There are plenty of opportunities for Sacramentans to enjoy museums and exhibits, whether they art into art, music and dance or history, technology or science. This is great for adults, but giving children exposure to such institutions can be particularly beneficial as well. In addition to broadening their knowledge, museums can spark children’s imagination and open their hearts and minds to new experiences. Best of all, it will get them started on a lifetime of enthusiasm for the world and its wonders. Sacramento-area museums offer many fascinating and fun experiences for kids, in both permanent collections and short-term exhibits.
Sacramento Children’s Museum
2701 Prospect Park Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
(916) 638-7225
www.sackids.org

At the Children’s Museum, there is plenty to learn with hands-on exhibits that are cleverly disguised as fun play areas. Since Sacramento is California’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, it is particularly fitting to have kids use the interactive exhibit called “Leo’s Market and Farmer’s Market.” They’ll love playing grown-up in a kid-sized supermarket, learning how to sort locally grown fruits and veggies, stock shelves and even use a cash register to ring up customers. Lessons in counting, measuring, nutrition and teamwork have never been as much fun. In the “Cityways” exhibit, kids can work with a cityscape of Sacramento, adding buildings, boats and other attractions to help their hometown grow. Other fun, interactive exhibits and activities help children learn about things like gravity, math, engineering, motion and velocity.

California State Railroad Museum
125 I St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 323-9280
www.csrmf.org

This huge, exciting museum is anything but boring, with exhibits to inspire and entertain kids and adults alike. The history of the Sacramento region and all of California is told through interesting displays and restored railway vehicles, including steam, gas, electric, compressed-air and steam-combustion locomotives. Check out Pullman-style dining cars, fruit grower refrigerator cars and sleeping cars for train passengers, take an excursion on the Sacramento Southern Railroad and get to walk aboard an authentic railway post office. From engines to cabooses, there is something about trains that capture the imaginations of people of all ages. The museum now offers a story time several times each month, where members of the museum staff read railroad-related stories appropriate for children from 2 to 5 years old.

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Discovery Museum Science & Space Center
3615 Auburn Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95821
(916) 808-3942
www.thediscovery.org

Discovery Museum has numerous exhibits that engage and inspire kids, including the only public planetarium in Northern California. Star-gazers and would-be astronomers can enjoy exciting programs in the planetarium geared especially for kids and families. The indoor Nature Discovery Room is a popular exhibit that invites children to interact with mammals and fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds and other creatures. Shows featuring live wildlife are often available on weekends and holidays. School groups of children from grades 4-8 love the chance to learn about archeology with instructive courses and simulated digs on the museum grounds. The limited-term exhibit “Blast from the Past: Rockin’ Rocks & Diggin’ Dinos,” available through early January of 2015, includes displays on fossils, crystals, volcanoes and fluorescence along with hands-on experiences with gorgeous rocks. Budding scientists can learn up-to-date facts about dinosaurs and the ancient earth, and even toddlers can get involved with a colorful dinosaur-themed play area.

Aerospace Museum of California
3200 Freedom Park Drive
McClellan, CA 95652
(916) 643-3192
www.aerospaceca.org

Children’s imaginations will take flight at the Aerospace Museum, with fascinating displays about aeronautics from its earliest days up to the latest technologies. In the air-park and exhibit hall, visitors can see and explore actual planes, including early wooden-framed biplanes, triple-sonic planes and fighter jets and aircraft used by the United States Navy and Air Force. Guests can sit in a plane’s cockpit, learn about space travel and even get the experience of flying a plane using high-tech flight simulators. Another interactive exhibit is all about physics, letting kids solve mind-boggling puzzles, experience optical illusions and more.

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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.