McKinley Park is one of Sacramento's largest and most vibrant parks. The park is loaded with recreational options; in addition to tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields, and a baseball diamond, the park also is landscaped with a pond and a rose garden, and you'll find plenty of picnic areas and a nearby community center and library. Originally called East Park, it was established in 1871 when the Sacramento City Railway Company purchased three 10 acre lots. Original park designs called for a gymnasium, a shooting gallery, a bowling alley, and a refreshment saloon. Horse-drawn street cars were used to bring people to and from the park, and social gatherings such as dances, sporting events, and musical performances were common and well-attended activities. After the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, the park's name was changed, and it was annexed into the City of Sacramento.
Today the park encompasses over 32 acres, and it is comprised of a main park area and a much smaller annex. A 1-mile crushed granite walking and jogging path runs along the edges of the park, and it is a very popular route with locals. The 1.5-acre rose garden, created in 1928, is a popular wedding spot and a nice, quiet, and visually pleasing retreat within the city. Beyond the Rose Garden, the manmade pond is home to a variety of ducks, geese, birds and turtles. On sunny days it is common to see the turtles stretched out and enjoying the heat, while mallards and Canada geese swim leisurely around them. The park boasts a variety of mature trees, including English elm, pin oak, ponderosa pine, and coast redwood.
A fire destroyed the wooden playground in the summer of 2012, and a new, $1.5-million dollar playground has been built in its place. This new, state-of-the-art playground includes elements that are inspired by the area's rich local history; it also has rubberized padding for ground cover, is accessible to those with disabilities, and provides children with a dynamic environment that encourages creativity. Some regular events at the park include a Saturday morning farmer's market, free yoga classes from Yoga Across America, the Pops in the Park music concert series, and the popular Tour the Trees of McKinley Park.