Sure, it’s a dry heat. But let’s face it, when it’s 90, 95, 100 or, egads!, 105 degrees out, it’s just plain hot—and miserable. What better refuge is there from the summer heat than the water? Luckily, the Sacramento area offers a multitude of ways and places to immerse yourself. We offer a rundown of some of the best.
Go Jump in a Lake . . . or Roll Down the River on a Riverboat
With our beloved Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma and our not one, but two, rivers, boating, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, Jet Skiing and swimming can be part of your daily summer ritual.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area—Approach this popular park by taking Interstate 80 to Douglas Boulevard or Highway 50 to Folsom Boulevard across Lake Natoma to Folsom-Auburn Road. Or, exit Highway 50 at El Dorado Hills Boulevard, go north to Green Valley Road and E. Natoma streets. The 18,000-acre park offers several different access points for water activity. A couple of key places:
Beals Point. Barbecue pits and shaded locations make this an ideal destination for a summer picnic near the water’s edge. The Beals Point Snack Bar rents pedal boats, sailboats, sailboards, row boards, fishing boats, tubes and rafts of many sizes—in addition to selling the requisite hot dogs and ice cream. But take note, there are no lifeguards on duty. Overnight camping is permitted, too; reservations are recommended. Call (800) 444-7275. Day use fees for Beals Point are $5–$7; $15–$20 for overnight camping. Annual passes are available. Access from Folsom-Auburn Road.
Browns Ravine is open year-round and has the only marina on Folsom Lake. The marina can accommodate boats up to 26 feet in length; however, there currently is a waiting list for a slip. Fill your gas tank at the marina’s authorized Chevron station and gather boating supplies at the snack bar before settign out for a day on the lake. While swimming is permitted in the Hobie Cove area, there is no lifeguard on duty. Day use fees for Browns Ravine are $5–$7. Access from Green Valley Road.
For more information on Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, call (916) 988-0205 or go to parks.ca.gov. (Go to “find a park,” type in “Folsom Lake” in the top right corner, then hit “search.”)
The Other Lake: Lake Natoma/CSUS Aquatic Center —A water-lovers’ playground, the CSUS Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova offers something for everyone. You can rent kayaks and canoes or learn how to windsurf, sail, wakeboard, water ski, row and more. Or bring a picnic basket and simply enjoy swimming in the lake. The aquatic center is free and open to the public. However, there is a charge for groups of 15 and more and varying fees for equipment rental, classes, youth camps and aquatic center-coordinated events such as birthday parties and banquets. The center is located at 1901 Hazel Ave., Rancho Cordova; (916) 278-2842, csusaquaticcenter.com.
Right Here in River City—Nestled between the American and Sacramento rivers, Sacramento wears its River City moniker well. Go to sacparks.net (click on “find a park”) for a wealth of information, including the rivers’ many access points. The American River is suited for leisurely raft trips. (Well, leisurely, that is, until someone in a neighboring raft decides to start a water fight—a common occurrence on these trips.) If you don’t mind encountering such “surf” wars, renting a raft and floating down the river is a fine way to spend a hot summer day. (And if you can get out there during the week, you have more of a chance of having the place to yourself.) Need a raft? Try American River Raft Rentals, 11257 South Bridge, Rancho Cordova, (916) 635-6400, raftrentals.com. Or River Rat Raft Rentals, 9840 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 966-6777, river-rat.com. Prices: $36–$40 for a four-person raft, $110–$120 for a 12-person raft, plus a $2 launch fee required by the county.
Summer and swimming pools go together like the Fourth of July and fireworks. Public pools offer some of the easiest, safest and family-friendliest ways to cool off on a hot day.
• There are some 15 public swimming pools in the Sacramento area; many of them also have play/wading pools. One pool to try is the Pannell Community Center Recreational Pool (2450 Meadowview Road, Sacramento; 916-433-6622), a 25-yard, eight-lane pool complete with waterplay structures and a 35-foot-tall slide. A zero-entry feature provides a gradual slope rather than steps, making the pool accessible for those with physical disabilities. (McClatchy Park Pool, Oki Pool, Clunie Pool and Doyle Pool have lifts to aid persons with disabilities.) Log on to cityofsacramento.org, click on “departments and services,” then “parks and recreation,” then “recreation services,” then “aquatics/pools” for a list of area pools, swim classes, aquatics programs, lifeguard training programs, hours, admission prices, pool rentals and more. Or call (916) 277-6060. You can pick up the Summer 2004 Recreation and Community Programs Directory, which lists aquatics information as well as other summer-related activities in the city, online or by stopping by the Coloma Community Center (4623 T St., Sacramento; (916) 277-6060) or one of the other community centers.
• Roseville residents will want to check out the 2004 Summer Aquatics Activity Guide. The guide provides a menu of pool-related activities taking place at the Roseville Aquatics Complex, Oakmont Pool, Johnson Pool and the Roseville High School Pool. The guide is jam-packed with information on swim lessons—all ages, all abilities—family swim nights, water fitness classes, lap swim schedules and special events such as the Summer Sanders Safety & Sports Spectacular taking place June 21 at the Roseville Aquatics Complex, featuring Roseville’s favorite Olympic champion. Call the Aquatics Hotline at (916) 774-5250 or log on to roseville.ca.us, then click on “parks & recreation,” then “aquatics/pools.”
• Folsom Aquatic Center, 1200 Riley St., Folsom. This outdoor facility is open year-round. Find out about its hours, lap swim times, water aerobics classes, swim lessons and other summer activities by calling (916) 355-8318 or by logging on to folsom.ca.us (click on “activities,” then “aquatic center”) or by picking up a Parks and Recreation catalog, available in the parks and recreation department, City Hall, 50 Natoma St., Folsom.
Slippin’ and a-Slidin’
These aquatic amusement parks are the perfect place to keep your cool while fulfilling your thrill quota.
• Roseville Golfland SunSplash, 1893 Taylor Road, Roseville; (916) 784-1273, golfland.com. Attractions include The Stealth, which sends thrill seekers down a 5-story-high half pipe into a pool of cool water, and Adventure Island, which, at 31/2 feet at its deepest, offers a place for the younger kiddies and a haven for those who simply want to dip their feet in the water. New this year: the Storm Rider, a 6-story-high, four-person spinning tube slide, the “first in the world of its kind,” according to Sara Beliakoff, corporate sales rep for the park. Call the park or log on to the website for hours. Admission: $21.99 ages 12 to adult, $16.99 children ages 3 to 11 and $1 for children ages 2 and younger.
Good To Know: Are there landlubbers in your party who abhor the water? Send them over to the “Golfland” portion to play miniature golf, then meet back up with them for lunch. (The two parks are interconnected, with “SunSplash” charging a flat entrance fee, “Golfland” charging per activity.)
• Waterworld USA, Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 924-3747, sixflags.com. Whether you’re in the mood for water slides or want to mimic a day at the beach—minus the frigid temperatures of the nearby Pacific, you’ll find fun at Waterworld USA. The Shark Attack offers five water slides including the Great White, touted as “the tallest, fastest inline water luge in Northern California.” Breaker Beach Wave Pool allows you to enjoy the “surf” or just frolic in the sun. Call the park or log on to the website for hours. General admission: $21.99; visitors 48 inches and shorter: $16.99; children 2 and younger: free. Free admission after 4 p.m.
Good To Know: Season passes are available at all area Albertsons supermarkets; purchase four or more and receive a discount.