The Best Museums to Visit on Sacramento Museum Day

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Sacramento Museum Day is this Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. Sponsored by Bank of America, Sacramento Covered and Amtrak, the 18th Annual Museum Day offers FREE or 1/2 price admission to 26 area museums. As you might have guessed, this is a pretty popular Saturday to be out and about around town! Let’s face it…you are probably wondering if it’s worth getting out there with the kids and fighting the crowds. Well, the answer depends on what your game plan is. We’ve come up with some tips and suggestions to help make Sacramento Museum Day a wonderful experience for the entire family.

  1. Go early. This is sort of a no-brainer, but nevertheless, the most important. If you’ve got kids, you’ll want to avoid the crowds as much as possible – and this means getting to your no. 1 choice of museums first. All museums open up at 10am, so make sure to take into account parking and walking time as you plan your day.
  2. Avoid the most popular museums. The most popular museums for families on Museum Day are typically the California State Railroad Museum, Crocker Art Museum, California Automobile Museum and Sacramento Children’s Museum. If you really must go to one these, make it first on your list. It’s also best to avoid the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town, as admission is 1/2 price rather than free and both parks offer free admission on other days of the year.
  3. Visit a new museum. Take this opportunity to visit a lesser-known or more expensive area museum that you haven’t been to before. Several years ago, my family visited the Aerospace Museum for the first time on Museum Day – we had never been before because admission at this museum is typically more expensive than other area museums. So we took advantage of the free admission, visited first thing, and had a fantastic time. We have been back many times since!
  4. Be flexible. If you are going to brave the crowds on this day, you’ve got to be flexible. Don’t try to pack too much into the day, just choose one or two museums to visit and know that things might get a little bit zooey. And be aware that some museums have a limit of how many people can be inside at one time (Powerhouse Science Center Discovery Campus), so you may have to wait a bit. Your kids might have meltdowns and you might even head home earlier than you anticipated. It’s best to keep your expectations low and hope for the best on this day.

So, what would be my recommendations for your family on Museum Day? The Sacramento History Museum, Maidu Museum and Historic Site, State Indian Museum, Roseville Utility Exploration Center and California Museum. For the full list of participating museums, click here. Have fun!

What: 18th Annual Sacramento Museum Day

When: Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016

Time: 10am to 5pm

Admission: Free or 1/2 price

 

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Keep the Kids Busy with a Week of Holiday Activities in Sacramento

Christmas Fun for Kids in SacramentoNow that your kids on winter break, are you looking for some last-minute activities to keep them busy before the big day? Here’s a list of holiday and Christmas activities and events that are happening this week in Sacramento.

Let them run around at Fairytale Town for FREE on Christmas Eve day. That’s right, Sacramento’s favorite storybook park will be open from 10am to 2pm on December 24, and admission is free for both kiddos and parents. It’s a great way to tire out the kids so they sleep on Christmas Eve!

If you don’t feel like changing out of your jammies, not to worry. It’s PJ Day at the Sacramento Zoo. And, guess what? Admission is FREE at the zoo, as well! So if you really want to tire those kiddos out, be sure to stop by both Fairytale Town and the Zoo for a day of Christmas Eve fun! Zoo hours are 10am to 1:30 pm.

How about the 6th Annual Wild Nights and Holiday Lights at the Folsom Zoo? This holiday event will showcase thousands of lights, trees, and decorations throughout the zoo’s grounds, buildings, and animal exhibits. Santa and zoo bear mascot Santa Paws will visit each night to pose for photos. Some of the zoo animals will even receive special treats during the event! Carolers and musicians add to the cheery atmosphere and the Starlight Express, a live miniature steam train, offers special night rides. SactoMoFo food trucks will be on-site.  Proceeds from the event benefit the zoo sanctuary animals. 12/21 – 12/23, 5pm to 8pm. General Admission is $5, train rides are $4.

Learn all about reindeer this week at Sacramento’s Discovery Museum. Not only will children learn all about Santa’s famous reindeer, but children will get to take home a reindeer souvenir. 12/21-12/24, hours vary – check website. Admission is $6 for kids, $8 for adults.

Enjoy a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas at Davis Musical Theatre Performing Arts Center. Includes juice or hot chocolate and cookies to decorate and eat. 12/21-12/23, 3pm. General admission is $15.

 

It’s Time for Sacramento’s 17th Annual Museum Day

Randoms 166Twenty-five area museums are gearing up for the 17th Annual Sacramento Museum Day on Saturday, February 7, 2015. We LOVE the first Saturday of February each year, when most of our museums open up to the public for FREE – providing a great opportunities for families to visit museums they may not otherwise be able to experience. This year, 23 museums will offer free admission, while two will offer 1/2 price admission. Here’s the list of participants:

FREE Admission – Aerospace Museum of California – California Automobile Museum – California State Capitol Museum – California State Railroad Museum – Discovery Museum Science and Space Center – Don & June Salvatori California Pharmacy Museum –  Heidrick Ag History Center (Woodland) – Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park – Maidu Museum & Historic Site (Roseville) – Museum of Medical History – Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum – Old Sacramento State Historic Park – Roseville Utility Exploration Center – Sacramento Children’s Museum – Sacramento Historic City Cemetery – Sacramento History Museum –  Sojourner Truth Multicultural Arts Museum – State Indian Museum – Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park – Verge Center for the Arts – Wells Fargo History Museum (Capitol Mall) – Wells Fargo History Museum (Old Sacramento)

1/2 Off Admission – Fairytale Town – Sacramento Zoo

*Please note that the following museums are NOT on the free or 1/2 price list this year – California Museum – California State Governor’s Mansion (closed for renovations until 2016) – Crocker Art Museum ($5 for ages 18+ and free for 17 and younger on Museum Day. Also free every 3rd Sunday of every month of the year) – Stanford Mansion.

Sacramento Museum Day tends to be very popular, so our advice is to plan ahead, go early and enjoy!

 

10 Free Sacramento Summer Activities for Kids

It’s hard to believe, but summer is right around the corner…and you know what that means, the kids will soon be out of school.  You don’t need to spend a fortune keeping them busy all summer long.  There are plenty of fun activities and events that are free or nearly free right here in town.  Take a look – the fun starts now! Summer Collage

1. Kids Bowl Free All Summer Long at Fireside Lanes 5/1 – 9/2 – Select bowling centers and schools around the country are participating in the Kids Bowl FREE program. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.  You can sign up online and your kids can bowl 2 free games every day of the summer.  Special discounts are offered to parents, too!

2. Holiday Mondays and 3rd Sundays FREE at the Crocker Art Museum 6/15, 7/20, 8/17, 9/1 – The Crocker started off the summer with a FREE Family Palooza holiday Monday on Memorial Day.  Stay tuned for the next Holiday Monday, later in the summer on Labor Day.  Meanwhile, through the generous support of Western Health Advantage, the Crocker Art Museum will provide free access to the general public on the third Sunday of each month. “Pay What You Wish Sunday” is part of the Crocker ‘s commitment to provide Museum access to the entire community.

3Sacramento Fire Department Open Houses 6/7, 6/14, 6/21, 6/28, 7/12, 7/19, 7/26, 8/2, 8/9, 8/16, 8/23, 9/6, 9/12 – You are invited to bring your family and friends to visit with firefighters, take a tour of the fire station, get an up-close look at a fire engine, and more!

4. Pops in the Park 6/7, 6/14, 6/21, 6/28 – FREE family friendly summer concerts the whole family can enjoy!  Each Saturday throughout the month of June, you’ll be entertained by various artists at various East Sacramento Parks.  Bicycle valet parking, food and drink is available.

5. Mommy & Me Day at Raley Field6/18 – Mommy & Me Days are non-ticketed, FREE events open to children ages 6-and-under and their parents. They are exclusive opportunities for families to enjoy a fun play date at Raley Field.  Children will enjoy a variety of activities on the baseball field, including running the bases, playing catch, and exploring the River Cats’ inflatable bounce house and obstacle course. In addition, the River Cats’ beloved mascot Dinger will be on hand to entertain children and parents alike.  Free parking, free snacks and drinks for the first 1,500 children.

6. Family Bike Nights at Safetyville, USA 6/19-20, 6/26-27, 7/3-4, 7/10-11, 7/17-18, 7,24-25, 7/31-8/1, 8/7-8, 8/14-15, 8/21-22 – This FREE event is open to all ages and skill levels.   A special area will be provided for smaller riders in the center in front of the capital. Additionally each event will include a safety or health lesson with a special guest speaker for the families that attend; i.e.: how to fit a bike helmet, pedestrian safety, stranger danger, etc.  Helmets required, snacks and drinks will be available.

7. Wells Fargo Wednesdays at the Sacramento Zoo 7/16, 7/23 & 7/30 – Bring your kids to the Zoo for FREE on three Wednesdays in July thanks to Wells Fargo! Up to four kids, ages 2-11 will be admitted for free with a paid adult. Wells Fargo will offer a free train or carousel ride to kids. On July 30th the famous Wells Fargo Stage Coach will be at the Zoo too! Sponsored by Wells Fargo.

8. Free Kids Day at the California State Fair 7/15, 7/22 – On Tuesdays, kids 12 and under get FREE admission to the California State Fair, and all rides are only $1 for all ages!

9Screen on the Green8/2, 8/9 – Screen on the Green is a series of FREE movie screenings held at various parks throughout the district. The program is made possible by contributions from Councilmember Steve Cohn and the Pops in the Park project.  This year’s movies include How to Train your Dragon, and 101 Dalmations.

10. Gold Rush Days8/29-9/1 – Hitch up the team to your buckboard and come on down! Bring the young’uns and the in-laws, the neighbors and the new folk just off the stage from back East.  Heck, bring your sweetheart along for a thrill. During Labor Day Weekend in Old Sacramento you’ll find yourself transported back to the days of gold and glory, when California was a brand-new state with brand-new ideas. Join in the truly old-time fun in the world of yesterday!  Admission is FREE.

Bonus:

Parks with Water Features – there are plenty of neighborhood parks that have water features (splash grounds, kiddie pools, misters.) Take advantage of these fabulous and FREE ways to stay cool!

Almost Free:

Effie Yeaw Nature Center – The Nature Center is part of a 77-acre nature preserve with riparian and oak woodlands, shrub lands, meadows, and aquatic habitats.   There are three self-guided trails that are equipped with interpretive signage along the way, pointing out interesting features.  There are also classes, workshops and family outings to participate in.  While admission to the center is always FREE, there is a parking fee of $5 per vehicle.

Regal Cinemas Summer Movies – June through August, Regal hosts the Summer Movie Express.  Kid-friendly movies are just $1 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  This is a great way to get out of the heat when the temperature rises.

Other Summer Activities Not to be Missed:

River Cats Baseball – Sacramento’s triple A baseball team is one of the best in the league.  Take advantage of a good old-fashioned night out with the family at Raley Field.  Enjoy fireworks on Friday and Saturday home games, and $1 hot dogs and desserts on Tuesdays.  And don’t forget about the Dinger Kids Club!

Raging Waters – Raging Waters Sacramento features more than 25 exhilarating water attractions, breath-taking slides, crystal clear pools and fun-filled activities for children and adults of all ages. Thrill slides include favorites such as Splashdown, Hurricane, Cliffhanger Speed Slides, Breaker Beach Wave Pool and the Shark Attack Waterslide complex. Those park goers in the mood for more chill than thrills can cool down in the tranquil waters of the Calypso Cooler Lazy River or explore Treehouse Reef, our new 5-story children’s attraction with water slides, secret tubes and hundreds of water activities.   And don’t forget, when you buy the Sacramento Season Pass, you also get REE admission into the State Fair!

10 Free Sacramento Summer Activities for Kids

***UPDATED FOR 2015***

It’s hard to believe, but summer is right around the corner…and you know what that means, the kids will soon be out of school.  You don’t need to spend a fortune keeping them busy all summer long.  There are plenty of fun activities and events that are free or nearly free right here in town.  Take a look – the fun starts now! Summer Collage

1. Kids Bowl Free All Summer Long at Fireside Lanes 5/1 – 9/7 – Select bowling centers and schools around the country are participating in the Kids Bowl FREE program. This program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer.  You can sign up online and your kids can bowl 2 free games every day of the summer.  Special discounts are offered to parents, too!

2. Pay-What-You-Wish Sundays at the Crocker Art Museum6/21, 7/29, 8/16, 9/20 – Through the generous support of Western Health Advantage, the Crocker Art Museum will provide free access to the general public on the third Sunday of each month. “Pay What You Wish Sunday” is part of the Crocker ‘s commitment to provide Museum access to the entire community.

3Sacramento Fire Department Open Houses 6/6, 6/13, 6/20, 6/27, 7/11, 7/18, 7/25, 8/1, 8/8, 8/15, 8/22, 8/29, 9/12, 9/19 – You are invited to bring your family and friends to visit with firefighters, take a tour of the fire station, get an up-close look at a fire engine, and more!

4. Pops in the Park 6/6, 6/13, 6/20, 6/27 – FREE family friendly summer concerts the whole family can enjoy!  Each Saturday throughout the month of June, you’ll be entertained by various artists at various East Sacramento Parks.  Bicycle valet parking, food and drink is available.

5. Mommy & Me Day at Raley Field6/22 – Mommy & Me Days are non-ticketed, FREE events open to children ages 6-and-under and their parents. They are exclusive opportunities for families to enjoy a fun play date at Raley Field.  Children will enjoy a variety of activities on the baseball field, including running the bases, playing catch, and exploring the River Cats’ inflatable bounce house and obstacle course. In addition, the River Cats’ beloved mascot Dinger will be on hand to entertain children and parents alike.  Free parking, free snacks and drinks for the first 1,500 children.

6. Family Bike Nights at Safetyville, USA6/18-19, 6/25-26, 7/2-3, 7/9-10, 7/16-17, 7/23-24, 7/30-7/31, 8/6-8/7, 8/13-14, 8/20-22 – This FREE event is open to all ages and skill levels. A special area will be provided for smaller riders in the center in front of the capital. Additionally each event will include a safety or health lesson with a special guest speaker for the families that attend; i.e.: how to fit a bike helmet, pedestrian safety, stranger danger, etc.  Helmets required, snacks and drinks will be available.

7. Wells Fargo Wednesdays at the Sacramento Zoo 7/15, 7/22 & 7/29 – Bring your kids to the Zoo for FREE on three Wednesdays in July thanks to Wells Fargo! Up to four kids, ages 2-11 will be admitted for free with a paid adult. Wells Fargo will offer a free train or carousel ride to kids. On July 30th the famous Wells Fargo Stage Coach will be at the Zoo too! Sponsored by Wells Fargo.

8. Free Kids Day at the California State Fair 7/14, 7/21 – On Tuesdays, kids 12 and under get FREE admission to the California State Fair, and all rides are only $1 for all ages!

9Screen on the Green8/28, 8/29 – Screen on the Green is a series of FREE movie screenings held at various parks throughout the district. The program is made possible by contributions from Councilmember Steve Cohn and the Pops in the Park project.  This year’s movie is Big Hero 6. FREE popcorn provided!

10. Gold Rush Days – 9/4 – 9/7 – Hitch up the team to your buckboard and come on down! Bring the young’uns and the in-laws, the neighbors and the new folk just off the stage from back East.  Heck, bring your sweetheart along for a thrill. During Labor Day Weekend in Old Sacramento you’ll find yourself transported back to the days of gold and glory, when California was a brand-new state with brand-new ideas. Join in the truly old-time fun in the world of yesterday!  Admission is FREE.

Bonus:

Parks with Water Features – there are plenty of neighborhood parks that have water features (splash grounds, kiddie pools, misters.) Take advantage of these fabulous and FREE ways to stay cool!

Almost Free:

Effie Yeaw Nature Center – The Nature Center is part of a 77-acre nature preserve with riparian and oak woodlands, shrub lands, meadows, and aquatic habitats.   There are three self-guided trails that are equipped with interpretive signage along the way, pointing out interesting features.  There are also classes, workshops and family outings to participate in.  While admission to the center is always FREE, there is a parking fee of $5 per vehicle.

Regal Cinemas Summer Movies – June through August, Regal hosts the Summer Movie Express.  Kid-friendly movies are just $1 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  This is a great way to get out of the heat when the temperature rises.

Tower Theatre Summer Movies – The mid-week, morning screenings will run for nine weeks, from mid-June to mid-August for just $1. The coolest movie playing this summer? The Wizard of Oz on July 1 & 2.

Other Summer Activities Not to be Missed:

River Cats Baseball – Sacramento’s triple A baseball team is one of the best in the league.  Take advantage of a good old-fashioned night out with the family at Raley Field.  Enjoy fireworks on Friday and Saturday home games, and $1 hot dogs and desserts on Tuesdays. Parking is FREE this season.  And don’t forget about the Dinger Kids Club!

Raging Waters – Raging Waters Sacramento features more than 25 exhilarating water attractions, breath-taking slides, crystal clear pools and fun-filled activities for children and adults of all ages. Thrill slides include favorites such as Splashdown, Hurricane, Cliffhanger Speed Slides, Breaker Beach Wave Pool and the Shark Attack Waterslide complex. Those park goers in the mood for more chill than thrills can cool down in the tranquil waters of the Calypso Cooler Lazy River or explore Treehouse Reef, our new 5-story children’s attraction with water slides, secret tubes and hundreds of water activities.   And don’t forget, when you buy the Sacramento Season Pass, you also get FREE admission into the State Fair!

Update: Weekend Family Fun

Enjoy FREE admission to the California State Railroad Museum, Fairytale Town, Aerospace Museum, Military Museum, California Museum and the Oroville Temple Complex & Museum.  Check below for details.9/28 – Mountain Lions Home Opener – The Mountain Lions’ home opener against the Omaha Nighthawks will be the first-ever football game played at Raley Field, which opened on May 15, 2000.   The Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League will play their entire 2012 home schedule at Raley Field, home of the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento River Cats. The United Football League provides a fun and affordable way for families and friends to enjoy high-quality professional football at an affordable price while providing an exciting and memorable game experience.

9/28 – Junk 2 Genius at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – Sacramento Children’s Museum and reCREATE are bringing a quirky and fun art competition to Rancho Cordova. Join to watch the competition with free SCM admission and fun for the whole family, including a beer garden, food trucks, activities for the kids, and Museum play!

This fun, high-energy celebration of creative reuse is a timed sculpt-off where teams create sculptures from cast-off materials provided by reCREATE. Each team will receive a large box of similar materials and race against the clock to create their work of art! To add drama to the event, the theme for the sculptures will be announced when the competition begins. The creation time will have rules and referees to add to the excitement. When the alarm sounds, a panel of judges will critique the final pieces and award the Trophy du Trash. In addition, there will be a People’s Choice Award.

9/29 – Viva la Musica -The Sacramento Philharmonic’s 16th season opens with Viva la Musica! a concert celebrating the Latin music influence. A rhythmically charged celebration of our region’s spirit–and a virtual “who’s who” of internationally-recognized and award-winning composers with Latin American roots or ties. Music from Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Brasil, Argentina, Spain, and the US will be featured.

Come early and enjoy “festival activities” in the theater lobby and celebrate the rich cultural traditions and connections of our Central and South American communities. The talents of regional musicians, dancers, and artists from various cultural organizations will be showcased, including Institute Mazatlan Bellas Artes (IMBA), Brazilian Center for Cultural Exchange of Sacramento, La Raza Galeria Posada, and Firehouse 5 Dance Studio. These activities are free of charge and the public is invited to participate, whether or not they are attending the paid concert that follows.

9/29 – Movie in the Park: Incredibles – Come out to Belle Cooledge Park to watch Pixar’s The Incredibles under the stars, hosted by Crosswalk Christian Ministries. Free admission and free popcorn and drinks!

9/29 – 2012 Romanian Festival – The purpose of the Festival goes beyond maintaining cultural heritage. The Festival is a great opportunity to unify a fragmented ethnic community of 30,000 Romanian-Americans in an effort toward creating a self-sustaining and socially contributing immigrant population. This community capacity building effort aims to increase education, employability, and the overall sense of community.

9/29 – Tracks & Scat at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Stroll through the Nature Preserve with a naturalist and learn to identify the tracks, scat, and other signs left behind by resident wildlife. All ages welcome.

9/29 – Big Wheels at the Franklin Library – Love big wheels? Then come and see an assortment of cool vehicles from fire trucks to motorcycles to Model-Ts. Join in for a fun-filled family day, where everyone is sure to have a good time!

9/29 – Smithsonian Day Live! -Spend a day at a museum for free! Smithsonian magazine plans to mimic the Smithsonian free-admission policy by offering free entry to participating museums in Sacramento. You must download your ticket before arriving.

Sacramento-area museums participating in Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Live! include the Aerospace Museum of California, California Automobile Museum, California State Military Museum and Resource Center, La Raza Galería Posada, The California Museum, and the Oroville Chinese Temple Complex & Museum.

9/29-30 – Scholar Share Book Festival at Fairytale Town -Join Fairytale Town and several local area arts organizations for the largest early childhood literacy event in the region! The Festival features dynamic presentations from children’s book authors and illustrators, storytelling performances, hands-on literacy activities, a book fair, and information booths from literacy and arts organizations.

This year’s featured children’s book authors include: Bob Barner, Dorina Lazo Gilmore, Sandy Lynne Holman, Heather Leigh, Bethany Telles, Joanne Jeffers Veeck and Dawn Wynne. Featured illustrators include Felipe Davalos, Michael Slack, and Kenneth Spengler. Hazuki Kataoka of Storycard Theater will give a storytelling performance featuring their traditional Japanese picture-card stories called “kamishibai,” meaning “paper theater.” This two day program is free thanks to the generous support of ScholarShare College Savings Plan.

9/29-30 – Celebrate the the Union Pacific Railroad’s 150 year anniversary. Free admission to the California State Railroad Museum and free train excursion rides on both Saturday and Sunday.

9/29-30 – 15th Annual Reptile Show – The Sacramento Reptile Show is back for its 15th year at the Convention Center’s Exhibit Halls. The largest reptile exhibit in Northern California features more than 3000 reptiles on display. This popular reptile display will feature over 30 venomous species from around the world including King Cobras and Black Mambas.  Also returning will be “Izod the Alligator,” a 10 foot, 100 pound alligator for all to see! The Sacramento Reptile Show also provides the opportunity to purchase a new reptile pet from one of the many professional reptile breeders at the event.

9/29-30 – Slitherin’ Snakes at the Discovery Museum – Now is the perfect time to start spotting snakes when you are out enjoying nature. Learn about snakes at the Discovery Museum and visit the Bone Zone exhibit to see a snake skeleton. The classroom has a small display of snake skin for guests to view. Make and take a twirling snake kite to play with outside on the property’s fourteen acres.  Admission includes an animal presentation at Noon & 2pm, and a planetarium show at 1pm & 3pm (for ages 4 and above only).

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Target Sponsors Free Admission Day At The Sacramento Zoo

There are so many things to love about Target.  I could go on…and on.  But I will spare you that long list of mine.  What I will tell you is that Target has teamed up with the Sacramento Zoo …and everyone gets into the zoo for FREE on Monday, August 29th.  Why, you ask?  They are hoping visitors will donate a new, unopened back-to-school item for children in our community.  If you can’t make it on the the 29th, you can still receive $1 off each admission any day this month with the donation of a school supply. 

So, take advantage of all those back-to-school sales and pick up a little something for disadvantaged kids in the Sacramento area.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Not only will you have a blast at the zoo, but you’ll be supporting a great cause!