Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Northern California

Two weeks ago, I went to Northern California. It wasn't so much a touristy trip as it was a family visit. My brother and his family just moved from Guam to Northern California in December. My two nieces were both born in Guam, so I hadn't had the opportunity to meet them until this trip.

So I'm not going to go into any details about my family visit. I doubt anybody cares about that. We did a couple of touristy things, which I will talk about. As much as I had hoped for a day trip to San Francisco or a Napa winery tour (both were nearby), it wasn't to be (maybe next time). But we went to two places in Sacramento: the zoo and Fairytale Town. I'm going to talk about both as family destinations, even though I generally don't focus on that.

When we got to William Land Park, where Sacramento Zoo is located, we noticed that there is a lot going on. This is a mecca for families. It has a golf course, Funderland (a small amusement part for very young kids), Fairytale Town and the zoo. There were also picnic tables scattered about. You could easily spend an entire day here.

Fairytale Town in particular caught my eye. If you want to do both that and the zoo, you can pay one fee for admission to both parks (at least you can at the zoo...I didn't see this when we got to Fairytale Town).

The verdict on the zoo: I've been to a lot of zoos in my life. This wasn't the best one I've ever visited, but it's nicely landscaped and has a train and a carousel.

Highlights for us were the red panda exhibit, the giraffe exhibit, the orangutans and the chimpanzees, who screeched and screamed a lot and got the gibbons excited.

I think the adults enjoyed it a bit more than the kids (mostly because my 2-year old niece couldn't ride the carousel - it only operates once every hour).

When my niece was obviously getting antsy and bored, we left. I think we saw pretty much everything, anyway. I don't think we were there more than 2 hours, and that included time in the souvenir shop and at concessions.

Then we went to Fairytale Town.

Fairytale Town is essentially a giant playground themed around fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes.

My niece LOVED it (and yes, I mentioned 2 nieces earlier, but one is still a baby and can't walk yet, let alone play on a playground). Admission was really inexpensive and I think we all had a little fun here, even if it was just watching the kids play.

(Yeah...Mother Goose looks like she's been hitting the sauce. She has kids climbing all over her all day...can you blame her?)

Just a word of caution for adults: almost everything here is pint-sized. There are low doorways, so make sure to duck. There are even kid-sized toilets...but thankfully, there are adult-sized ones too.

Fairytale Town also has a petting zoo. There were sheep and goats. There was also a donkey and a bull, although I don't think you're allowed to pet them.

So...that was the extent of tourist activities on my trip. Maybe I'll have more to offer next time, but I still had fun, and it was really lovely to spend time with my family. Also, Northern California is beautiful. I came in via the Oakland Airport (saw some of San Francisco from the plane, at least) and the drive from Oakland to Fairfield (where my brother lives) and back was mostly scenic.

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