From the issue Rivers Wild
Sometimes a lazy river is better than a raging one, especially when the sun is shining and you happen to be in possession of an inner tube and a cooler full of your favorite libations. Round up your friends and head to Sacramento’s crown jewel, the lower American River. The water on this three-to-four-hour float is warm, wide, and smooth, and the atmosphere is definitely festive. Sandy beaches along the way let you stop, lounge, and take the river at your own pace. Pack some gigantic pita sandwiches from Ike’s Deli across the highway from the put-in point. For this leisurely cruise, you’ll need two cars and an assortment of pool inflatables (the loungier the better), a cooler, and some rope to make sure you all stay together. Drop one car off at Goethe Park (that’s "gah-tee") and then drive upstream to American River Raft Rentals off of Sunrise Boulevard, where you’ll launch your flotilla.
ALTERNATIVE: For a more structured experience, American River Raft Rentals provides rafts starting at $48 or kayaks starting at $33 and will give you a ride back to your car once you’re done.
American River Raft Rentals, 11257 S. Bridge St., Rancho Cordova; (916) 635-6400. Parking $3 on weekends (free if you rent from them), $4 at Goethe all week.
Ike’s Deli, 3000 Sunrise Blvd. # 6, Rancho Cordova; (916) 635-9808.
Directions: Take I-80 east to I-50 east to Sunrise Blvd., and exit. Go left on Sunrise Blvd. and right onto S. Bridge St.