Travel Tips

Exotic Family Experiences For Tighter Budgets & Timelines

Locations in this article:  Paris, France San Diego, CA Seattle, WA

Swap Washington, D.C. for Sacramento


This swap was a sensational success. Sacramento is California’s political capital, which meant that my husband and I were able to expose our six-year-old to government without it overwhelming him.

We stayed at the Sacramento Hyatt, which had spectacular views of the city, and was within walking distance of the California State Capitol buildings. Our hotel had a pool—a vital bargaining tool for a six year old—and because it was so close to all the great restaurants (Sacramento bills itself as the ‘farm to fork’ capital of California), stores, and parks, we were able to walk everywhere.

At Capitol Park, we sat in during a court session so that Jett could see the judicial process. Of course, after five minutes he was totally bored. I don’t blame him—it’s slow and quiet—so we quit after 20 minutes and went to Sutters Fort State Park for a picnic. From there, we visited the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum, which was super cool because Jett was able to see an old-style classroom, and then the California State Railroad Museum, which was a massive hit. You can’t go wrong with boys and trains.

We explored The Discovery Museum Science & Space Center and the Aerospace Museum of California, which were all really amazing and doable, even in two days. My husband Rob loved the Aerospace Museum, which has a flight simulation center and an impressive array of historical planes. It really brought out the little boy in him, which was sweet to see, and the father/son bonding time was off the charts.

Jett’s cherry on top was the Sacramento Zoo, which he loved, and it felt manageable due to the intimate size. I’ll never forget the moment the ostriches started mating in front of our eyes. When our son asked what they were doing, I told him, “They’re fighting for sleeping space.”


Balance tours of Capitol buildings, legislative rooms, and courts with pool and park time. We did enough so that he could enjoy the serious stuff, and the takeaway from this trip was that our son now loves museums.

Stay as central as possible. It was helpful that we didn’t have to drive.

It’s not tough to get the best hotel rates. Click here to check out the ongoing hotel deals in Sacramento.

You can also get a three-day museum pass called Discover And Go (that you can print online) which gives you discounts or free passes to many attractions.

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