Sacramento’s Best Train Rides for Kids

Train at Sacramento Zoo

It’s almost springtime! Let’s get outside and take the kids for a fun train ride.  But here’s the big question: What makes for a great train ride?  Most parents look at these or similar factors: price, location, scenic views, realism (does it feel like a real train or a toy train) and available dates and times.  We’re going to compare 5 train rides in Sacramento and the surrounding area: The Sacramento Zoo, Funderland, Old Sacramento, Folsom Zoo and the Fountains at Roseville.

Best prices lowest to highest: Fountains ($2 each or free on Tuesdays), Funderland ($2-2.25 per ticket), Folsom Zoo ($3 per ticket).

Location: This is somewhat subjective and based on where you live. The Sacramento Zoo and Funderland are within close walking distance of each other.  Old Sacramento has lots of stuff to do and see, including a train museum.  The train in Folsom is next to the zoo, library and park.  The Fountains are across the street from the Galleria Mall.

Scenic views: Old Sacramento (river and scenery), Folsom Zoo (outside of zoo and park) and Sacramento Zoo (animals).

Realism: Old Sacramento (real train) and Folsom Zoo (steam engine).

Available dates and times:

Sacramento Zoo: open from 9am to 5pm. Tickets for zoo: $11.75 general admission and $7.75 child/youth (ages 2-11).  Train rides additional $4 each.

Funderland: open Fridays 11am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm, verify hours on website. Weekday tickets: $2 per ride, $17 for 10 rides.  Weekend tickets: $2.25 per ride, $21 for 10 rides.

Old Sacramento: opens in April, Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm, Tuesdays 11am and 1pm, see website for dates. Tickets: $12 adults, $6 youth (ages 6-17) and ages 5 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the California State Railroad Museum.

Folsom Zoo: open Tuesday thru Friday 11am-2pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm. Tickets: $3 per person.  Ages 12 months and under are free.

Fountains at Roseville: open Monday thru Sunday 11am-6pm. Tickets at Guest Services: $2 per person.  Adults ride free with kids under age 2.

What if your kids are on spring break and you want to spend the whole day playing? Take a look at the websites for upcoming events.  For example, go to Funderland for their annual Easter Bash on 3/18 and 3/19.  Head over to the Sacramento Zoo for Earth Fest on April 2 or try a First Friday at the Fountains starting in May.  Walk around the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento and then take a train ride.  Get a combination ticket and go to the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town.  Find a Groupon or other online deal.  Remember, spending quality time with your kids and seeing things through their eyes is priceless.

Post and photos by guest writer Lara Brandon

Sac Zoo Train Lara Brandon

Funderland Train - LB

Train Rides - LB


Local Sacramento Events that Celebrate Mom for Mother’s Day!

Mothers-Day-BouquetBy Heather Crivellone

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~Author Unknown

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and how will you celebrate your favorite moms in your life?  Many choose brunch, breakfast in bed, pedicures and salon days.  I prefer a day out spent enjoying it with those who matter the most – my mom and my kids! Don’t get me wrong, my toes need some serious pampering, I need some serious “soul rejuvenating” and someone else cooking for me – yes please!  But, all in all, the most important thing to me is to spend the day with those whom I love and cherish.

If you are like me and trying to think of the perfect day out with your family, then look no further.  I have compiled a short and sweet list of some great ideas of how you can celebrate those wonderful mothers in your life here in the Sacramento area.

  1. Mother’s Day High Tea at a Dash of Panache.  Join other moms at this 11th annual event in downtown Roseville.  Located at 217 Vernon Street, this Old Fashioned tea parlor will be hosting three different sittings on Mother’s Day.  One at 11am, 2pm and 5pm.  You can enjoy wearing “funny hats” (as my daughter likes to call them) while sipping gourmet teas and nibbling on “fancy” tea sandwiches.  This event is very popular and does sell out, so get your tickets on their website and enjoy an afternoon of class with your loved ones
  2. Sacramento’s most beloved Amusement Park- Funderland will be offering moms free rides all day on Mother’s Day!  If your idea of a “high tea’ isn’t your “cup of tea”, then head out to William Land Park and enjoy the log ride, dragon roller coaster and train rides and more with your kids.
  3. The 17th Annual East Sacramento Garden Tour on May 9 and 10 is always a family favorite.  Benefitting the David Lubin Elementary School, this event is one not to be missed.  Tickets to this event can be purchased on their website and you can tour 7 beautiful and inspiring gardens in Sacramento’s “Fabulous 40’s” neighborhood.  A luncheon will also be served at the Sutter Lawn Tennis Club, along with boutiques and food trucks at the David Lubin School.  The walk through these amazing homes is worth the ticket price and it’s a great event to take a part of with your moms.
  4. Treat mom to a Mother’s Day Sacramento River Cruise.  The boat will set sail from the Old Sacramento L Street Dock and you will enjoy an hour-long ride along the Sacramento River, hearing stories about the history of our beloved city.  Tickets and times can be found on the website.  Tickets are $20 per person.
  5. Spend the afternoon at the California Automobile Museum, where moms get FREE admission and a sparkling mimosa to enjoy while “cruising” through the museum.  Free admission will be from 10am-5pm on Sunday, May 10.
  6. My favorite way to spend the day is enjoying one of our local vineyards.  At Scribner Bend Winery, you can enjoy a special Mother’s Day picnic with delicious artisan sandwiches and gourmet salads while sipping on their award-winning wines.  Cost for the picnic is $10.50 and wine purchase is separate.  Reserve your picnic on their website and enjoy a day out in the vineyard!

These are just a few ideas to keep you and mom going on her special day.  But whatever you choose to do, enjoy each moment with your loved ones!

Easter Events around Town

imagesBy Heather Crivellone

Spring has sprung and the Easter Bunny is around the corner!  If you are looking for some fun and inexpensive entertainment for your children- then check out some of the local Egg Hunts and festivals that are going on around town.

At Fairytale Town on April 4th and 5th, with the price of admission your family can join in on the “Eggstravaganza”.  The weekend will be full of egg hunts, prizes, spring themed arts and crafts and more!  Bring a basket and join in on the daily egg hunts that will be held at 12, 1 and 2pm.

On March 27-29 at Funderland, join other families at their annual Easter Bash.  Egg hunts will be going on every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour ($3 for the hunt), the Easter Bunny and Happy the Squirrel will be on site to visit with the kids, Free Crafts throughout the park and vendors will be onsite for any shopping needs.   If you bring in a new game or art supplies to donate to the River Oak Center for Children, you will receive FREE ride tickets to enjoy in the park.

The Sacramento River Train will be hosting their Easter Egg Express on March 28, 29 and April 4, 5. This kid friendly train ride will last approximately 3 hours and will have entertainment along the way, and they will enjoy an Easter egg hunt in the park- the Easter bunny may even make an appearance!

On April 4 at 9:30am, join locals at William Curtis Park for a fun morning starting off with a Pajama Parade that leads to the Sierra 2 Center for some Easter crafts and an egg hunt!

The “World’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt” will be hosted on April 4 at the State Capitol.  There will be over a half million eggs hidden around the Capitol grounds, bounce houses, face painting, a petting zoo and of course the Easter Bunny!

This is just a small list of what is going on around the city-  as you can see, we have plenty to choose from and enough to keep our kids happy and hunting this Easter Season!


Weekend Family Fun

PicMonkey Collage

This weekend is a busy one!  Take a light Saber class, watch Hocus Pocus at Raley Field, or celebrate World Pasta Day at the Discovery Museum.  Check out all the other fun family weekend events happening!

10/24 – 10/26 – 28th Annual Safe and Super Halloween at Fairytale Town – Enter the mythological world of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” for three nights of trick-or-treating and family fun! Young heroes can go on a quest to Mount Olympus to see the infamous Olympian Zeus. Visit the lair of Polyphemus the Cyclops, the replica Parthenon, the Oracle of Delphi and Medusa’s garden — just remember not to look her directly in the eyes! Keep an eye out for plenty of mythological characters and creatures along the way.

10/24 – Night of 1000 Pumpkins IV – Night of 1,000 Pumpkins is a yearly event that attempts to light 1,000 jack-o-lanterns in Historic Sutter Street. Thousands of residents and visitors of Folsom visit this yearly event which consists of trick-or-treating, outdoor movies, and of course, pumpkins!

10/25 – Count Watts SPOOktacular – Meet Roseville Electric Utility’s Count Watts at the SPOOKtacular. Take a walk through the Phantom House — warning: your energy waste may be shocking. Round out your day with pumpkin carving, crafts, face painting, and prizes.

10/25 – Spooky Story Time at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Gear up for Halloween at the Nature Center with some spooky stories told by the Sacramento Storytellers Guild. Don’t worry, these stories are guaranteed not to cause nightmares!

10/25 – Light Saber Class – Come join Dragon Fire Martial Arts and learn light saber skills to defeat the evil doers. You will learn blocks and strikes you can use to help defend you in battle. Everyone will receiver a saber like those shown in the pictures.

10/25 – Trick or Treat at Raley Field – Raley Field will host a free community trick-or-treat event and a special screening of ©Walt Disney Pictures Hocus Pocus on the ballpark videoboard. The family-friendly comedy about a trio of witches on Halloween night in modern-day Salem, Mass. is rated PG. Children are encouraged to dress in Halloween costumes and take part in fun activities including a photo corner, pumpkin patch, bobbing for apples, and a costume contest.

10/25 – Shirley Holmes and the Misfit Detectives – With the help of her band of quirky friends, Sherlock Holmes’ great-great-granddaughter, Sherly Holmes, is on a case — using all her pluck and resolve to solve the mystery of Pigzilla. Half-pig and half-Godzilla creature, this monster has been terrifying the townspeople for too long, sometimes even scaring the pants off of people…literally. But time is ticking, and Sherly and friends will have to solve the case before time runs out in order to claim the $500 reward with which to fix their clubhouse’s broken air-conditioner.

10/25 – Trick or Treating in Old Sacramento – The sounds of kids trick-or-treating will echo through the streets of Old Sacramento and the Sacramento Downtown Plaza this season. Last year more than 40 stores and museums in Old Sacramento provided special treats to children. The Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum is a great place to start as a limited quantity of maps and bags are available for interested participants.

10/25 – 10/26 – California capital Book Festival – Hundreds of authors and thousands of book lovers of all ages will attend the first California Capital Book Festival, produced in partnership with the Sacramento Public Library Foundation. The two-day festival will feature author panels, book seller exhibits, special venues for kid literature, pets, sports and cooking and more.

10/25 – 10/26 – World Pasta Day at the Discovery Museum – Have some fun celebrating World Pasta Day at the Discovery Museum! Children craft a pasta necklace to take home as a souvenir. Admission includes a visit to the Blast from the Past exhibit, an animal program, and planetarium shows for ages 4 and older.

10/25 – 10/26 – Funderland’s Spooktacular Halloween – This family weekend will include some deliciously diabolical treats including: Elsa the Snow Queen, a magical magician, trick or treating, a silly haunted house, a happy little pumpkin patch, the no so spooky train, costume contests, face painting, and so much more

10/26 – Sketch It at the Crocker Art Museum – Visitors (Ages 5+) can sketch at their own pace while receiving drawing instruction. This drop-in program meets in a different gallery each month. No experience necessary, and all supplies are provided.

1/26 – There’s No Scent Like Home at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – The annual migration of Chinook salmon has arrived. Join a naturalist and hike to the river to catch a glimpse of these impressive fish as they swish and swirl in the shallows.

10/26 – Trunk or Treat at the California Automobile Museum – Only at the California Automobile Museum can you enjoy the unique experience of Trunk or Treating out of the back of rare and vintage classic cars from the early 1900′s to present day. Our docents will personally hand out candy to your junior superheroes and princesses as they explore the museum and engage in a myriad of fun activities.

Weekend Family Fun

PicMonkey Collage

7/25 – $4 Fridays at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – In celebration of summer, join the Sacramento Children’s Museum for $4 Fridays Admission is just $4 after 4pm and includes both indoor museum play and outdoor fun! Look forward to food trucks, live music by The Hoots, face painting, art of popcorn, and classic cars from the California Automobile Museum!

7/25 – Fun Tastic Evening Fundraiser at Funderland – Join the Keaton Raphael Memorial for a fun evening at Funderland Amusement Park, full of rides, games, and raffle prizes! All proceeds will benefit children battling cancer and their families. Please bring cash for purchasing any food, drinks, or raffle tickets.

7/25 – 7/26 – Last weekend for Disney’s High School Musical presented by the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy – Full of singing and dancing, High School Musical is an adaptation of the timeless love story, Romeo and Juliet. Troy, Gabriella and the students of East High must deal with issues of first love, friends and family while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities. Although Troy and Gabriella come from different cliques, they join together to audition for the school musical. Will the couple’s alliance open doors for others to shine as well?

7/25 – 7/27 – Last weekend for the California State Fair at Cal Expo – The seventeen-day California State Fair is a robust celebration of the State of California, its industries, agriculture and diversity of its people. For many the State Fair is the culmination of hard work throughout the year. For others, the State Fair is a family summer tradition of enjoyment with plenty of entertainment, fascinating exhibits, popular livestock venues and mouth-watering food!

7/26 – Fire Station Open House at Station 11 – The Sacramento Fire Department hosts Fire Station Open Houses on Saturdays all summer long. 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!

7/26 – Family Overnight Safari at the Sacramento Zoo – Camp-out with your family under the stars just yards away from slumbering lions, and wake to the call of flamingos — and of course a tasty breakfast. This fun-filled educational evening will guide you through all that the nighttime zoo has to offer. This is a perfect opportunity to see animal behaviors you may not have seen before.

7/26 – Great Train Robbery – Take a ride back to the Old West on the Sacramento RiverTrain! During this three and a half hour trip, keep an eye for outlaws who tend to hide out along the tracks. Fortunately, the Marshall will be on board to keep things safe. More often than not, he has to teach those outlaws a lesson!  Guests will de-board the train and a BBQ lunch will be served in kid-friendly Elkhorn Park.

7/26 – Beat the Heat at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Take time to appreciate trees for all the shade they provide by enjoying a leisurely morning walk on the Preserve trails. Join a Naturalist as you watch for deer, hawks, woodpeckers and much more before the afternoon heats up.

7/26 – Fun on the Farm at Soil Born Farm – Join the fun and explore the American River Ranch! Meet the farm animals, make a farm fresh snack, and create something special to take home. This event is suggested for children (ages 3-9) with adults.

7/26 – 7/27 – Fairytale Town Campout – Spend the night in Fairytale Town’s storybook park.  This exciting overnight adventure includes a theater performance, arts and crafts activities, a scavenger hunt, bedtime stories and a sing-along. Wake up the next morning under Fairytale Town’s canopy of trees to a light continental breakfast.

7/26 – 7/27 – Last weekend for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty presented by the Fairytale Town Troupers – The unforgettable songs and characters from the Disney animated classic “Sleeping Beauty” are brought to life by the award-winning Fairytale Town Troupers. When Princess Aurora falls under the wicked spell of the evil sorceress Maleficent, it’s up to brave Prince Phillip, with the help of the good fairies Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, to battle an army of ghoulish goons, penetrate the forest of thorns and defeat Maleficent to save the day.

7/26 – 7/27 – Butterfly Bash at the Discovery Museum – Butterflies will be abound at the Discovery Museum this weekend. Multiple insect cases are on display highlighting local and exotic species of butterflies. Take a close up look at butterfly wings using a stereoscope. If you would like to take a walk, enjoy the butterfly garden. Kids will make giant paper butterfly wings to wear home!

7/27 – Critter Corner at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Skinks, blue bellies, and alligator lizards, oh my! Come meet some resident lizards and find out what makes these cold-blooded critters so amazing.

7/27 – Sketch It at the Crocker Art Museum – Visitors (Ages 5+) can sketch at their own pace while receiving drawing instruction. This drop-in program meets in a different gallery each month. No experience necessary, and all supplies are provided

Sacramento Summer Bucket List and a Chance to Win FREE Passes to Our Local Museums!

By Heather CrivelloneCool_Summer_freecomputerdesktopwallpaper_p

Its official….the countdown is ON!  The countdown to summer vacation that is. My kids are anxiously awaiting that last day of school to get  and I have to admit, so am I! Tired of the alarm clocks, the schedule, the homework… I’m looking forward to some relaxing time to be a kid with my kids.  Isn’t that what summer is about? And if you are looking for some ideas to keep those kids busy and not screaming “I’m bored” the first week of summer…then check out our Sacramento Summer “Bucket List”. You may find some things that you have never thought of, and if you have other ideas you would like to share, please email us.


Sacramento Summer Fun with Kids:

  1. Go Berry Picking.  We have some great local orchards that will let you bring the kids and pick fresh fruit to take home. Impossible Acres is my personal favorite!
  2. Take a Hike. We have great local trails in the area that will keep your kids busy and active all summer.
  3. Visit the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town and/or Funderland.
  4. Enjoy a FREE concert in the park at Pops in the Park. Saturdays in June, the parks in East Sacramento host concerts- this is always a fun tradition for Sacramento families!
  5. Visit a local Farmers Market. Many markets offer entertainment and food choices- so you can make an evening out of it.
  6. Grab some peanuts and cheer on our local River Cats Baseball team (check schedule here).
  7. Put on some sunblock and hit up one of our local Spray Parks in the area.
  8. Make homemade ice cream, or visit one of the great local ice cream parlors (Vics, Farrells, Leatherby’s and Gunthers are great options).
  9. Check out the Planetarium at the Sacramento Discovery Museum.
  10. Visit a local nature center- Effie Yeaw and Placer Nature Center are great for kids.
  11.  Catch a movie at the Drive In’s
  12. Play Flashlight Tag (can’t wait to do this one!).
  13. Check out the water parks in the area- SunSplash and Raging Waters.
  14. Take a FREE tour at the Jelly Belly Factory.
  15. Go Bowling- many leagues have summer programs for kids to bowl for really inexpensive.
  16.  Visit the Sacramento Children’s Museum.
  17. Take an Art Class or visit ArtBeast.
  18. Bounce out those giggles at the Bounce Spot or Sky Zone
  19. Visit one of our local libraries and check out some of the great free programs they have for kids in the summer.
  20. Learn how to flip pizza at Pizza Rock during their “Kids in the Kitchen”
  21. Bake some cookies to go with that pizza, or learn how to decorate those baked goods at Megan’s Bake Shop in West Sacramento.
  22. Take a bike ride along the American River Trail.
  23. Visit Six Flags Amusement Park
  24. Take your young children to Story Time at Big Spoon Yogurt (check your location for times and dates)
  25. Make plans to go to the California State Fair.

I hope this list gives you some ideas for things to do with your kids this summer. Our bucket list is made and ready to start crossing items off.  I added things like “Take a Nap in a hammock”, “Read a book” and “Stay in our pajamas all day.”  These are the activities I’m most looking forward to.

Let us know what is on your summer bucket list and get entered into a drawing to win a pair of VIP Passes for up to 4 people to visit some of our great local attractions.
We will announce the winner on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014.

Whatever your plans, have fun and make some memories with your kids this summer!

Weekend Family Fun

PicMonkey Collage

4/11 – 4/13 – Sacramento River Cats vs. Salt Lake Bees – The Sacramento River Cats take on Salt Lake Bees in the opening weekend of the season.   Join Dinger and his friends as they host the first Kids Clubgame of the season, presented by Raley’s & Bel Air. They will be showcasing the artwork that was selected for the 2014 “Art of Baseball” calendar and creating some more fun at their interactive art booths!  Kids of all ages will enjoy Sunday Fundays, featuring pregame player autographs, face painters and balloon artists, and the opportunity to “Run the Bases” on the field after every Sunday home game.

4/11 – 4/13 – Easter Bash and Funderland – Funderland’s annual Easter Bash is back! Come on out for egg hunts, meet Happy the Squirrel and the Easter Bunny, make some fun crafts, and most of all, make some lasting memories.

4/12  – Art Blast at Crocker Art Museum – Each month, a different work of art provides the inspiration for a memorable art-making activity. Families are welcome to arrive anytime during this drop-in program.

4/12 – 1st Annual Spring Carnival at the Placer County Fairgrounds – Come for fun-filled kid activities, carnival games, food, crafts, raffle, photos and more! This event is a fundraiser for the Down Syndrome Information Alliance.  Admission is FREE.

4/12 – District 4 Easter Egg Hunt at William Land Park – Join the office of Councilmember Steve Hansen for some Spring fun at the District 4 Land Park Easter Egg Hunt. You’ll enjoy festive carnival games, face painting, Peter Cottontail, and, of course, candy filled Easter eggs. You won’t want to miss out on all the family fun!

4/12 – District 4 Easter Egg Hunt at Southside Park – Join the office of Councilmember Steve Hansen for some Spring fun at the District 4 Southside Park Easter Egg Hunt. You’ll enjoy festive carnival games, face painting, Peter Cottontail, and, of course, candy filled Easter eggs. You won’t want to miss out on all the family fun!

4/12 – Birding for Families at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Bring the family out for a birding and nature walk led by a naturalist special guest guides from the Sacramento Audubon Society. Birdwatchers of all levels are welcomed. Make sure to bring your binoculars, or they can loan you a pair.

4/12 – 4/13 – Traders Fair at Sutter’s Fort: California’s First Mall – Visitors will have the opportunity to learn from and support artisan crafters while browsing through this Traders’ Faire at Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) and the State Indian Museum. Visitors will experience the hustle and bustle of pioneer trading days by watching artisans create goods, make their own crafts, haggling with traders, hammer square nails, and enjoying musket and cannon demonstrations at Sutter’s Fort. Nearby at the State Indian Museum, guests can peruse beautiful custom beaded jewelry, artwork, baskets, gourds, soapstone and elk horn carvings, drums and much, much more.

4/13 – Featured Aircraft A-1: close Air Support & Combat Rescue in Vietnam at the Aerospace Museum of California – join the aerospace museum for a pilot meet and greet and presentations on flying combat rescue mission in Vietnam.

4/13 – EggORama – Come and enjoy the egg-citement of Spring with a day chalked full of activities including the “tattoo” parlor, children’s crafts, bounce house, and game booths, plus a visit from the Easter Bunny! This year, the Egg Hunt will be in Cottage Pool!  Please bring a plastic bucket, appropriate swim attire and your towel. Families can enjoy an hour of open swim for the whole family after the conclusion of the hunts!  Note: Only Coast Guard approved life jackets will be accepted, with an adult per child within arm’s-length in the shallow end of the pool. All children Ages 3-5 must be accompanied by an adult.