“I moved to Elk Grove seven years ago,” says Erin Clabough. “I wanted to get to know the area better and started driving to green spots on the map.”
Her quest to discover the area’s parks started simply enough. Starting with one kid at a time, she would go to a local park, play for a little while, and go back home.
While visiting parks was a lot of fun, especially for her little ones, Erin soon found herself forgetting where these parks were! She laughs, “I needed to document that!” So she started a Facebook page, “Exploring Elk Grove CA,” to share her adventure with others.
As she writes on Facebook, “Just a mamma of 3 littles (8, 4 and 1) setting out to explore every park in Elk Grove. Come explore with me!”
One adventure soon led to another. Erin began visiting parks on May 24, 2016. On day trips, Erin went with her kids, Ethan (8), Lucy (5), and Hazel (22 months). Her husband Jeremy accompanied her on the evening trips. In the process, she has gained over 500 followers.
“I started out when Ethan was 5, before kindergarten,” says Erin. “It took us 3 years to complete all the parks. We visited our last one on August 1, 2019.” She still visits parks today and savors time with her family, exploring everything they have to offer.
Let Kids Be Kids
At area parks, kids can run, jump and play. They can climb on themed treehouses, wander down the walking path, and discover the beauty of nature. Set time aside from iPads and video games and embark on good old-fashioned family fun!
What about the kids getting dirty? Erin laughs. “Kids are 100% washable. Let them be outside and allow them to get dirty.” One of her favorite memories was visiting Elk Grove Regional Park which has the biggest puddles when it rains. “The puddles that were up to the kids’ knees!” says Erin.
“The kids were soaking wet and jumped in the giant puddles,” recalls Erin. “It’s something we can do together. Energy can be put toward something positive, rather than destroying the house,” she jokes. “It’s one of my favorite memories.”
Which Park is Best?
With so many parks, the possibilities for family time is limitless. Erin admits, “There were so many good parks, it was hard to choose a favorite.”
One park that left an impression on Erin and her family was Miwok Park. As Erin states, “It’s the only one made of all wood. At one point, it burnt down and was rebuilt by the community.” Not only does this park illustrate the resilience of the residents of Elk Grove, it shows their caring nature too.
In hot summer months, Erin and her kids love to cool down with a splash park. The kids like to get wet and have fun as evidenced by the smiles on their faces and their laughter. Their favorite splash park is Derr-Okamoto Park. “It had the best splash pad,” says Erin. “It also has water low to the ground.”
In the winter months, check out Elk Grove Regional Parks. With biking trails and a walking path, people can walk at their leisure and be out in nature.
Other popular parks were Betschart Park. As Erin writes on Facebook. “Great find! Really cool park. Two playgrounds and both have a jungle theme.” This park had so much to offer with giant spider webs, swings, spinners, and a teeter-totter. Not to mention a water fountain, bathrooms, soccer field, baseball field, and a walking path.
When it comes to a kid’s point of view, Erin’s kids loved the dinosaur-themed park, officially known as George Park. Erin raves, “My oldest child LOVES dinosaurs. I wish the park had been around when he was younger. This would have been the go-to park for everything. Dinosaur footprints in the concrete and dinosaur skeletons make this a well-thought-out park.”
Advice for New Families
Erin has advice for newcomers to Elk Grove. She says, “Find the closest park you can walk to and enjoy it. Also, take responsibility for local parks. Pick up trash when you leave. Make sure you leave it better than when you found it.”
What should you bring on a trip to the park? If visiting a splash park, be sure to bring sunscreen, towels, a change of clothing, swimsuit, and an umbrella. Erin says, “Some parks don’t have the best shade. So bring an umbrella if you are going to be there for a while.” Sand toys for the sandbox are another great idea. When visiting any park, water and snacks are recommended.
Erin and her family are originally from the Bay area. They moved to Elk Grove seven years ago and are experiencing everything the area has to offer. Relive her journey to local parks on her Facebook page, “Exploring Elk Grove CA” and watch for upcoming events in parks. You’ll be glad that you did!