SACRAMENTO — William Land Park — Sacramento’s heavily treed 166 acres of low-key family fun — is worth a short day trip from the 209 if you’re looking for a fun day with young kids.
The best way to describe it is Micke Grove Park on steroids (OK, more like Red Bull), with Pixie Woods tossed in for good measure. It is also the go to place to get your kids hooked on FootGolf played on an 18-hole course near the stunning 9-hole William Land Golf Course that is a par 34 design covering 2,400 feet with an impressive array of mature oak trees.
There are also plenty of traditional park touches such as picnic areas, soccer fields, and such.
William Land’s top kids’ attractions are the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Land, and Funderland.
The zoo at 14.6 acres puts it in the Goldilocks category for kids’ attention spans. It’s not too big that it overwhelms nor is it packed with crowds and it’s not too small that it barely whets their curiosity. The 90-year-old zoo also has a solid record of updating and adding new exhibits and doing so in such a manner that it is as much a learning experience as it is an “ooh” and “aah” thing.
An example is the addition is the Small Wonders of Africa exhibit. The dynamic multi-species exhibit increased the footprint of the older small mammal house and included an Aardvark, Wolf’s Guenon, Crested Guinea fowl, Fennec Foxes and a colony of Straw-colored Fruit Bats.
The zoo has an decent array of larger animals with the Tall Wonders of Africa giraffe exhibit getting high marks from young and old alike based on the time people linger.’
The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The grounds close at 5 p.m. Docents will tell you the mornings are a slightly better time to visit due to increased animal activity.
General admission is $14.95, senior admission for those 65 and older is $13.95 and children ages 2 to 11 are $9.95. Younger children are free.
Fairytale Town is of the same genre as Stockton’s Pixie Woods but with a lot more to offer. There are 25 playsets based on nursery rhymes and fairytales, two performing arts stages, gardens, and farm animals.
It’s been around for a bit. It was the destination for my first school field trip ever as a first grader at Roseville’s Cirby School. The only thing I really recall from that trip was walking “The Crooked Mile” of “There was a crooked man” fame. It is a nonsensical path of curving elevated concrete that follows a nonsensical route including looping around a tree or two. I thought it was a riot.
Apparently kids still do. On a trip there 14 years ago with grandson Rein, he thought it was one of the goofiest things he ever saw. Getting him away from it was a challenge. And he wasn’t the only kid there that thought the same way. And while is considerable shorter than a mile, the fact that it got kids growing up in the Age of Video Games mesmerized says a lot about the charm of Fairytale Town.
Other touches range from “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” slide to the “Three Little Pigs” houses complete with three real little pigs with interaction that gets both the kids and pigs squealing.
Fairytale Town is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The grounds close at 5 pm.
Admission on weekdays and holidays are $5.75 for adults and children 2 to 12 with those younger free. Weekday admissions are a $1 less.
You can get a combo zoo and Fairytale Town ticket weekends and holidays with general admission $20.45, senior admission 55 and older $19.70, children 2 to11 $15.45 and those younger free. The price is $1 less across the board on weekdays.
Funderland is a couple of cuts above Funtown Amusement Park at San Joaquin County’s Micke Grove Park midway between Stockton and Lodi in terms of attractions.
It’s a Mecca for little kids when it comes to carnival rides. There’s the traditional carousel, Crazy Cups, Funderland Train, Squirrely Whirl, Red Baron, Oscar the Fisher, Flying Dragon Backroads Buggies, and Wild Stagecoach. There are also photo opps featuring a Red Baron style plane, a car, and a train depot.
Weekend and holiday tickets are $2.25 for on ride, $19.95 for 10 rides and $44.95 for a family pack of 30 rides. Weekday prices are $1.95 for a single ride, $16.95 for 10 rides, and $44.95 for a family pack of 30 rides. On weekdays you can also purchase an unlimited ride wristband for $17.50
Funderland is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
William Land Park is a great place to try your hand at the relatively new sport of FootGolf. It is a precision sport that requires a player to kick a No. 5 soccer ball into a 21-inch diameter cup in as few shots as possible. The first shot is from the tee box with players have to maneuver through or avoid trees, water hazards, hills, and trees. Each hole has an assigned par and are handicapped for the 18-hole course covering 2,653 yards.
Indoor soccer shoes or turf shores are recommended. No cleats are allowed. There are also specific rules such as single kicks and no pushing the ball. It can be played solo or in groups.
Weekday and weekend rates between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for 18 holes are $16.50 for and adult and $8 for juniors. After 1 p.m. the rate drops to $12 for adults while the junior rate stays at $8.
And probably the best thing about going to William Land Park is Vic’s Ice Cream nearby at 3199 Riverside Blvd.
They have sandwiches, salads, soup, and daily specials as well as pies and cakes but the real reason to drop by is the ice cream. It is an old-fashion ice cream parlor with all of the heavenly smells that make a Baskin Robbins seems too sterile in comparison.
But the real killer are the bon bons. They are hand scooped and carefully dipped into semi sweet Guittard Chocolate. They are pricey — $16 for six, $33 for 12, $48 for 18, or $60 for 24 — but they are worth it. They require a week’s notice and can be ordered in a flavor of your choice.
More information can be found at vicsicecream.com.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com