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I love Folsom. I moved Great Leap Studios to Folsom almost 4 years ago, and continue to believe it is one of the most underrated communities in Northern California. It has all of the characteristics of a traditional suburb, with great schools, safe streets, and numerous housing options.
But Folsom, to me, is more than the “Greater Sacramento Area.” I have always had a preference for big cities, and yet I rarely need to find myself venturing outside of Folsom, with essentially everything I need easily located within this growing city.
Indeed, I have family and friends visiting from across the country, and we spend 95% of the time within the Folsom City limits. And, if it makes any difference, all of them have come back again.
I am still not an expert at what Folsom has to offer. But I am a content writer, and content writers make lists. To introduce new people to all that Folsom has to offer, here is a list of 26+ of the many reasons that Folsom is one of the most underrated cities in California.
Folsom, CA from A to Z
A – American River Trail
If there is one thing to know about Folsom, it is that it is filled with beautiful manmade trails. There are trails that go almost everywhere in the city, meaning that you can get to and from almost any location by bike alone. Nearly all of the trails are paved and wide, but what makes them amazing is their combination of wildlife and proximity to main streets.
I have seen deer, river otters, and dozens of different types of birds and bugs all along the Humbug trail, for example, and despite Humbug running over or around multiple city streets. For those that love walking, it is just an amazing place to be.
The American River Trail – a trail which runs from Folsom all the way down to Sacramento – is one of my favorites. Its enormity and the fact that it runs next to the American River is one of its best benefits, but what I like the most is that there is a more “outdoorsy” trekking trail that runs directly parallel to the paved trail. It’s like hiking the outdoors without driving to a forest, all with a view of the lake.
B – BJ Cinnamon
I’ll be honest with you – I don’t understand the hype about some donut shops. You’ll see some with 5 star reviews that have “The Most Amazing Donuts in the City” and some that have 2 star reviews with donuts that are “dull.” To me, they all taste the same.
But BJs is different. BJ Cinnamon is family owned, and the family is so nice that I go just to hear them say hi. They are happy to stay open a little later for fun, they’ll sometimes throw in a free doughnut for no reason, and they are always smiling and upbeat. Their donuts are great too. They deserve every bit of their amazing Yelp reviews.
C – Cootie Burger at Sam Hornes Tavern
I cannot stress this enough. The Cootie Burger at Sam Hornes is the best burger on this side of the United States. It has pepper jack cheese, spinach, serrano aioli, and an egg, and it is a delight for the mouth. Their vegetarian patty is also delicious, and several meat eaters I know order it vegetarian (but still say the meat patty is amazing as well). NOTE: Do not tarnish this burger with ketchup, mustard, or hot sauce. It is fine as is.
I also recommend the fries, as they are a treat.
D – Dinner Theater at Mystique Dining
On an episode of Shark Tank, Mark Cuban invested in a company because “the future is in experiences, not in products.” With all of the Escape Rooms popping up across California, I have to believe that’s true. Mystique Dining adds another nice twist, with dinner theater that also serves amazing food. It’s a romantic dining experience that everyone should enjoy at least once.
E – Education
It is impossible to talk about Folsom without also mentioning the quality of the schools. Folsom has several of the top schools in all of California – not just the Sacramento area. Vista Del Lago High School is rated 10/10 on Zillow. Folsom High School is rated 9 of 10. Folsom Middle School? 9/10. Sutter Middle? 8/10.
All of the schools here are highly rated, giving students of Folsom some of the best education in the state.
BONUS E: Folsom is home to an immensely challenging escape room, and one that was profoundly enjoyable for my family and I.
F – FLB, or Folsom Lake Bowl
It’s nice to have a central hub for the activities that adults enjoy: Bowling, Beer, and Poker. FLB checks all of those boxes, and also includes an arcade for families, and a men’s barbershop if you get there during early business hours.
NOTE: Also, if you need bowling equipment, check out Mark of Excellence located within FLB. Mark is a bowling champion and his guidance is helpful.
G – Grocery Stores
Now, you may ask: Why would grocery stores be featured on a list of what makes Folsom great?
That is because even though Folsom is not a big city, it has every grocery store you could possibly need within a short driving distance:
- Whole Foods
- Trader Joes
- 99 Ranch Market
- Bel Air
It also has a half dozen Indian grocers with food from all over the world, and a farmer’s market every Saturday for those that want something fresh.
Bonus G: Great Leap Studios – Probably the best online marketing and content writing company in the entire world is based right here in Folsom.
H – Harris Center for the Arts
Folsom is, admittedly, probably a bit too small to attract big name stars for shows and concerts. But it makes up for that with a large, clean, beautiful theater with 3 stages that hold a variety of different types of shows on a daily basis.
During my first few months in Folsom, I watched Tuvan Throat Singers (Huun Huur Tu) create unique musical notes, and a few months later listened to Andy Grammar play for a benefits concert. Blue Man Group was there as well. It may not be a place to catch Selena Gomez on tour, but the theaters are large, clean, and romantic with plenty of nearby parking as well.
I – Indian Restaurants
Curry Club is here in Folsom, and its Shahi Paneer and Chicken Tikka Masala are better than those at big city restaurants. It also has Mylapore, Ruchi, and Tirupathi, along with several others that I have not tried but look tasty in photos. It also has “Chicago’s Pizza with a Twist” – a place that serves pizza with, quite literally, Indian cuisine on top. It’s a bit weird.
J – Johnny Cash
“Oh, you’re from Folsom? That’s where the prison is, right?”
Admittedly, I am sometimes resentful at Johnny Cash for “Folsom Prison Blues,” because those that have never heard of Folsom the city have usually heard of Folsom the prison. My parents were concerned about my safety, despite Folsom being one of the safest bigger cities in California. In 4 years, I have worried about the proximity to the prison all of never.
But if you like Johnny Cash, you’ll find it here. There is Johnny Cash trail. There are Johnny Cash cover bands. There is Johnny Cash Imagery. Folsom certainly embraced his celebrity.
BONUS J: JOBS – You may be surprised to learn that Folsom is the home base for many large employers. Most notably: Intel, Micron Technology, Power School, Kikkoman, Gekkeikan, and Agilent Technologies. It is also a US base for companies like Toshiba. There are several startups and up-and-comers here as well.
K – Kid Friendly
Folsom is for Families. It was ranked #2 in California for young families, beaten only by Clovis near Fresno, which… Eh. It has huge parks, the trails are generally child safe, and the crime rate is very low. We already mentioned the quality of the schools, and most of the housing here – while a bit on the pricey side – is 4 bedroom and built for families.
L – Lake (Folsom Lake)
Folsom Lake is a beautiful lake, popular with fishing, barbecuing, and other outdoor activities. It is also rich in plants and wildlife, with birdwatching as a popular pastime in the area. Over 2,000,000 visitors come to Folsom Lake annually. It is a must visit during the summer months.
M – Movie Theaters
Movie theaters are a dime a dozen. But in Folsom, you can’t go wrong with any of the three main theaters. Century 14 Theatre is one of the last remaining movie theaters that lets you in for less than $10, with most tickets only $5 to $7 depending on the day. Palladio 16 Cinemas is pricier, but it has assigned seating and soft seats.
If you want to be really treated, you can also go to Palladio Luxe. It is another addition to the string of Luxury Theaters that have popped up around the United States. You are served food and drinks in your chair, which are all leather and recline. It is a great spot for a nice date.
N – Nightlife
For a quiet suburb, Folsom has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife. FLB, Folsom Tap House, Samuel Horne’s, Doyle’s Tavern, Gaslight Company, Scarlet’s Saloon, Prohibition Wine Lounge, Heckle Alehouse, Fat Rabbit Public House, Folsom Hotel, Cellar Wine Bar – these are only a sample of the many places with late night drinks and good dining.
O – Outlets
Near the freeway sits the Folsom Outlets, an inexpensive place to buy inexpensive things. There isn’t much to say about Outlets, but the fact that they are so close to the city makes them highly advantageous for Folsom residents.
P – Parks
Folsom has dozens of parks both large and small. Cummings family park has BMX trails, 3 dog parks for small and large dogs, and a skatepark – all with other traditional park amenities. Folsom Kids Play Park has a large, castle-shaped playground that is immensely fun active children. Lembi Park provides a huge space for sports and family events. There are also tiny playgrounds peppered throughout the residential areas.
Bonus P: The Palladio – The Palladio is a large (and growing) outdoor shopping mall with most popular retail clothing stores, several great restaurants, and an outdoor space that is great for walking. The Palladio hosts small live music shows every Wednesday during the summer months.
Q – Quiet
With so many different activities, and a population approaching almost 100,000 residents, one would think that Folsom is loud. It is not. Folsom is quiet. You can hear frogs croaking during mating season, or go for a nice, calm walk at all hours of the day almost anywhere in the city. It has what one expects from a “bedroom community” despite being so much more than a place to sleep.
R – Races
Because of its trails and commitment to outdoor activities, there are countless races that take place in Folsom on a regular basis. Bike races, running races, and more. There are also many races that run through Folsom. For those that like to compete, there are many places to race around Folsom and great ways to enjoy it.
S – Sutter Street
One of the best parts of Folsom is that there are plenty of things to do outside of “downtown Folsom.” In fact, most restaurants and activities are located nowhere near downtown. But Folsom does have a downtown, and it is great. Sam Hornes, Cellar Wine Bar, Scarlets, several antique stores, cute novelty shops, jewelry, restaurants, a brewery – there are so many different activities within a few short street blocks that you’ll find yourself coming back often.
T – Trivia at Doyle’s Tavern
Many bars and pubs around Folsom have trivia nights, but my personal favorite is Trivia at Doyle’s Tavern. Pat, the owner, is a friendly and fun trivia leader, and at least 10 to 12 teams attend each week giving you good competition for great questions.
U – Upcoming Events
Downtown Folsom (Sutter Street) is not just for stores. It also has its own events, including:
- Tap Folsom
- Folsom Live
- Folsom Ice Rink
- Farmer’s Market
- Pumpkin Walk, and More
These events are also very popular. They draw in thousands of visitors that, while not great for parking, help you feel like it is a real community of people living in the Folsom area.
There are also many events outside of Sutter, including the Folsom Rode, the Renaissance Faire, and the Palladio Summer Concert Series. Many of these are sponsored by the city itself, or the Folsom Chamber of Commerce. The city goes out of its way to find things to do for its residents.
V – Valentine’s Day (Romance)
Most suburbs have little in the way of romantic date spots. Folsom has plenty. There are upscale restaurants, such as the aforementioned Mystique Dining, Bacchus Wine House, Back Bistro, and more. There are beautiful walks (I proposed to my wife on a beautiful winding bridge on the Humbug Trail), there are amazing sunsets, there are benches to sit and relax or beaches to have picnics during the day and romantic places to have drinks at night.
Romance is easier in Folsom than in many other suburbs in the US, as the city has an ambiance to its own.
W – Waterpark
Folsom has its own tiny, cute waterpark that is fun for kids, known as the Folsom Aquatic Center. It is a great last minute trip to cool down during the hot summer months, inexpensive, and fun for groups. There is also a large water park for grown kids and adults located only a short drive away in Roseville.
X – ProXimity to Nearby Cities (X is an unfair letter)
This entire list has been about Folsom, and how it is more than a suburb of Sacramento. But it is still worth noting that Folsom is in a perfect location for visiting local communities as well. Sure, there is Sacramento. But it is also next to El Dorado Hills (a great city in its own right), Rancho Cordova, and Orangevale, and a very short drive from Fair Oaks, Roseville, Granite Bay.
It is also close to Placerville and its outstanding wine scene, and South Lake Tahoe if you’re interested in a longer drive. If you want to leave Folsom, but have no desire to head to Sacramento, there are still plenty of other cities to visit and enjoy.
Y – Yoga (and Other Health Organizations)
Folsom has several yoga studios. It has half a dozen massage parlors. It has several gyms, including its own California Family Fitness. It also has spas, exercise groups, and more.
If staying healthy is your goal, Folsom is a great place to do it. Most of the people here keep in great shape, including a shirtless man that can be seen jogging almost 24 hours a day throughout the city.
Z – Folsom Zoo
It’s natural to be skeptical of small zoos, especially as we learn more about animal health. Most zoos, especially small zoos, do not give their animals the space and care they need to thrive. Folsom Zoo, however, is an animal sanctuary with a lot of space for the animals under their care. It is a non-profit whose primary goal is rehabilitation for injured animals. They are what all zoos should be.
Things to Do in Folsom from A to Z
As you can see, Folsom is not just a traditional suburb. There is genuinely so much to do here, and – if somehow you do exhaust everything that Folsom has to offer – there are other interesting suburbs within only a few minutes.
Sacramento is also a great city in its own right. But while many people think of Folsom as simply a resting point for driving into the Sacramento area, there is so much to do here that you may only find yourself in Sacramento for work – if you find yourself there at all.