Rainy day dos & don’ts

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not Sacramento, but doesn't that look like that one building?Hunker down for a rainy week, Sacramento. If you have little kids in your family you’re probably looking for fun, inexpensive activities out of the rain, and if you’re like me you’re finding your choices very limited. It doesn’t seem like those should be too many limitations, but I always find that you have to be pretty creative to find sheltered fun for the little ones. I have a few picks and pans, and I’d love to hear from y’all as well.

Of course the first thing that comes to mind is the liberry. Our personal favorite (and I hesitate to recommend it, lest it become totally overplayed) is the E. K. McClatchy branch on 22nd and V streets in Poverty Ridge. (In that older post I guessed that the building style is Georgian but I believe it is simply Victorian). It is basically like a giant drafty old mansion where every room is the library and none of them are the smoking den or the servants’ quarters. Great kids section, neat little sun room, wonderful staff. The only drawback to this one with the little ones is that it is teeny tiny so loud voices carry and you’ll get dirty looks from the other patrons.

Because of this the Central branch, with its lower floor dedicated to children’s books, is probably the best. It has a bean-bag chill out area and tons of books. Parking is the only issue with Central.

I’m not as happy with Explorit!, a “hands-on science center” in Davis. I suppose I wouldn’t warn you off visiting once, after you’ve read this and know what you’re getting in advance.

As you approach Explorit! you notice that it is in a large warehousey building and you’re excited to try out the hundreds of large fun activities they must have — and you’re even more excited because it only costs $4 for kids over 3 for all that. When you enter the front door you see a large room with a bunch of stations, and you are looking around for how you get into that big giant area in the back. Then you are too embarrassed to ask “so hey, where’s the rest of it?” Indeed, Explorit! consists entirely of a large room with little activity stations focusing mostly on environmental and everyday science — microscopes, ecosystems, how substances interact, etc.

If one parent takes one kid who is reading age, the admission price is about $8, which I suppose is worth it — the kid can read instructions at each station and will get a lot out of it. For the little ones, you have to explain everything and by the time you’re getting to the part about pouring one capful of yeast into the water mixture they are on to something else, and after about 5 of those exchanges you’re over it. So just don’t go into it expecting Exploratorium scale on a value meal budget; but if you expect value meal Exploratorium on a value meal budget you might have fun.

What about you, friends? What are your go-to activities with little kids when the rain, she is pounding down from Father Sky?

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18 Responses to Rainy day dos & don’ts

  1. RunnerGirl says:

    I’m no Mike Brady architect, but doesn’t “Victorian” typically refer to an era of architecture, so there could be specific types of architecture within the Victorian era?

  2. Turty Squip says:

    Don’t forget to PLAY out in the rain every once in a while! Expect to get muddy and cold, prep towels, the fireplace, and hot chocco for your return. Maybe even throw some clean PJs and socks in the dryer for added eco-unfriendly comfort. And bring the dog (/cat/hamster/iguana)!

  3. wburg says:

    Indeed, “Georgian” and “Victorian” are eras of architecture (Georgian roughly 1700-1850, Victorian from roughly 1850-1900) rather than styles. I’m still learning about architecture, and some of the early 20th century revival-style homes share a lot of common elements, but style-wise, I think the McClatchy library is more of an Italian Renaissance or Classical Revival style home: hipped roof, entrance columns, symmetrical design. The window mullions are almost Craftsman-ish, though.

    For me rainy-day activity, on a day off, ideally means staying home and playing with trains. For those who prefer shopping in uncrowded stores, sometimes rain days are the best days.

  4. sac-eats says:

    I hate to say this, but I agree with Turty. I loved rainy day soccer games as a kid.
    Nothing like hot coco or coffee or whiskey after a day of slogging around in the mud.

    Do kids even play soccer anymore if it’s raining?

  5. RunnerGirl says:

    Rainy trail runs are awesome, and I love coming home & crawling into bed (post-shower) with both the heated mattress pad and electric blanket on so I feel all panini-like.

  6. CoolDMZ says:

    I’m straining to find the offensive subtext in Turty’s comment. Are you trying to break our brains?

  7. obdurate says:

    you say offensive, I say thought provoking…

    potato, pohtaytow

  8. jhj says:

    Our family likes the Discovery Science Museum. http://www.thediscovery.org/ It is a small place, but they have interactive exhibits and animals and insects. On the weekends, they have planetarium shows and free crafts for the kids. The admission is fairly low, but your best bet is to buy a $50 family membership- It will also get you in free all year there and the History Center on I St., plus Explorit in Davis, The Zeum and Exploratorium in SF, The Tech in San Jose, and tons more. Here’s a list of other participating museums: http://astc.org/members/pdf/LargePrint0507.pdf

  9. Stickie says:

    Does drinking count?

  10. IguanaLover says:

    Please do NOT take your Iguana into the rain during the Sacramento winter. The cold is far worse than they can stand. If you want to take your green/brown reptile friends out, take them to an indoor pool that is heated. They will love the swim! Mine also like the library if they can curl up around my neck while I read (Godzilla is a big hit) to them.

    [Moderator’s Note: the full Name of this commenter was edited as it was breaking the template. for the record it was “IguanaLoversUnitedAgainstBBQingReptiles”]

  11. Joshua says:

    Craftsman style actually incorporates a lot of Revival styles – general Med Revival, Italian, Mission, Tudor and the like; English A&C has a very strong connection to the Pre-Raphaelites and the revival of design and color from Medieval periods. So yeah, I’d say it’s definitely Arts & Crafts, but a bit more English A&C rather than specifically American Craftsman.

  12. cooldmz says:

    So is it Victorian or what.

  13. Lisa says:

    Some rainy day things I’ve done recently w/ my 5-year-old: Gone to Bounce Spot in West Sacramento. It’s only $6 for unlimited jumping, sliding in their bounce houses, it really gets those wiggles out. The Railroad museum, with its Thomas the Train play area, is always popular. Once we rode the light rail all the way to Folsom and back, which really thrilled my son. Really, they don’t need much to get excited….

  14. wburg says:

    cooldmz: Technically speaking, “Victorian” refers to buildings built during the reign of Queen Victoria, so no. People tend to refer to any old house as a “Victorian,” though, just as people tend to refer to any era of the past from the Paleolithic Era until roughly 1960 as “the olden days.”

  15. cooldmz says:

    well i actually purposely say “liberry” so i should just go ahead and say olden days too.

  16. B. Durbin says:

    jhj: My family used to do that as well, back when it was the Junior Museum. Your membership will also get you into the California Academy of Sciences when it reopens (it gets you into the aquarium annex right now) and the Laurence Hall of Science.

    I am so looking forward to the CAS reopening. That’s always been one of my favorite places, and the major reason San Francisco is a worthy city in my book.

  17. cooldmz says:

    So let me get this straight, annual membership at the Discovery Museum gets you into the Lawrence Hall and the Exploratorium for free?? That is awesome. Thanks for the heads up!

  18. MamaBryan says:

    Along with the RR Museum and various bounce spots, anyone with young’uns should drive to Galt and check out Someplace Fun. A hee-yuge bounce place with a full size carousel, half-court basketball, tons of video games (for us bigger people too), and many bounce options for kids of all ages. One admission price gets you nonstop access to all those goodies, no extra tickets or coins needed. And they also have a snack bar! Hours of fun! OH! Also – take a drive to Stockton and visit their children’s museum – full size fire engine, police car, ambulance, police cycle, grocery store, bank… so many cool things to do there too. Worth getting the family pass to that one!