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Sacramento, CA: The other side of Sacramento, Part 1

Savor Mulvaney's fettuccine and grilled jumbo prawns
Savor Mulvaney's fettuccine and grilled jumbo prawns
Patty Burness

Sacramento is known for its history, the politics and the river that runs through it. It’s also a great base from which to explore the region. This trip, a girlfriend and I stayed in downtown Sacramento after spending the day in Clarksburg, 20 minutes southwest. And instead of a weekend jaunt, we were gone just over a day, though it seemed longer.

Clarksburg has country roads, draw bridges and swing bridges over the Sacramento River, acres of farmland, beautiful vistas and its own AVA. More than 35 varietals are grown in the region. The climate is influenced by the Sacramento Delta (cool evenings, warm days and little fog). Many of the original families from the 1850s still have younger generations farming today.

Stay: The Citizen Hotel, located in downtown Sacramento, combines old world charm with modern amenities. Dating from the 1920s, the former California Western State Life Insurance Building was the city’s first skyscraper and designed by George Sellon, California’s first state architect.

The hotel’s art deco interior includes bold colors, HDTVs and good sound systems in the guestrooms. Created to resemble the original office space, the bathrooms on the historic 13th floor have elaborate tile work. As a Joie de Vivre hotel, the Citizen donates a minimum of $200 per guestroom a year to organizations in the community. Guests can also be a part of a giving program at the hotel benefitting a Sacramento nonprofit.

Dine: Start your day with breakfast at Grange in the Citizen Hotel. Transformed from happy hour and dinner the night before, the restaurant is a relaxing place to check messages and catch the street scene. Get your mojo working with good coffee, a spicy egg white frittata and fruit.

Dinner at Mulvaney’s B&L (in Sacramento’s Midtown) is a culinary delight. Dedicated to the local farmers and artisans, Chef Patrick Mulvaney recently cooked at the James Beard House. The menu changes daily and is inspired by whatever is delivered that morning. The night we ate there, we were wowed with dishes like pea shoots and mizuna and blood oranges, pickled chard and pistachios; house made fettuccine and grilled jumbo head on prawns with green garlic, fennel and tarragon; and seared scallops and house made prosciutto. The luscious apple brown Betty was dripping with caramel and smothered with cream cheese ice cream. Pair with a wine from their international list.

OTHER ESSENTIALS: The Clarksburg Wine Growers & Vintners Association; Sacramento Tourism

PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb