“I moved here about four years ago, and I started a blog series called the Beginners Guide to Sacramento,” shares Maddy Eccles. The idea came to her while at a restaurant one day when she thought, “Why not share the experience with others?” She decided to snap some photos and start blogging about the experience. What was her original blog post? “It was 'DAD’S Sandwiches in Midtown on S Street,'” recalls Maddy.
A professional photographer by day, Maddy started doing a weekly post and sharing it with others. “I decided to blog and take pictures of every new thing I tried in Sacramento. Moving to a new city and not really knowing many people, this was a way to motivate me to get out of the house and explore the city,” recalls Maddy. She set a goal to try one new thing per week and share it online. “Through this,” Maddy shares, “I was able to network and meet friends.” She continues to highlight local events, upcoming happenings and much more.
Maddy has now built quite a following on social media, as many others were interested in what this newcomer had to say and were eager to follow in her footsteps. She has amassed over 50K followers who now look to her for tips and recommendations. “Today, it has blossomed into such an awesome community of people!” beams Maddy.
Restaurants and Coffee Shops
Maddy’s favorite restaurant is Tank House BBQ. “They have great barbecue, and their dirty mac is excellent. It’s mac and cheese with smoked chicken,” shares Maddy. “Their dirty tots, which are tater tots with cheese and pulled pork on top, are incredible.” Nash & Proper is another one of her go-to restaurants. “They have a great fried chicken sandwich,” she comments, “and I LOVE fried chicken.”
Looking for Southern food? Maddy encourages new residents to stop by The Porch. “Their Southern food is really good,” she smiles, “especially the shrimp and grits.”
What about coffee? “Camellia Coffee Roasters is a great coffee spot, and they’ve got a phenomenal breakfast sandwich.” Several other spots where you can catch Maddy getting her coffee fix are Pachamama Coffee or The Mill. Maddy adds, “The breakfast waffles at The Mill are really delicious too.”
For brunch, Maddy recommends Tower Café on Broadway. She raves, “They have the best French toast. It’s amazing! I also like the overall vibe of the restaurant; the patio is great and the indoor seating is really gorgeous. It’s a unique place to go for brunch.”
If you are looking to go on a date, Maddy recommends the River Fox Train in West Sacramento. This beer and wine train, complete with live music, is a whole lot of fun!
For those looking for a place to take their date during the day, Maddy suggests the River Fox Railbikes. Cruise along the river and the Yolo Countryside on a pedal-powered vehicle. It’s an experience like none other.
“For other date ideas, check out a River Cats game and go to Drakes for drinks beforehand or afterward,” says Maddy. Those looking for live entertainment can attend the Sofia, a theater in Midtown, conveniently located next door to Café Bernardo and Four Palms. Maddy suggests starting out the evening at Café Bernardo and comments, “I love the grilled salmon and flank steak and, of course, the yummy cocktails! My favorite is Cuatro Palmas!” Once inside the theater, Maddy suggests stopping by their bar to grab a beverage to enjoy during the show.
Each season in Sacramento is unique and to be celebrated. Maddy says, “Sacramento spring and fall really are my favorites. In the spring, the rose gardens start to bloom. It’s really fun to go through the McKinley Park Rose Garden and Capitol Rose Garden. They are so beautiful.”
Known as the City of Trees, Sacramento fall foliage does not disappoint. “In fall, Sacramento is amazing,” Maddy shares. “The trees and the colors are incredible.” She enjoys taking a trip outside Sacramento and going up to Apple Hill for pumpkins and apple pies. “Visit Grandpa’s Cellar for their mini coffee flights and apple dumplings. So yummy!” Maddy raves.
When the summer heats up, expect to see Maddy at summer festivals for food and music. As for the winter, Maddy enjoys going to the Fab 40s to look at Christmas lights. Reserving a horse-drawn carriage to see the lights can really elevate the experience. Another option is to grab some friends and take a brew bike. Both options are sure to get you into the holiday spirit!
Looking for another option to celebrate the holiday season? “Getting tickets for The Nutcracker at the Performing Arts Center is something fun to do as well,” smiles Maddy.
Can’t-Miss Annual Events
Foodies can rejoice with the annual Farm-to-Fork Festival, which Maddy looks forward to each year. She comments, “It kicks off the Legends of Wine event every September, which is on the Capitol steps. People enjoy tasting wine from all over California. It’s affordable and has all-you-can-drink tastings. It’s my favorite event of the year.” Multiple events take place throughout the week, which feature different restaurants and chefs. “They shed light on the farm-to-fork process and how food gets to our tables in restaurants,” says Maddy.
Another event that Maddy has circled on her calendar is Wide Open Walls, Sacramento’s weeklong mural event. Sacramento is covered with massive murals by many local artists. Maddy recommends, “If you’re looking for something to do, take a mural tour or a mural walk. Look at the murals and the signs. See the artists and the inspiration behind the mural.”
A Typical Weekend
What does a typical weekend look like for Maddy? She starts at the Farmers’ Market in Midtown by grabbing coffee. Her first stop is purchasing a fresh bouquet of flowers from a local farm before picking up some produce. She then enjoys lunch at a local restaurant before catching an event such as a Sacramento River Cats baseball game. On Sunday morning, she enjoys spending time with friends for brunch and beer at a local brewery, such as Oak Park Brewery. “They have great food, a nice patio and a cool vibe,” Maddy adds.
For those new to Sacramento, Maddy would recommend walking around the Capitol, stopping by Capitol Park and exploring Old Sacramento. “You have to go to Old Sacramento,” says Maddy. “It’s a rite of passage.”
Sacramento is a big city with a small-town feel. “It’s the perfect balance,” says Maddy. She loves the Sacramento community. “Everyone is so welcoming,” she says.
How does Maddy find all of these fun events? Maddy laughs, “There are so many resources to find FUN! Facebook groups, networking apps, Instagram profiles are filled with fun things to do in your city — just have to be open-minded and willing!” Maddy follows her favorite sites on social media, including Visit Sacramento and Sacramento 365, which are constantly sharing local events.
“Sacramento is a great place to live,” says Maddy. “No matter what stage of life you’re in, there’s something for everyone.”
Be sure to follow Maddie on Instagram at @maddy.eccles and follow the hashtag #beginnersguidetosac.