10 Fun Things to do with Kids in Sacramento in the Fall

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.




Discover Gold’s Rich History in Sacramento and its Surrounding Hills

Sacramento is engulfed in history. Some of California’s most precious history comes straight out of Sacramento’s nearby hills.  If you have had a fourth-grader enrolled in a California school, then you were reminded of the importance of James Marshall, John Sutter and everything related to the Gold Rush. In case you need a quick history lesson, the California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848 when James Marshall found gold in historic Coloma. News of the discovery brought more than 300,000 people to California in search of their treasures and led to the Gold Rush that lasted from 1848 to 1855.

If you would like to take a walk down history lane, or help your children learn  first hand about the Gold Rush, then take a day trip to some of our famous landmarks. You can make it a day trip, weekend trip or even just an hour adventure. Here’s several places in or around Sacramento where you can immerse yourself in Gold Rush history.

Approximately 40 minutes above Sacramento is historic Coloma. Marshall Gold Discovery Park hosts the site of famous Sutter’s Mill, a museum with costumed docents, original and restored buildings of the gold rush and you can even pan for gold in the river.  Gold prospecting equipment and pans are available for rent at local stores and you can even take lessons at the Mother Lode Prospecting and Adventure Supply (located at 7170 Ca-49 #8, Lotus). This is a great day trip destination that your family can enjoy the beautiful fall weather, learn about the gold rush and possibly even strike it rich!

Sutter’s Fort is located in midtown Sacramento between K and L streets and 26 and 28 streets.  Sutter’s Fort retells the lives of the many cultures that lived during the Gold Rush history of the 1840’s.  Mexican citizens, emigrating Europeans, American Pioneers and Native Americans – each had a story to tell and the history lives among the walls of Sutter’s Fort. Visitors to the fort can explore the cultural site, museum, exhibits, ruins, bike trails and enjoy the natural beauty of the fort.  Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children.  Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Special events always take place at the fort. Upcoming events include:  the Haunted Fort and Evening Candlelight tours.  Check website for specific dates and times of any events.

If you are wanting to make a weekend trip, then head to the hills of Tuolumne County and visit the historic town of Columbia.  Located approximately 2 hours from Sacramento, you will truly be in Gold Country, and transported back into the Gold Rush era.  Columbia features the largest single collection of existing gold rush-era structures in the state and visiting this quaint town will transport you into the times of long ago. Streets are lined with blacksmith shops, leather making and quilt shops, bakeries – all adorned with merchants dressed in 1850’s attire. We visited Columbia for the first time and my kids went absolutely crazy!  They loved watching the “old-timers” in the blacksmith shops, the stagecoach ride, gold panning at the Hidden Treasure Gold Mine and they especially loved the one lane bowling alley.

Gold Bug Mine Collage 2

If you plan on visiting Columbia, I would suggest taking a tour to get the full Gold Rush history.  But even without the guided tour, we learned several facts about the Gold Rush and the kids still talk about how much fun they had visiting

You could easily visit Columbia as a day trip, but why not spend the weekend in the Gold Country and take your time?  Not only can you try your hand at gold panning, but there are also great hiking and biking trails.  Plenty of opportunities to fish, canoe, even zip lining and wine tasting are available in the area. 

So depending on whether you want to explore the Gold Rush in a couple of hours, a day or a full weekend, it doesn’t take long from Sacramento to be fully submerged in the history of our Golden State.

 By Heather Crivellone




11 Surprising Ways to Immerse your Kids in Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Culture this Fall

What makes Sacramento the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the world? A year-round growing season and ideal climate for, oh, just about 1.5 million acres of farms and ranches growing over 160 crops! But did you know that there’s a cornucopia of ways in which families and kids can dig into all this Farm-to-Fork fun? And the time is ripe since September is Farm-to-Fork month!

1. Explore Farms at the Crocker

The Crocker Art Museum is hosting several events in celebration of all things Farm-to-Fork. One particularly youth-focused affair is the Kids & Company Gallery Adventure, which is a museum tour where farms are discovered and explored through art. (They might not even notice how educational it is). Dates are: Sundays, September 3 & 17, 2017, 10:30-11:30 a.m. https://www.crockerart.org/calendar/9/17

2. Attend the Farm-to-Fork Festival: September 23

The Farm-to-Fork Festival brings us face-to-face with the people who are feeding our region and beyond. Meet farmers and ranchers, enjoy interactive booths from local grocers, and check out live cooking demonstrations. Sample some goods, sip some local beer, and listen to live music. A kids’ zone rounds this one out quite nicely. Capitol Mall. https://www.farmtofork.com/events/farmtoforkfestival/

3. Eat Out During Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week: September 8-18

Is your kid a foodie in the making? Well, here are 10 days of special menus, deals, and events at restaurants within and around Sacramento. Meet local chefs, learn where the food comes from, then indulge in the final product. A portion of all proceeds is donated to ProStart, a two-year culinary arts and hospitality management program for California high school students.  https://www.farmtofork.com/events/restaurant-week/

4. Head to Apple Hill

The farms within the foothills of apple country are loaded with fun things to do for kids of every age!  You’ll find tractor rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, pony rides, craft stands, farm tours, you-pick farms, gold panning, gold mines, rubber duck races, nature trails, farm animals … and, well, Christmastime is charming too. Think holiday shopping and crisp air, hot cider and baked goods, Santa sightings and Christmas tree farms. http://applehill.com/fun-4-kids/

5. Watch a Film About Food and Family: Tampopo, September 7 *Sorry everyone, apparently this Japanese film is not as family-friendly as we thought, but great for grownups!

Tampopo is a funny film about food for the whole family that’s also been dubbed “one of the best food movies of all time.” It is co-presented with Slow Food Sacramento in honor of farm-to-fork month at the Crocker Art Museum. https://www.crockerart.org/event/1479/2017-09-07

6. Shop at Neighborhood Markets

Corti Brothers retains the old-fashioned corner grocery charm with sandwiches and ravioli that are legend among locals. In fact, true to the original recipe, their ravioli are the oldest continuously produced food product in Sacramento.  5810 Folsom Blvd.

Selland’s Market Café has been committed to the principles of Farm-to-Fork cuisine for 20 years, with many of their products and ingredients sourced locally. Monthly specials showcase pizza, salad and sandwiches. East Sacramento, Broadway and El Dorado Hills locations. http://www.sellands.com/

Taylor’s Kitchen features a seasonal menu with a focus on the fresh local foods found at Taylor’s Market. Desserts are created in-house by their own pastry chef and reservations are accepted. 2900 Freeport Blvd.

7Go on a Farmers Market Picnic

The Wednesday farmers’ market at Cesar Chavez Park downtown is a one-stop shop for lunch al fresco. Purchase some fruit, nuts and bread for a Mediterranean-inspired picnic near the fountain. Still hungry for more? There are plenty of cafes nearby, including Farm-to-Fork bar & restaurant, La Cosecha, which is in the park itself. 10th & J.

8. Try Some Comfort Food

Dad’s Kitchen in Land Park is family friendly and locally sourced with organic chicken, grass-fed beef, homemade mac ‘n cheese, local greens, and craft beers. Pick your poison and grab a seat on the patio. Fun Fact: Dad’s was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives! 2968 Freeport Blvd.

9. Tour and Taste Some Old-Fashioned Ice Cream  –  Sundae FunDay

Old fashioned ice cream parlors are still beloved around these parts, and include Vic’s, Gunther’s, Burr’s, and Leatherby’s. Bonus: You can schedule a tour of Leatherby’s cream room and deep freezers where they make and store all of their ice cream and sauces. Arden Way, Citrus Heights and Elk Grove locations. https://leatherbys.net/

10. Take a Scenic Drive – Sacramento River Delta

If you have a hankering for exploration, cruising the Sacramento River Delta (along Highway 160) truly overflows with sensory delights. Wineries and breweries abound, as do olive oil and vinegar sampling stops, swimming and fishing spots, historic towns, bridges and farm equipment. How about Farm-to-Fork eateries, family farms and produce stands, pumpkin patches, and just general all-around gorgeous scenery?! Get a super handy and detailed map at sacriverdeltagrown.org.

11. Play Chef – Family Recipes

Want to take home a little slice of the proverbial Farm-to-Fork pie? Find family friendly recipes here: http://eatfarmtofork.com/cook-it-yourself-recipes/

Bon Apetite!

By Melanie Noel Light

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

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







Visiting the California Museum with Kids

California: the “Golden State”. Where everyone knows how to surf, lives by the beach and drinks Napa Valley wine. Well, at least that is the stereotype.

What most non-Californian’s don’t know is that we are such a diverse group. From Sunny San Diego to the stars of Hollywood, the low desert to the snowy mountain peaks on Mount Shasta and everything in between, California definitely has it all!

If you are visiting Sacramento on business or you live in our wonderful capital city, then visit our local California Museum and educate yourself on some the great achievements that our state is known for. I had the opportunity to visit this museum with my daughter – and I’m embarrassed to say that it was my first time entering into the building! With young children and living in the area for many years, I have visited all the “hot spots” –  the Railroad Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Aerospace Museum, Sacramento Children’s Museum, etc. I honestly never thought the California Museum was worth my time. Boy, was I wrong!

If you have never visited the museum, its home of the California Hall of Fame. The purpose is to engage, educate and enlighten people about our rich California history. Through interactive exhibits, we learn how the people of California have contributed to the world through innovation, arts, sports and culture. The idea of the “California Dream” comes to life and shows how many individuals have made their personal marks on history.

Exhibits included learning about immigrants coming to California, family experiences in the Gold Rush, and incredible women who have left major marks on California history. Interactive exhibits help teach about “Healthy Habits” and those who have shaped the movie industry in Hollywood. As a mom of a “pre teen” girl- I was proud to go through the exhibit of “Remarkable Women” with my daughter. She loved seeing the exhibits of female athletes, entrepreneurs and scientists.   Showing her that she truly can aspire to be anything she wants to be… including a famous cookie maker (Mrs. Fields) – that definitely got the wheels in her brain turning as she loves to bake!

The museum is open Tuesday- Saturday from 10am-5pm and Sunday from 12pm-5pm. Admission into the museum is $9 for adults, $7.50 for children and seniors.

I would highly recommend making a visit to the California Museum. It makes for a great afternoon trip to Sacramento. Add into your day a picnic at the gardens of the State Capitol and take the walk a few blocks to the California Museum. It will prove to be an educational and fun outing for you and your family.

By Heather Crivellone