February Family Fun

Fresno Blossom Trail

When February rolls around I always think, “February? Already?”

February is more than Valentine’s Day and the three-day Presidents Day weekend.

February is Black History Month, American Heart Month and (my favorite) Great American Pie Month. In addition, we can celebrate (among others) Groundhog’s Day, Feb. 2; Superbowl Sunday, Feb. 3; National Pizza Day, Feb. 9; Susan B. Anthony Day, Feb. 15; National Margarita Day, Feb. 22; the Oscars, Feb. 24; and National Tooth Fairy Day, Feb. 28.

February is also a great time to get out and have some fun as a family. Some destinations are in the SCV’s backyard, some require more planning and some travel.

In 2019, it’s time to do things you’ve never done and see things you’ve never seen.

The Fresno Blossom Trail

Have you ever traveled the Fresno Blossom Trail?

California is the country’s top producer of peaches, plums and related fruits, along with almonds and citrus. In the spring the fruit trees begin their work of producing fruit for market by putting a spectacular show of blossoming trees.

The hardest thing about enjoying the Fresno Blossom Trail is knowing when to go. Some years are better than others, and the bloom dates vary depending on temperature and rainfall. The recent rains make this season along the trail look very promising. Traditionally, the trail comes into full bloom mid-late February through March.

The Blossom Trail offers vast expanses of same-colored blossoms. The sheer volume of trees in bloom, with blossoms so dense you can hardly see the tree limbs, is a breathtaking sight.

Forget what you think you remember of California’s Central Valley. Along the Blossom Trail you’ll find a landscape transformed by color with yellow mustard flowers and pink and white blooming fruit trees… and in the distance, the foothills of the Sierras.

Acres of peach and nectarine trees show off their perfectly pink blooms. Plum, apple and almond trees offer limbs festooned in billows of white blooms. Orange groves are also in bloom at this time, the tiny orange blossoms might not be as showy, but their perfume is worth a stop to smell the orange trees

Plan to quick detour to the Visitor’s Center in downtown Fresno (1180 E. Shaw Ave., No. 201) to pick up a paper map of the trail. You can find information on the current conditions and best times to see the blooms, as well as an online map at gofresnocounty.com/BlossomTrail/BlossomIndex.asp.

L.A. Zoo Family Nature Club

Get wild with your family at the Los Angeles Zoo’s Family Nature Club. Explore nature up-close through discovery and play with unique learning experiences. Activities include exploring nature, fort building and water play. Activities might include story time, finding and sorting natural objects and art. The class is held once a month. The February class will be held Saturday, Feb. 9, 9-10:30 a.m. All ages welcome. Price: $5 per person (ages 2+). Under age 2 is free and does not count towards program capacity. Family Nature Club does not include zoo admission: Adults $21, Child, (2-12) $16. L.A. Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, 90027. Preregistration required for Family Nature Club. Info: lazoo.org/education/family/#club

Placerita Nature Center

Every Saturday the Placerita Nature Center offers a free Family Nature Walk at 11 a.m. and a Native Live Animal Presentation at 1 p.m. Every fourth Saturday of the month there is a “Blooms of the Season” wildflower walk from 9:30-10:30 a.m. The recent rains should produce a bountiful crop of wildflowers this year. The programs are appropriate for the entire family.

Placerita Canyon Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Info: placerita.org.

View Monarch Butterflies

The orange-and-black monarch butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains spend their winters along the central California coast. February is your last chance to see these beautiful butterflies before they migrate north to Canada or to various Western destinations. Monarchs begin to cluster on the Central Coast sites beginning in November, and stay through February. Monarch mating season is in February around Valentine’s day. The monarchs leave the Central Coast around late February to the beginning of March. The best Monarch viewings areas include:

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove Info: www.pgmuseum.org. The Museum’s monarch gallery is open year-round. Highlights of this exhibition include real specimens, amazing videos, vintage artifacts, a “cabinet of curiosities” and multiple hands-on opportunities. Pacific Grove Museum docents are present every day (noon to 3 p.m.) November through February in Pacific Grove’s Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary (250 Ridge Road, Pacific Grove, (just off of Lighthouse Avenue in downtown Pacific Grove and 10 blocks from the museum. Parking on Ridge Road is free). Docents significantly enhance your viewing experience with viewing scopes and ability to answer questions. Guests can view both clustering behavior and monarchs flying around. Info: pgmuseum.org/monarch-viewing.

Natural Bridges State Park, 2531 W. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. (Take Swift Street south from Highway 1, or follow West Cliff Drive west along the in-town bluffs until it ends at Natural Bridges). Call the park at (831) 423-4609 for best viewing times. The Santa Cruz monarch population can congregate at Lighthouse Field State Park, and the park rangers will be able to give you the most accurate and timely viewing information. The butterflies cluster in a grove of eucalyptus trees which provide shelter and food for the Monarch. The park charges a $10 vehicle day-use fee. Info: parks.ca.gov/?page_id=541

The Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, 400 S. Dolliver St., Pismo Beach. Exit Northbound 101 at Price Street. The offramp takes you under the freeway onto northbound Price Street. Turn left on Pomery, the first street after the signal on Hinds. Turn left at left on Dolliver. Proceed south on Dolliver (Highway 1) about a half-mile. The grove will be on your right just past the North Beach State Campground. The Grove is the largest public viewing of monarchs in San Luis Obispo County and is also one of the largest monarch overwintering sites in America. The butterflies cluster in the limbs of Eucalyptus trees in the Grove. A docent trailer on site is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with docent talks held every day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Western Monarch Day will be held Feb. 2. The Butterfly Grove will close on Feb. 28 for the season. Info: monarchbutterfly.org.

Pasadena Kidspace Children’s Museum  

Kids can play in the garden, play in the water, learn a little science in the physics forest, or stretch their creativity in the Imagination Workshop. Kidspace Children’s Museum is designed for children ages 1-10 and offers children the chance to test their agility with fun climbing structures and many hands on and physical activities. The Arroyo Adventure includes the “Hawk’s Nest,” a rope bridge and the Strata Rock Climb. The Arroyo also includes hidden forts, opportunities to make art, gardens, mud and clay and a flood and erosion plain. Indoor activities include the Early Childhood Learning Center where adults and children participate in various learning activities. Water, mud, and sand are elements of Kidspace. Bring footwear appropriate for getting messy, a towel and a change of clothes for children who may want to enjoy the water, mud or sand exhibits. Visitors are welcome to bring in food and beverages for lunch and picnics. Admission is $14 for adults and children; children under age 1 are free. Kidspace, (480 N. Arroyo Blvd.) Pasadena, is at the west end of Brookside Park, near the Rose Bowl stadium. Parking is located in Lot I of the Rose Bowl. Info: kidspacemuseum.org.

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