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The Sandy Beaches of the Sacramento River. Yes – you read that right. I’m taking you today to a few beaches in Sacramento. But before you give voice to the objections in your mind, allow me to address them straight away. Let’s start with the obvious:

Um, Sacramento doesn’t have any beaches, does it?

Hickies - No Tie Elastic Shoelaces

Why yes; yes it does. Though the term is usually associated with the ocean, a beach is defined as a pebble or sandy shore; and I assure you, Sacramento has both. With two rivers and several lakes, there’s bound to be a bit of shoreline. We’ve scoured the Sacramento River to share with you a couple of those spots that can offer the sandy beach experience.

Oh, THAT kind of beach. But, aren’t they overrun by drunken college students?

I cannot unequivocally deny this. Neither can I confirm it. My guess is that this is more likely to be true in the evening. Perhaps the partiers were still asleep as we enjoyed the great outdoors. But I can say this: No drunken shenanigans were observed during any of our river excursions.

Ok, well, isn’t it dangerous to swim in the river?

Absolutely! As it is, I might add, swim in the ocean, so do exercise caution. The spots we’ve visited are all along calm and shallow water, but take a few too many steps out, and you will feel the current.

But the sand and water are gross – right?

Wrong again! The sand is soft and fine, with beautiful flecks of gold. We even made ourselves a little sand castle. The water is also clear and almost warm when compared to the frigid waters of the Pacific. I love the crashing waves as much as anyone, but I’m only good for about five minutes of wading before I’m seeking the shelter of a large towel.Lounging on the intimate beaches of our city provides a pretty good alternative to the ocean when you want to feel the sand between your toes, but driving two (or more) hours each way seems a bit too daunting – so don’t write it off. In addition, there are plenty of places along the river where you can indulge in activities such as rafting, boating, and kayaking. But, you probably already knew that! Here are a few of our favorites.

Sand Cove | 2005 Garden Hwy

This one has the best sand of the bunch. It’s fairly small, but it wasn’t at all crowded when we visited. Free parking.Paradise Beach | 5211 Carlson Dr

There are several small private coves, and a larger beach, some sandy, some pebbled, but they require about a five-minute walk from the lot. As my 7-year-old said, follow the sand. Free parking.

Sutter’s Landing | 20 28th St

This one has the most expansive shoreline; some spots are better protected from the river current than others. Free parking.

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