3901 Land Park Drive, Sacramento CA
I’d like to start this, my first review on this site, with a short story. In the summer of 2008, my mom and I found ourselves six hours into a 10 hour drive with my three kids when we became desperate for somewhere fun to stop. The eight-year-old was squirmy, the six-year-old was getting carsick, and the three-year-old was…being a three-year-old. It was about 2 pm, but despite the 95 degree heat as we rolled through Sacramento, CA, we were ready and willing to break free of the confines of the air-conditioned car for a break. Any break.
I remembered that I’d once heard from a friend of a friend that somewhere in the vicinity was a park to die for: splash pool, huge climbing structure, the works. The problem was, we didn’t know what it was called, so our map and navigation system could only tell us so much. We could see that there were three parks within a ten-mile radius, but without knowing anything about the area, we could only guess which one might be the one we were looking for, or failing that, at least shaded and in a safe neighborhood. We ended up wasting precious time and energy traversing suburbs seeking out a place to stop…and by the time we gave up, the kids were about ready to revolt.*
We ended up at a tried and true favorite for more than one generation of our family: Fairytale Town. If you are familiar with the Sacramento Valley, you already know it, but if you’re not, and you’re driving through with kids, you’d never know it was there. Just off Interstate 5, Fairytale Town is situated in the heart of the older part of the city, so it’s protected under mature trees, and compared to the busy atmosphere at the Sacramento Zoo next door, it’s quite peaceful.
So what is it?
Imagine Disney’s Fantasyland with a steeply reduced budget and interactive sets instead of rides. Oh, and no lines. At Fairytale Town, you walk (or chase excited children) along quaint little footpaths that meander among favorite fairy tale structures. Kids can slide down the Old Lady’s Shoe (you know, the one she lived in) and walk the Crooked Mile (by far my kids’ favorite). Everything, from the castle to the petting zoo is completely hands’ on.
We did the park in just over an hour (since time was short), and you can certainly see everything in that amount of time, but be warned: kids will want to spend significantly more time here. Size-wise, the park is small enough to feel relaxed but large enough that you’ll have to keep moving at a brisk pace through the cute fairy structures to keep an eye on your kids.
Date last visited: July 2008
Distance off the interstate: Five minutes
Bathrooms: Near the front entrance. Well maintained.
Food services: At the time of this review, there was a concession stand in the park (but if I recall, it would have been more expensive to eat lunch there than our admission price combined).
Directions: Traveling northbound on I-5, exit at Sutterville Rd. Turn right onto Sutterville Road. Turn left on to Land Park Drive. Fairytown is a quarter mile down on your right.
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*To this day, I still cannot find that elusive water park. In a nutshell, this example is what PitStopsforKids is all about. By the time I drive through Sacramento again, I want to someone to have told me where it is and better yet, to have reviewed it!