Finding COVID-safe adventures for my grandson has been a challenge. For the first 8 weeks of lockdown we only talked by video/phone. Then we carefully expanded our bubbles to include our two families. This allowed me to resume our adventures in consultation with his parents. We have explored more of the trails at Effie Yeaw Nature Area and walked round and round the duck pond at Land Park. There is always my own neighborhood and “work” in my garden.
We were on our way to the lily pad duck pond across the road from the Sacramento Zoo entrance. As we drove by, Cal saw the open sign and people walking in and I was anxious to distract him. The zoo is welcoming visitors with a reservation, yet we don’t feel an active boy of 3 and three-quarters will be able to keep from touching surfaces and staying a safe distance from other kids his age, so we are waiting. I quickly turned to park and lo and behold we were right next to the WPA Rock Park. What a delightful discovery!
It’s been here since 1940 and yet I never noticed it before, so we explored it together. Although I was definitely the support player in the imaginative play inspired by the landscape. Once we explored all of the trails and dodged some of the “muddles” created by the sprinklers, he began imagining he was a mama wolverine and he began looking for the perfect place for his wolverine family den. I was grandma wolverine. We spent over an hour exploring the garden and rock hardscapes. We didn’t make it to the duck pond today (although the huge lily pads are something!) and boy did we have fun.
Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento is one of the adventures my grandson and I enjoy together. We started visiting when Cal just started walking, and he loved going up and down the stairwells and walking along the long corridors. He was afraid of the elevators but loved looking at the sculptures and glass sculptures in the stairwells. The museum is a quirky mix of old mansion and new museum connected by long ramps–perfect for toddler legs to run along. Now he confidently explores all parts of the museum.
Tot Land on the ground floor of the old mansion is always a popular stop. There are a number of structures and activities to keep people under 5 busy. Over the years there have been additional exhibits for kids and by kids. There are also art programs for Wee Wednesdays (ages 3-5) and Artful Tots (19-36 months)–check the calendar for specific dates.
If your child guests are older than 5, you may want to use the Story Trail books available at the admission desk to go on a museum art scavenger hunt.
The cafe has a variety of foods. We bring our own kid snacks and I get a beverage or light snack and relax (briefly) in the light filled dining space.
It is worth a membership to make more frequent trips easy. Then if you are having a fussy day, you don’t worry about a short visit. If you are trying it out for the first time, your visit is free for children under 5, and costs youth to 17 $6, seniors and students $8, and adults $12. Your entrance is good all day and it is walking distance to Old Sacramento, so you may combine your activities.
There are always landmark restaurants in every town that locals know well, but people visiting might never hear about. And then when a town gets big enough, there are landmarks that people outside of that neighborhood may not be aware of its existence. Such is Stagecoach Restaurant in South Sacramento. My friends who grew up in the neighborhood couldn’t believe I’d never tried it, so we all met up for breakfast on a Tuesday morning.
As you can see by the exterior A-frame, it has been on the Florin Road for a long time. The interior is just as iconic as the exterior. We were in the room in the back with the regular men’s bible study group. The service was very good.
The portions are generous–enough to make two meals. All of us struggled to make a dent in our plates. The menu has soul food and other hard-to-find breakfast items. My friend Nailah ordered the catfish and loved it.
I enjoyed the Stagecoach and understand why it has stayed open and enjoyed a loyal following.
I finally made it to South, a Sacramento restaurant specializing in southern home cooking. Three of us shared a bucket of chicken, a plate of fried green tomatoes, and biscuits. It was all delicious. Truly, truly delish. We finished the night by sharing a slice of sweet potato pie.
They have indoor and outdoor seating. First though, you stand in line (and there is always a line, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer) and order/pay. They serve drinks with a full bar menu and have great unsweetened ice tea.
It’s a fascinating aspect of American life that we celebrate our cultural heritage, whether it is Norwegian, Lithuanian, or Persian, in a variety of festivals. Food features prominently. It is also an easier way to experience another culture when you don’t have the time or money to travel. Sometimes it just whets your appetite to go!
Demonstrating how to make lefse
The Scandinavian Festival, held on one day at the Scottish Rite Temple near Sacramento State University, features many booths with various Scandinavian themed goods. Then in the main ballroom they sell tickets to buy food and have seating to watch the flag ceremony or the fashion show. Many people are dressed in traditional dresses or Norwegian sweaters. All decedents of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, or Finland are welcome, in addition the Sami indigenous people are also recognized as their own nation although they live across Norway, Sweden, Finland and part of Russia.
Two of the people in our group discovered they were Scandinavian thanks to 23 and Me so they were discovering cultural traditions like the food, like the delicious flatbread lefse made with potatoes. I also discovered there is such a thing as Viking reenactment. I sent a photo (see above) to my brother and found out that he reenacts being a Viking for his history classes at the Community College where he teaches. I learned something about my family too!
I wondered: Is Momo going to appear with his person Andrew Knapp in Folsom or on Folsom Boulevard? Luckily there are only two Incredible Pets stores in the Sacramento Area with one being ON Folsom Boulevard. Who is Momo? Oh I can’t wait to share. He is a very clever Border Collie who hides very effectively in the most wonderful locations. His person snaps photos and creates books where you can “find” him. Think “Where’s Waldo” with an adorable black and white dog.
I am a fan. I preordered this book to add to my collection of three books plus a board book for children. My grandson and I enjoy finding Momo.
I was pretty excited to be one of the last people to see Momo and his person photographer/author Andrew Knapp at Incredible Pets. Andrew signed my book and posed with Momo for photos. It was a very satisfying encounter. If you want to find Momo yourself there are a few stops left on the Little Left Coast Book Tour.
February 12 at 7 pm at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA
February 16 at 2 pm at Hicklebees in San Jose, CA
February 19 at 7 pm at Healthy Spot in Canoga Park, CA
February 23 at 3 pm at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, CA
Find Momo at one of these events and follow @AndrewKnapp on Instagram.
Taking a walk with my 2 year old grandson always results in looking at the familiar landscapes with fresh eyes or seeing things I never noticed before. My neighborhood library is in an elegant home donated by Ella McClatchy. It is on the ironically named “Poverty Hill” surrounded by mansions. (And in a flood prone community it is a more desirable place to build.)
One morning my grandson and I explored the library upstairs and down before venturing into the neighborhood. Cal loves to run and I can stay apace through quick strides and distraction. “Look at this, Cal.” is one of my favorite tricks to give me time to catch up. This is how we discovered there are six lions living near the library.
“Part of normal human development is learning to notice less than we are able to. The world is awash in details of color, form, sound–but to function, we have to ignore some of it. The world still holds these details. Children sense the world at different granularity, attending to parts of the visual world we gloss over, to sounds we have dismissed as irrelevant. What is indiscernible to us is plain to them.” Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking (p. 26)
Travel can also refresh our ability to see. First, we notice so much more of everything wherever we go because it is unfamiliar. And then we see our own familiar home with fresh eyes and appreciation when we return.
One of the other ways we can train ourselves to see more of the rich detail in our lives is through “Eye Spy” type games. Cal and I love Momo books. Momo the border collie hides and his person Andrew Knapp snaps a photo. There is a series of books for all ages and one children’s board book for hardier viewing. The latest book is Finding Momo Across Europe and it is delightful!
This afternoon my mother and I enjoyed the final performance at the Capital Stage in Sacramento, California. The cast members of Mary Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley were each so suited to their characters and the dialogue was lively and fun. We found the performance of Mary and Lord de Bourgh especially charming. A Christmas romance with the Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice is a delightful play by Lauren Gunderson and Margo Melcon.
It is a small theater and there isn’t a bad view. I have not ever been to the Capital Stage together.
We ate lunch at the Drunken Noodle Midtown and then walked to the Capital Stage. We arrived early and enjoyed the outdoor courtyard. The toastie warm bathrooms are worth a special commendation.
Going to see a performance at the theater is a way to travel in space and time, such as England in 1815. This particular venue is in Midtown at 2215 J Street, Sacramento 95816.
I’ve lived in Sacramento most of my life. For the first 25 years everyone was content with being the Capitol and a rapidly growing suburban county. As Sacramento-native Joan Didion called it, people had a more mid-western sensibility about their wealth and well-being. Our problems were either hidden or denied. The community was segregated with waves of white flight out of South Sacramento to the burgeoning suburbs.
Our claim to fame was that we were “close to everything.” It was a great place to stop if you were on your way to Tahoe, or Napa, or San Francisco or Yosemite. Sacramento is at the confluence of two great rivers–the Sacramento and American–and a gateway to the Delta, but it’s attraction for the longest time was it was at the confluence of two great highways–Interstate Highways 5 and 80.
People in the community liked that it was a less expensive, quieter place to raise children. People would complain about “the traffic” that wouldn’t register on the Los Angeles traffic meter. We also don’t have to worry about earthquakes and our floods appear to be managed for now.
The developers who ran local politics began to beat the drum for putting Sacramento on the map and making it a world class city. In the mid-eighties they had a lot of new houses to sell in Natomas, so land speculators and builders began the dubious proposition of making Sacramento famous by bringing a professional sports team to town. The Kansas City Kings basketball team arrived in 1985 to great fanfare and a new stadium in Natomas. It did raise Sacramento’s profile but it also gave other cities opportunity to mock us for being a Cowtown.
Periodically ever since, someone–a mayor or other city booster–declares Sacramento a destination. Self-declaration doesn’t count. In the travel world you have to be anointed a destination by the Conde Nast magazines. Or the New York Times travel editor. Preferably both.
At last, thanks in large part to the spotlight that Sacramento-native Greta Gerwig shone on our fair city, Sacramento is getting the attention that some would say is long overdue. The New York Times recently released “36 Hours in Sacramento“! It is so weird to read about the places you eat or shop regularly as destinations. Lovely too.
Once in my first professional job after grad school, the National Geographic hired our little think tank at UC Davis to review an article they were doing on the Great Central Valley. We looked at their map and shook our heads. They had Gilroy on the west side of the Valley. There were other errors as well and they didn’t correct all of the mistakes we identified for them. It made me skeptically at National Geographic maps ever since.
I love the 36 Hours series, but now having read the writer’s suggestions that would have you crisscrossing all over Sactown, I am going to refer to the 36 Hour recommendations but take the schedules with a grain of salt. Thanks for the shout outs for local favorite restaurants and shopping destinations. We have always had a vibrant arts community and now more people are taking notice.
Sacramento has also been in the news lately because of the police shooting of an unarmed black man. Stephon Clark’s death has tested our community and revealed some problems many would rather ignore. We also have a serious homelessness problem. It appears the city council and county supervisors may finally be ready to deal with the issue. Hopefully we will begin to reform the inequities so we can truly achieve “great” status.
This weekend was the 28th annual Chalk It Up! at Fremont Park in Sacramento. Each Labor Day weekend, hundreds of artists invest a lot of chalk, sweat and creativity into a square on the sidewalk. Most of the mini murals have various sponsors. One artist drawing cartoon characters on the sidewalk also signed up for a double square for a dental group. He was going to draw Austin Powers with his goofy teeth before and after dental work.
People create art with a message or just for the beauty of it. There is also food, crafts and other vendors along the middle walkways. There are also many restaurants within a block of the park including Starbucks, Hot Italian, Magpie Cafe, and others. It can be a challenge to find parking, so consider riding one of the region’s red Jump bikes or walking to 15th and P from anywhere downtown.
There is a kids zone for them to draw with chalk., plus a playground in the park.
Chalk It Up promotes and supports Youth Arts by offering small grants to K-12 classrooms, and youth arts organizations throughout the Sacramento region. We do this in large part with our annual Chalk It Up! Festival which encourages artistic expression of all kinds through a three day celebration of chalk art, live music, and regional food and craft vendors.