Get the Kids Out of the House This Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day has long been the unofficial start of the summer season. Barbecues and parades signal the end of spring, as does the fact that the school year is almost over. Community events and celebrations set the stage for the carefree days ahead.
Of course, Memorial Day isn’t about summer. Rather, it’s a day to honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives while serving in our country’s armed forces. On the last Monday of May each year, we pause to remember their bravery, service, and ultimately, the sacrifice they made.
Most years, we honor the fallen with parades and other tributes. But this year, many of those ceremonies have been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, many things are slowly opening back up and returning to normal.
Although major events are paused, smaller gatherings and activities are now allowed, as long as social distancing is in place. And after a year of being stuck inside (especially during the nice summer months!) no one needs to get outdoors more than our kids!
But what to do? Some spots are still closed, while others are open. It can be difficult to wade through all the choices, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the tried-and-true ways to kickstart summer over the Memorial Day weekend.
Raft Down the River
Memorial Day weekend is a great opportunity to take the kiddos out to the river for a mellow float down the American River canyon. The stretch between Gold River and Carmichael is relatively calm, making it a good choice for beginners and families with kids as young as five. Booking a raft through American River Raft Rentals is a no-hassle way to get on the water — they offer shuttle service from the take-out point back to your car. If you have older kids and are looking for something a bit more adventurous, check out the best places for tubing and rafting near Sacramento.
Take a Hike
The greater Sacramento area is in a prime locale for outdoor lovers, with numerous hiking trails and recreation areas just minutes away. Some of the best hiking trails for kids are in and around the Auburn area, including the Auburn State Recreation Area and Hidden Falls Regional Park. Another good bet is the loop trail at Sly Park Recreation Area near Pollock Pines — you can do as much or as little as you like and even see a waterfall and a Miwok teepee. The U.C. Davis Arboretum Trail in Davis is also a good bet, as it’s short, flat and winds through lovely scenery.
Take a Bike Ride
Rather be on two wheels than on two feet? Why not take the family on a bike ride this Memorial Day weekend? The greater Sacramento area is surrounded by bike trails, both for Sunday strollers and serious road bikers. For families, the American River Bike Trail is always a good bet, as there are plenty of access points between its stretch from Old Sacramento to Folsom. In Roseville, Miner’s Ravine Trail is another popular biking route for families.
Hit the Beach
No need to go to the coast for a day on the beach — the greater Sacramento area has lakes and rivers with their own sandy strips! Folsom Lake, which stretches across Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties, is a good bet, with sandy beaches, snack bars and picnic spots at Granite Bay and Beal’s Point. Nearby Lake Natoma (actually part of the American River) also has a small beach, as well as kayak rentals, paddle boarding and windsurfing. Area rivers also have beaches; some to consider are Paradise Beach near River Park, which has an adjacent park with a playground; Upper Lake Clementine Beach near Auburn; and Kneebone Beach and Family Beach along the South Yuba River near Nevada City.
Learn About Nature
Have a budding naturalist in your midst? Let them explore the wild side with a visit to a Sacramento-area nature center. Effie Yeaw in Carmichael is on the banks of the American River, with interpretive hikes through a nature preserve and animals like raptors and turtles. The Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary also has animals, including bears, cougars and foxes. Gibson Ranch in Elverta is another cool spot, with a lake, walking trails and an equestrian center with trail rides.
Summer is, of course, the time to get wet, and there are lots of options for swimming, sliding and splashing in the greater Sacramento area. For older kids, Wake Island Waterpark near Elverta has wakeboarding, paddleboarding, ziplining and an aqua ninja course. For the little ones, area aquatic centers have wading pools and water playgrounds, including the Steve Milkos Aquatic Center in Folsom; the Wackford Aquatic Complex in Elk Grove; and the Roseville Aquatics Complex. Also in Roseville is Golfland Sunsplash, a classic amusement park with waterslides, a wave pool and miniature golf.