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Before this spring, options for walking tours in Downtown Sacramento were very limited; there was only one. However, Downtown Sacramento Partnership has worked tirelessly to create alternative choices for educational strolls around the historically rich Downtown region.
"We used to only have one two-hour walking tour, and we tried to squish everything into that," said marketing manager Jennifer Snyder. "But we have enough Downtown where we were able to separate it into all the different tours. And there's more to come, so there's definitely a lot in the works."
There are currently six one-hour tours being offered, five of which were launched during May of this year. These tours cover a range of topics including Sacramento's history, its architectural styles, public art and growth and redevelopment. These tours were divided and decided on by three tour guides who felt that their knowledge of Sacramento no longer fit into one two-hour session.
"It was a one-size-fits-all type of tour," said Programming Manager Julia Beckner. "And while it was interesting, it was a bit too broad for most people, and the guides found they weren't getting a lot of specific questions. So over the years they've researched those questions and have answers to them, and the outcome of that is now they have so much knowledge that they outgrew just one tour.
"Their knowledge base was so vast and their interest that intense, we were able to dissect our one tour with those broad strokes to get to our new collection of tours, which came from the interests of the guides themselves," she said.
Two tours detailing the religious structures in Sacramento and the city's diverse ethnic groups are set to launch in August, while one specifically targeted for children called "Kids Meet the City" will make it's debut during Kid's Week, beginning this Saturday.
Also a work-in-progress, Synder said a key priority of the tour will be child safety. Because Downtown can get busy during the day, street-crossing will be kept to a minimum, while at the same time trying not to sacrifice too much of the educational aspect.
"Its going to be more focused on where they go, trying not to cross too many streets," Snyder said. "We're going to look at Cezar Chavez Plaza, learn about the Pony Express, John Sutter and California and Sacramento history. It will also be more fun and interactive with the guides for the kids. We're very excited and would love to have people try it out and give us feedback."
While some of the tours released have not garnered much attention, others like "The Art of Terra Cotta" tour and "Art Is All Around Us" have been highly received by the community. According to Beckner, sign-up sheets have filled up fast and frequently for the new tour tandem.
"I think it really attests to the tourists' and the locals' desire for more cultural experiences," Beckner said. "Our general history tour is not a popular as I would have expected, as it seems people are drawn to more specific topics, which has been a bit surprising. "
"The Art of Terra Cotta" discusses the history of the terra cotta art form and the ways in which it has been implemented in the Downtown area. Structures showcasing the art will be visited on the tour, specifically ones built by the Gladding McBean studio in Lincoln, Calif., one of the region's biggest contributers of terra cotta since 1874. The tour is offered Sundays at 1 p.m. or Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m., leaving from Cesar Chavez Plaza at Ninth and J streets.
"Art Is All Around Us" highlights Sacramento's vast collection of art integrated into the Downtown community that is available to the public. Artwork of both local and regional artists will be seen and discussed on the tour, which partners with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission to give participants a fully comprehensive look at the public art in the Downtown area. It's offered on Tuesdays at 3 p.m., Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Thursdays at 11 a.m., leaving from the Indo Arch outside of Downtown Plaza at Third and K streets. All tours currently offered are $10, with much of the proceeds going to help keep Sacramento eco-friendly and secure.
"We havent gotten as much exposure as we would have liked, but those who have been exposed to our tours have raved about them and are very pleased with what they've gotten for their $10," Beckner said. "I do feel confident that its a solid program from the response from our tour-takers.
More information on all the tours currently offered by Downtown Sacramento Partnership can be found at www.downtownsac.org.