Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California, settled between the confluences of the Sacramento and American rivers. It was founded in 1849, and there are many reminders of the history of the city including Sutter’s Fort, Old Sacramento, and remnants of the original ground level of Sacramento. It experienced explosive growth when gold was discovered in 1848 in nearby Coloma, and the gold rush that followed was one of the largest human migrations in history. It has a population of 500,000 in the city and over 2.1 million in the metropolitan area (2017).
The pace of life is somewhat slower than in other large Californian cities, and the people are generally warm and friendly. According to Time magazine, Sacramento is the most diverse city in the USA. The city used to be an affordable place, but it suffered from the San Francisco Bay Area’s dot com rise and fall, and real estate went from undervalued to overvalued. The market is correcting itself, so property values in most neighborhoods have leveled off while others are dropping to more reasonable valuations.
Sacramento is known among locals as the “City of Trees”, and it has a higher density of shade trees than any other major city of the US, so that walking the city streets sometimes feels like walking through a park.
Sacramento has a Mediterranean-type climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Being further inland than most of the other major California cities, Sacramento is subject to more temperature variation. Winter high temperatures are commonly in the 40s and 50s Fahrenheit (10–20 °C), and at night the temperature drops below freezing every so often. The summer heat can be intense, with temperatures exceeding 100 °F (37.7 °C) not unusual. Generally speaking, the warmer it gets, the drier it gets, so even the most intense Sacramento heat is easily alleviated by a quick dip in the swimming pool.
Sacramento’s hot, dry summers are mitigated by a phenomenon locals call “the delta breeze.” Heat waves rarely last more than three to five days, because as hot air builds over California’s interior valleys, cold ocean air is sucked inland through the Sacramento river delta, acting as natural air conditioning and dropping the temperature sharply. The delta breeze tends to hit the westernmost areas of Sacramento late in the afternoon and travel east–northeast at ten to fifteen miles per hour, so the hour at which your neighborhood cools depends on your proximity to the river delta or how far west or south you reside.
Most rain falls from around fall to mid-spring and occasionally early summer. Generally speaking, however, you can count on dry and sunny days from the middle of April until at least the middle of October. Winter is known not only for its rain but also for its dense fog, which can hamper driving conditions and reduce visibility to 100 feet (30 m) at times. Snow is rare, but once every 5 or 10 years a light dusting occurs, and even some light accumulation away from the city. In the foothills not far east of the city, snow is much more common, and the Tahoe-area ski resorts are within easy reach of the Sacramento metropolitan area. Sacramento’s location in the heart of California’s agricultural interior gives it a blossom-laden spring as a profusion of fruit trees bloom and flowers fill the grassland. It also experiences a “foliage fall”: autumn color without the severe weather that accompanies brilliant color in other parts of the nation.
Severe weather is rare in Sacramento, with the primary concern being heat in summer and local flooding in winter. Occasional summer thunderstorms and even tornadoes can occur, but they are extremely rare. Sacramento is not in a known earthquake zone.