle is the Capitol Building and grounds.

Gay Sacramento Map

The green space in the lower left corner of Midtown is Southside Park, where the annual pride parade ends, and where you’ll find The Inn at Parkside, one of the few gay friendly properties in Sacrmento covered later in this article.

Sacramento also has its share of great architecture – we’ve shared a few favorites here:

Sacramento Architecture

Sacramento ArchitectureSacramento Architecture
Sacramento also has its share of public art, much of it in murals and wall art, scattered throughout the Midtown core:

Sacramento ArtSacramento Art

Sacramento ArtSacramento Art

The Grid (as Midtown is called by the local merchants) is easy to navigate, despite all the one-way streets near its middle – the streets running east to west start at B and end at W, and the streets going north to south start at 2nd and end at 29th within Midtown.

North and South, the main thoroughfares are 15th (southbound) and 16th (northbound) – getting off Highway 80/50 at 16th gives you a direct shot up into the heart of Midtown. East/West, P and Q St. serve the same purpose, though we don’t use them much because the area is mostly residential and there are few attractions there. But J Street, the city’s retail center, and L Street provide easy to use eats west access.

Sacramento SkylineIf you’re coming off Business 80 northbound, here’s the easiest way into the heart of Midtown that we’ve found – take the N street exit (the first one), and after you reach street level, follow the frontage road (basically straight ahead) to Capitol, the next street. Make a left on Capitol going under the Freeway, and then follow it all the way to 16th. A right at 16th will take you up to J Street. This route passes the gay area, Zocalo’s and the other reataurants there, and takes you within a couple blocks of the Convention Center.

Be careful driving in Midtown, though – there are a number of 2 way stops, so be sure the other guy has a stop before proceeding (we made the mistake of not checking once, with “accidental” results).

There are also a number of small roundabouts in the residential neighborhoods – remember, if there are no stops, enter directly but carefully – traffic already in the roundabout has the right of way. If you have a stop, again the other direction may not, so check carefully.

Sacramento Capitol BuildingSacramento has also recently began adopting the same parking meter system as Portland – removing individual meters and replacing them with one meter per block. Like Portland’s system, these meters are solar powered, and you pay for a sticker that you affic to the inside of your street-side window. Also like Portland, if you have time left, just leave the sticker on the window and park in another metered location – the stickers are portable within the time frame you purchased.

Parking in Sacramento has worsened in the last few years, especially in the area around Zocalo, but it’s still easy, relative to most other big cities. And there’s often free street parking just a block or two away from major thoroughfares in the residential neighborhoods – just check carefully for any time or date limitations on posted signs when you park.

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