Exploring Sacramento with Kids

Over the weekend I took the kids to Sacramento to celebrate my older son’s 4th birthday.  Our decision was mainly driven by the library’s Discover & Go, a program in which California library cardholders can “check-out” admission passes for local museums and attractions.  Secondly, my son’s friend recently moved to Sacramento, so it would be nice to visit their family and hang out a bit.

Itinerary

It’s a short overnight trip with the main purpose of making sure the kids have lots of fun, so we felt this itinerary is manageable for all of us.

Day 1 – Home –> State Capitol Museum –> Powerhouse Science Center
Day 2 – Fairyland Town –> Home

California State Capitol Museum

We joined the tour that’s offered every hour.  It’s an hour long and we ended up not staying for the full hour.  My 4-years-old was somewhat engaged, although my 2-years-old was not.  If you have an older toddler, it is definitely an educational tour to learn about our capitol building and the people who served.

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Powerhouse Science Center

The Powerhouse Science Center is surprisingly small but with two little kids, we still ended up spending over an hour there!  One side of the museum is the Nature Discovery Exhibit where you find a few rabbits, turtles, spiders and other living things.  The other side of the museum houses the current exhibit, Forces, which showcases the different forces of the universe.  It has 7-8 hands-on stations and a few exhibitions/showcases.  Kids had the most fun there as they were able to play at the different stations.  Somewhere in the middle is the Design Lab with three different stations for building and stacking.  Outside the museum is a trail where you can follow the self-guided tour to learn about the plants and rocks.

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The next day we visited Fairytale Town, which was the highlight of the trip!  It is similar to Children’s Fairyland in Oakland where the various stations in the park is based on nursery rhymes or popular kid’s story.  We spent about two hours there and the kids were knocked out afterward.

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Had you visited Sacramento with kids?  What places do you recommend and what places to avoid?


More information on the places we visited and the surrounding sightseeing attractions:

Discover & Go

This is a program for California library cardholders where you can “check-out” free or discounted passes for local museums and cultural institutions.  It’s a great resources to visit places that you may not have heard of and therefore would not have visited.  Some attractions like the zoos “sold out” quickly, but most other museums and institutions are easier to reserve with many available dates.  I was only allowed to check out 2 passes at one time though.

Visit Discover & Go and log in with your library card ID for information and reservation.

Powerhouse Science Center

Powerhouse Science Center has three main exhibits:  (1) current exhibition; (2) design lab; and (3) nature discovery.  It also has a planetarium that’s opened on the weekends for age 4 and up.  There’s also a trail outside with a self-guided tour for learning about the various plants and rocks scattered around the property, and a few large dinosaurs statues!  Powerhouse is estimated to be moving to a bigger location in 2020.

Visit Powerhouse Science Center for more information, and to learn about the current exhibition.

Fairytale Town

Fairytale Town transforms nursery rhythms and children’s stories into real life play structures where kids can explore and have fun.  There are a lot of slides and places for kids to climb, and there are also some animals living in the park.

Visit Fairytale Town for more info.

 


A walking tour around downtown is a great way to get to know the city while checking off a few main attractions off your list.  If you have a full day to explore, try this walking tour itinerary:

Start with California State Capitol Museum –> head to Crocker Art Museum –> cross the Tower Bridge and back –> visit the California State Railway Museum –> end your walking tour at Old Sacramento

California State Capitol Museum

This is where our state capitol is and where everything takes place!  It’s located right in downtown so you are within walking distance to other downtown attractions.  Hourly tours are available to learn more about the history of the building and the people.

Visit California State Capitol Museum for more information on hours and tours.

Crocker Art Museum

Accredited with the American Alliance of Museums, Crocker Art Museum hosts the state’s premier collections of Californian art, European master drawings as well as international ceramics.  The Museum also has activities for babies and toddlers so they can start enjoying arts at a young age.

Visit Crocker Art Museum for more info.  Also visit the Discover & Go page for free admission passes.

California State Railroad Museum

For kids and adult train lovers, the California State Railroad Museum features 21 lavishly restored locomotives and cars, some dating back to 1862.  Each year from April to September, visitors can ride on the Sacramento Southern Railroad for a 45-minute 6-mile roundtrip ride along the levees of the Sacramento River.

Visit California State Railroad Museum for more info.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a vertical lift bridge across the Sacramento River that connects West Sacramento to downtown.  The bridge is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

This page has a lot of information on how to access the walkway.

Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento State Historic Park is a cluster of noteworthy, early Gold Rush commercial structures.  Historic buildings include: the 1849 Eagle Theater; the 1853 B. F. Hastings Building, and the 1855 Big Four Building.  Old Sacramento’s historical significance comes from it being the western terminus of the Pony Express postal system, the first transcontinental railroad, and the transcontinental telegraph.

Visit California Department of Parks and Recreation or Old Sacramento site for more info.


Photos taken by Vean Chen

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