While Sacramento enjoys great weather and lots of sunshine all year-long (Ok…summer might be just a tad warm), Fall is really one of the best times of the year to get out and explore what the city has to offer. The average temperature from Oct. through Nov. is about 70 degrees, with minimal precipitation. Add into the mix the thousands of trees with leaves changing color all over town, and you’ve got the perfect reason to get outside and enjoy the season. Take a look at our list of ten of the our favorite things to do with your kids this time of year.
1. Visit the Nimbus Fish Hatchery on the American River and witness the return of Chinook Salmon and steelhead trout as they settle into a spawning habitat at the base of the Nimbus Dam. This working hatchery offers visitors interactive exhibits at the visitors center; a spawning deck viewing window; a river discovery trail – a 1/4 mile trail along the river that allows for viewing of migrating and resident birds, deer, river otter a coyote; a fish ladder that helps the fish swim upstream; holding ponds offering close-up views of the fish; and a salmon-inspired play structure for the kiddos, complete with a shade canopy and bench. http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries/nimbus
2. Get your fill of miniature trains at the California State Railroad Museum’s Big Weekend of Small Trains. This special event showcases a huge assortment of model and toy trains, hundreds of feet of track, along with make-believe cities and towns. The setup will really get you into the holiday mood. If you can pull yourself away from the magical world of toy trains, take some time to walk around the museum and see one of the West Coast’s largest collection of real trains and locomotives. www.californiarailroad.museum
3. Enjoy a Tuesday train ride along the Sacramento River. And speaking of trains, during the fall and winter, the California State Railroad Museum offers an excursion train ride to the general public on Tuesdays of each week. Trains depart at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm from the Central Pacific Railway Freight Depot in Old Sacramento and take riders on a 45-minute, round-trip journey along the levee. Witness the Sacramento River at it’s calmest – just before the winter rains pummel Northern California – and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season along the way. http://www.californiarailroad.museum
4. Explore a 100-acre nature preserve in the middle of the city at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. This preserve along the American River includes an education center with a staff of naturalists to help guests learn about the natural habitat that was once the summer home of the Nisenan Maidu native peoples. Visitors will see a replica Maidu village, a variety of native and non-native plants and animals that live on the preserve, and a garden of native flowering plants near the play area. Several trails are also available within the preserver for visitors to spot wildlife. Specific to the fall, keep your eye out for migrating birds, acorn-gathering squirrels and color-changing fall leaves on the many woodland trees. http://www.sacnaturecenter.net
5. Take a trip to nearby Apple Hill. For many Sacramentans, making the trip to Apple Hill is an annual fall tradition. While a year-round destination, the most popular and festive time to visit this conglomerate of farms is September through November. Located in the foothill towns of Placerville and Camino along Hwy 50, Apple Hill features family owned farms and ranches, offering a bounty of fresh produce, and definitely everything apple this time of year. Want to pick apples straight from the orchard? You got it. Have a hankering for a good old-fashioned apple pie? Take your pick. There’s also no shortage of apple cider, apple fritters, apple donuts, and more. Add to all the apple fun – pumpkins, hay mazes, pony and train rides, even some trout fishing, and you’ve yourself and perfect day of fall family fun. http://www.applehillca.com/
6. Shop till your heart’s content at the Sacramento Harvest Festival. Held at Cal Expo, the Harvest Festival is the West Coast’s largest art and craft vendor fair. With hundreds of vendors offering more than 20,000 unique gifts – all handmade or embellished in the U.S. – you’ll be able to know just about everyone off your Christmas gift list in one fell swoop. Beyond shopping, the festival includes live music and comedy, themed performers (Mama Claus, Eddie the Elf, and Santa on stilts), an interactive kids zone and a food court. http://www.harvestfestival.com
7. Play at Fairytale Town – for free. Bring in a canned food to donate to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services the day after Thanksgiving, and you’ll earn free admission into Sacramento’s favorite park. At Fairytale Town you’ll experience all your favorite fairytale stories and characters throughout the park’s play areas and structures including King Arthur’s Castle, Mr. McGregor’s Garden, Sherwood Forest, the Crooked Mile, Cinderella’s Carriage, and more. The storybook park is located in the heart of the larger William Land Park, a beautiful expanse of open space where trees and fall leaves abound. http://www.fairytaletown.org/
8. Get your exercise in at Run to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving morning. This 5k walk/run and 10k run is for the entire family. Sponsored by Western Health Advantage, the money raised through this event supports the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. By registering your family to run or walk, you are not only burning ahead of time all the calories you’ll be eating at the later Thanksgiving dinner, but you’ll be giving back to the community as well. http://www.runtofeedthehungry.com/
9. Visit the California Museum and save $2 off admission. There are several kid-friendly museums in and around Sacramento, and while the California Museum is one of them, it often gets overlooked. Home to the California Hall of Fame, California Indians, California’s Remarkable Women, Health Happens Here exhibits and many more permanent and short-term exhibits, this museum is an educational paradise for your kiddos. And, receive $2 off admission through the end of the year. http://www.californiamuseum.org/
10. Walk the streets of Midtown and Downtown for some spectacular fall colors. Sacramento has been known as the city of trees for years and there’s certainly no shortage of foliage in the city. Take a walk around Capital Park, then head east on K Street into Midtown. Wherever your feet take you this time of year, you’re bound to run into some best fall foliage any California city can offer.