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Climb your Way out of the Rainy Day Blues at Granite Arch Climbing Center

February 22, 2017

newMats3.jpgBy Heather Crivellone

All of this rain is driving my kids insane!  They have been climbing the walls in our home, so we decided to put that energy to use and visited Granite Arch Climbing Center in Rancho Cordova over the weekend.

Whether your family is into rock climbing, wants to try out to be the next “American Ninja Warrior” or you just have some energy to burn, then you’ll want to check this place out. With over 20,000 square feet of rock wall climbing, you are sure to get any and all wiggles out of your kids.  If you are a skilled climber who has dreams of conquering Half Dome or if you don’t even have a clue as to what a “belay” is, no worries. Granite Arch has something for everyone.

Classes for beginners, youth camps, and knowledgeable staff are on site to help you with shoe and equipment rental.  They can even help to get you off the ground (literally!).

My kids are familiar with rock climbing (thanks to the West Sacramento Recreation Center and REI on Friday evenings), but they were not prepared for the extent of climbing they were about to do at Granite Arch.

Upon arrival, we had to fill out an extensive liability waiver.  I highly suggest printing one out and completing before arrival.  This took up more time than my kids wanted to wait, but, understandably, it’s needed for such a dangerous sport.   Now,  I say “dangerous” loosely.  There was not one thing about Granite Arch that I felt was dangerous.  My kids are quite the daredevils, and I felt very safe at this facility.  Automatic belays helped to ease the worry that if they fell, they were secure by the belts.  My kids had a blast climbing themselves to the top and “jumping” down.

Once they were bored with just climbing up… they headed into the boulder room and climbed up, across and under several “mountains”.   My kids transformed into a Spiderman-type of superhero for the entire day…and loved every minute of it.  I tried my strength in the boulder room, and sadly found that I need a little more time at the gym to get my upper body strength able to pull myself up and across the room!

For those kids who are younger and not ready to climb the walls, they do have an Adventure Room that is designed for children ages 11 and younger.  This was great for when my kids were too tired to climb, but not quite ready to go home – a perfect playground for these rainy days when the kids are climbing the walls at home, but you would rather them not climb on your furniture.

Admission into Granite Arch for a child (ages 11 and under) is $10 or $19 if you are renting equipment (harness and shoes).  Youth/ Young Adult Day pass (ages 12-21) is $11 for the day or $19 for equipment rental. Adults are $13 or $23 for all day including equipment rental.

What: Granite Arch Climbing Center 

Where: 11335-G Folsom Boulevard, Rancho Cordova.

Hours: Monday through Friday from 11:30am-10pm, Saturday 11am-9:30pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm.

Now if you are debating on whether or not you need to rent equipment, I would talk to the staff about what your climbing abilities are.  My children did not rent any equipment and they had a great time climbing for several hours. If this is a sport you have ever thought about taking up, I would highly recommend visiting Granite Arch and checking out one of their classes.  Or if you have kids like mine who are climbing up and on everything, this is a great place to burn some energy during these rainy days. Happy Climbing!

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Enchantment Comes to Sacramento as Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment Graces Downtown’s Golden 1 Center

February 17, 2017

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There’s nothing better on a cold wintry night than to be transported to many worlds of enchantment within our new Golden One Center. Disney on Ice does it again, proving there is something for everyone in a spectacular show of ice skating talent, theatrics, classic Disney characters, and music! The house was full and the stage set for success with delightful costumes and the magic of imagination brought to life.

My friend brought her 5-year-old daughter and I brought my 4-year-old son. Both were completely entranced throughout, especially knowing they would be seeing their all-time favorite characters, Elsa and Lightning McQueen live! And for us adults, the music and choreography was a definite plus. With songs like Dream Weaver, Walking on Sunshine, and Rescue Me, we were hooked. My personal favorite was the flawless performance by the soldiers from Toy Story, along with of course the infamous “Let it Go” from Frozen.

With the classic Mickey Mouse to start the show, we were all taken on an ultimate Disney adventure from start to finish with an amazing array of characters! Everyone including Woody and Jesse, Buzz Lightyear, Barbie and Ken, Ariel from the Little Mermaid, the full cast of Cars, not to mention Elsa and Anna from Frozen were there to entertain us and take us away from our busy lives for one very special night.

What: Disney on Ice: Worlds of Enchantment

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento

When: Feb. 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20

Tickets: Prices start at $15, click here to purchase

By Annie Fairburn

Three Things to Do in Sacramento Over President’s Day Weekend

February 17, 2017

It’s President’s Day weekend, the kids are out of school and it’s going to be a wet weekend. Instead of being disappointed that you won’t be able to enjoy the great outdoors, check out some of the fantastic indoor activities you can do with your kiddos. Here are three events or activities you may want to check out this weekend.

1. Hands on History at Sutter’s Fort. Ok…so this one may not keep you completely dry, but it is worth it, I promise. The fort’s Hands on History: By Land and By Sea will take you back in time to the 1840s. Visitors will learn about the two ways emigrants came to California, the challenges they faced and what daily life was like when they arrived. Enjoy the fort in its re-enactment of its glory days, experience hands-on activities like packing a wagon, weaving rope, tying knots, creating maps and marching in the drum corps, and more. This is a fabulously fun and education experience for your whole family. Sutter’s Fort

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2. Live Free: California Motorcycle Culture at the California Automobile Museum. Been to Sacramento’s auto museum lately? If not, you’ll want to get out there by Saturday, Feb. 19 to see the California Motorcycle Culture exhibit before it leaves. Learn about the first motorcycles and see how they have evolved over the years. If you’ve got a motorcycle lover in your house, you won’t want to miss this exhibit. California Automobile Museum

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3. Junior Engineer training at the California State Railroad Museum. Head on down to the railroad museum this weekend and let your kids earn their Junior Engineer award. Download this pamphlet before you go and then set your kids free to complete the tasks and activities inside. Once they finish the packet and take the Junior Engineer Pledge, they are all set to help the hundreds of volunteers who protect and care for our California State Parks. California State Railroad Museum

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Love is in the Air – Celebrate Valentines Day with your Family in Sacramento

February 10, 2017

valentine-heart-love-friendshipHearts and cupids are all over the place these days, reminding us that “love is in the air.” It’s Valentine’s month and there are so many fun events and ways to say “I love you.”  If you are searching for special ways to show your affection, here are some ideas:

Take your family to the Sacramento Zoo on February 12 for their annual “I Heart the Sacramento Zoo” event. This event features valentine-themed activities, informative talks and zoo fun. Activities are included in the price of admission.

Create a special art masterpiece at Art Beast studios. This is a perfect date idea for your youngest valentines. Make cards, paint a special picture, and enjoy some interactive play with musical instruments and imaginary play. Open daily from 9am-6pm. Admission $8 and includes all your crafting supplies and best of all… you don’t have to clean the mess when you are done!

Enjoy a dinner and a movie at Studio Movie Grill in Rocklin.   Nothing is better than being served dinner, snacks and drinks while watching a new release on the big screen.

Old Town Pizza in Elk Grove is hosting a “Paints and Pizza for KIDS” on February 12th. Kids will create a Valentines masterpiece with the help of artist Liz Harrington while she teaches them how to paint. Adults can join in on the fun, or they can observe and enjoy pizza and drinks. Make sure to register online, as there only so many spots available.

Lace up your running shoes and join in the 14th annual “Race for Justice- Valentine Run”. Choose either a 1.8 mile untimed course or a 4 mile timed course that takes your through the beautiful Arden Park neighborhood. This Valentine run/walk is kid and dog friendly – perfect for the whole family! Participants are encouraged to wear hearts on their outfits to show their love and compete in a best dressed awards show.

However you plan to show your loved ones you care, make it a special day and enjoy!

Win Tickets: Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment at Golden 1 Center Features Lightning McQueen, Woody & Buzz and Ariel, with a visit from Anna & Elsa

February 1, 2017

lightning-mater-et-alDisney on Ice is back in Sacramento this month with Worlds of Enchantment featuring our favorite characters from Cars, Toy Story, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. This definitely sounds a little more boy-oriented than the past couple of Disney on Ice performances, so we are pretty excited! Want to know a little about the show? We can’t say it any better than the Disney on Ice folks themselves. Read for yourself:

“Thrill to high-speed stunts as Lightning McQueen and the crew of Disney•Pixar’s Cars race across the ice! Dive into adventure with Ariel and The Little Mermaid’s undersea kingdom. The toys are back in town with heroic action when Buzz, Woody, Jessie and the Disney•Pixar Toy Story gang escape Sunnyside Daycare in their most daring adventure! Plus, enter the wintry world of Arendelle with sisters Anna and Elsa and pals Olaf and Kristoff from Disney’s Frozen as they learn that true love comes from within. Get warmed up for the show and be your best with exclusive moves taught by the mouse that started it all at Mickey’s Dance-Along Pre-Show. From wheels to waves, icy wonderlands to infinity and beyond, your family’s favorite Disney moments come to life at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment.”

I bet you would LOVE to take your family to this show! Well, we’ve got a family pack of four tickets to give away to one of you. To be eligible to win the tickets, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us what actor was the voice of Lightning McQueen in the beloved movie Cars, released on the big screen in 2006. Leave your comment no later than Thursday, Feb 2, 2017 at 5pm. A winner will be chosen on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. Good luck!

What: Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment

When: Feb. 16-20, 2017

Where: Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center

Tickets: individual ticket prices start at $15

 

The 19th Annual Sacramento Museum Day is this Saturday…Here are Some Tips on How to Enjoy the Day

January 31, 2017

sam_museumday_2017If you are looking for something fun and free to do this weekend, then check out the 19th annual Sacramento Museum Day on Saturday, February 4, 2017. With over 25 local museums and attractions participating, the community can get into these local sites for free or at a reduced price.

This annual event is sponsored by Sutter Health and Bank of America.   Participating museums will offer this special day from 10am-5pm.  Most of the museums will be offering free admission, and two destinations (the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town) will offer half priced admission.

Participating museums are anticipating high volume of visitors, so plan your day accordingly.   Make sure you map out the museums you want to visit, hitting the “most popular” ones first thing in the morning.

Here are some of the participating locations you can visit:

Sacramento History Museum
The Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum
California Agriculture Museum
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Roseville Utility Exploration Center
Sacramento Children’s Museum
California Agriculture Museum
California Railroad Museum
Sutter’s Fort

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These are some of my top choices for hands on experiences with the kids- but check out the complete list of museums here.

A few tips to before you begin: 

  1. Start early and map out your route.   Choose just a couple that you would like to visit and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy each museum.
  2. Bring snacks for the road. You don’t want any “meltdowns” from the young ones, so keep them nourished!
  3.  Choose something new. Many local residents have already visited the most popular museums such as the Railroad Museum, Children’s Museum and Fairytale Town.  Pick a new destination to explore.  I would suggest the California Agriculture Museum, Maidu Roseville Utility Center or the California Museum (yes- these are in different locations, so hitting all three would be nearly impossible).
  4. Have patience… this day can get very busy, please be courteous and remember everyone is out trying to enjoy and learn something new with their children.
  5.  Have fun!

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Top Family Friendly Restaurants in Sacramento

January 26, 2017

Many families come to Sacramento on business, stop in for dinner on their way to the mountains or just live in our wonderful capital city.  Whether you are visiting Sacramento from out of town, live in the area or are just passing through, we have plenty of family friendly eateries to choose from so you can get those kids fed and back on the road.

Downtown has so many wonderful options to choose from, especially if you are not wanting to go to a typical chain restaurant.  Of course, when you think of “kid friendly”, some may instantly have nightmares of a giant mouse, loud video games and screaming kids.  We do have those more entertainment options in the area, but if you are searching for a nice evening out, we have you covered!

Downtown Sacramento offers a wide variety of options.  From farm-to-fork local eateries, to quick order-and-go stops, to the typical chain restaurant.  I took a poll of the best family friendly restaurants in the area and this is the list we came up with.  You may have your own family favorite, and please feel free to let us know where and why.

My family likes to try new places, so we have been to several on this list. But there are a few are new spots we are excited to try. So, next time you are in the area or you just want a break from cooking, check out one of our local hot spots:

For those who love Italian:

 Paesanos in Midtown has been voted as the best Italian Pizzerias!  Located at 1806 Capital Avenue, they have a menu that is sure to please everyone in your family. Pizzas, pastas, salads and they even have a gluten-free menu for those with diet restrictions.   The last time we were there, my kids were given a ball of dough to play with… they were kept busy and happy until the food came!

Old Spaghetti Factory in Downtown and Roseville is a unique dining experience.  Kids will feel comfortable with the colorful decor and can even request to sit in one of the old trolley cars!  My kids always find something on the menu to keep them satisfied and the price is perfect for families.

Pizza Rock

Pizza Rock located at 1020 K Street in downtown Sacramento is definitely a place to visit if you haven’t been there.  With a large semi truck hanging from the ceiling, a loud and fun atmosphere to distract the kids and great food… it’s worth searching for parking downtown to have dinner here.   They are one of the few restaurants that I have found that really believe in getting the kids dirty in the kitchen.  Every first Saturday of the month, they host Kids in the Kitchen where kids can make their own pizzas and the money raised goes towards charity.  What a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

California Pizza Kitchen has several locations throughout the Sacramento area.  They are very kid friendly, have great food and offer a selection of gluten-free menu items to keep those with specific restrictions enjoying dining out with the family.

Skipolinis, located at 6600 Lonetree Blvd in Rocklin is definitely a kid friendly option!  They have an indoor play area that the kids can climb through while waiting for the meal.  Plenty of televisions playing all the latest sports games and they have a great menu to choose from.  This is one of our favorites when we want to go out for a “family night” but would rather have more “adult” time talking while the kids play.

For those who prefer good old American fare, we have plenty of options:

Red Robin, yes, it’s a chain restaurant but they definitely are kid friendly, have plenty of menu items to choose from and have always been fast in getting us in and out when we are in a hurry.   Kids love the decor and who can’t complain when you are served bottomless French fries?

Chili’s, yes another chain that has several locations throughout the Sacramento valley, but they offer one thing that not all the other restaurants do… kiosks at the tables, loaded with games to keep the kids busy! Even if you don’t want your kid to sit and stare at a screen all dinner long, it is nice to have that option until the food arrives.

Empress Tavern located at 1013 K Street in Downtown Sacramento.  This may seem more like a date night spot, than a family friendly location, but don’t let the appearance fool you.  They are very family friendly and offer a menu that can be served family style with some of the freshest ingredients around.

Now, if you have more adventurous palates, then check out some of our local sushi and seafood restaurants. My 7-year-old is always begging to go to sushi – it’s his favorite meal!  We have tried many restaurants in the area and have found a couple that really are our favorites in terms of freshness and cost to take out a family of four.

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Mikuni can be argued as the best sushi is Sacramento.  We love the atmosphere and that they are very kid friendly (as long as you don’t go at 8pm on a Saturday night). They offer a kids menu, chop stick “helpers” and gave my kids fun goodies to play with at the table even though my son doesn’t order off the kids meal anymore. While it can get expensive, the food is great!

Raku is an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant located in West Sacramento and Rocklin.   The thought of all-you-can-eat sushi seemed a bit disgusting to me at first, but once we tried it, we were hooked! Great prices for the amount you get, the fish is fresh and the rolls were tasty.  Kids were in heaven when we told them they could continue to order rolls after they thought they were done.  They have special pricing for kids vs. Adults, so it’s worth checking out if you have a sushi loving family.

There are so many more dining options than this in our wonderful city, but I’m hoping this gives you an idea of some new places to visit with your family. Bon Appétit!

By Heather Crivellone