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Stories from the valley

Turtle Bay: A Wonder-Full Place for Kids

Contributed by Ellen Martin

Salmon, wildlife and Sacramento Valley history, Turtle Bay Exploration Park has it all. On a recent family trip through the north state, we stopped at this Redding attraction to let the kids stretch their legs and explore. We all left with an even greater appreciation of our valley.

Before entering the museum itself, you are greeted by the beautiful Sundial Bridge which leads to you the McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens which extends over 200 acres along the Sacramento River.

But the museum is where kids can learn more about our valley with many hands on exhibits. Our first stop was the visible river aquarium, where the kids got to be face-to-face with fish and turtles that can be found in rivers and creeks throughout the valley. This area includes sections like “What is a Watershed?” and “The Life Cycle of a Salmon.”

We listened to Wintu legends inside the Wintu Bark House and explored what “nano” means at the “Science of Small” exhibit. And learned about all the ways humans are attached to water at the “Dam to Bridge” exhibit.

Our next stop was Exploration Hall and the amazing “Rooted in this Land: Growing Food in Shasta County” exhibit. We all voted for our favorite Shasta County food – past or present (both kids voted for honey.) The kids sat on top of saddles and pretended to join a cattle drive and we test our cow breed knowledge.

We continued our adventure outside at Paul Bunyan’s Forest Camp. We all got our hands wet at the Stimpel Creek Water Feature – where you can experiment what happens when you block water flow and see how a watermill works. Then continued on a walk through Wildlife Woods where we saw the animal residents of the park including a Golden Eagle, a Striped skunk and a Barn owl. We even got to see a wild deer walking through the woods!

A must visit for families who want to show their kids what this part of the Sacramento Valley is about – it truly is full of wonder.