Family Fun at the 2015 California State Fair

One of the most anticipated events of the summer here in Sacramento is right around the corner. The California State Fair rolls into town Friday, July 10, 2015 and is here to stay for 17 fabulous days of fun and excitement. Grab the kids and head on down to Cal Expo for the making of some wonderful family memories. Here’s our list of family friendly events at this year’s State Fair that you won’t want to miss.


Old Favorites

Kids Park – Located on the east side of the fairgrounds, Kids Park is a kid-friendly, more low-key area of the park for games and rides. Perfect for kiddos 8 years and younger.

Camp Smokey – Camp Smokey is a fun, interagency fire prevention program that teaches fire safety to kids. Visit Smokey the Bear’s cabin for puppet shows, instruction on “stop, drop and roll” and earn your very own Camp Smoky Bandana by learning how to safely exit “smoke-filled” rooms.

The Farm – check out the California State Fair’s 3-acre farm for food tastings and to learn about natural foods through a variety of exhibits.

The Farm at the California State Fair

Baby Barn – one of the most popular animal attractions at the fair, in the baby barn you can witness the miracle of birth, gush over newly born piglets or lambs, and earn to milk a cow. Your kids will love the baby barn!

Petting Zoo – get up close and personal with some of the fair’s favorite animals. Goats, bunny rabbits, lambs, chickens, you name it. Your kids will enjoy making friends with some of the cutest animals around.

California State Fair Animals

Special Exhibits

Tech Trek – Experience the newest exhibit in the Expo Center, Tech Trek: Science Fiction to Science Fact. Tech Trek examines and celebrates the past, present and future of technologies inspired by science fiction and pop culture. Tech Trek offers fun, interactive areas that the whole family will enjoy. Explore the wonders of science and technology just by playing and experimenting. Tech Trek will also house a Stop Motion Studio and 8 Foot Zoetrope, where Fair goers can see pictures come to life. Don’t forget to say hi to Baxter, Tech Trek’s fun, interactive robot.

Minds in Motion – Minds in Motion will feature teen-friendly exhibits exploring the wonder of science and animals. Visitors can check out the giant chess set, Rube Goldberg machine, dexterity testers, velocity tunnel and much more at this hands-on exhibit. Get creative in the Maker’s Fair area, or just relax in the hang out area. Unique live animal displays help bring science and learning to life. Discover what makes bird flight possible, how the armadillo protects itself from prey and more in this fascinating display of the animal kingdom.

Dream Big – Explore, create, play in the Dream Big exhibit. Visitors are encouraged to Dream Big and explore the possibilities of the Golden State in this comfortable, family friendly environment. Here kids play and just be kids while learning what makes California great. There’s Family Story Time, Play Time Adventures, Dream Big Photo Vignettes, Dream Big Theater, Mommy Lounge and Snack Shack.

Beach Buddy Adventure – sponsored by the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail Licence Plate Fund, fair-goers will have the opportunity to watch see some of the California coast’s resident animals. Watch playful river otters, bald eagles, pelicans, a spiny lobster and a tule elk. Once you pull yourself away from those cute otters, make sure to check out the giant sandcastle and learn about the different sands found along the coast. Check out all the different station to earn your official Beach Buddy Badge.

River Otters at the California State Fair


Freestyle Motorcross – Cal Expo has drained the Main Lagoon to conserve water, opening it up to high-flying aerial dare devils. Catch a Jack in the Box Freestyle Motocross show each of the 17 Fair days for free. Daily shows include top name athletes, music and an emcee calling tricks and giving fans an up-close and personal look at extreme riding.

Demolition Derby – The Demolition Derby is a must-see if you love cars or just seeing them smash into one another. Get a front row seat for one of the most entertaining and destructive events the Fair has to offer. Come watch wild drivers wreck their way to victory in this up close and personal venue. Many cars will enter, but only one driver will exit a winner.

Demolition Derby at the California State Fair

Splash Dogs: Watch water-loving dogs from all over the state compete for the longest and farthest jump at the Splash Dogs Dock. This family friendly competition is perfect for pet-lovers and animal enthusiast alike. Fair goers can also get in on the fun by entering their own dogs in the Splash Dogs Competition. Friendly dogs of all shapes and sizes are welcome to compete for a variety of titles.


TreeCircus – See the world from a tree’s perspective with the TreeCircus and TreeCircus Climbing Experience. Daring fair goers will have the chance to climb vertical ropes in this high-flying exhibit. If you would rather stay on the ground, enjoy climbing demonstrations and high-energy stage show featuring extreme tree advocate and entertainer Tim Womick and world-class tree climber and arborist Chad Brey. Also joining the fun on stage is everyone’s favorite Treeture, Arbor E. Tum, who is sure to entertain and educate the whole family.

Nightly Concerts: Enjoy free concerts each night of the fair on the Golden 1 Stage. The Toyota Concert Series includes performers such as Martina McBride, Air Supply, .38 Special, Ashanti, and more.

Specials & Discounts

FREE Admission: children ages 4 and under

Wells Fargo Kids Days: Each Tuesday of the fair, kids ages 12 and under are FREE; rides are just $2

Senior Savings Fridays: Adults ages 62 and older receive discount admission of $8 and ride FREE on the Grand Carousel and the Giant Wheel.

Youth Leadership Day: Monday, July 13 – youth will enjoy activities catered to future leaders.

Military & Veteran Appreciation Day: Thursday, July 16 – Admission is FREE for all military personnel with ID.

First Responders Appreciation Day: Thursday, July 23 – Admission is FREE for all first responders with ID.

Family fun Pack:  includes 4 daily admission tickets, 4 carnival ride or monorail tickets and 1 parking pass for $49.99.

Blue Ribbon Season Pass:  Includes State Fair admission, Raging Waters admission during the Fair, unlimited Monorail rides and Horse Racing reserved seating (for adults only) for $49.99 per person.

State Fair Season Pass: Includes State Fair admission and Raging Waters admission during the Fair for $29.99 per person.

Ride Wristbands: unlimited rides Monday-Friday for $30. Unlimited rides on Saturday and Sunday, $35.

*Purchase tickets before 7/9 for discounted prices.


Staying Cool in Sacramento, Part 2: Cool Things to do Outdoors this Summer

In this second of a two-part series on staying cool in Sacramento during the summertime (see part 1 here on staying cool indoors here), we explore not only some of the area’s natural resources, but also many of the made-made assets that help us all stay cool and enjoy this beautiful (but sometimes rather hot) area in which we live.

Rivers and Lakes

Sacramento River Cruise – take a delightful 1-hour cruise aboard the Hornblower as you venture down the river. Stay inside the air-conditioned cabin, or enjoy the open air as you cruise under the Tower Bridge, slowly meander past the Delta King and enjoy scenic views of Old Sacramento, Discovery Park and more. Listen carefully to your captain or river guide as they tell you historic facts about the river and the city that was built around it. The cruises depart three times each Thursday through Sunday during the summer months. Cost is $20 per person. Look for special holiday cruises your whole family can enjoy.

Hornblower Cruise 039


Discovery Park – this 302-acre park located right downtown where the Sacramento and American rivers meet, offers many recreational activities ranging from picnicking to fishing, boating and swimming. While Discovery Park is a popular place to swim, I normally wouldn’t recommend it for families with small children, as the river can be quite dangerous. However, due to the drought, the water level is pretty low, and therefore a less treacherous place to cool off. So, for this might just be a great time to take the kids down for a swim. Even with the more tame conditions, life jackets are always a good idea, especially for your little ones. Parking is $5, $3 small watercraft launch fee.

Discovery Park View


Folsom Lake – Located just 25 miles east of Sacramento at the base of the Sierra foothills, Folsom Lake and Recreation Area offers visitors swimming, water-skiing, boating and fishing in addition to hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping. While the lake level is pretty low this year due to drought, the reports are that the water is warm and shores are less crowded than usual – which can be a good thing. Bring an umbrella or pop-up tent, chairs and some food and enjoy a day lakeside. Parking is $12.

Sacramento State Aquatic Center – The Sacramento State Aquatic Center, located on Lake Natoma, is operated by California State University, Sacramento, the University Union of Sacramento State, California Department of Boating and Waterways, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The Center provides instruction in Sailing, Rowing, Water-ski/Wakeboarding, and Windsurfing not only to Sac State students, but to the general public as well. Also provided are a series of summer camps, and youth programs. The Aquatic Center is open seven days a week and is a great place to learn water sports, have a reunion or birthday party.

Sac State Aquatic Center


Water Parks and Splash Pads

Raging Waters – located within the Cal Expo grounds, this large water park is just minutes from downtown. Raging waters offers 25 attractions for all ages, including fun and thrilling water slides like Hurricane, Splashdown and the Cliffhanger Speed Slide. Other attractions include Breaker Beach Wave Pool, the Calypso Cooler Lazy River, and Treehouse Reef. Hang out poolside, on the grass, or rent a private cabana. This is also a great place for birthday or other celebrations. If you’ll go more than twice this summer, I would recommend buying a season pass from Costco, for $39.99, season ticket holders get a coupon book offering all kinds of discounts, including two “friends” passes. The season pas also gets you access to the California State Fair (July 10-26, 2015). I’m not going to lie, though. While Raging Waters Sacramento is fun and very convenient – my kids have season passes – it’s a bit run down. Here’s to hoping they spruce things up over the next season or two.

Raging Waters Sacramento

GolfLand Sunsplash – this water park is located in Roseville – about 20 miles from downtown Sacramento. The park offers over 30 rides and attractions including water and thrill slides like Vortex and Thunder Falls. There’s also Adventure Island and Thunder Bay Wave Pool in addition to miniature golf, laser tag, a raceway, and some food and beverage establishments. Like Raging Waters, this is also a great place for group events including birthdays. Sunsplash also offers fun Nite Slides. Season passes are quite a bit more expensive though – $99 for single pass. With the season pass you’ll receive 50 percent off non-swim activities like laser tag and golfing.

Neighborhood splash pads – One of the things Sacramento takes pride in, is its neighborhood parks. In fact, last year, the Trust for Public Land ranked Sacramento #7 (tied with Denver) out of 60 cities across the nation for having the best city parks. While we do have some great parks that we can enjoy all year-long, we really appreciate our parks with splash pads during the hot, summer months. And despite the drought, most Sacramento city splash pads will be open this summer – and these parks are a great way to stay cool for FREE. Take a look at our list of splash pads and water parks here.



Cool Treats

Favorite Ice Cream Shops – Sacramento has some amazing ice cream shops. There’s favorites like Vic’s Ice Cream on Franklin Boulevard, Leatherby’s on Arden Way, and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour on Watt Avenue. And then, there’s Gunther’s Ice Cream. Just last week, Gunther’s was named the best ice cream shop in California by mobile search app Foursquare. The family run ice cream shop has been around for 75 years, and is still going strong!

Shaved Ice – There’s a couple of Sacramento establishments where one can get a great shaved ice treat. When you are out and about and you spot the delightful Local Kine Shave Ice Food Truck you’ve got to make a stop. Or better yet, attend the next SactoMoFo event and make sure your stop by Local Kine for dessert. You can follow them on Facebook here.

And for when you are meandering the streets of Old Sacramento, make sure to stop in at Frozen in Time Treats. This shop serves not only Gunther’s ice cream in the form of cones, sundae’s banana splits (and more), but a great shaved ice as well. Frozen in time is the perfect ending to a fun day spent in Old Sacramento with friends or out-of-town guests.

Vampire Penguin – Fairly new to Sacramento, Vampire Penguin serves…not ice cream, and not shaved ice…but shaved snow. What is shaved snow you ask? Well, it’s a cross between ice cream and shaved ice. Just imagine it. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? The local business has one shop on Stockton Boulevard, one in Davis, and another in Elk Grove and one more soon to open in Rocklin.

Osaka-Ya Shaved Ice Sacramento


Osaka-ya – This mom and pop Japanese market has been a Sacramento fixture for over 50 years. Located on 10th Street downtown, Osaka-ya serves the Japanese sweets Mochi and Manju, as well as cream puffs and – the reason they are on our list – shaved ice. They make the typical yummy shaved ice flavors in addition to a few of their own such as sweet red beans, green tea powder and condensed milk. Go ahead, give Osaka-ya a try!

Celebrate Independence Day with Fireworks Displays and Other Holiday Events around Sacramento

Fireworks in Sacramento

By Heather Crivellone

With the 4th of July right around the corner, you may be starting to plan your family festivities.  The temperatures are high and most of us are wanting to stay cool, but if you are feeling adventurous and ready for some fun, then check out the list of some local parties going on around town. All are family friendly, so put on some “red, white and blue” and enjoy Independence Day with your family and friends!

River Cats Independence Day Celebration 
July 3rd at Raley Field 400 BallPark Drive, the Sacramento River Cats will take on the Salt Lake Bee’s followed by an Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular.

Raley Field 4th on the Field Food Truck Event
 Saturday, July 4 from 6pm -10pm, Raley Field will host a 4th of July celebration.
The food truck community will gather on Raley Field’s outfield for a family friendly event featuring some of the region’s best local food, live music and a fireworks extravaganza.
Admission for Children under 12 is $9.95 and anyone over 12 is $15.85

Sacramento Independence Day Celebration at Cal Expo
July 4th from 5 – 10pm experience the largest pyrotechnics display in Sacramento!
Food and beverages will be sold and the fireworks show will begin at 9:30pm.
Admission is Free and Parking is $10.  

4th of July fun at the Davis Community Park
1405 F Street in Davis from 5pm – 10pm.
Food vendors and live entertainment for the whole family!
Fireworks show to begin at 9:30pm.

Carmichael Annual Fireworks Show at the La Sierra Community Center
5325 Engle Rd, Carmichael
From 7pm – 10pm enjoy music, food and free activities for the family.
Fireworks show will begin approximately 9:30pm.

Elk Grove’s “A Salute to the Red, White and Blue
Elk Grove Regional Park 9950 Elk Grove Florin Rd
From 5pm – 10pm enjoy live music, vendors, food and entertainment.
Fireworks will begin at 9:30. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

Rancho Cordova Fourth of July Celebration
Two-day cerebration on Friday and Saturday July 3 and 4.
Hagan Park 2197 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova
Enjoy Food vendors, Beer gardens, live entertainment, bounce houses, kids zone, carnival and more.

Roseville’s 4th of July Fireworks Show at Placer County Fairgrounds
800 All America City Blvd. Roseville
Gates will open at 6:30pm and the Fireworks show will begin approximately at 9:30.
Live music, food and beverages will be available for purchase. Parking is $5.

Lincoln’s 4th of July Celebration at McBean Park
Join local’s at this all day event that includes a food vendors, a kids zone and a fireworks show that will begin at 9:30pm.
This is just a few of the activities going on around the Sacramento area this week.  I’m sure there are many more events in your area that are not listed… parades, carnivals and such.  But hopefully this will help you to decide what to do when America celebrates our Independence on Thursday!

Woodland 4th of July Events – Starting first thing in the morning, join the city of Woodland for a fun run, pancake breakfast, bike parade and family fest, ice cream social, swim fest, and finally, a fireworks celebration at Woodland High School. Check the City of Woodland website for location and times for each event.

Have fun and be safe!

Cool Cars and Hot Summer Nights in Sacramento

photo 3  By Heather Crivellone

Cool cars, HOT summer nights and the sounds of Rock-n-Roll from the 50’s.  Sounds like an episode from “Happy Days”… or an excuse for some fun family time!

Throughout the Sacramento area, you can find different types of car shows that are going on this summer.  From classic cars to “muscle cars” and everything in between, if you have a car lover in your family, you can find an event to cruise at and enjoy the sights of these mechanical masterpieces.

Recently, I took my family to Roseville’s “Downtown Tuesday Nights” to admire some cool classics and enjoy some live music.  My husband is a proclaimed “car guy” and has been rebuilding his own hot rod for years… I knew he would enjoy the evening checking out the classics, while I enjoyed a night off from cooking and fed my family from the local food truck vendors.   This event is hosted every Tuesday night from 5-9pm, through July 28 on Vernon Street in Old Roseville. The streets are blocked off and lined with classic cars, trucks and even tractors!  Live entertainment and vendors keep the kids happy, and they even have live bands playing all night in the beer gardens.  This is definitely an event to experience with the family during these warm summer months.

Throughout the valley, you can also find different car shows to visit during the summer.  I have compiled a list of shows for reference, some do have an entrance fee while others are free. If you have really young children, I suggest a stroller and lots of snacks to keep their busy hands active.  The classics are great to see but they don’t want to be touched… and little hands always want to touch the bright cherry red doors and climb into the bucket seats (just make sure to keep kids at your sides at all times).

June 20- “Mustangs and Fords” at the Sacramento Marriott in Rancho Cordova from 9am-2pm

June 27 – Marysville Classic Car and Bike Show in Downtown Marysville on D street.

August 1- Sacramento’s 7th Annual CAM Car Show and Cruise from 4-9pm. Watch classic cars cruise the streets from Sacramento State to Fulton Avenue at what has been considered the BEST car show in Sacramento.  Cruise begins at 4pm and ends with the car show and music festival from 5-8pm on Fulton.

August 4-9 – Hot August Nights in Downtown Reno. A day trip into Reno for car lovers is a must when this annual show comes to town. Classics from around the world line the streets for this annual event and never seems to disappoint the fans.

September 3Hot Chili and Cool Cars in Rocklin.

Sacramento Vintage Fridays benefiting the Make a Wish Foundation will be held from 4-9pm on June 26, July 31, September 25 and October 23. This event includes entertainment, food and even a movie! Great fun for the entire family. Located at Sacramento Vintage Ford in Rancho Cordova.

Every Saturday through October, visit the All American Speedway at the Roseville Fairgrounds for some fast action car racing.

Second Friday of the month through September in Auburn on Lincoln way, enjoy the Auburn Cruise from 4-9pm, where you can watch the classics “cruise” the streets.

Every Friday night through October at the Gold Country fairgrounds in Auburn you can watch motorcycle races starting at 8pm.

So, if you have an auto lover in your household, I hope this list comes in handy.  Kids of all ages can enjoy the fast cars and warm nights at these events.  Whether it’s the races or just viewing the classics, there is something for every car lover in the Sacramento Valley.

photo 4


Father’s Day Weekend Family Fun in Sacramento

Father's Day Activities in Sacramento

This weekend is all about dad! Enjoy toasted marshmallows around a campfire, camp out at Fairtyale Town, celebrate freedom at the Juneteenth Festival or take that favorite guy in your life to Funderland, where dad’s ride free on Sunday. Whatever you do, make sure to let dad know how special he is.

Movie at the Park – Bring your family and friends out to Howe Park on Friday night for a FREE outdoor viewing of The Great Outdoors. 6/19, 8:30 – 11:00 pm.

Campfire at the Maidu Museum – Enjoy native Maidu Indian stories as you roast marshmallows around a campfire at the Museum’s outdoor amphitheater. 6/19, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Maidu Museum and Historic Site.

Family Campout at Fairytale Town – Enjoy theater performances, arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, bedtime stories and a sing-a-long. Then camp out under the stars in Sacramento’s favorite storybook park. Wake up the next morning to a light breakfast. 6/19 – 6/20.

Sacramento Juneteenth Festival – Celebrate freedom at Sacramento’s Juneteenth Festival this weekend. There are several events that take place at Juneteenth that are considered historical to the festival including a parade, fashion show, sporting games, dialogue on current issues, and red punch. 6/19 – 6/21.

Wizard World Comic Con – Join thousands of fans  at the Sacramento Convention Center to celebrate the best in pop culture. The Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con has it all  –  movies, comics, toys, video gaming, games, TV, graphic novels, horror, wrestling, MMA, art, collectibles, anime, manga, and more! See Wizard World website for details on times and admission costs. 6/19, 6/20, 6/21

Birding for Families – Bring the family to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center to join special guest guides from the Sacramento Audubon Society for a birding walk. Birdwatchers of all levels welcome! Bring your binoculars or the Center can lend you a pair. 6/20, 10:30 – 12:00 pm.

International SUN-day at the Discovery Museum – Welcome the summer season by taking part in International SUN-day. The Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society will be outside with their hydrogen alpha scopes, allowing you to see the sun directly, showing sun spots and prominences. Talk to SVAS about telescopes, backyard astronomy, and community viewing opportunities. You can also make a sun medallion decoration. 6/20 – 6/21.

Fathers and Feathers at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Bring Dad out to the Nature Center to meet some of the Natures Center’s feathered residents. Learn all about what makes these birds so special and how they became educational ambassadors for the Center. 6/21.

Father’s Day at Funderland – Celebrate dad’s big day at Funderland where dad’s ride for FREE all day long! 6/21

Father’s Day BBQ and Western Show aboard the Sacramento River Train – Father’s Day doesn’t have to be all about toolboxes and neckties. This year, give the gift of adventure aboard Sacramento RiverTrain’s Father’s Day BBQ and Western Show. Dad is going to love spending Father’s Day on the rails. 6/21, 11:00am – 2:30 pm.

Paper Airplane Day at the Aerospace Museum – take Dad to the Aerospace Museum for paper airplane fun. Create crazy new designs and compete in competitions. Make sure you take a look at the real airplanes the museum houses while you’re there! 6/21, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.