Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Elk Grove, CA

  • Published 2022/12/13

The unique and enchanting beauty of Elk Grove in California has attracted many tourists worldwide.

You’ll be amazed by its unmatched natural areas, historic district, quaint restaurants and shops, and many more, which have put the city on the map.

For these reasons, Elk Grove became the U.S. fastest-growing city from 2004 to 2005.

Incorporated as a city in 2000, it’s part of Sacramento County with a population of 178,997 as of the 2020 Census.

Founded in 1850, the city was named after Elk Grove Hotel, which became a staging post for travelers from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Whether you’re traveling for a day or a week, the city has lots of exciting things for you to do without burning a hole in your pocket.

Here are the free things to do in Elk Grove, California!

Spot the Birds at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Wetlands at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Justine Belson/USFWS, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is another jewel in Elk Grove, home to migrating shorebirds, waterfowl, and many other water birds.

Established in 1992, the refuge houses excellent blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, tree swallows, barn swallows, Swainson’s hawks, and more.

The refuge is surrounded by beautiful foliage of grasslands, wetlands, and riparian forests, which makes it closer to nature.

Along the trail’s sidewalk, you see animal footprints while you take the path on the northern part.

Other wildlife includes western fence lizards, turtles, snakes, red-eared sliders, plants, and gorgeous wildflowers.

What’s not fun about taking nature walks, getting closer to nature and wildlife, and breathing some fresh air?

You can find Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge on Hood Franklin Road.

Hike up the Elk Grove Creek Trail

About eight miles of out-and-back meandering trail with scenic views of the creek and wildlife in natural areas await you at Elk Grove Creek Trail.

You’ll see birds, ducks, birds, turtles, and pretty wildflowers along the historic creek.

The trail is also great for bike rides, horseback riding, and running while others take strolls with their pets.

It takes about two hours to complete the trail, and you’ll also access some of the city’s parks and shopping centers.

Enjoy Elk Grove Creek Trail on a fine morning or afternoon, and don’t forget to take some photos!

You can start on Big Horn Boulevard or on Oneto Park on Hidden Hollow Court.

Step Back in Time at Elk Grove Historical Society

To get a slice of history, head to Elk Grove Historical Society, which maintains and preserves all the artifacts and archives of the city’s past.

Learn about the city’s early history, when the historic old town district was newly called Elk Grove.

The museum conducts different events each year, open to everyone who wants to know the city better.

Elk Grove Historical Society was founded in 1976.

It’s located off East Stockton Boulevard.

Enjoy a Picnic at Elk Grove Regional Park

For a family day out, bring your folks to the Elk Grove Regional Park, where picnic areas with barbecue grills are available.

The kids can also have their time of life at the playgrounds where they can run freely.

There’s also a lake right in the center of the park, where the Pumpkin Regatta at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival is held.

There’s also a well-kept trail for hiking, bike rides, or simply taking scenic strolls on a picnic day.

The ducks and geese are also by the lake.

You’ll also see some locals playing friendly games at the sports field, which is an addition to the park’s activities.

Whether you’re spending a picnic day for a few hours or the entire day, Elk Grove Regional Park is one great location!

Founded in 1936, the park is off Elk Grove Florin Road.

Join the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival

Have you ever seen a racing pumpkin?

If you join the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival, you will see one at the Pumpkin Regatta.

Those who join the pumpkin race in the lake will have their pumpkins carved out like canoes and ride them across the lake.

There are also other family-friendly activities such as pumpkin pie eating contests, games, competitions, as well as a petting zoo, and more.

It’s a great way to have fun on an October weekend.

The annual Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival was established in 1994.

Join the fun in Elk Grove Regional Park on Elk Grove Florin Road.

Take the Kids to Morse Community Park

Where there’s water, there’s fun!

On hot summer days in Elk Grove, Morse Community Park has a spacious splash pad where kids can have fun in the water.

The spray ground will help kids and even adults cool down without traveling far or going to the city’s outskirts.

It’s perfect for those who want to get closer to water without spending a single red cent.

Kids can also enjoy the play area with play equipment, while adults can use the exercise equipment if necessary.

Of course, a fun picnic time is worth it!

The 30-acre park with lots of shaded areas also features ball fields and a dog park, where your fur babies can play and interact with other pets.

Established in 2008, Morse Park is off Bellaterra Drive.

Walk around the Old Town Elk Grove District

Located in the heart of Elk Grove, the historic Old Town Elk Grove District is a mecca for entertainment, culture, history, and the arts.

As one of the oldest settlements in the Sacramento region, the district houses 50 historic buildings, including the Rhoads School, general store, the Foulks House, and more.

Most of these structures were built in the mid-1800s, giving the district its historical significance, and have helped shape the city today.

Each building is walkable, a great way to explore and stroll around while having a slice of history.

The Old Town Elk Grove district also hosts events and festivals such as the Dickens Faire and the Western Festival, attracting thousands of visitors worldwide.

Whether you call it Main Street or Old Town, it’s still Elk Grove and offers rich history and culture.

Browse the Artworks at Elk Grove Fine Arts Center

With a strong foundation in culture and the arts, Elk Grove Fine Arts Center offers art shows and monthly exhibitions to support local artists.

The center has showcased local artists’ works in the city and around the Sacramento region since its inception in 2007.

See the unmatched masterpieces at the center and learn about the artists and their contribution to the local arts community.

Also, the center offers art lessons for those who want to try making visual art.

You can find the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center off Florin Road.

Read a Book at Betschart Park

If you want to spend a lovely, warm afternoon reading your favorite book, head out to Betschart Park.

Bring a blanket to the park’s shaded areas or a portable chair and spend some peaceful time reading your book.

A beautiful grove of cedar trees at the southeast corner of the 12-acre park adds a peaceful vibe to its atmosphere.

Betschart Park was established in 1992 with picnic areas, a butterfly garden, trails, playgrounds, sports fields, and more.

It’s nestled in Adobe Spring Way.

Catch a Friendly Game at Bartholomew Sports Park

For sports enthusiasts, play a friendly game at Bartholomew Sports Park, a 46-acre park with ball fields.

At the park, you can watch local teams playing softball, baseball, soccer, tennis, and lacrosse in well-lighted fields.

If you’re taking the younger ones, bring them to the small play area at the park.

The picnic area has tables if you’re packing lunch or snacks.

The spectator areas are also shaded, giving you a great time to see the athletes playing.

Bartholomew Sports Park opened in 2010.

It’s located off Franklin High Road.

Go Skateboarding at Laguna Community Park

If you’re into skateboarding, Laguna Community Park is another gem in Elk Grove, offering a fun skateboarding excursion.

The 16-acre park features a well-kept skatepark where skateboarders can watch or play at the rink.

It’s the go-to park for all skateboard enthusiasts whenever their skating pulses call for outdoor fun.

The fields feature large, natural grass, while some parts of the park are covered with turf grass.

There’s also a swimming pool, which is open to those taking swimming lessons.

Don’t miss the fun and enjoy skateboarding with the locals!

Established in 2002, you can find Laguna Community Park off Bruceville Road.

See the Site of the First County Free Library

Stop by for a few minutes to see the historical marker of the Site of the First County Free Library Branch in California.

The free library was acquired in 1908 through Harriet G. Eddy, then principal of Elk Grove Union High School.

The State Department of Parks and Recreation placed the historical marker in 1967, also designated a California Registered Historical Landmark.

It won’t take longer than five minutes to check out the marker and the surrounding area.

The historical marker of the Site of the First County Free Library is off Elk Grove Boulevard.

Gaze at the Stars at Kloss Park

When nights are clear, one of the best activities in Elk Grove is to stargaze at Kloss Park.

The green space at the 22-acre park offers an excellent spot for stargazing when the night sky is clear.

All you need is a blanket or a portable lawn chair while observing the skies for beautiful celestial objects.

Established in 1990, Kloss Park was named after Henry Kloss, who made significant efforts to improve and expand the park in the mid-1900s.

It’s located off Laguna Park Drive.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

The Sacramento region is home to gorgeous attractions that have drawn thousands of visitors, and Elk Grove takes part of the credit for boosting tourism in the area.

Like Elk Grove, the neighboring places are also beauties worth discovering.

See the Sacramento Skyline at River Walk Park

Entryway of River Walk Park

AlessandraRC /

If you haven’t seen the gorgeous Sacramento skyline, you should head to River Walk Park in West Sacramento, California.

The park has an excellent spot for skyline viewing, where you can also get a nice view of Old Sacramento.

You can also traverse through the park’s well-maintained walking paths for sightseeing and taking a few stretches for exercise.

Aerial view of River Walk Park

Cassiohabib /

It also features picnic tables if you’re packing a lunch or enjoying a snack while enjoying the gorgeous Sacramento skyline.

River Walk Park is off 2nd Street in West Sacramento, 21 minutes away from Elk Grove.

Join Walking Tours of the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

Daytime view of Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

CSvBibra, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

With gorgeous roses on the grounds, the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery is the oldest in the city.

Built in 1849, the cemetery features a gorgeous Victorian Garden-style landscape, statues, and gravesites of some prominent public figures.

History plaque of Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

CSvBibra, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sacramento founder John Sutter Jr. is one of the notable figures laid to rest in the cemetery.

In 2014, the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s located off 1000 Broadway, Sacramento, California, 18 minutes from Elk Grove.

Monuments at Sacramento Historic City Cemetery

Toyz1988, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Elk Grove offers a rich heritage that speaks of the past while giving the locals and visitors the best attractions to explore.

What’s not great about experiencing these unique spots without spending a dime?

Enjoy the free things to do in Elk Grove, California!

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