Keeping it Real in Sacramento


If you’re like me, you are always in search of the real deal. It’s what makes me choose locally owned over mass-produced, independent stores over chains, an actual walk instead of a spin on the treadmill and so on. Of course, it’s clearly impossible to avoid the fake stuff.

We have created a fake world around us. From lip-synched concerts to jeans with factory-manufactured holes in them, authenticity is harder to find than ever.

In Joel Achenbach’s essay of the same name, he coined the term “Creeping Surrealism.” He was moved to create the term after contemplating some store-bought cookies that were designed to look homemade. Somewhere along the way, Pepperridge Farm actually had to design a machine that purposely would make uneven edges to mimic a handmade product. How weird is that? Don’t you still know that you’re eating a factory-produced cookie.


“Creeping surrealism” has crept well in to the world of tourism.

This was never more obvious to me than on a recent trip I just took.  It was theme park after theme park and chain restaurant after chain restaurant.

The week I spent away made me appreciate Sacramento more than ever.

Sure, we don’t have major theme parks, but we have something better: A soul.

There’s a real city with real people in Sacramento.  When you walk into a bar that looks like an Old West saloon, there’s a good chance that, at some point, it really was an Old West saloon. If you want to pan for gold, take a short drive to Coloma and experience the real Gold Country and actual gold panning. I’m not saying everything is authentic in Sacramento – we have our fair share of standards – but there is more than enough “real” city to give you a true sense of being somewhere.


Our restaurants have real chefs who control their own menus based on the real and actual produce grown just miles down the road. Our best water park is the real and actual river. Our big hotel that looks like a boat actually is a boat. Our biggest tour attraction, the Capitol building, is filled with real and actual politicians doing real and actual political work – more or less.

When you visit Sacramento, you’ll get a real experience in a real city that wants to show you a good time. There’s a lot to be said for that.