|Phoenix Park Vernal Pools
9050 Sunset Ave, Fair Oaks
Vernal pools are little pockets of temporary wetlands created by rainwater trapped on the surface by hardpan, so it sits until it dries up. In the process, plants germinate and aquatic critters flourish. As the pools dry up, a spectacular show emerges with concentric rings of wildflowers in bursts of yellow, purple and white.
Photo by Sally Dunbar
Along a busy stretch of Fair Oaks Blvd, a tranquil glorious garden lies in wait with massive oaks and redwood trees, Jensen added azaleas, camellias, dogwood trees and rhododendrons.
Photo by Sally Dunbar
|Vernal Pools of Mather Field
4426 Excelsior Road, Mather, CA
Another location to see vernal pools. Group tours are available here seasonally through SacSplash. Typically April is the ideal time of year to see the waters drying up and flowers blooming.
Photo by Ken Davis/SacSplash
See also: Waterplay Outings such as splash parks, pools, and waterslides.
Fairs & Carnivals
California State Fair (1600 Exposition Blvd, Sacramento) – This huge three week long fair runs for much of July. It has something for everyone, petting zoos, horses, animals, hands on exhibits, carnival, a monorail train ride, performances and enterainers, etc.
El Dorado County Fair (100 Placerville Drive, Placerville) – A four day long event with a carnival, exhibit halls, animals, and more has been held on Fathers Day weekend, the thrid week of June, for the last 17+ years.
Rancho Cordova Carnival (Hagen Park, Rancho Cordova)- a large two day Fourth of July festival with music, carnival rides, fireworks, pedal boats and other entertainment.
Beaches & Lakes
Part of the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area (parking fee required). Has large grassy areas and shaded group picnic areas and barbeques (and a seperate area for tent-camping). It isn’t a very sandy beach, but it does have a gentle kid-friendly shoreline without big waves. Distance to the shoreline depends significantly on the water level at Folsom Lake. Off Folsom-Auburn Road between Folsom & Granite Bay.
Photo by Aida S.
|Cameron Park Lake
A fenced swimming area with pebbly lake sand is operational in the summer, including a snack bar. There is also paddle boat rental available. The park has a playground and a restroom. Fees charged from April 1–Sept 30th, Cameron Park Residents-$2, Non Res-$4.
Photo by J. Brown
This is a river beach along the American River near Sacramento State, at an oxbow bend in the river, creating a quiet cove where swimming may be possible (no lifeguards), as well as sand play or picnics. It has similarities to ocean beaches, with sand dunes and a gently sloping beach. No entry fees or parking fees. Access is walk in, so parking is not super-close to the beach itself, but there are no parking or entrance fees.
Photo by Sacramento County
Additional River Beaches: http://www.city-data.com/forum/sacramento/1572724-best-sandy-river-lake-beaches-near.html#ixzz2Rp4JWJBj
Sly Park/Jenkinson Lake (Pollock Pines) – centered on the 640-acre Jenkinson Lake. The SPRA, offers group and individual camping sites, 9 miles of multi-use trails, an equestrian camping area, day use areas, boat ramps, boat rentals, meeting rooms, and fishing. Sly Park is a very popular summertime regional destination for camping, water sports, hiking, and equestrians. No swim diapers allowed in the lake.
El Dorado National Forest (Located just east of the City of Placerville) Popular summertime destinations within the National Forest include Union Valley and Ice House Reservoirs, Loon Lake, Silver Lake, Caples Lake, Wrights Lake, Horsetail Falls, and the Desolation Wilderness.
Lake Tahoe Beaches – For better sand than local lake beaches, with less of a drive than to Santa Cruz or San Francisco, Lake Tahoe may be a nice compromise. Approx. 1.5 hrs drive. Some of the sandier beaches include Kings Beach State Recreation Area and Meeks Bay.
At the corner of Folsom-Auburn Rd & Oak Ave. From the Rainbow Bridge/Riley St. heading west: make a right onto Folsom/Auburn Road; left (just after McDonald’s) onto Oak Avenue (not Oak Avenue Parkway); Zittel Farms is located on the right.
Photo by Craig Learoyd/MyFolsom
|Fog Willow Farms
9 acre pumpkin farm/petting zoo. Open seasonally. Approx 20 minutes from Folsom. Take Grant Line Road toward Elk Grove. A few miles before Elk Grove, make a left onto Wilton Road, left onto Green Road, and then left on Cecatra Drive.
|Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm
From Folsom Blvd head west towards Hazel Ave; turn right on Hazel ave; Turn LEFT (West) onto Douglas Blvd; Turn RIGHT (North) onto Eureka Rd; Take Ramp (RIGHT) onto I-80 towards I-80 / Reno; Take Ramp (RIGHT) onto SR-65 towards CA-65 / Lincoln / Marysville; Turn LEFT (South-West) onto 4th St; the road name changes to Roddan Ln and then to Pumpkin Ln. Open mid-september through November.
Photo by J. Brown
|High Hill Ranch
One of the closest of the ranches that is part of the Apple Hill Growers Association. Activities available include a fishing pond, hay rides, pony rides, cider mill, and face painting.
Photo by High Hill Ranch
|The Pumpkin Farm
From Lake Natoma Bridge heading north: turn left on to Greenback (5.5 miles); Turn Right on Sunrise (1.8miles) ; Turn left on Old Auburn Rd. The farm is about half a mile down the road.
Photo by Elise
Apple Hill (Placerville, Pollock Pines, and Camino) A group of over 50 ranches, apple orchards, and chistmas tree farms in locations varying from Placerville to Camino. October, when the apples are ripe and ready for picking, is the busiest season. Activities for kids vary per location, but include such things as pony rides, play areas, hay-bale mazes, pumpkin patches, apple picking, and nature trails. Review Abel’s Apple Acres Review
Wild Nights and Holiday Lights
Every year the Folsom City Zoo has nighttime hours for the Zoo where it is decorated with holiday lights and you can see the nocturnal animals awake. You can also take a miniature steam train ride through additional light displays.
Photo by City of Folsom/Zoo Sanctuary
Nimbus Fish Hatchery
Although the fish hatchery is open year round, the most interesting time of year to come is November/December to see Salmon spawning and Jan/Feb to see trout spawning.
Photo by California Department of Fish & Game
|Apple Hill Christmas Tree Farms
In Apple Hill there are several farms that grow christmas trees, where you can cut your own christmas tree.
Photo by Apple Hill Growers Association
|Sutter Street Ice Rink
Sutter St, Folsom
Available November through January. Learn how they keep the ice frozen!
Photo by Rob Cockerham
Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink
7th and K Streets, Sacramento
At 7,000 square feet the rink is perfect for beginners. Theme nights include Thursday’s Family Night where kids get free skate rentals.
Photo by TLC Photography
1430 Del Paso Blvd, Sacramento
Iceland Ice Skating Rink was built in 1940. After an arson incident that burned down its roof in 2010, it reopened as an open-air seasonal rink. It’s main draws are reasonable prices and less crowds than the downtown Sacramento rink.
Indoor Ice Skating is also available in Roseville year round.
|Park & Play Sledding Hill
Open on weekends in the winter, weather permitting, you can pay to park and then go sledding for free (on your own sled) on this private property. Sled rentals are also available. Approx 45 min from Folsom off I-50.
Photo by Kids Busy Book
Sierra At Tahoe Resort – Sierra-At-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, CA Features for kids include a groomed snow play area with lift near main lodge serves 2 tubing lanes. Times and days they are open depends upon weather and conditions. 1 hr 20 min from central Folsom off I-50.
Soda Springs Park 10244 Soda Springs Rd. Soda Springs, CA Has a Planet Kids snow play area for kids 8 and under where kids can enjoy tubing lanes, tube carousels, a climbing volcano and more. Mini-Snowmobiles are available for kids 6+. 1 hr 20 min from central Folsom off I-80.
Boreal Ridge In addition to skiing, they offer a Playland tubing area for kids (that are old enough to ride in their own tube). Parking is free. 1hr 20 min from central Folsom off I-80.
Heavenly Mountain Resort – Gondola rides, tubing (for older kids), hot air baloon rides, ice skating, skiing, and more.1 hr 36 min from central Folsom off I-50.
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort Has bunny slopes for kids. 1.5 hr from central Folsom
Squaw Valley Resort – Offers snow tubing, ice skating, mini-snowmobiling, skiing and other attractions. 1 hr 45 min from central Folsom
Kirkwood Mountain Resort – 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive, Kirkwood, CA – 2 hrs from central Folsom (in Winter). Before you fire up your GPS, take a look at the directions site on their website. The most direct route from Folsom/El Dorado Hills crosses a road that’s closed in Winter.
Snow Play areas in the Sierras – VIA (AAA’s travel magazine) has an extensive list of ski and snow parks with snow play for kids includin many in the tahoe area.