The Sacramento History Museum, which now has more followers on TikTok than any other museum in the world, has reopened for indoor visitation and resumed popular Old Sacramento Underground tours and Gold Fever! games that take place throughout the historic district and the Old Sacramento Waterfront.
Sacramento History Museum
Inside the museum, visitors can explore 7,000 square feet of display space with a spacious layout for easy physical distancing. In addition to making a stop at the historic print shop on the main floor – and possibly getting glimpses of the now-famous docent Howard Hatch busy at work – a must-see exhibit is titled California in Print: Highlights of the Eleanor McClatchy Collection that went on display in the R. Burnett Miller Gallery on the third floor just before the shutdown in March 2020.
The exhibit showcases rare items and collectibles from the Eleanor McClatchy Collection that she donated to the City of Sacramento and the Center for Sacramento History. Eleanor McClatchy (1895 to 1980) was the granddaughter of James McClatchy who became editor of The Sacramento Bee in 1857, its founding year. Later, Eleanor went on to preside over the newspaper from 1936 to 1978. In addition to helping to run the family newspaper business (also known as the “three Bees” – Sacramento Bee, Modesto Bee, and Fresno Bee), she was also an avid collector of California history.
While only a small percentage of her important and impressive collection will be on display, the exhibit highlights priceless items such as original Gold Rush era maps showing where gold could be found, first-edition rare books printed in California, letter sheets from 1850s miners, a page from the Gutenberg Bible, dime novels from the 1870s and 1880s, and more. The Sacramento History Museum is located at 101 I Street in Old Sacramento and is open Tuesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults, youth ages 6 to 17 cost $5 and are free for children five and under.
Time Travel Tours
In addition, two history-rich Time Travel Tours program offerings have recently resumed, and both start at the Sacramento History Museum. The interpretive Old Sacramento Underground tours – that officially launched in 2010 – provide guests with the unique opportunity to explore what has been hidden beneath the city for more than 150 years, while uncovering the facts and legends that lie below historic buildings and sidewalks. Tour guests explore excavated foundations, enclosed pathways and interesting archaeology exhibits while hearing sounds of 1860 street life. Entertaining and knowledgeable tour guides lead the way while recounting tales of the devastation, perseverance, and determination that led to California’s only successful street-raising project. Old Sacramento Underground Tours are offered Fridays through Sundays in April. Underground Tours take place at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and at 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Fridays. Special safety measures are in place and tours are limited to 10 guests. Tour guide and guests are required to wear masks, sanitized sound equipment helps everyone stay physically distant, and complimentary hand sanitizer is available in the Museum and in each underground space. Old Sacramento Underground Tour tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for kids 6-17, free for children 5 and younger.
In addition, guests to the Old Sacramento Waterfront can experience what it was like to catch gold fever while getting actively involved in the intriguing Gold Fever! games. Participants take on personas of characters in history – or “real-life rascals” – who scratched and clawed their way to make this area the center of the Gold Rush. Never the same experience twice, Gold Fever! games relive Sacramento’s early days when gold fever ruled amid horrible disasters that threatened fates and fortunes. To spice things up even more, elements of chance are introduced that could change the fate of tour guests. Through the course of the lively tours that meander through the historic district, visitors discover if they successfully escaped the many floods, if they managed to keep their gold dust (or lost it all at the gambling tables) and if they survived the fires, disease, and occasional steamboat explosion. Gold Fever! game slots are available on Fridays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Groups are limited to 10 guests from the same household and need to maintain physically distancing from others. Tickets are $12 per person and kids five and under are free (and need to be included in the 10 guest count). Guides and guest must wear masks and maintain physical distancing.
All Time Travel Tour tickets include complimentary admission to the Sacramento History Museum. Guests who book an Old Sacramento Underground tour and Gold Fever! game at the same time (even if the tours take place on different days) receive special combo pricing. Tour dates and times fluctuate with the seasons and during holiday weekends; please visit the website for the most updated schedule. For more information or to purchase advance tickets for Gold Fever! games and Old Sacramento Underground tours, please visit www.sachistorymuseum.org.