Capital Capitol

I’ve been a Californian for more than 10 years, but before last weekend had never been to the state capital of Sacramento. Now, our primary reason for going was for the party on Saturday, but the Beloved and I had most of Friday to sightsee – and we figured we had time to see a couple of the city’s main attractions. Well, a couple of main attractions that is after the Beloved watched TLC’s coverage of The Royal Wedding until I began pointing out what time it was, and maybe how late it was getting and gosh, wasn’t it a beautiful day. She got to see a replay of the carriage ride, so that was deemed satisfactory.

Our GPS wouldn’t fire up, but since our first destination was to the State Capitol Building, we figured we could find it and, with a tiny bit of a grid-search, we did. We pretty quickly got on a tour and I’m glad we did because I learned a lot about the building and the history of California’s state government.

California Capitol


The Capitol is a great looking building both inside and out (the third on the site after the first two burned down pretty early on…) and houses both the legislative and executive branches of the state government. The building has some great touches including the state seal (Eureka!) in various places, plus the official portraits of all the state’s governors – though our favorite might have been the ornate bear-heads in the woodwork.

Two Governors: Reagan and Brown1.0

Bearhead door

Eureka! I Have Found It!

Speaking of bears, we got to see the large ursine sculpture that was donated by Governor Schwarzenegger (referring to him as The Governator got old about 4 years ago) which stands outside the Governor’s office. Clearly many people have rubbed his ears and nose (the bear’s, not Arnold’s) for good luck – though sadly the bear has picked up the nickname “Furlough”. Tough times all over, bud.

Me and Furlough

We got to see the legislative chambers, which were beautiful. The desks for the legislators are 19th century originals – just gorgeous. It was enough that I started feeling a strange pride swelling within me, until I started thinking about our particular legislature, who’s feuding and partisan driven inaction makes the US Congress look like a church prayer meeting. Still, I really enjoyed seeing the capitol.


The remainder of the day was spent at the Crocker Art Museum which was maybe a half-mile walk from the capitol. The Crocker had recently opened a huge expansion (tripling the size of the gallery space) that had been getting a lot of praise and so we wanted to check it out.

Gallery Piece

This was a very well-curated museum that I enjoyed because it focused on the development of different art schools and trends throughout California’s history and how they compared and contrasted to those taking place elsewhere in the world – so it was a combo of art and history that was a great complement to the political and civil history of the state we learned at the capitol. Highly recommended.

It has me wondering if all state capitols and capitols would be as fun to visit.


23 thoughts on “Capital Capitol

  1. All very lovely – thank you for the tour! I would be forever dumbfounded to work in a place where craftsmanship and history emanate from every corner. It’s too bad the ones who get to be there aren’t.

  2. Wow, what a cool place! I’ll have to visit it some time….oh wait, I don’t have to visit, I live here….

    It’s really nice that you were able to appreciate the Capitol building with unjaded eyes, Steve. When I was in elementary school, a field trip to the Capitol was required every year. By the time I was in sixth grade, I was so bored with it, I didn’t even get excited when the governor, Ronald Reagan, walked by our class. (“Oh. Biiiig deal.”) It wasn’t until I visited the building with my adult children that I realized how beautiful it was. But I didn’t know the bronze grizzly bear donated by Ahh-nold was called “Furlough.” That’s sad.

    The Crocker is my favorite place to visit in Sacramento, however. I’m thinking of getting a membership to support it: the new addition was well thought out, and whoever curates the collection did a wonderful job in choosing and displaying the art.

    • HG — do you live IN Sacramento!??!? I thought you lived in the Bay Area. If you were in Sacramento, I would have loved to been able to get together and say hi. Maybe a lunch and re-visiting of the Crocker!

      • I joke about not living anywhere, but I spend about 90% of my time at my parents’ home in Sacramento. Yes, if you and The Beloved come again to the Capitol City, let’s get together for lunch and a visit to the Crocker. It’d be fun if you could bring Penny as well, though she’d have to wait for us in the park across the street from the museum. Or we could find a street cafe in Midtown that’s dog-friendly….

  3. Thanks for the cool tour, since I’ll probably never be able to come visit in person.

    I can see how “The Governator” would have gotten old for youse guys, but for us east of the Rockies, it still delights.

  4. Aw, man. I was at the capitol and chose to not bother going in…ha! Oh, I’m funny. I opted for walking about Old Sac and talking to the owner of some resto. I’m more of a walk-talk person although I *do* like museum-y things, it’s just I have to be in the mood for stomping about them.

    Hrm. It looks cool. Now, I think I may have made a booboo. Now, I have to go back!

    • We liked the capitol a lot more than Old Sac which seemed to have a lot of Old T-Shirt stores and fudge shoppes (they’re always shoppes, aren’t they?). The tour was about 50 minutes and covered things I don’t know that I would have picked up on my own stroll around.

      • Old Sac began my “tattoo parlour tour” of Cali. Yes.
        I went into maybe 2 tshirt shops cos in fact, I buy Brother 1-2 Beatles tshirts a year, never a repeat design. So, that’s a side “hobby” of mine but normally, that would be incredibly annoying.

        I enjoyed old Fulsom, too — by then, I’d learned to “just stroll” and not venture into shops…or get tattoos.

    • Brown wanted something different than the standard guy-in-suit-standing-at-desk-or-near-capitol — and he got it. Apparently, Brown hated it. Though it is the highest valued governor’s portrait, so go figure.

      Of course now he’ll have an option for another one in 4 or 8 years. Arnold’s is not yet finished.

  5. Oh, another thing! When I went to MO’s capitol, they didn’t LOCK all the doors, so I naturally ran around the House of Representatives, flipping switches (yea or nay), ran up the steps of the stage/ podium/ whatever it’s called and SLID down it (like a kid on a banister? It’s way wide!) and BANDED THE GAVEL.

    Yes, I did. That was about 5 years ago.

    I reckon it’s on CCTV. Prolly gave the guards a laugh.

    • Hah — that’s awesome on both counts. I really did want to go down on the floor and sit at one of the great old desks. I mean the legislature wasn’t in session — what could it have hurt?!?!?

  6. Steve … a germ covered bear … and not a petri dish in sight. You must have been on vacation!

    I’ve been in the Oklahoma capital building a bunch of times, but never on a guided tour. Not sure if they offer them or not. It is a beautiful building, though.

  7. Nice pics! We drove up to Ohio’s capital a little while ago to see the excellent science museum; it didn’t occur to me to visit, like, the building where they’ve been making all the freaking laws and whatnot for the past 150 years. Maybe next time.

    • Growing up in New Jersey, going to Trenton was a punishment. This is the first one that I’ve ever gone to — though I’ve walked by the one in Santa Fe.

  8. See? Sacramento has a lot to offer! I’ve been to a handful of capitals and taken the tours: Austin, Boston, Denver, Santa Fe. But it’s been YEARS (if ever…I seriously can’t remember) since I’ve toured California’s capital — which is sad, since I pass by it on a regular basis!

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