24th Annual Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn will Bring Fun and Entertainment to the Whole Family

Our Sacramento region is bursting with fall color.  Typically, we associate fall with apple pies, pumpkin spice lattes and caramel apples…but what about good old Vitamin C?  Oranges, mandarins and everything citrus is also a great fall combination.  Up the hill in nearby Placer County, it’s the season of the mandarin! 

Mark your calendars for November 17 – 19 for the 24th annual, Mountain Mandarin Festival located in Auburn.  As we all know, Sacramento and the surrounding areas are known to be the biggest and best of the Farm-to-Fork communities.  With local farms all around us, there is no reason we shouldn’t be enjoying the local produce and sampling some of the best fruits around.  Mandarins are no exception. You can enjoy mandarin everything this weekend at the festival.  Mandarin sauces, cookies, chocolates…even some adult mandarin libations at the Absolut Vodka lounge.
This is a great place to pick up some unique gifts for the holiday season and enjoy some live entertainment with the family.

Over 200 vendors will be on site, 16 local mandarin growers, 4 stages of entertainment, kids’ activities, petting zoo and even pony rides will be available.  This will be a fun event for the entire family.

Admission into the festival is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and kids 12 and under is free.  Parking is an additional $6.

If you have never had the opportunity to spend the day in Auburn, then this is a great time.  Fall is bursting with color in this quaint town known for its rich history during the Gold Rush.  Old Town Auburn also has many “mom and pop” shops that are always fun to visit and sure to have that “perfect” gift for someone in your family.

What:  Mountain Mandarin Festival
Where:  1273 High Street, Auburn
When:  November 17-November 19
Why:  To enjoy the bounty of our local fruits and support small town businesses during the holiday season.

Here is my favorite Spinach Mandarin Orange Salad recipe to try:

5-6 Cups Baby Spinach
1 Cup Mandarin Oranges
½ Cup Chopped Red Onion
1 Tablespoon Orange Marmalade
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix the marmalade, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and pour over the spinach mixture.   Kids will even this sweet and savory salad!


A day trip to Auburn is fun, educational and active!

8606_10151520740018430_194627890_nBy Heather Crivellone

Summertime can bring out the best and the worst in our kids (and us!).  The best thing to do is to keep those little hands and minds active so they don’t drive us crazy during these “dog days” of summer!

And luckily, we live in an area where we can take a day trip in any direction and have a new adventure everyday at little cost.  Recently, we packed up the car with snacks and headed up the hill to Auburn.  About 45 minutes from downtown Sacramento, we were in the heart of Placer County. 

Now, If you haven’t been to this area before, you may not know that Auburn is known for it’s California Gold Rush history and is situated perfectly for outdoor enthusiasts.  Hiking, biking, running, fishing…you name it- it can be done in the Auburn area.  And to my surprise, I found quite a few activities that my children could enjoy on our day outing!

First off, we headed to Hidden Falls Regional Park for a family hike.  This park is a 221 acre open space located at 7587 Mears Place, north of Mt. Vernon Road between Auburn and Lincoln.  The park is host to groves of woodlands, 7 miles of natural trails that are suitable for hiking, biking, running and horseback riding.  It’s also home to Coon Creek, Deadman creek and a 20-30 foot high waterfall that runs all year.  We chose a trail that was suitable for my 4 and 5 year olds. They especially enjoyed the waterfall at the end of the hike!

We then decided to picnic and spend the rest of the afternoon at the Placer Nature Center. Located at 3700 Christian Valley Road in Auburn, we discovered our new favorite, local family destination!

With hands on exhibits, nature trails, gardens and even a replica of a Native American Village- this is a fun and educational outing for the entire family!

My kids especially enjoyed playing in the Discovery room.  This is an area with hands-on science investigations, experiments and exploration.  They “oohed and ahhed” at the see-through working bee hive and was lucky enough to have an informative volunteer explain to use the life cycle of the bee.

We also visited the “Energy Choices” exhibit, the “Watershed Learning Center” (my husbands favorite exhibit) and the “Our Changing Land” exhibit. 

My daughter couldn’t get enough of exploring and playing with the “skulls and skins” of local wildlife they had on exhibit.

PicMonkey Collage 2

And my 4 year old boy was laughing in hysterics at the “Poop” exhibit. Yes- we can all now identify the difference between deer and bear excrement!

The volunteers who work at the center are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  We had the opportunity to not only learn about the life cycle of bees, but they brought out more hands- on learning exhibits and taught one on one to my children about tadpoles, frogs and so much more.  We literally felt as if we were on an elementary school educational field trip with our family!

I just can’t say enough about how wonderful this place is- especially if you enjoy nature and want your children to experience and learn about the world around us! And the best part is that its was completely FREE!  They do ask for donations…so give graciously!

I would urge any teachers out there looking for field trip ideas, home school parents or “mommy groups” looking for an educational and fun outing, or just a family day trip to the Placer Nature Center- it is well worth the drive!

They are open Thursday-Saturday 9am-5pm, but visit their website for additional programs or to schedule an event (group events, birthday parties, etc).  They also have special family nature programs through the year- so check the calendar for upcoming events.

Now Auburn does have quite a bit of outdoor recreation, but if that isn’t your “cup of tea”, then you can always hit up Old Town Auburn and enjoy some shopping in the boutiques and “mom & pop” shops that line the streets. They also have the Placer County Gold Museum and several wineries in the area (for the adults, of course). 

After our active day of hiking and exploring, we enjoyed pizza at the Old Town Pizza Company and then cooled off with a Tango Frozen Yogurt.  It was the perfect end to a perfect family summer outing!

PicMonkey Collage 1

World of Bugs Book Giveaway

bug-author-8By Alyssa Green

Whether your kids love them or hate them, there is no doubt that bugs are fascinating creatures.  And local author Brandee Mae Hughes not only loves them, but is on a mission to get kids to love them, too.

First, it was her website Bula Bug, dedicated to educating kids about nature, with a nature fun store, a blog and a place to share photos. Next, was the publication of her first book, World of Bugs, Backyard Bugs which uses fabulous photography to teach kids about commonly found creatures such as the ladybug, butterfly, dragonfly and praying mantis.

And now, Brandee has published a second book, World of Bugs, Backyard Guide, which teaches kids how to find those hard-to-spot creatures that blend in with the environment around them, and what to do when they do spot them (look, don’t touch.) And once again, through fabulous photographs and simple phrases, Brandee’s book instills in those that read it, a respect for nature and the creatures that live there.

Brandee, who is from Auburn, has always had a passion and respect for nature and has more “World of” books in the works including lizards, birds, and frogs. Look for them soon!

If you think your kids would love to read Brandee’s books, you can purchase them here. Brandee has also graciously given us a copy of her first book, World of Bugs, Backyard Bugs to give away to one of our lucky readers!

Want to win it? All you have to do is visit the Bula Bug website, then come back here and tell us why your child would like to own Brandee’s book. A random drawing will be held on Friday, July 5th.  Good luck!

Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn is a great place for the family to hike on a sunny spring day!

By Heather Crivellone

The weather is finally feeling like springtime here in Sacramento.  And to take advantage of these nice, sunny days our family likes to spend every possible moment outdoors! My kids are (just about) to the age where we can take them on day hikes and not worry too much about if they can manage the distance or not.

Luckily for us, here in Sacramento we have many trails that are suitable for hiking, biking, jogging and just strolling around and exploring nature. There are several places that you can take children for an afternoon outdoor adventure (Effie Yeaw Nature Center, American River bike trail and Folsom Lake are just a few that come to mind).
But this past weekend we decided to “head up the hill” to Auburn and visit Hidden Falls Regional Park. If you haven’t had a chance to experience this part of Northern California- I highly suggest you put it on your “to do” list.

First of all, Auburn itself is a charming mountainous town with restaurants, wineries and “mom & pop” shops galore.  But, it was Hidden Falls that we were interested in visiting this time around.  The nature park is a 221-acre open space located at 7587 Mears Place, north of Mt. Vernon Road between Auburn and Lincoln. The park is host to groves of woodlands, 7 miles of natural trails that are suitable for hiking, biking, running and horseback riding. It’s also home to Coon Creek, Deadman creek and a 20-30 foot high waterfall that runs year round. Activities include fishing, hiking, picnicking and wildlife viewing- a great way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon!
There are several different trails that you can take- we chose one that was about 3 miles roundtrip and was easy enough for both my 2 and 4 year olds to hike. They had a blast skipping along the trail, spotting their favorite wildflowers, finding butterflies and hopping over a few piles of horse excrement ( or as my children were yelling out “Big Poop”!) Once we arrived at the waterfall, it was a perfect stopping point for a snack and some great family pictures. My kids were troopers and made the hike in and out with minimal complaining (we were also bribing them with a stop to the ice cream parlor on the way home).

I highly recommend this park and the trails to the waterfall for families with kids of all ages. It’s never too early to get your kids out into nature and exploring. Plus- everyone can use a little calorie burn with their family fun!  And if you have the energy when your done- check out Old Town Auburn and some of their shops and restaurants. Or, if wine tasting is your idea of fun- then check out Auburns wine trail, some vineyards are even family friendly to bring the kids along.
But again, a trip up to Auburn ( about 45 minutes north of Sacramento) and a hike to Hidden Falls is well worth your Saturday (or any day) afternoon!

Visit Auburn For An Old Town Country Christmas

By Alyssa Green

We are a bit late in reporting about this event, but luckily not too late.  This Saturday, December 17th, take a scenic drive into nearby Auburn for the 2nd of a 2-weekend family holiday celebration. 

The 25th annual Old Town Country Christmas comes alive on Saturday from 5pm to 9pm, rain or shine.  All shops and restaurants will be open as well as over 75 craft and food vendors, entertainment, visits from Santa, hayrides, pony rides, a bonfire and Old Town holiday lights.  

What a great way to finish up your last minute Christmas shopping or just bundle the kids up and spend a fun night out with the family!

Celebrate The Mandarin Orange At Auburn’s Mountain Mandarin Festival

By Alyssa Green

One does not generally associate Thanksgiving and the fall harvest with oranges…but lo and behold, this is certainly the case in nearby Placer County.  Come celebrate and enjoy the locally grown Owari Satsuma Mandarin orange at this weekend’s Gold Country Fair Grounds in Auburn.

The annual Mountain Mandarin Festival takes place each year the weekend before Thanksgiving and I can’t think of a more perfect time to gather recipe ideas for your upcoming family dinner. 

In addition to cooking demontrations and a plethora of mandarin orange based treats, there will also be a recipe contest, live entertainment, hundreds of craft booths, a designated children’s area with lots of fun activities to keep them entertained, great food, and of course plenty of fresh mandarin oranges for sale.

Hours and Admission:

Friday, 11/18 – 11am to 5pm; Special $2 admission for everyone.  Hooray!

Saturday, 11/19 – 9am to 5pm, $6 general admission, $4 for senior citizens, FREE for children 12 years and under.

Sunday, 11/20 – 10am to 4pm, $6 general admission, $4 for seniors, FREE for children 12 and under.

Parking is $5 per vehicle