American and Sacramento River
The city of Sacramento is situated at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers, which give citizens a multitude of options for entertainment and lifestyle. Below are several of our favorite river access spots to spend a summer day. They are popular areas for kayaking, SUPs, fishing, swimming and picnicking.
Black Miners Bar, Folsom State Lake Recreation Area
This beautiful, clean river access spot has been recently updated with clean restrooms, barbecue grills, picnic tables, shady trees, pavement leading to the river and plenty of parking. Paddleboards and kayaks are available to rent at an hourly rate with an ID. This is also a great swimming spot, as there is often a lifeguard on duty. Since it is a California state park, there is a cost to enter that’s paid at the park entrance.
Those who enjoy taking their SUPs and kayaks to Folsom Lake might not be aware of the smaller but more picturesque Lake Natoma, located on the Lower American River, just downriver from the Folsom Lake Dam. The lake is surrounded by scenic views, and lovers of the outdoors will savor the abundant recreational opportunities Lake Natoma has to offer. It is the perfect spot for a SUP adventure. Other activities include rowing, fishing and sailing. Note: CSUS Aquatic Center is located along the beautiful Lake Natoma and offers equipment rentals.
Park at Glenn Hall Park to access this hidden gem. There are trails and sandy beaches with plenty of shade. It’s very dog friendly but a little bit of a walk to the beach, so pack smart and make sure to bring your own trash bag if you’re planning to picnic.
Effie Yeaw Nature Center
2850 San Lorenzo Way, Carmichael
Located right between a safe residential area and the American River, this natural preserve is a 100-acre wildlife oasis, giving visitors a glimpse of the natural beauty and history of our region. Great for the entire family to reconnect with nature and learn about the importance of conserving and protecting our natural resources. Kids and adults can experience walking the trails, enjoy a picnic and view all of the wildlife in their natural habitat. It’s very common to see deer, birds, lizards, turkey, geese, otters, rabbits, turtles, owls and more! Make sure to bring your camera.
Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail
Multiple Access Points
The trail has 32 miles (51 kilometers) of paved and unpaved surfaces on which to exercise. Walking, biking, horseback riding; the trail is perfect for it, all the way from Old Sacramento to Folsom city, in parallel with the American River. There are plenty of unique stops along the way. At Discovery Park, you can shoot arrows at the archery range. The stretch from Paradise Beach to William B. Pond Recreation area is popular — not least for the picnic ops at the end, with views of the river rapids, and the specialized fishing pier and ramp that makes angling open to everyone.
3901 Land Park Drive, Sacramento
For over 60 years, “Never grow up” has been the message at this fine theme park for children, families — anyone, essentially, who adored story time as a child. Attractions (known as playsets) at Fairytale Town are typified by Mary’s Little Lambs, a little schoolhouse home to two Southdown sheep, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff, a tale brought to life by the presence of two Nigerian dwarf goats and a pygmy goat. From the Giant’s Foot from Jack and the Beanstalk to The Little Engine That Could, your little ones will leave with many stories to tell. With 26 playsets based on nursery rhymes and fairytales, a friendly flock of farm animals, two performing arts stages and several gardens, learning has never been more fun!
Funderland Amusement Park
1350 17th Ave., Sacramento
Funderland is a park in Sacramento that is particularly for kids. Conveniently located across from the Sacramento Zoo, Funderland is an amusement park designed for kids 12 and under. Popular rides include the Tea Cups, the Dragon Coaster, the Airplanes, and the Funderland train. There is also a carousel and old-fashioned bumper cars. Admission is free, but there are tickets for the rides. Funderland is a place that is easy to find but hard to forget.
Nimbus Fish Hatchery
2001 Nimbus Road, Gold River
The Fish Hatchery is an amazing place to watch the salmon climb the ladders and learn about our ecosystem. The Visitors Center offers fun and informational activities for children and adults of all ages. The Hatchery has a great, informative educational center, and they recently opened a new fish ladder with a viewing window for kids that extends to the base of the Nimbus dam. Make sure to also enjoy the on-site nature trail along the American River to view wildlife. Kids love it, and as an adult, it’s great fun too!
Sacramento River Cats Game at Sutter Health Park
400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento
Bring the family, and enjoy a fun game at the ballpark this summer as you watch the Triple-A affiliate of the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants play ball. Every seat in the stadium gets you a great view of the game and skyline. Toyota Home Run Hill is great for families with little kids who aren’t ready to sit in the seats the entire game (just make sure you arrive early to get the best seats on the hill and lay out blankets on the grass). Located behind the Toyota Home Run Hill, the Kid's Corner (aka Down on the Farm) is the kid's play area. It features explorable, miniature town Dingerville, Tower Bridge-replica play structure and misting pad (for those hot Sacramento nights) and a wiffle ball field. It is free of charge to all children who attend the game. Be sure to stay until the end of the game, as Friday and Saturday night home games usually end with fireworks!
3930 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento
Say hello to some of our favorite animals up close and in person at the Sacramento Zoo. Purchase a regular admission ticket and view all your favorites from bright, bold and winged to slimy, green and furry.
SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity
400 Jibboom St., Sacramento
This is a hands-on museum for kids to satisfy their curiosity and learn all about the way the world works. They will not be bored! Children can test-fly a paper airplane, construct their own wind-powered car and even pilot a Mars rover. Make sure not to miss out on the Multiverse Theater, where you will be transported through space and time to discover the wonders of our cosmos.
Sofia/B Street Theatre
2700 Capitol Ave., Sacramento
The B Street Theatre’s Family Series is Northern California’s only fully professional resident theater for children. This beloved and highly acclaimed series brings the joy of live theater to children through exciting, original plays and lively adaptations of classic novels, stories and tales. They also have summer camps and classes that offer students a fun, exciting and creative environment to learn from professional instructors. Be sure to purchase their Family Series Season Tickets for four consecutive shows to get your tickets at a discounted rate!