Are you one of the more than 1,000 association meeting professionals attending the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) Holiday Spectacular at Sacramento Convention Center this week? If so, you are in for a treat. The conference is a once-a-year chance to see all of your friends and find new solutions. It is also an opportunity to explore California’s capital city. We have some suggestions for things to do while in town.

At the Conference


Once you have gleaned insights from educational programs on creating 21st-century 4D conference experiences from Sarah Michel, vice president of connexity at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, and communicating value to your members from Jenna Jameson, corporate marketing for Community Brands, check out the Seasonal Luncheon to make friends and exchange more best practices.

Trend Watch

A panel discussion on Wednesday moderated by Smart Meetings features insights from Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer of MGM Resorts International; Eric Hoffend, vice president and regional team leader at Freeman Company; David Stone, vice president of sales and marketing at Crescent Event Production; and Deanne Vigil, regional vice president at HelmsBriscoe. You read the story in the December Smart Meetings magazine; now hear the trend watchers and ask your questions about what happened in 2017 and what we can expect for 2018.

Walk the Floor

More than 150 exhibitors will set up shop on the expo floor to answer your burning questions about everything from venue ideas to tech solutions. Plus, there is swag.

Eat and Drink

Sacramento is the self-proclaimed Farm-to-Fork Capital and you will find lots of opportunities to get a taste of this bounty just steps from the convention center. One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite spots when he was governor was Ella Dining Room & Bar, a block from the convention center. Cafeteria 15L is billed as a comfort-cool experience (a trip to the restroom could be a story to take home). It is part of a complex of restaurants adjacent to the convention center that highlight local flavors and culinary trends. On J Street, Grange Restaurant & Bar in Citizen Hotel is an award-winning, locally sourced dining experience. You can even go online to meet the farmer providing the eggs, tomatoes and lamb shanks that will end up on your plate.

Be Merry

Seasonal Spectacular is holding a no-host Happy Hour on Wednesday at Public Market Bar in Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel. Specialty cocktails and craft beer available steps from the convention center doors are a great way to start. One street over, The Kay has become an after-hours destination. At Dive Bar, mermaids (and a merman) swim in a tank above the drink selections. In the light of City Hall, La Cosecha Sacramento anchors Cesar Chavez Plaza with a communal and comforting indoor-outdoor, celebration of the spirit of Mexico and the bounty of Sacramento. A block from city hall, the original Frank Fat’s dates back to 1939 and was the site of many a bill being drafted over honey-glazed barbecue pork, tropical martinis and its famous banana cream pie. A drink at this bar is a modern taste of Sacramento’s past.


See Golden Globe-nominated best picture Lady Bird at Tower Theater and cheer when Tower is featured in the film. For a bonus, stop for amazing desserts on the heated patio at Tower Cafe next door.

Check out Wide Open Walls, the colorful results of a citywide mural festival that turned blank urban canvasses all over town into artistic statements. Or, stop at Crocker Art Museum for an immersive connection with California past, present and future. The building itself is a work of art and the gift shop is a great place to do some Christmas shopping.

Walk State Capitol World Peace Rose Garden, where 675 flowering bushes—including Sacramento’s namesake camellias—bloom in the glow of the Capitol dome. Nine memorials dot the space, including one dedicated to firefighters and one dedicated to peace officers.

A trip to Sacramento wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Old Sacramento, if only to get a free saltwater  taffy sample. From the waterfront dining at Joe’s Crab Shack and Rio City Cafe to comedy shows, live music and Theatre of Lights performances from the balconies of the historic buildings four nights a week, there is lots to see and do.