If you are looking for a quick and easy day adventure and want to explore the history of our area, then check out some of the local caves and mine adventures within the vicinity. We have some of the most fascinating caves in the entire United States, and luckily for us they are within a short drive from the Sacramento Valley.
Our family has visited a couple of the caverns, but we still have many more to explore. With younger children, it is harder to keep their attention and their little fingers off of the sparkling crystals that hang above them, but the tours we took were perfect for curious kids and the sheer beauty kept their amazement.
Our first cavern tour was to Black Chasm Caverns. Located in Amador County, this cavern was worth the drive; and if you visit in the springtime, this makes for a perfect weekend drive as the countryside is beautiful. The cavern tour was approximately 45 minutes and was led by a very knowledgeable guide who showed us the stunning helictite formations. We had the opportunity to see some of the greatest collections of sparkling helictite crystals and experience the “thrill” of entering into a cave. Black Chasm cavern is well-known for their beautiful rock formations, and they are definitely worth seeing! They also have gemstone mining above ground for the kids to collect real gemstones…. an attraction for kids of all ages!
Once you have explored the caverns, I highly recommend taking a hike at the “Zen Garden”. This was by far my favorite adventure of our day. The entrance to the Zen Garden Trail is located just passed the entrance to the caverns. The trail is not obvious, so ask for a map when you visit the caverns visitors’ center. There is a small set of steps near a large tree off the road… seriously, not the best directions, but this is a must-see experience. The trail offers a landscape of standing stones that are beautiful to walk through and impressive to view. The kids were climbing, hiking, and amazed at the wonders that nature provided in this “playground”. This hike isn’t necessarily for those who are used to just a flat terrain… there were quite a few areas that became steep and offered a bit more to our “adventurous” side.
Another local cavern to visit is Mercer Caverns, located in Calaveras County. Just one mile outside of the town a Murphy’s (this is a great area for a weekend trip), it will take a little less than 2 hours to drive from downtown Sacramento. Mercer Cavern will amaze you with its stunning stalagmites, crystals and re-crystallized limestone. Any kid will want to explore and learn the geology of the area after visiting this cavern. The tour was about 45 minutes and descended into the cave, approximately 161 feet below the ground level with a very knowledgeable guide who helped keep the kids entertained and learning about the history of the caves. Along with Black Chasm, they also offer a Gem Mining station above ground for the kids to try their skills and mining.
I had read that both of these caves were kid friendly – and they are for a certain age group, however, they don’t necessarily take into account the attention needed to follow along with the tour guides. Yes, the cave is suitable for anyone who can walk up and down a steep set of stairs, but take into account the age of your children and if they can hold the attention of the tour guides. If you have kids that are a little older, they will thoroughly enjoy the tour and will be amazed at the sights they will see and the facts they will learn on this tour.
One thing to remember when visiting the caverns is that they are cool – approximately 54 degrees year round. This wasn’t an issue for us, since we were visiting in the winter and were already dressed for the weather, however, if you plan on visiting in the hot summer months, remember to bring along a sweater.
Other popular cave tours in the area include:
California Caverns located in Calaveras County
Moaning Cavern located in Vallecito. For the more adventurous explorers, they also offer zip lining and cave rappelling at this location!
Gold Bug Mine is great for the youngest explorers- you just walk in and explore the cave vs. descending down steep stairs. They are located in Placerville.
So if you have an interest in geology, the history of our area, or you just want to go on an adventure with your family- then check out some of the local caverns in our area. This will make for a great family day trip, or even into a weekend vacation.
By Heather Crivellone
Whether your kids are currently on spring break or not, you’ll want to take advantage of this beautiful weather to get the family out to enjoy the sunshine and special spring activities around Sacramento. Here are four of our favorite family friendly events that are coming up.
- 1. To the Rescue: The Fire Trucks and People That Saved Our Cities. This new exhibit at the California Automobile Museum is just up your kids’ alley. They’ll get to enjoy this colorful and dramatic exhibit that includes antique fire trucks from as early as late 1800s, all the way through the 1940s. Also on display are fire-fighting equipment and other tools that helped fire fighters save our cities throughout the years. A highlight of the exhibit will be stepping up into a 1921 Graham fire truck and sitting in the driver’s seat. Exhibit runs from March 16 through May 29, 2017. If you go opening weekend (3/16, 3/18, 3/19) there will be special docents on hand to answer your questions and show you around. California Automobile Museum.
- Fun on the Farm: Enchanted Garden at Soil Born Farms. If your kiddos are into gardening, fairies or both, you won’t want to miss this special day at Soil Born Farms. Kids ages three to nine will explore the magical world of gardens and the flower fairies and garden gnomes who mysteriously live there. They’ll enjoy hands-on activities like making flower crowns, nature wands and more. They’ll also enjoy a healthy snack. Saturday, March 25, 2017 at Soil Born Farms. Tickets are $25 and advanced registration is required. While this event is currently sold out, you can add your child’s name to a waiting list here.
- Going West: Story of the Transcontinental Railroad at B Street Theatre. Kids can bring their California State Railroad Museum entrance receipt (or season pass) to the famed B Street Theatre on Saturday and Sundays at 1pm and 4pm beginning March 18 through April 2 to see a performance of Going West: Story of the Transcontinental Railroad. In addition to the performance, register for the Family Activity Day on March 25 for fun activities and healthy snacks. March 18 through April 2, B Street Theatre.
- Sutter Children’s Wellness Festival at Fairytale Town. Enjoy FREE admission and free play all day long while Fairytale Town partners with Sutter to celebrate active and healthy lifestyles among kids everywhere. Families can enjoy games, play and puppet shows. The Sacramento Division of Public Health will also be on site offering free immunizations for children under two years of age (bring your child’s immunization record). Saturday, March 25 at Fairytale Town.
If you have children, you know the statistics and can see that childhood obesity is on the rise. In general, kids are choosing a more sedentary childhood and opting out of the afterschool active playtime for video games and television. As parents, it’s our job to teach them good habits that will last with them throughout life… and I don’t know an adult who couldn’t use a little more exercise and fun activity in their life!
With spring around the corner and the warmer weather ahead of us, it’s a great time to take up Sacramento’s favorite sport – running! Living in Sacramento, we have some of the best running trails. You will find people everyone taking to the streets, trails, and local hills in their running shoes. Of course, not everyone can become a triathlete, but everyone can take advantage of the fresh air and move their bodies… running, walking or even skipping down the street is great for the body and soul!
This time of year, you can guarantee that almost every weekend we will be hosting a fun run of some sort. Whether you choose to run a full marathon, 10K, 5K, dressed up like superheroes, zombies or running through bubbles and mud…there is something fun for everyone and every fitness level. Even the furry members of your family can join in many of these runs!
Here is a list of some of the local fun runs in the area:
Shamrock’n 5k, 10K and Leprechaun Dash will take place on March 11 in Sacramento. This is a fun run that will occur the day before the ever popular Shamrock’n half marathon that will occur on Sunday, March 12.
Mud Factor on March 19. Run and climb obstacles through pits of mud… it’s a messy morning but memories you will cherish for a lifetime. Our family did this for my son’s 5th birthday and it was a little boys’ dream to purposely run through mud!
Sacramento Zoo Zoom on March 26 is a family friendly 5K and 10K run/walk that will take place in beautiful Land Park and end at the zoo. Proceeds from this run will go towards to zoo’s enrichment programs.
If you have kids that are aspiring triathletes, then check out the Happy Kids Duathlon race. Kids can experience a triathlon at their level- a 1 mile fun run, followed by a 3 mile bike race and then a final 1 mile run. Kids can race on March 11, April 1 and May 14 in Granite Bay.
Put on your superhero cape and join others at the River walk in West Sacramento on April 29 for the Super Run 5K race.
April 2 in Rocklin is the family friendly “Run Rocklin 5K, 12K and half marathon”.
These are just a few of the local fun runs in the area. Every month Sacramento hosts running and walking events for every type of athlete. So even if you haven’t laced up the sneakers in a while, think about introducing the kids to another form of entertainment, health and fitness at one of these family fun events.
Win Tickets: Bring the Family to Woodland for the California Agriculture Museum’s Fun Tractor Family Fest
If you’ve ever wondered how California became an agriculture giant, look no further. The California Agriculture Museum and Event Center of Woodland delves deep into the history of the machines that helped make it happen and with a twist of entertainment interesting and fun for all ages.
As you enter Woodland via highway 5 there is an old caterpillar tractor visible from the highway offering a mere glimpse of what lies within a treasure field of rich California history. The Ag museum is adorned with tractors, machines, and harvesters of all sizes, all with descriptions of their history and function. My four-year-old son was beyond thrilled to take the tour of this grand space on his own set of Case tractor wheels readily available at the entrance. And as we journeyed through the spacious maze of agricultural machines, the monster tractors impressed him the most. As for me, it was the 1926 Fordson Snow Mobile, used for carrying freight and mail at 12 miles per hour through those daunting Truckee winters. For the entertainment of young ones is a play area equipped with fun farm related books, corn hole games, and mini john deer rideable tractors. And throughout the museum are educational movies and displays reminding us of the connection between machine, farmer and animal. It’s very intriguing to see how the pieces originally fit together to make California one of the biggest agricultural contributors.
A great event to add to this already historic treasure will happen on March 18th from 10am -2pm, when The Tractor Family Fest rolls into the Ag Museum located in this quaint, yet bustling, farm town of Woodland, a mere 20-minute drive from downtown Sacramento. The event will have monster tractors, an antique Cat 10 for the kids to climb on, an expanded kids zone with craft bar and face painting by Whimsy, not to mention tractor engines galore! With live music by The Putah Creek Crawdads, performances by The Blue Canyon Gang Gunslingers,popcorn, shaved ice, cotton candy, beverages, and two food trucks, Drewski’s and We Cook for You, it will be a day to remember! And as if that wasn’t enough, for the art lover, there will be photography by Wayne Carson and Jeff Jeffries, and a mural paying tribute to the Heidrick’s, the family who brought it all here.
As a Sacramento native I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this. Not only is it a great museum site, reflecting on the farming and agricultural community of years gone by, it’s also a great venue for events such as weddings, trade shows, meetings, and birthdays. In fact, I can’t think of a better place to hold my son’s 5th birthday!
Want to win tickets to this fun event on Saturday, March 18? The folks at the ag museum have given us a family pack of four tickets to give away to one lucky reader. To be eligible to win the tickets, take a look at the California Agriculture Museum’s website here http://www.californiaagmuseum.org/, and tell us what year the Heidrick family began collecting tractors. Leave your answer in the comment section below by Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 5pm. A winner will be randomly chosen on Friday, March 10. Good luck!
What: Tractor Family Fest
Where: California Agriculture Museum, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA 95776. 530-666-9700
When: Saturday, March 18, 2017 – 10am to 2pm
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 children, FREE for children under 5 years
Everyone knows the beloved tales from Dr. Seuss and can recite many of his famous quotes, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” His stories have carried through generations and are loved by children of all ages. Some of his greats have been turned into family classic movies like The Lorax, Cat in the Hat and The Grinch are family favorites (to name a few).
This Thursday, March 2nd, you can celebrate his birthday with your children at one of Sacramento’s most loved destinations Fairytale Town (where classic story-book tales come to life at this ultimate children’s playground). From 6pm-8pm (weather permitting) your family can celebrate the great Theodore Seuss Geisel’s 113th birthday! Arrive in your pajamas and enjoy Dr. Seuss- themed activities throughout the park. Arts and crafts, bilingual story times and fun activities will help your kids get to sleep at night with this “Books Before Bedtime” event.
Admission into Fairytale town is $4.75 for adults and children ages 2 and up. Members and children ages 1 and under will receive 50% off admission with a donation on one new or gently used children’s book for donations to Reading Partners, a Sacramento non-profit literacy organization.
Depending on the weather, you may choose to celebrate Dr. Seuss indoors. Barnes & Noble Bookstores, will also be hosting a “birthday party event” on Thursday, March 2nd. Enjoy story time, games and activities all Seuss related. Barnes and Noble locations and times vary; visit their website to find specifics at the location nearest you (Roseville, Sacramento, Folsom and Citrus Heights).
So whatever you choose to do remember: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”.
By Heather Crivellone
By Heather Crivellone
Are you looking for a way to keep your kids entertained on the weekends during these wild stormy days?
There are many options (some are even FREE) to keep your kids engaged, creating and using their imaginations on those “boring” Saturday mornings. Lakeshore Learning Center in Roseville has FREE crafts for kids every Saturday. Each Saturday, you can drop in to the store and have your child create one of their “crafts of the day”. Every week is something new…and this weekend (February 25), your child can even celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday at a special Birthday Bash!
Beginning at 3pm, kids can enjoy an afternoon of crafts, games and rhyming away with the great Dr. Seuss. They will have activities, gross-motor games and hourly readings of the classic Dr. Seuss books.
During the mornings, from 11am-3pm, kids can create a one-of-a-kind craft. Here is a list of the upcoming activities:
Saturday, February 25: “Pup in a Cup!” Craft
Saturday, March 4: “Looking Sharp” Pencil Holder
Saturday, March 11: “Lots O’ Luck Hat” for St. Patricks Day
Saturday, March 18: “Rockin’ Guitar”
Saturday, March 25: “Honeybee House”
Hopefully this gives you and your family an idea of something to do on these rainy Saturdays, and remember… the sun will eventually come back out- enjoy the quiet times with your family while you can.