Top 5 Sacramento Parks to Visit with your Family

By Heather Crivellone

With the beautiful spring weather here in Sacramento, there is no reason to stay inside to play.  We have some great parks around the Sacramento region. Many that offer unique structures to keep kids of all ages entertained and using their imagination to create afternoons full of fun and play!

I have visited countless numbers of local parks with my children and have put together a list of our favorites to share with our readers:

  1. Southside Park– aka the “Spaceship Park” at 2115 6th Street (near U), Sacramento. This 19 acre park has it all – but by far the most impressive attraction for the little ones is the spaceship! The theme of the play area is “the solar system” and there’s a fantastic tot and infant zone in addition to a merry-go-round. What’s not to love??
    Other amenities include: basketball, tennis and bocce ball courts, picnic areas, swimming and wading pools, a 3/4-mile jogging trail, outdoor amphitheater, and a fitness course.
    Parking is generally not a problem … with the exception of fair-weather Sundays, due to the crowds that attend the incredibly popular Farmer’s Market right across the street from the park. And a word to the wise about the restrooms: they are available, but they are not the cleanest of park bathrooms I have seen. Although the park itself is fabulous, the restrooms are not.Southside Park Sacramento
  2. Lincoln Estates Park (known to my kids as the “Rock Slide” Park) at 331 James Drive, Roseville.
    Hidden back in a suburban neighborhood, this little park is a gem!  The small playground is decent size for smaller kids, but the main attraction at this park is the cement slide! Bring cardboard from your recent Costco visits, some Band-Aids (just in case) and sit back to watch your family zip up and down the cement slides.
    My kids were literally on these slides for hours one day…which is why it has quickly become our local favorite hot spot. The park also backs up to some great hiking trails if you get bored with the park and slide, and there is plenty of shade to kick back and relax out of the sun.  The one major downfall to this park is that there is no bathrooms.
    Although, it is in the city of Roseville, so you know there is plenty of shopping and restaurants close by to escape to!
  3. McKinley Park located at 601 Alhambra Blvd, Sacramento is probably one of the most well-known and loved parks in Sacramento.
    On any given day, you can see people jogging, playing, and feeding the ducks and even getting married at this popular park! Amenities at this park include a swimming and wading pool, community center, garden and arts center, several large group picnic areas, adventure play area, tot play area, softball and soccer fields, basketball courts, volleyball, horseshoe pits, tennis courts and a jogging trail!
    My kids love this park, especially the play structure, They can literally get lost in all the climbing play areas! They do have restrooms, so you can plan a long afternoon out and about with your family at this park.  And every 2nd Friday of the month, you can visit the park in the evening for “Food Truck Mania” and enjoy dinner out and live entertainment.  It’s a great way to spend a Friday evening with family and friends!mcKinley-pgopen1
  4. Rainbow City Park in Davis, located at the corner of W. Covell Blvd. and F Street in Downtown Davis.
    The playground consists of mostly wooden play structures in the form of castles, pirate ships, boats, sandboxes and swings… a bit more exciting than the suburban area play structures made of plastic.
    The kids have fun using their imaginations, while climbing through tires and running around the large fields of this park. They have three playgrounds at this park, along with a “skate park”, a large cement slide, and several fields for playing sports on, bathrooms, plenty of shade and picnic tables. This park is well worth the drive to Davis and is perfect for a day outing.
  5. William Land Park at 3800 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento
    By far this is our family’s favorite park in Sacramento!  Not only is it situated in beautiful Land Park, but it’s home to the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town, Funderland Amusement Park, a golf course and other amenities. This park can turn an ordinary day into a fun-filled family afternoon.
    The playground is enclosed (a huge relief for moms with multiple kids!) and consists of two play structures, sandbox with diggers, swings and even has a wading pool in the summertime (for the kids 7 and under).
    They do have public restrooms, but of course since it is a park, restroom, don’t forget to bring the hand sanitizer! There are plenty of benches and shade trees for a picnic so bring along a blanket and enjoy the day, as the kids won’t want to leave the playground!William Land Park Sacramento
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Earth Day Celebrations in Sacramento

earthBy Heather Crivellone

Earth Day on April 22 is a day when millions of people worldwide come together and show support for environmental protection.  This date marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.  Throughout the month of April, you can find events around Sacramento to help support and “do your part” in celebrating our precious Earth.  And what a wonderful gift to give your children, but a better understanding of how we each take a part in protecting and preserving our planet!

This Saturday, April 19, is the Annual Sacramento Earth Day Festival at Southside Park from 11am-4pm.  There will be over 180 exhibitors on site with practical information for saving money, living healthier and protecting the environment!  With entertainment, live music and food vendors all at one of the most popular Sacramento parks…this is an event not to be missed.

West Sacramento will also host an Earth Day Festival on Saturday, April 25.  From 10am-2pm at the West Sacramento Civic Center Galleria, families can learn about the importance of “going green” while enjoying live music, activities for kids, local food vendors and more!

Sacramento Children’s Museum in Rancho Cordova (2701 Prospect Park) will also be hosting an event for the kids to have an opportunity to learn Earth-friendly lessons through interactive activities on April 22.  There will be free activities outside from 11 am to 1 pm, and free admission for children all day inside!

This is a great way to get your children involved in helping to make a difference in our world and I hope each and every one of you will take a part in one of these activities or any of the other activities that may be happening in your community during this month.

Weekend Family Fun

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend, and there are several outdoor and nature-inspired activities to enjoy.  Have you ever been to the Placer Nature Center?  This weekend you’ll learn about acorns and astronomy.  Want to enjoy some chili?  Head over to Safetyville USA for the annual Firefighter Chili Cook-off, or enjoy a movie night at Southside park.  And don’t forget about the circus – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be presenting Built to Amaze at Sleep Train Arena.  Enjoy!

built_to_amaze_category9/13 – 9/16 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ® Presents Built To Amaze!, the 143rd edition of the Greatest Show On Earth. Surprise and wonder delights audiences with over the top feats of strength, agility, and courage. As the momentum builds so does the anticipation; anything can happen when Ringling Bros. Presents Built To Amaze.

firefighterchilicookoff_category9/14 – Firefighter Chili Cook-off at Safetyville USA – Local fire departments compete for bragging rights at Safetyville USA’s 3rd Annual Firefighter Chili Cook-Off. Other highlights of this event include a helicopter landing as well as demonstrations of repelling; the Stop, Drop, and Roll; fire extinguisher use; and basic first aid. There will also be raffles and giveaways, door prizes, and plenty of fun for the whole family.

the_frog_god_layout_category9/14 – Frog God at Empire’s Comics Vault – Empire Comics and Fourth Way Comics will be hosting the Sacramento premiere of Frog God, a comic book made completely with a series of over 70 paintings.  Local artist, Jared Konopitski, painted each comic panel on a separate wood canvas to give a surreal dream like comic reading experience. Each of these paintings will be on display. The publisher Fourth Way Comics will be present along with the artist himself. The Frog God comic will also be available for the first time in Sacramento. A night of art, comics, and dream like story.

9/14 – Movie Night: Madagascar 3 at Southside Park Madagascar 3 will be playing on a giant outdoor movie screen at Southside park. There will be free popcorn, water, and juice available. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for a fun night in the park, or come early to BBQ at one of Southside park’s picnic areas.

images_category9/14 – Habitat Hunt at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Hike with a naturalist along the Nature Center’s trails to see what makes a habitat a home and learn why animals can’t live without it.

9/15 – Cold Blooded Creatures at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Do you know what the difference between a reptile and an amphibian is? Come  learn about these captivating critters and meet some of these cold blooded creatures up close.

9/14 – 9/15 – Rock On! At the Discovery Museum  – Did you know that September 16th is “Collect Rocks Day”? Youngsters who are passionate about collecting rocks can be geologists this weekend at the Discovery Museum Science & Space Center. Each guest (Age 0-12) can build a take-home mini rock starter kit with three basic rock types. Learn about space rocks in the Space Quest! exhibit. Rock fun for everyone!

9/14 – Astronomy and Stargazing at the Placer Nature Center – Special focus on Saturn, Moon, stars! Do you have an interest in astronomy? Feed your wonder and answer your questions about the heavens! Colfax astronomer Don Machholz, author and comet-hunter, will weave tales of the galaxies and explore the night sky with his telescopes. Pre-registration  is requested on our website. Canceled if you cannot see the stars.

acorns9/14 – Science Saturday: Acorn Frenzy at the Placer Nature Center– Come explore the acorn! Where does it come from? Who lives in it? How do we make flour from it? What can we cook with it? Who eats it? Lots of activities to make an acorn frenzy

9/15 – Center 5k Color Run and Kids Fun Run – Center High School is hosting the Center 5K Color Run and Kids Fun Run. This year’s event will include food and merchant vendors with items for purchase.  Awards will be given for the first man and woman who complete the race. Participants will receive a T-Shirt, while supplies last, as well as fruit and water at the end of the race.

Celebrating Earth Day in Sacramento

 imagesBy Heather Crivellone

“Each year, Earth Day- April 22, marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.”  Today, millions of people worldwide come together to celebrate Earth Day and show support for environmental protection.
Throughout the month of April, you can find events around Sacramento to help support and “do your part” in celebrating our precious Earth.  And what a wonderful gift to give your children, but a better understanding of how we each take a part in protecting and preserving our planet!

This Saturday, April 6 at the Sacramento Zoo your family can participate in “EarthFest”. This event will be held from 9am-4pm with the zoo general admission. You will learn how to protect and preserve the earth with environmental, wildlife and conservation organizations.  There will be storytelling, activities and educational exhibits throughout the zoo, as well as a Recycle Rummage Sale!

Sunday April 21 is the 7th Annual Sacramento Earth Day Festival at Southside Park from 11am-4pm.  There will be over 100 tables and vendors on site with practical information for saving money, living healthier and protecting the environment!  With entertainment, live music and food vendors all at one of the most popular Sacramento parks… . this is an event not to miss!

Also on Sunday, April 21 is the Children’s Earth Day Event at Star Eco Station in Rocklin (4465 Granite Drive, Suite 700).  This is a Free family event hosted by the Star Eco Station from 10am-3pm.  There will be food, bounce house, vendor fair and hands-on activities to help teach the children the importance of protecting our planet.  Discounted tours of the Eco Station will be available.

In Roseville on April 20 from 10am-3pm, there will also be a festival at Mahany Regional Park (1501 Pleasant Grove Blvd).  This will be the 6th annual “Celebrate the Earth” festival.  Live music, food, vendors, animal shows and demonstrations.

The Sacramento Area Creeks Council hosts the annual “Creek Week” with a variety of activities starting on Friday April 5 and going through Sunday April 14.  Activities include: Creek exploration, Bufferlands Birds and Blooms tour, Steelhead Creek Beaver Pond walks, worm composting, Mather Vernal Pool Flower walks and more.  And of course the week will end with the “Big Day Celebration” at Carmichael park (5750 Grant Ave) on April 13 from 12-2pm.

Sacramento Children’s Museum in Rancho Cordova (2701 Prospect Park) will also be hosting an event for the kids to have an opportunity to learn Earth-friendly lessons through interactive activities on Saturday April 20.  The museum will be open from 9am-5pm and the special activities that will be led from 10am-3pm that day.  Any child who ears green on this day will receive 50% off admission.

So as you can see, there are plenty of events throughout the Sacramento area to keep you and your family busy this month learning about and celebrating Mother Earth.  This is a great way to start getting your children involved in helping to make a difference in our world and I hope each and every one of you will take a part in one of these activities or any of the other activities that may be happening in your community during this month.

Celebrating Earth Day In Sacramento

By Alyssa Green

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans celebrated the very first Earth Day, as we know it.  In 2009 the United Nations adopted this day of world environmental awareness and designated the same day each spring as International Mother Earth Day.  Today, over 500 million people worldwide celebrate Earth Day.

This is a wonderful opportunity to plant that seed of love for the environment in our children…with the hope that they will take seriously the responsibility of caring for our planet as they grow. 

There are many fabulous Earth Day activities happening in our own community this month, so take advantage of these fun and creative ways to teach your kids to love our planet.  Get out there and have some fun!

4/6-14 – Creek Week – join the Sacramento Area Creeks Council for a week of activities at our local creeks.  Learn about the fish in Arcade Creek, birds and wildflowers of the wetlands, explore the vernal pools at Mather Field with Sacramento Splash, enjoy a Beaver pond walk at Steelhead Creek, and much more. 

4/7 – Earth Fest – Party for the Planet at the Sacramento Zoo.  Learn how to protect and preserve the earth with environmental, wildlife and conservation organizations. During the day explore animal bio-artifacts; participate in storytelling and activities in the Discovery Room; come face-to-face with the outreach animals; or listen as keepers present enrichment talks in the afternoon. Don’t forget to stop by the Recycle Rummage Sale inside the Kampala center for a great bargain.

Children ages 2-11 who come dressed as a pirate or princess, promoting parrot and amphibian conservation, will receive ½ off their admission.

4/19 – Earth Day Celebration at Cesar Chavez Park – The Neighborhood Services Division of the City of Sacramento’s Department of Parks & Recreation is hosting its  annual Earth Day Celebration 2012! Come out and join for a free day of fun and interactive green education, carnival games, and great entertainment.

More than 50 local vendors will be providing information and demonstrations on how you can join the “Green Team”.  The day will include sustainable gardening, solar services & information, environmental sustainability & preservation, recycling, composting & vermiposting, and informational takeaways on sustainable practices.

Face painting and balloon artists will be on hand, along with live entertainment from Radio Disney and Magician Bill Devon with Top Class Magic.

4/21 – Children’s Earth Day at Star Eco Station – There is not a better place to celebrate the Earth than at the Star Eco Station.  Celebrate with exotic rescued animals, games, crafts and more!

4/21-22 – Recycle + Reuse = New Fun! at the Discovery Museum –  It’s a re-use-a-palooza! Celebrate Earth Day at the Discovery Museum Science & Space Center where visitors will enjoy crafting fun using some unexpected recycled materials including making a “stained glass” sun catcher out of a CD jewel case! There will be projects for families to work on together at the Museum, and some ideas to take home — the Museum supplies the materials and basic ideas and visitors add creativity! Special exhibits are on display, too, including a mini-house with working solar panels.

4/22 – Sacramento Earth Day Celebration at Southside Park – Our 6th Annual Celebration will be filled with diverse business, non-profit, cultural and government vendors with practical information, goods and services for saving money, living healthier, and protecting the environment. We’ll also have great entertainment, activities and cuisine! We’re expecting a crowd of more than 6,000. Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Don’t miss the chance to make YOUR sustainable connections at the ECOS Sacramento Earth Day Celebration.

Egg Hunts, Easter Bunnies and Spring Time Fun in the Sacramento Area!

By Heather Crivellone

As we look outside our windows and see the raindrops falling this week, it seems as if Mother Nature is playing tricks on us.  Spring is officially here- and even though the clouds have come in to greet us, the springtime festivities are still right around the corner!  And with springtime here, that means we will be greeted with bunnies, butterflies, baskets and all the wonderful things that come with spring and Easter.

This weekend, March 30th-April 1st, Funderland Park (located at 1350 17th Avenue in William Land Park) will be hosting their annual “Easter Bash” (weather permitting of course).  For children 12 and under, they can enjoy hunting for Easter eggs ($3 per child), coloring contests, arts and crafts, and riding on some of Funderland’s famous kiddie rides.  Entrance to the park is always free and tickets for the amusement rides are available for purchase.

Next weekend (April 7th and 8th), join locals at a family favorite- Fairytale Town (located in William Land Park) will be hosting their annual “Spring Eggstravaganza”.  Watch as your children run through a park where nursery rhymes come to life and while they enjoy egg hunts, spring- themed activities and may even meet “Peter Cottontail”!  Daily egg hunts will be held at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.  There will also be puppet shows throughout the day to enjoy.  Admission into Fairytale Town is $5 and children under the age of 1 is free.

Some local parks are also getting “Spring Fever” with egg hunts, games and fun for the family.  On Saturday, April 7th from 11am-12pm at Southside Park (2115 6th Avenue, Sacramento), you can enjoy an afternoon of egg hunting (with 15,000 eggs to be found!), crafts for the kids, raffle drawings and more.  This event is free, and since it is located at one of the most popular parks in town- this event is sure to be fun for the entire family!

Saturday, April 7th from 8:30am-2pm at the Elk Grove Regional Park (9950 Elk Grove Florin Rd., Elk Grove), the Easter Bunny will make an appearance and kids can hunt for eggs, have thier faces painted, play carnival games and enjoy yummy food.  Event is free, but each activity will be a small fee.

In Rancho Cordova at Hagan Park (2197 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova)- on Saturday, April 7th thier annual Spring Extravaganza will begin at 10:00am.  They will have a pancake breakfast to get the kids ready for the big egg hunt and then the family can enjoy the “Kid Zone” and craft faire after.

For an adventure “on the rails”, visit the Sacramento River Train at thier “Easter Egg Express”.  Located in Woodland, board the train and take a special train ride along the river with the Easter Bunny.  There will be hundreds of eggs for hunting and entertainment and snacks will be provided along the way.  The trip will take about 3 hours and the cost is $36 for adults and $29 for children 2-12 years of ages.

There are plenty of events and activites happening around town to keep you and your family entertained during this spring season.  Now, let’s just hope that Mother Nature cooperates with us.  Either way- I’m hoping you and your family have a “hopping good” holiday!

Wading Pools in Sacramento are a great way to cool off with your toddlers during the summer heat!

Hello Summer…and the great Sacramento heat! If you have been in our wonderful city this past week, then you know what I’m talking about!
Throughout the last month I have been highlighting different “splash parks” in the area and ways to cool off with you kids during these hot summer months. Recently, we decided to check out some local “pools” for something different.
Since I have two little ones ( 2 and 3 year old), I was a bit nervous to go to the pool since they are both a little more independent and brave than I would like around the water! Luckily for us, we have several “wading pools” in the area that are just their size.

Bertha Henschel Park, located at 160 45th Street in East Sacramento is a perfect destination if you have little kids.  A bit hidden in the neighborhood, so it is a little more difficult to find- but well worth the trip!  Tucked away off of busy streets- this quiet park is great for toddlers and preschoolers. The play structure is not so big that you have to worry about losing them in the crowds, yet they have plenty to keep them having fun.

As with most play structures, they have swings, slides, bridges, sandboxes and such. But what makes this playground unique is the “rolling slide”. Basically, a slide that doubles as a back massager- it was fun watching the little inquisitive minds trying to figure how each individual bar kept rolling, while not smashing those tiny fingers!
But of course, the best part of Bertha Henschel is the wading pool. The pool is for ages 7 and under, and at only 12 inches deep, it makes for a fun summer experience for the youngsters.
Siena (my oldest) who has been taking swim lessons thought it was too “baby-ish” for your…but she still had fun splashing through the mushroom shaped waterfall.

The wading pool is open from 12pm-4pm on weekdays and 1pm-5pm on weekends until August 24th. Bertha Henschel has the basic amenities for moms- shade, benches, bathrooms (public of course- so bring your own hand sanitizer) and of most importantly plenty of fun to keep your kids entertained for hours.

Wading pools are such fun for the kids, especially during the Sacramento heat waves. Luckily, we have plenty to choose from- and most of them are FREE, so it makes for the perfect summer outing.
Here is a list of some local kiddie pools if you want to venture out and have some fun splashing with your tots (not all of them are free- but check websites for fees and hours):

Colonial Park– 5315 19th Ave, Sacramento
Land Park– 3800 Land Park Drive, Sacramento
Southside Park– 2115 6th Street, Sacramento
McKinley Park– 601 Alhambra Street, Sacramento

So hopefully you find some ways to stay cool during these hot summer months and have some fun with your kids during the summer break!