Visiting Sacramento

Parent Q&A

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  • Considering taking my 15 y.o. son to Sacramento for a 2-night getaway in April (rain?!)  He loves indoor rock climbing, and gaming.  Suggestions for a fun, not-too-expensive hotel with a nice indoor pool & gym?  Old fashioned arcade?  An escape room that would work for just 2 of us?  Indoor rock climbing spot?  We haven't been to Sacramento since he was a toddler, so it will all be new to us.  Thanks. 

    I would go to the train museum!  It is honestly a complete blast for all ages.  Good for 1-2 hours, I would think.

    You might try checking (or posting on) Trip Advisor. 

    Sorry I don’t know about hotels but I’d check Groupon for an  escape room. I just learned about this really cool looking adventure park called QuarryPark in Rocklin that I’m dying to try with my boys. Ropes course, zip line, rock climbing, bungee jump, etc in an old rock quarry.

    Have fun! 

    Here are some suggestions...
    Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park
    Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Park

    At 15, make the trip to Boreal Ridge for some outdoor fun. 

  • This coming June, a good friend is about to get her hard earned doctoral degree at UCD, and I've agreed to throw a celebratory party in her honor. I'm thinking that a picnic/bbq event might be just the right thing, and I know Davis a bit, but I don't know the wider area well enough to know where would be a nice place to go. Are there good sites along the river in Sacramento? Maybe near Lake Berryessa? Any ideas? Thanks!

    I just visited Sacramento recently, and played tourist for a day. I noticed that across from Old Town, on the other side of the river, across the lift bridge, there were people having weddings and barbecues. It might be super hot there, though.... in any case, there didn't seem to be built in facilities, looked like mostly pre-planned events, I surmise if it's bigger you'd need a permit. In any case, there were plenty of combo sunny and shady areas that would probably work well, and it was convenient to downtown hotels.

    Within Davis itself, there are many, many beautiful, tree-filled parks. The UC Davis arboretum has spaces for picnics, Central Park downtown has a great space, and there are neighborhood parks all over town with picnic facilities. If you go along the river or up to the lake, parking will be an issue. You can reserve a picnic area in Davis through the city (but have a city resident do the reservation so that you save money):…. Have fun!

    For the Davis option, I wanted to add that you can rent out a city swimming pool for like $200 for 2 hours which has been a fun option for us when we have thrown bigger parties. We brought our own food and there were tables to set it up on. If you want something nicer, you can rent out Putah Creek Lodge which has bathrooms, I think a kitchen, and access to the big fields around it to play/socialize in, and convenient parking. I think there are also barbecues you can use but I won't swear to it.


I like the train to Sacramento idea.  Poking around Old Town and hanging at the pool will be fun for them.  And going by train rather than car would be nice.   But you might want to reconsider the Train Museum.  It is actually quite interesting, but I think some teens would dismiss it as a little kid thing.  Many of them will have gone there during their Thomas / Chuggington years and will associate it with that. It will be packed with preschoolers making their pilgrimage, along with elderly train buffs.  What if you substituted that part with an Escape Room?   Sacramento is full of them, and that would be really fun for smart teens. Also, maybe one of “haunted house” tours — it might be fun in a kitschy, silly way.   If it’s not too hot out, I agree that bike rentals are a great idea.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Kid-Friendly Sacramento Hotel

Sept 2011

I am desperate for a couple of days of heat before fall sets in and would like to take a family vacation in Sacramento. Does anyone know of somewhere to stay there? I would prefer to stay close to Old Town. Thank you for any information! Searching for Summer

My family took a memorable 4 day trip to Sacramento when I was a child. We stayed on the Delta Queen. My dad got us 2 rooms with a connecting door and my brother (4) slept on a foldout in their room- my sister and I had the other room. We were 9 and 7. We went to the train museum and old Town. I think we also panned for gold, but that was a drive out of town. We had a great time and whenever I'm in Sac, I remember my first time there as a child. Rachel

Hi There, We just took Amtrak to Sacramento a couple of weekends ago. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency. Very nice, sweet pool with poolside service (loved that!) and about a 10-15 minute walk from Old Town. Loved the Railroad Museum, too. Would definitely go again and would stay at the Hyatt. Have Fun!

We like to stay at the Embassy Suites, right in Old Sac. Both times we stayed there, there were tons of kids. They have the complimentary deluxe hot breakfast which includes made-to-order omlettes. In the evening, they have the free happy hour. Free wine and beer for the adults. Beverages for the kids. Popcorn and chex mix other munchables. Pool - kind of cold but the kids don't seem to mind. What's most important to us (besides happy hour), is that there is a separate living space with couch and TV. So when our toddler goes to sleep at 8, we still have a room to hang out in. Happy Travel Family

We like the Embassy Suites Sacramento. Just cross the street and you're in Old Town Sacramento (or a short walk away from the Railroad Museum--our son's favorite place). Our kids always enjoy the pool. We like the separate rooms that keep peace between the family's night owls and larks. And the breakfasts have something for everybody.

Things to do in Sacramento with kids

April 2011

We're headed to Sacramento for a few days with our 1 year old and 5 year old. We know that we'll spend at least one day at the train museum but wanted to get recommendations for other fun, kid-friendly activities in the area. Has anyone been to Sacramento lately? Have any suggestions for things to do? Thanks Sharie

A little outside of Sacramento in Folsom (15 minutes) my kids and I really LOVED the Folsom Zoo/animal sanctuary when we lived in the area...Also downtown Folsom is a nice to pass some time (walk over the bridge for a fantastic view of the river)

There's also Children's Fairyland which is always fun for little kids- it's near the Sacramento Zoo, ...

Old Sacramento is also an interesting couple of hours--old west style with tons of shops, ice cream/candy stores etc, I think there's a train ride over there also.

When you drive over the Yolo causeway prior to entering Sacramento, there's a really cool little drive through a bird sanctuary... you don't even have to get out of the car! lisa

Fairytale Town is great for those ages! I grew up going there and my kids love it when we visit. The Sacramento Zoo is across te street from FTT too and it's a cute, manageable zoo with some cool animals. They're both in William Land Park which has a few ponds where you can feed the ducks -- right next to FTT. Have fun! Grew up in Sacramento

Art Beast Studio in mid-town is an old Victorian converted into art and play spaces for the under-eight set. It's open from 9-6 daily and costs $8 per person (1 and under free and extra adult with kid/adult also free - so for your family, $16). It is rainy day heaven! Paint, crafts, puppet theater, moon sand - and they clean up. It is also a non-profit. (

For some grownup fun also, check out the River Cats AAA baseball team. ( The new-ish stadium is just across the river from Old Town. Sloping lawn tickets are under $10, and there are many promotions. Sunday day games are 'kids days' with mascots and running the bases after the game. See your future Oakland A's in a much nicer setting!

FairyTale Town in Land Park would be really fun and easy for both the 1 and 5 year old.

McKinley Park in East Sacramento (35th and F) has a big playground, an old-fashioned library, and a duck pond, and is THE place for a jog.

In downtown, Southside Park at 6th and T has two large playgrounds, but the neighborhood is a little seedy.

On Sunday mornings under the elevated freeway at about 5th and W/X, there is a farmer's market that is the largest around with lots of local produce, fish, meats and cheese.

Have fun! Sac Parent

Birthday party in sacramento/davis for 2-4yo

April 2011

I'm looking for a birthday party site in the sacramento/davis area for a group of kids between the ages of 2 and 4yo. Any ideas? Or does anyone know the name of their local ''parent press'' newspaper or if they have anything similar to bpn? party planner

My nieces and nephews in Davis and Sacramento loved parties in King Arthur's Castle at Fairytale Town in Sacramento. I've always enjoyed taking my kids there. It's old fashioned, do-it-yourself fun for toddlers and preschoolers. For more info go to their website . S.B.

A lot of people have kids parties of all ages at William Land Park. You can contact the city and they can tell you the details. I believe that it is not very expensive. cutesaf

I know Children's Fairyland in Oakland is great for that age group, so you can try the equivalent in Sacramento, Fairytale Town. I haven't been there in years, but I hear they are putting in a real yellow brick road. Check it out at Good luck! Kenna

Depends where you want to be -- Davis or Sacramento.

Some Davis favs...Central Park, the Rainbow Park, the Hobby Craft does birthday parties, UC Davis Games Area has bowling parties for young kids with bumpers.

Sacramento: Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town right next to the zoo, train museum in old town.

There is also a jump place in Vacaville that is fun and a place called Stars Recreation -- it has it all -- food, bowling, parties, etc.

And you can't forget the Nut Tree in Vacaville! The little train and kid rides are great. My 3.5 year old loves 'em. And let's not forget that next month FENTON'S is opening a location right next door. You can't go wrong! Good luck! The Davis-raised and Sacramento-lovin' fool!

I live in Davis and belong to the Mom's Circle Davis - a Yahoo group ( It is similar to BPN, you can post your question and wait for replies. Davis Diamonds gymnastics would be a fun place for a party (, there is also a Pump it Up in Woodland, and the new Nut Tree Park in Vacaville. If you are on a budget, Central Park in Davis is great. There is a wonderful farmer's market every Sat, an old bicycle-powered carousel for kids, and a fountain that shoots up out of the ground, in addition to a good playground. It's at 3rd and C Sts.

I don't know as much about Sac, but you could check the parent's monthly ( for ideas. The Sac Zoo and Fairytale Town are right across the street from each other, and Fairytale Town would be fun for a preschooler's party ( There is also a small amusement park located across from the zoo, with pony rides and small roller coasters...I can't remember the name. Good luck, and remember it gets reeeeeeeally hot up here in the summer. already turned my A/C on

Toddler/kid fun in Davis?

Jan 2004

Does anyone know of some fun parks, play areas, etc. in the Davis area? Or someplace off I-80 in that general area? I'm trying to figure out a good meeting point between here (Richmond) and Sacramento along I-80, so a friend and I can get together more often. Her daughter is 1 1/2, and my kids are 3 1/ 2 and 6 mos. It doesn't have to be too fancy--a good park would do--just somewhere where the kids could play and we could talk and maybe grab a nearby bite to eat. Thanks! Christine

Davis has many, many beautiful parks but few are walking distance to restuarants. Luckily you can go to 3rd and B streets in downtown to Central Park. This park is close to several restaurants and cafes and is also the location for Picnic in the Park. This event runs every Wednesday in April thru October from 4-8 pm and includes Davis' wonderful farmers market, restaurant booths, pony rides, bouncy houses, live music and more. Its a fantastic family event and many bring their own food.

Another option is that each of you could take the Capital Corridor train to Suisun or some such mid point. Suisun is trying to revitalize and has a quaint park area along the water (and near the train station and downtown). While I know there is grass and trees, I'm just not sure if there is playground equipment Good luck and feel free to email me for more suggestions. Kristin

Hi, I went to UCD and one of my favorite places about Davis is that it is VERY kid-friendly. It is full of parks and great places to run around. When it's hot, going to the farmers' market downtown and letting your kids play in the fountain is really fun (the water shoots straight up from the ground like a giant sprinkler). I also recommend Rainbow City was designed and built by the community, much like Frogpark in Rockridge. You can find out much more information on City of Davis public parks and open space here:

A brochure about City of Davis Play Areas can be found at: Dept.: Parks & Community Services Phone: (530) 757-5626 Wepage: Have Fun! Aggie

Scenic Route to Sacramento

Feb 2000

Any recommendations on an alternative route to Sacramento, that's not all highway 80; scenic would be nice, but not too long. Any advice on short stopover activities for 2 young boys between here and there?

Re the request for a scenic route: that's an easy one! First take highway 80 to highway 4 out to Antioch. Cross the bridge to sherman island and the scenery begins. After the bridge, make the very first right. You'll be on a levee road with the river on one side and rich reclaimed farmland on the other. Pear trees and so on. You'll see that the road, Highway 160, mainly goes on one side and then the other of the Sacramento River all the way to Sacramento. Lots of boathouses and interesting drawbridges and small towns. Walnut Grove, Locke, Isleton, Hood. This is the old river road from before highway 80 existed. Console yourself by speeding home on I-80 at a fast clip. I first saw this route published in Bill Mandel's column in the Examiner about 15 years ago. Have driven it at least a dozen or more times. In fact, I just drove the route again last month. Beautiful! Peek at a state of California map first. Can't get lost if you follow the river though. For stopovers for your two boys, there's not a lot except near the bridges where they can see what fisherman have been catching. Later in the season there are folks selling roadside fruit, pears and such. Or bring some binoculars for bird watching along the river. Have fun! ...p.s. the Amtrak train service is also very good and relaxing and quite scenic. Glenn

From I80 - to Suisun City/Fairfield Take Highway 12 to Rio Vista/Stockton. The trip between Fairfield to Rio Vista is about 30 minutes (approx. 20 miles) & this time of year the green rolling hills are beautiful. Also, as you leave Fairfield, if you look off to the left you can see the HUGE airplanes at Travis AFB & (if you're lucky) they'll be running touch & go drills & the big planes fly over you so you get a good look at them.

At Rio Vista, as you enter town, veer off Highway 12 to the right to downtown Rio Vista. There is a park & an old Chinese cemetery right next to the big community cemetery on your right where you can have a picnic or you can go to the end of Main Street where there is a plaque about Humphrey the Whale -- right on the river with grass for running & playing & a few picnic tables. Also on Main Street, if the boys are old enough & you are not totally grossed out see Foster's BigHorn (one of the world's largest collections of taxidermy animals from Africa, etc.) Bakery across the street from Foster's is pretty good. Rio Vista Museum is only open on Sat. & Sun. & it is right off of Main St. on Front Street. Everything is within walking distance.

Go across Rio Vista Bridge to Highway 160 -- at end of bridge make left towards Sacramento.

Follow Hwy 160 to Isleton, approx. 5 miles (you'll be on right side of Sacramento River). In Isleton you can also veer right (just before you go out of town) & that will take you to a small Chinese part of town -- nothing too interesting but Rogelio's restaurant can be pretty good. The better China town is in Locke & you'll get to that on this route.

After Isleton, get back on the river road (Hwy 160), go left over bridge approx. 1/2 mile outside of Isleton. You can continue straight on the right side of the river but you'll miss the Ryde Hotel which used to be an old speakeasy. I haven't been there in years but I understand the restaurant is now pretty good & they've fixed up the hotel.

Continuing on to Sacramento (on left side of river) until you get to Walnut Grove then you can go back over a bridge to the right side of the river again. Right past Walnut Grove is Locke. Very old historical buildings. This is only about a half an hour from Rio Vista but if you didn't stop in Rio everyone may be ready to get out & stretch their legs.

After Locke you have some choices as to how you want to continue the trip to Sacramento. You can continue on the right side of the river to Twin Cities Road (about 2 miles out of Locke) & that will take you to I5 into Sacramento. Or you can continue up the River Road (Highway 160) on either side -- beautiful scenery on both sides. If you want to continue on the left side of the river, you'll need to backtrack to the Walnut Grove Bridge but make sure you cross over @ Freeport or you'll end up in West Sacramento. All of the different types of bridges are wonders in themselves.

I grew up in Rio Vista & still live there (yes, I commute to Oakland EVERY WEEKDAY!). The trip from Rio Vista to Sacramento (non-stop) is about 50 minutes. I love the drive & this time of year the colors are beautiful & the river is usually like glass. After Rio Vista there are no junk food places (i.e., Taco Bell or McDonald's) until you get to Sacramento. Rio Vista's Taco Bell/KFC franchise is (unfortunately) opening this week (our first fast food except for Subway). There are a few restaurants (most of which I haven't been to in years) & delis along the way & plenty of places to pull over for a picnic.

I think it is an incredibly scenic drive with a wide variety but, of course, I'm prejudice. Happy to provide more info if needed.


Highway 99 through Stockton is scenic. There is a place between Stockton and Lodi called The Chicken Kitchen (melt in your mouth chicken) that has a little mock western town that's open, usually during the Summer. I hope the place is still open. It is very old. I enjoyed it as a child and my children enjoyed it as they grew up.