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Day trip to Davis- Educational, Active and Fun

April 19, 2013

city-of-davis-logoBy Heather Crivellone

According to “Wikipedia”, the City of Davis is known for its “liberal politics, for having many bicycles and bike paths and for the campus of the University of California, Davis.  And in 2006, Davis was ranked as the second most educated city in the U.S. By CNN Money magazine”.  Pretty impressive for a city in the middle of an agriculture area!

For those of us locals, we know Davis as just a “hop, skip and a jump” away from the busy, urban areas of downtown Sacramento.  What many people may not know, is that in the middle of this “college town”, you can find activities for your entire family to keep them busy and engaged all day long.

I recently took my two children on a “day adventure” to Davis.  We found enough kid-friendly activities that were both educational and active that by the end of the afternoon- we were all taking naps!

Our first stop was to the Explorit Science Center.  Located at 3141 5th Street, my kids (ages 4 and 5) were completely engaged and had fun in this hands-on science museum.
The Explorit Museum is a nonprofit science center that was founded in 1982 to “ignite and foster curiosity about science and nature through inquiry and discovery.”  They do this by changing out exhibits every few months and by bringing in new discoveries that the kids (and adults) can learn through exploration. 

Currently running through the end of August is the exhibit: Beautiful World: Science and Art.  Exploring different art forms and how they relate to science.  Kids can experiment with different materials as they draw, dance and weave their way through the connected worlds of science, math and the arts.
My kids were exploring different materials and made hydrogel.  They created robots and  trains using recyclables.  They created music with cymbals and homemade drums.  Explored how different colors and music is created…they had so much fun playing, that they didn’t even realize how much they were learning!  And isn’t that the best feeling when they incorporate play into learning?? 

Not only do they have the rotating exhibits, but the Explorit Science center also has a “Discovery Den” that has books, puzzles, blocks, and educational toys for kids of all ages, along with the fun reptiles and insects that make the little boys smile and the girls (my daughter at least) run from the area.  My 4-year-old boy was in “Bug Heaven” when we were checking out the beetles, cockroaches, black widow spiders and even a Bearded Dragon!   

The Explorit Science Center is open Wednesdays from 1pm-5pm, Fridays 3pm-6pm and Saturday and Sundays 1pm-5pm.  Admission is $5 and children under the age of 2 are free.  Check their website for special holiday times and if you would like to schedule a field trip with your school.
They are situated in a neighborhood of Davis that has a park just behind the facility which is perfect for kids of all ages.  They have a walking trail that leads to the park structure and a large field for sports and games.  A perfect afternoon with the kids…. educational and active!DSC_0251

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Another “hot spot” we visited in Davis was Rainbow City park.  Located at the corner of W. Covell Blvd. and F Street. This park is a breath of fresh air to this mama, who lives in “suburbia” and is forced to take the kids to the same boring parks with the plastic pre fab play structures.  The playground consists of mostly wooden play structures in the form of castles, pirate ships, boats, sandboxes and swings.. The kids had fun using their imaginations and climbing through tires and running around the large fields.  This park also has two more playgrounds, both of which are fantastic for those kids working on their gross motor skills (climbing nets, balancing areas, etc.)  If your kids are into skateboarding, they also have a skate park and a cement slide that I saw some “older kids” having fun on with large pieces of cardboard (I didn’t show this to my little daredevils, since I knew we would have some serious skinned up knees)!

If you have more time to explore the city of Davis, I would also suggest checking out the Davis Arboretum.  With 100 acres of gardens for recreation, exhibits and demonstrations on gardening and even guided tours- this is a wonderful springtime activity for the family.  My family has enjoyed having our portraits taken in these gardens, as well as walking through with the kids (both while they were in strollers and now just running around).  This is a perfect place to “get away” from the city and enjoy nature.

And lastly, if you want to fully experience the city of Davis, you must enjoy a trip to one of their famous Wednesday evening Farmers markets (Central Park on 4th and C Street).  Locals will bring their picnic blankets and baskets for a large picnic in the park.  From 4:30pm-8:30pm Wednesday evenings through October, The Davis Food Co-op sponsors live music from local bands.  If you don’t bring a picnic, you can purchase food from one of the many food vendors (even grab a glass of beer or wine) and entertain the kids with the many activities that are going on (pony rides, face painting, rock climbing to name a few).  This is a party not to be missed.

So whether you plan on visiting for a couple of hours or staying the entire day- there is something in Davis for everyone. 
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