Recently a woman called the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau wanting to know the exact mid point between the cities of La Habra (California) and Sacramento, on Hwy 99. I briefly consulted a map and told her that it looked like Fresno was approximately half-way. She then began to tell me Fresno was not half-way, that someone (someone...who?) told her Fresno was two-thirds of the way. At this point her voice began to raise with desperation and she said it was imperative to know the exact mid point.
Why? She was traveling with a two-year-old. Ah...it all becomes clear to me now.
Once that no doubt frazzled family arrives in Sacramento, what can they do to restore their energy and enjoy their visit...with their two-year-old? There are plenty of fun things to do in Sacramento and many wonderful places for kids. However, there are three must-see attractions that I personally do not let any of my pint-sized visitors go away without experiencing.
Built in 1959 and located in Sacramento's fabulous William Land Park, Fairytale Town was proclaimed by the city council as a "Children's Dream Land" and was given as a gift to the city. Thousands of children past and present have slid down the Old Woman's Shoe, run the Crooked Mile, sat in Cinderella's Coach, and yelled "Ahoy Matey!" on the Pirate Ship. There is a real life tee pee, live animals, Mr. McGregor's Garden (with Peter Cottontail), King Arthur's Castle perfect for birthday parties, the Children's Theater and of course, a snack shack. Fairytale Town is unique and a hands down favorite among little kids and their parents who played there as kids themselves.
Adults: $4/weekdays, $4.50/weekends and holidays
Children: 2-11 $4/weekdays, $4.50/weekends and holidays
Children: 0-1 Free
Located just across the street from Fairy Tale Town (ask for the FFT/Zoo combo ticket if you are visiting both), your child will love having at their disposal over 400 animals from all seven continents. My kids' personal favorites are the cat exhibits including 1 year old tiger cub Jingga and the mother-daughter snow leopard duo, the orangutans and chimpanzees, and the Reptile House. Also not to be missed are the giraffes in their new expanded habitat, the flamingos at home in Lake Victoria and the Australian Kangaroos. A cute little Zoo train runs in good weather and can't forget the Zoo Cafe and the gift shop!
Adults: 10.50/weekdays, $11/weekends
Seniors: $9.75/weekdays, $10.25/weekends
Children: 2-11 $6.50/weekdays, $7/weekends
Children: 0-1 Free
Stop in at the SCVB (1608 I Street) for a coupon worth 50% off general admission for up to 6 people.
California State Railroad Museum
Located in Old Sacramento, this museum is widely known as North America's most popular railroad museum with several classic engines and cars for kids and adults alike to walk through and experience. You don't have to be a train lover to love this place. The kids will love climbing up into the conductor's seat, walking through the posh dining car, seeing how the mail was sorted in the mail car, studying the miniature train exhibit, and playing with the Thomas the Tank Engine railway sets. This is a fabulous place to visit on a rainy day as there is plenty of space for the little ones to run around and work off all their energy. If time allows, sneak into the theater for a brief run-down on the west's railroad history, and don't forget the gift shop. For the child (or grownup) who loves trains, the gift shop is a magical place at which point in your museum tour, money becomes no object.
The absolute best thing about this museum is that children 5 and under are free! (So now you don't have to feel bad about buying a souvenir for your little angel.)
Youth: 6-17 $4
Children: 0-5 Free
Whether Sacramento is your destination, or you are just traveling through, make sure to take a break and let your kids run around Fairytale Town, the Zoo or the Railroad Museum. You'll have a great time with memories to last a lifetime - and that distant memory of the harrowing road trip with your two-year-old? It will become just that...a distant memory replaced by enchanting ones.
If you're planning to stay overnight in a Sacramento hotel, be sure to ask for your free Sacramento Gold Card when you check in. You'll receive two-for-one add mission to all of these Sacramento attractions.