Sacramento has plenty of options for playdaters this summer, and it is easy to see that fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Whether you want to enjoy the great outdoors or stay inside in air-conditioned comfort, the kids will find it hard to resist the art, music, dance, theater, sports, animals, trains and even anime and camping activities this area has to offer.
Price: free/pre-registration is required for some activities
If you haven’t been to the library lately, you have no idea what you’re missing. There are events, resources and activities for everyone from babies and teens to job-seekers and senior citizens. Families will enjoy a colorful and creative time at Lego-rama, and there are reading and story time groups for every age. Kids may learn to make puppets or dream catchers, paint a T-shirt with their zodiac sign, meet animals of the world or take part in fun music activities. If you find it hard to get some family members away from the house, try enticing them to the library for anime and manga, X-Box Wii gaming, Rock Band 2 and dancing. Free computer and Internet time is available and WiFi is also offered at no cost at all library locations.
Crocker Art Museum
216 O Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Price: $10 adults/$5 ages 7 to 17/free younger than 6/$8 college students and 65 or older
The Crocker Museum has been a part of Sacramento since 1885, but don’t assume that means Crocker is a dusty or old-fashioned place. In addition to exhibitions and the permanent collections of art on display, the museum offers a wide variety of family concerts and classes for children that include art, movement and music. For example, little ones aged 19 to 36 months may giggle and guffaw at a playdate with a Baby Loves Art class. They’re encouraged to sing, play, dance and enjoy other tactile experiences. Families and friends are also welcome on Friday mornings this summer when they may make art and music. Other special concerts take place on weekends.
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Effie Yeaw Nature Center
Ancil Hoffman County Park
2850 San Lorenzo Way
Carmichael, CA 95608
Price: free/$5 parking
Part of a beautiful 77-acre nature preserve, Effie Yeaw Nature Center is an often forgotten local treasure. Older children and adults may enjoy hiking as they keep an eye out for the plentiful wildlife, including deer, rabbit, hawks, coyotes, snakes, owls, songbirds and waterfowl. Free activities and nature walks are available almost every weekend and are appropriate for younger children as well. Some of the great options for playdates are the interactive “Wild About Wetlands” exhibit with live animals, games and art, and several summer concerts with music and storytelling.
Hagan Community Park
2197 Chase Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Price: free entry$4 parking without permit
Hagan is a 75-acre park handled and maintained by the Cordova Recreation and Park District. In addition to traditional public park amenities such as playgrounds and picnic areas, there are many reasons to choose this as the perfect spot for a playdate. Two swimming pools, eight tennis courts and other fields for baseball, soccer and basketball are available for use, and walkers and bikers have easy access to the American River. Kids and adult alike are bound to be charmed by the free petting zoo that is open on summer weekends, giving hands-on experiences with rabbits, birds and farm animals. One of the park’s most unique activities is the chance to ride on beautiful hand-built miniature steam trains.
3901 Land Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95822
Price: $4 weekdays for age 2 to adults/free 1 and younger/$5 weekends for ages 2 to adult/free children 1 and younger
Fairytale Town’s play park and outdoor children’s museum has been a Sacramento fixture since 1959, and continues to delight visitors to this day. Special events and activities can make for a wonderful playdate and will keep adults as entertained as the kids. Very Special Arts Day in July includes workshops for guests to make collages, mobiles, yarn painting, block print-making and even ink-blot butterflies. Magic will be in the air during The Fairytale Town Troupers’ presentations of “Sinbad & Aladdin: The Arabian Knights,” and everyone will enjoy the children’s concert series. Summer wouldn’t be complete without a family campout at Fairytale Town, including theater, crafts, music, a scavenger hunt, bedtime stories and a light breakfast.
Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.