Exploring a Gold Mine: A Road Trip Worth the Drive

Read next

Somewhere in the mix of chitter chatter along the lines of “Mom! He’s not sharing,” or “Dad! She hit me!” and the ever popular, “are we there yet?” is the lingering scent of french fries and a ton of on-the-go-games designed to distract the kids. Yes, parents may shudder at the word “road trip” and usually reserve the experience for when holidays and relatives are involved, but why not stop and rethink the whole idea?  Just a few hours in nearly any direction, families from the bay can have amazing adventures in new cities and places. First stop on Red Tricycle’s Road Trippin’ calendar is the golden state’s capital city, Sacramento.

GETTING THERE: One of best reasons for checking out Sacramento, at least, in the road tripping state of mind? The Amtrak train goes directly from Emeryville to Sacramento on a leg of the legendary California Zephyr route. Choosing this mode of transportation could put the whole family in a holiday mood, if only for a couple of days. If opting to drive the family vehicle, get on I80 and go! It’s a straight shot into the heart of SacTown.

THINGS TO DO: Any parent knows how cool trains are for the kiddos and what better way to keep up the wow factor than a trip to the California State Railroad Museum? Located in Old Town Sacramento, which looks and feels like a 1800s Wild West outpost, the family can take a stroll through old dining cars, sleeper cars and mail cars. Monster engines and historical artifacts will have every kid and parent thrilled. Don’t worry about the wee ones, they’ll have plenty to see and do as well, there is an entire floor of Thomas the Train tables and tracks for playtime galore.


William Land Park is a sure-fire hot spot for families. With a pond and tons of picnic benches, this is a great spot to eat lunch and fantastic way to get more bang for your weekend road trip buck. The real problem will be choosing where to go. Fairytale Town is a must see, with King Arthur’s Castle, Alice’s rabbit hole and Cinderella’s carriage, not to mention awesome events like the upcoming birthday celebration for Dr. Seuss. The Sacramento Zoo is home to animals like the Wolf’s Guenon baby, just two weeks old! Funderland has a wild array of rides, ranging from the Red Baron to the Log Run and more!

FYI: Funderland is open selected days and times during the winter and early spring months


The Discovery Museum Science & Space Center is full of exciting and interesting things for explorers of all ages. Hang out with the stars at the only planetarium in town or make like Indiana Jones and discover some cool facts about the tribes who used to call the Sacramento Valley home. Rotating exhibits include awesome themes like the Bone Zone and Space Quest, so be sure to check out the latest and greatest news before heading in.

For sports fans, Raley Field, home to the River Cats is a no brainer. Located at the edge of the Sacramento River and a little reminiscent of San Francisco’s legendary AT&T park, taking in a ball game will be a huge hit. The Cats season starts April 4th and as the official feeder team for the Oakland Athletics, your little baseball fans may get a glimpse at future superstar A’s players. Lawn seating starts at $8 but the real winner is the Family Pack which includes 4 tickets, 4 food vouchers, 4 passes to Fairytale Town and 4 passes to the Sacramento Zoo, starting at just $60!

Added Bonus: Don’t forget to snap a pic with team mascot Dinger!


WHAT TO EAT: Good eats in kid friendly environments can be found all over the city. With decor reminiscent of a 1950s diner, at Vic’s Ice Cream the menu offers simple and yummy fare, like PB&J, tuna sandos and a daily soup. Also in the Land Park district is the eclectic Tower Cafe, known for their killer breakfast menu include the mythic and legendary custard dipped french toast. If massive sundaes and a classic ice cream parlor is appealing, a must try is Leatherby’s Family CreameryServing up splits for over 30 years, there are three separate locations in the Sacramento area ready for the entire family.


Ernesto’s Mexican Food offers an amazing happy hour from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Mon – Thurs and super affordable apps from $2 to $3. Parents craving a pint and some pub grub ought to hit up midtown Rubicon Brewing Company. Menu items like the veggie plate, hot wings and spinach salad will please everyone, even picky little eaters. Don’t forget about the in-house freshly brewed ales!

WHERE TO STAY: The Embassy Suites Sacramento – Riverfront Promenade is probably one of the best spots when choosing lodging. Located smack-dab in Old Sac, just paces away from the riverfront, the Railroad Museum, cool shops, and restaurants, this reasonably priced location offers family style suites. They also offer cool packaged deals like the River Cats Grand Slam and the Pizza Family Package too.

Want something a little more unique? Try the Citizen Hotel. Part of the Joie de Vivre family, this 198 room spot offers a funky style and a great location. Some booking packages even include admission to the California Museum, one of Sacramento’s cultural hot spots.

Spent anytime in the capital city lately? We’d love to know where you took the fam!

–Gabrielle Cullen

In descending order, photos courtesy of: California State Railroad Museum, Funderland via Facebook, The River Cats via Facebook, The Tower Cafe via Facebook.