Children’s Museum, Pixie Woods; child-friendly treasures in our backyard!

 

The Children's Museum is all "hands-on", complete with RTD bus, police car, fire engine and ambulance - here grandson Jack is right at home as a bus driver!

The Children’s Museum’s water maze fascinates young and old alike. By moving the baffles, kids can redirect the current and move boats through the maze in different directions!
Giant nutcrackers pose outside Stockton Children’s Museum; grandson Jack was very impressed!
Grandson Jack and other kids cavort in the Pixie Woods “Dragon water feature”, just right on a 90 degree day!
The Pirate’s Lair is one of the places visited on the boat ride through the Pixie Woods Lagoon!

We had planned a day-trip with grandson Jack, age 4, to Apple Hill, east of Sacramento – but the Sierra forest fires, casting a pall over that portion of the Sierra, put the trip on a back burner. What to do?  We decided to revisit kid-friendly destinations, right in our backyard.  Pixie Woods, the Weber Point water fountain and the Stockton Children’s Museum were substituted and off we went over a two-day weekend.

We had not been to Pixie Woods in years, but found the venerable kid’s playground not lacking in interest for four-year olds, and, offering a few newer attractions that grabbed both spouse Susan and Jack’s attention. 

Four dollars for each of us got us in (boat, carousel and train rides are extra) , and we trekked through the impressive, shady park.  First stop, the Rabbit exhibit, complete with husky black and spotted rabbits, who occasionally showed themselves.  Then it was off to the playground, complete with a huge cartoon characters that caught Jack’s attention.

New was the Dragon water feature, a large water fountain made in shape of a coiled dragon, just right for kids to run and splash through.  Jack got soaked (we brought a change of clothes) along with another dozen kids, all of them hugely enjoying themselves on a 90 degree September day.  Then it was off to play “shop keeper” with grandma Susan in Pixie Woods Town, where both enjoyed sticking their heads through caricatures for cute photo ops.

Next was a boat ride on the Pixie Woods Lagoon, taking us past the Pirate’s Lair, a Dinosaur forest that was quite realistic, turtles, egrets and more – this was possibly Jack’s favorite ride in the park.  The railroad, usually running, was idle that day, to my chagrin.  Next time!

The next day, our destination was the Stockton Children’s Museum ($6. each for admission).  We had been previously with our two older grandkids, but not for six or so years.  The museum, founded as a memorial to the 1989 Cleveland School shootings, did not disappoint.  It offers scores of hands-on exhibits and activities that four year-olds cannot resist.

Our first stop – a number of reptile exhibits, with jack locking onto the lizards and snakes and grandpa Tim trying not to imagine future nightmares he might have (Tim, not Jack).  Then onto the race car track, where Jack and grandpa built their race cars with Legos, then raced down a long, four-abreast track.  Only when Jack discovered that the more Legos he layered on his car (to overcome friction) could he beat his grandfather – which elicited a gleeful “you lose, grandpa” from Jack!

Next, the water maze, where Jack could move a variety of baffles in the moving water and redirect boats following the current.  Both grandson and grandfather found this riveting for about 20 minutes.  Then it was onto the grocery store exhibit, where jack could pick his own groceries, and build his own sandwich from the salad bar. A quick stop at the face-painting station allowed him to get his face painted, none too creatively, by grandpa Tim.

Jack and a host of other kids finished up with tours of the real fire engine, police car (Jack quickly found delight in turning on the flashing lights), ambulance and Regional Transit bus; with Jack quickly acclimating himself to being a real bus driver.  After a few hours, both he and grandparents were pooped, and headed for a nearby snack break on the way home.

On both days, we also stopped at the Weber Point water fountain, long a popular mecca for kids on hot days.  On each day, despite a City web site noting the fountain will run from 11 AM to 7 PM through September 28, no water.  Quite disappointing to scores of families and kids; call Stockton’s Community Services Department before making a special trip.

How to get there: For Pixie Woods, go one mile west on Monte Diablo, from Interstate 5 to 3121 Monte Diable and watch for signs to the park.  For the Children’s Museum, address is 402 W. Weber Avenue just off the downtown Stockton waterfront.

Dining options: Pixie Woods has an on-site food and drink kiosk; for the Children’s Museum, the Waterfront Warehouse is right across the street, with Dok Shoon’s Hot Dogs, Nena’s and several other good eateries.

To plan your visit: For information on Pixie Woods, go to: www.stocktongov.com/government/departments/communityServices/attPixWood.html.  For the Children’s Museum: http://www.childrensmuseumstockton.org/.

For more inspiration on other travel destinations in California and the west, see my blog, http//blogs.esanjoaquin.com/valleytravel, or contact me at tviall@msn.com. 

Happy travels in the West!

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