The Crocker Art Museum Unveils New Art Spot PL!NK, and Kids Love it!

Sacramento is a wonderful family town with a plethora of events, activities and venues for children and families. Perhaps one of the most surprising places in Sacramento to welcome children is the West Coast’s oldest public art venue, the Crocker Art Museum. While the Crocker has welcomed children for years, they have really stepped up their game within the last several, opening exhibit after exhibit and offering class after class geared towards children of all ages as well as their parents and caregivers.

In an effort to better understand what kids enjoy and how they learn, and with funding in part from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and First 5 Sacramento, the Crocker developed an experimental Art Spots program that features four experiential installations designed for children ages 5 and under. The first Art Spot, Gato – a mellow, but mesmerizing exhibit featuring a giant cat – opened in May.

The museum’s newest Art Spot exhibit PL!INK opened just a few days ago. While Gato is housed in the museum’s historic building, PL!NK is perfectly situated in the light and airy Teel Family Pavilion, the museum’s modern addition. Comprised of more than 100 tetrahedron clusters of mirror and colorful plexiglass, PL!NK is meant to be an immersive experience where children can experiment, explore and even create their own shape-based, interlocking sculptures to add to the colorful collection that shines with light reflected from the windows of the room.

The artwork isn’t just something to see, it’s interactive as well. Guests have the opportunity to insert themselves into the artwork as tiny cameras capture and magnify their images and display them in a real-time video playback effect as if a kaleidoscope within the artwork. They also can hear their experiences play back to them by talking into a storytelling station that voice-records their stories about what they see, hear, do, touch, feel and create within PL!NK. What kid doesn’t love to hear their recorded voice play back to them in a fun and creative way? It’s pretty awesome. PL!NK will be on display through Oct. 29, 2017.

What’s up next for the Crocker’s child-centric Art Spots? The very popular Tot Land will soon be completely revamped and a new creation by Bay Area artist Martin Webb unveiled. The new Tot Land will feature a life-size wooden boat that will allow children to hop on board and let their imagination soar. Tot Land will close briefly at the end of August and re-open on Sept. 10, 2017. And opening in Nov. 2017, the last Art Spots exhibit will be open to the public. Wingding will be yet another interactive exhibit that lets children learn through play, experimentation and creative collaboration.

What: Art Spots: PL!NK

When: Now through Oct. 29, 2017

Where: Crocker Art Museum, Teel Family Pavilion

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A Ten-Year-Old’s Perspective on Visiting Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo

 

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If you want to get out of town for some excitement and thrills, then take a day trip to Northern California’s biggest theme park – Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, just a short hour drive from Sacramento. My daughter wanted to be a guest blogger and explain to everyone why Six Flags is a fun and entertaining day trip. From the perspective of a 10-year-old:

Six Flags is a great place to visit. It has something for everyone including rides, animals, food and more!

If you like animals, there are a lot of cool ones to see. Dolphins, seal lions, sharks and tiger, to name a few. You can see an animal show or just walk by and watch them play throughout the day.

If you like roller coasters and rides, they have lots of choices.  For those who are younger, then visit Looney Toons Town and ride the smaller kiddie rides.

My favorite ride is the Tasmanian Devil. It’s a super fast ride that spins you almost upside down. I love this one because it spins fast, but doesn’t actually go upside down. And my mom will ride it with me! My little brother’s favorite ride is Cobra – a fast, but not scary roller coaster.

For the bigger and scarier rides (I’m not ready to ride these yet- and my mom refuses to go on anything that goes upside down), they have several to choose from.
If you are brave enough, Superman is a really scary upside down roller coaster and the Joker is a wooden roller coaster that seems scary from the ground, but everyone says its fun.  I’m going to have to take their word for it!

On hot summer days, you may need to cool down on the water rides. Monsoon Falls is a log ride that seems harmless enough, but with a steep drop and lots of water, you are sure to get wet! White Water Safari is a rafting ride that takes you under waterfalls and you will definitely get wet on that one!

When you get hungry and need a snack, I recommend the churros. They are delicious!

My family had a great time at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – it is a fun place for everyone!

By Siena Crivellone

 

Seeing the Sights of Sacramento by Bike: Our Top Family Friendly Biking Trails in the Region

Living in Sacramento, we are fortunate to have some of the best biking trails in the area. Even if you are not an avid biker and don’t sport the fancy shorts, you can still enjoy a stroll down the trails with your family by your side.

Whether you want to stay within the Sacramento city limits, or head to some of our surrounding areas, you will find a trail that meets your needs. Rugged or flat terrain, cityscapes or river views…we have them all!

Here is a list of some of my favorite family friendly bike trails in the area:

American River Bike Trail (aka:  Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail).  This is probably one of the most popular trails in Sacramento.  On any given day, you find people running, hiking, biking and even rollerblading along this trail.
The trail is paved, runs along the river in many parts and is easily accessible from Beals Point (near Folsom Lake) and down at Jibboom Street in Discovery Park. Spanning 32 miles from Folsom to Old Sacramento- you have many options as to where to get on the trail at. We have done this trail many times with our children (ages 8 and 10) and we always find it easy to get on the trail at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery (off of Highway 50 at Hazel Avenue).

The Yolo Causeway Bike Path is a path that follows along the highway from West Sacramento to Davis.  If you are looking for an easy 3.7 mile path to lead you into the city of Davis, then this is it.  It’s definitely not a quiet path (going alongside the freeway is a bit noisy and windy), but it does have some nice views and is well-traveled by locals commuting in and out of the city.  There are no parking areas for the Yolo Causeway Bike Path, but the trail can be accessed from West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento and County Route 32A east of Davis.

Miners Ravine Trail is a 7.5 mile trail that winds its way through the city of Roseville. The trail travels between Sierra College Boulevard, through Royer Park and into Downtown Historic Roseville, along the way enjoying a wooded greenway, passing over creeks and through suburban neighborhoods.  This is a very easy trail for walkers, bikers and strollers to take advantage of.  There are several access points to the trail, but I have found the easiest (with children) have been to begin at the access at the shopping plaza along Sunrise Avenue (opposite of the Roseville Auto Mall).

Finally, if you are searching for a nice easy ride with kids, then check out William Land Park.  Trails will wind you around gardens, ponds and of course – the famous Sacramento Zoo, Funderland and Fairytale Town. Plenty of shade and areas to stop and rest make this a nice family friendly bike ride in the heart of Sacramento.

If you are visiting from out-of-town and want to check out some of these great trails but don’t have access to a bike, there are plenty of places to rent nearby.
Practical Cycle is conveniently located at 114 J Street in Old Sacramento and also at 150 Natoma Station Drive in Folsom.  They rent bikes, hybrids and even electric bikes.

City Bicycle Works is another option for bike rentals in downtown Sacramento.  Located at 2419 K Street, they have road bikes, hybrids and mountain bikes for daily rentals.

So the next time you are feeling a bit adventurous, hit the trails and explore the Sacramento region on a bike – you will see some great sights, get some exercise and create wonderful memories with your family.

By Heather Crivellone

 

Our Top Three Picks for Cold, Sweet Treats to Help you Cool Off During the Sacramento Heat

Summertime in Sacramento is hot, hot and hot!  We have been seeing double digits on the thermostats and everyone is trying to find ways to stay cool.  One of my favorite ways to stay cool is to enjoy super sweet, super cold and icy ICE CREAM!  Whether it’s Fro-Yo, from a carton, on a cone or in a sandwich…our family loves ice cream of all varieties!

Here are our top three favorite spots to get a sweet, cold treat and cool off in the Sacramento heat:

  1.  Vampire Penguin located in Downtown Sacramento, Natomas and Elk Grove. Not your average ice cream shop as they specialize in shaved “snow”.  With flavors like Green Tea and Smores, it’s not your typical “snow cone” from the little league baseball field.
  2. Smoosh Ice Cream Factory located in Folsom and Rocklin. Ice cream sandwiches made fresh to order… and these are not your ordinary sandwiches!  Choose your fresh-baked cookie (chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, red velvet… to name a few).  Then pick your flavor (too many to choose from) and then whatever toppings you would like them roll your sandwich in.  This is seriously a sandwich from heaven!
  3. The Devil May Care Ice Cream and Frozen Treats located at 322 3rd Street in West Sacramento. New to the area, this sweet shop is gaining serious popularity among the locals and River Cats fans.  New flavors are always emerging and you are never truly sure what you may find when you visit.  Besides ice cream, they have unique floats that are truly worth the visit.  Apple Pie and Pineapple Nutmeg have caught my eye, but my kids prefer good old Root beer.

So go ahead and treat yourself to an icy cold treat this month…after all, it is National Ice Cream Month!

Ten Things Kids should Do and See at this Year’s California State Fair

When the California State Fair rolls around each July in Sacramento, thousands flock to Cal Expo for guilty-pleasure fair food, free lively entertainment, exciting games, thrilling rides and some all around serious fun. The fair is always a good time, no matter what you see and do. But if you’ve got kids and want to make the most of your time and money, here are some suggestions of things to do and see with your kids.

  1. DOWNLOAD THE STATE FAIR APP. First and foremost, download the California State Fair app before you even step foot on the fair grounds. This is a great resource to help you navigate all that is offered. Need a map of the grounds to scout out where the closest restroom is? You got it. Want to know where to get the best cold lemonade? The app will tell you. Looking for your favorite vendor? Piece of cake. Don’t want to miss out on the Crowing Contest? You can add it to your schedule and receive an “alert” when the event is about to begin.
  2. READ TO RIDE. I mention this every year, but still there are people who don’t know about this offer. Butler Amusements, Inc. – the company that provides the rides at the fair, wants to encourage kids to read with the Read to Ride program. Kids in grades K through 8th will receive two free rides for having read two books. Download this form here, have your kiddos write a summary of the books they read, then bring the forms to Guest Services at the front gate to receive two ride passes. Each child is eligible to receive two passes each day they visit the fair.
  3. GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT. Have fun and collect swag by completing the #50thFairHunt – a fair scavenger hunt that sends you on nine different picture-taking errands throughout the fair. You can find the directions to the scavenger hunt on the CA State Fair app. Once complete, show your digital photo card at any one of the info booths to collect your prize.
  4. EXPLORE THE DINOSAUR EXPEDITION. Head to Expo Building 4 for up close and personal views of 14 animatronic dinosaurs, exhibit walls, displays, artifacts and interactive fun.
  5. SAFELY CLIMB A TREE. If it makes you a little nervous when your kids climb trees, then take them over to the Whale Tale exhibit for a TreeCircus Climb. Sponsored by the US Forest Service, kids can learn how to climb trees like the professionals – safely.  This fun and free exhibit puts kids (and kids at heart) in the climbing ropes in a cool, air-conditioned environment.
  6. INDULGE YOUR TASTE BUDS. Believe it or not, you can feed the kids at the fair without breaking the bank. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 11am and 4pm, hungry fair-goers can fill their tummies with smaller versions of their favorite foods for only $2. Which means you can eat more than one of your favorites. Score. Check out the menu here.
  7. SEE A VIDEO SHOW ON THE CAL EXPO WATER TOWER. Each night at 8:45 pm, turn your heads to the famous Cal Expo water tower to see a fun video show project.
  8. VISIT THE TIME CAPSULE EXHIBIT. The California State Fair at Cal Expo is celebrating its 50th birthday. Artifacts from fairs past are going into a s special time capsule, to be opened in 2067. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your kids visited again 50 years from now when it’s opened again?
  9. GET YOUR CRAFT ON AT THE CA FOREST CENTER. Take some down time in the serene California Forest Center while learning about the state’s trees and sustainable forests. Relax, learn, craft, see animals and watch chainsaw demonstrations.
  10. STICK AROUND FOR WEEKEND FIREWORKS. What better way to end a fun-filled day out at the California State Fair than to celebrate with a fireworks show? At closing time – 10 pm on each Friday and Saturday night, look towards the Miller Lite Grandstand to see a spectacular array of fireworks presented by Dish.

What: California State Fair

When: July 14-23, 2017

Where: Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA

Tickets: Starting at $8 per person, with special promotional days for children, first responders, military and senior citizens. Check here for more info.

 

Mom of Four Small Children Braves the Crocker Art Museum and Leaves with Very Happy Kids

With four kids under the age of seven, I’m always looking for new ways to get out of the house AND beat the heat. Tired of splash parks and not wanting to go to an indoor play place, we found ourselves at the Crocker Art Museum.  I had been to the Crocker once before, many years ago, for their Wee Wednesday program (which was wonderful!) – but this time we’d be walking around the museum on our own and I was particularly worried about how my 3 and 4-year-old would fair.  I did a little research and found that the Crocker Art Museum offers something called The Story Trail.

If you want to take your kids on the Story Trail, just pick up a book called “Birdy’s Museum Adventure” at the admission desk and it takes you on a little scavenger hunt through the museum. My kids loved it! We were able to walk through many different galleries, ending in Tot Land which was by far everyone’s favorite stop.  It’s a very inviting space where the kids performed puppet shows, read books, and made crafts.

Over all I was very impressed with how kid friendly the Crocker Art Museum is. Not only did the Story Trail keep my kids engaged, but the museum staff was incredibly helpful. As soon as we left the admission desk a docent approached me and suggested a few exhibits the children might enjoy. Another docent encouraged the kids to touch an interactive exhibit (which they were thrilled about since the “no touching” rule had been firmly established!).  And I was thrilled that the museum offers free admission to children age 5 and under.

In addition to Story Trail and Tot Land, the museum offers a host of other kid-friendly activities and events. For babies and toddlers, there’s Wee Wednesdays, a gallery-based art experience, Baby Loves Art where babies and toddlers are free to roam the galleries while interacting with each other,  and Sunday Playday, a program that helps to support school readiness. Older kids will enjoy Sketch It, a drop-in art instruction program, Kids & Co. Gallery Adventure, an educational tour for children five years and older, and Wonder Lab, another drop-in art making program where kids with disabilities are especially welcome. For more information on all of the Crocker’s kids programs, click here.

We can’t wait to go back!

By Kate Nally



 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Way to Cool Off in Sacramento this Summer? Head to the Lake!

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Summertime brings longer days, warm nights, heat waves and the constant hum of air-conditioning units.  If you don’t want to be stuck indoors all summer long, grab some sun block, a wide-brimmed hat and head to the beach! Even though we live in the Sacramento valley, and a couple of hours from the Pacific Ocean, it doesn’t mean we can’t spend our days lounging at the beach. Luckily, we have access to many local lakes where we can be playing in the sand within just a short drive from downtown.  Two local “beaches”  that our family enjoys visiting are Beal’s Point and Rollins Lake.

Beal’s Point is located just 30 minutes from downtown at Folsom Lake. Conveniently located off of Auburn-Folsom Boulevard, in Granite Bay, Beal’s Point is a great place for kids and families, with all the amenities for a fun-filled summer day. They have a sandy beach and buoyed swim area with lifeguards present. If you would like to BBQ, there are pits on site, picnic tables and plenty of shade with grassy areas to play on.
Most moms are concerned with “facilities”- and they do have clean restrooms and even a snack bar in case you forget snacks.  My kids love getting ice-cold sweet treats at the snack bar after a long day of playing in the sand!

You can spend the day building sand castles and swimming in the lake, or you can rent rafts, paddle boards, pedal boats and kayaks on site. Summer hours for Beal’s point are 6am to 9pm. If you are feeling adventurous, you can pack a tent and spend the night in their campground (reservations are required).

Rollin’s Lake is another one of our favorite day-trip destinations.  Located between Colfax and Grass Valley off of Highway 174 (approximately an hour drive from downtown Sacramento), this lake has everything a family needs for a day of fun! If you are feeling adventurous, you can rent boats, paddleboards, kayaks or canoes.  For the less adventurous, you can just kick back and relax at the swimming beach.  They have plenty of picnic tables and shade, along with BBQ pits for your day outing.  If you forget something at home – no worries, as they have a well-stocked marina store.  If you have a child who likes to fish, the lake is stocked daily.   We took our children fishing for the first time here, and even though Grandpa or Daddy should have been the ones to catch a fish, it was my daughter who had the biggest “bite of the day”.   She was grinning ear to ear while the men were fuming…oh well. Better luck next time to the real fishermen! Rollin’s Lake also has clean restrooms and showers if you would like to clean off before you leave.

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Both lakes are easily accessible and are fun for the whole family.  So, don’t stay cooped up inside this summer – take advantage of the beauty of our surroundings and spend a day out at the beach!

By Heather Crivellone