Winter’s road less traveled

Skinks, bingo and sushi? SN&R offers unusual suggestions for winter fun—plus a few holiday staples to make spirits bright.

Save the wallpaper
When rainy weather has your kids climbing the walls because they can’t play outside, you have two options. You can try to sedate them with video games, movies and the like, or you can use any means necessary to herd them into the car and get them to Sacramento Pipeworks’ rock-climbing classes for kids. Unlike the smooth confines of your ranch-style home, Pipeworks has walls specially made for climbing. During a one- or two-hour session with a Pipeworks staff member, kids will learn basic climbing techniques and scale a variety of walls. Kids’ classes are held every Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. All ages are welcome. The fee is $12 per child, per hour. Sacramento Pipeworks is located at 116 North 16th Street. Call (916) 341-0100 or visit for more information.

And bingo was the game-o!
Violate any of the Sacramento Consolidated Charities (SCC) bingo rules, and you’ll be ejected from the game faster than you can spell, well, B-I-N-G-O. What would be the fun in that? So, before you head to Florin Road Bingo, located at 2350 Florin Road, let me lay down some ground rules. First of all, you have to be 18 or older to play. It is gambling, after all. Oh, and shirts and shoes are a must—a rule that I firmly stand behind. One more thing: Be careful not to cause a disruption in the bingo hall, or the floor manager can toss your booty out of the joint.

OK, now that you’re versed in the SCC bingo rules, grab your bingo card and get ready to stand up and shout, “Bingo!” Game sessions start at various times, so call ahead to confirm the hours of operation. Call (916) 422-4646 or visit for more information.

Candy physics and reptilian friends
Never mind the dreidels and candy canes. Explorit Science Center has plans for a really exciting winter holiday for kids. From 4-year-olds to fifth-graders, there’s a class for every age group. How about studying physics and balance while building gingerbread houses? Play with ice and temperature while learning how animals survive the winter weather. Try chemistry experiments or meet skinks, snakes and other Explorit reptile residents. Each class is a one-day interactive event and costs $12. Classes are held at various times from December 20 through December 28. Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 Fifth Street in Davis. Call (530) 756-0191 to register. Preregistration is required for all classes, and space is limited. Visit for more information.

Feed a cold
The local buzz has it that the New Edokko Japanese Noodle Restaurant & Kitchen has the cure for the common cold. When you start to feel a tickle in your throat or pressure in your sinuses, head over to 1724 Broadway and order the stamina ramen. Stamina ramen’s pork, vegetables and noodles are served in a warm, garlic-infused broth. The resulting garlic breath may keep your friends at bay, but the garlic’s antibacterial properties just might kick your cold. At $7.25 per order, it’s cheaper than cough syrup or a paid sick day. Restaurant hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call (916) 448-2828 for more information. New Edokko makes no medicinal claims, of course—only delicious hot soup for chilly winter nights.

Off the couch, sports fans!
During the weekends, it’s a challenge to get serious sports fans away from the television long enough for a family outing. If you’re longing to lure your favorite sports nut off the sofa, it’s possible the Crocker Art Museum’s Watching the Sacramento Kings exhibit will do the trick. This collection of photographs by award-winning Serbian photographer Vesna Pavlovic opens on January 29, 2005. The show will stay up well into March, which should give those who aren’t sports fans plenty of time to catch concurrent exhibits, like Raoul Dufy: Works from the Crocker’s Permanent Collection and the 74th biannual Crocker-Kingsley exhibition. The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 O Street. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for students and $4 for seniors. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is always free on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit or call (916) 264-5423 for more information.

Indoors or out
For some, winter is a time to traverse icy terrains, ski down the faces of cliffs and defy avalanches. The rest of us tend to ignore the outdoors during the winter months, focusing chiefly on books, television and family until the sun returns in the spring. If proponents of the latter strategy find themselves craving a little fresh air and exercise (but not a traffic-ridden trip to Tahoe), winter can be a wonderful time to learn about the local wetland environment.

Take a tour of the Yolo Wildlife Area and see the songbirds, waterfowl and raptors that winter in this 16,000-acre nature preserve. Tours leave every second Saturday at 9 a.m. Dress in layers, wear shoes that can handle mud and meet at Parking Lot A in the Yolo Wildlife Area in Davis. A $5 donation is requested for adults. Children 12 and under, who are up for a three-hour walking tour, are welcome to participate for free. Call (530) 758-1018 for information and directions.

If a muddy wetland hike sounds too daunting, then the Flyaway Nights lecture series is for you. There, you can enjoy refreshments and a discussion of wetland-conservation issues while staying warm indoors. Lectures begin at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month through April. A $5 donation per person or $10 per family is requested at the door. The lectures are held at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters Building, located at 45211 Chiles Road in Davis. Visit for more information.

A matter of taste
There is something so unappealing about spending a hot summer day cooking, but as soon as the temperature outside drops, my desire to cook goes up. Unfortunately, by the time the cooler weather rolls around, my cooking know-how is at an ultimate low. Thank goodness Whole Foods Market offers a variety of cooking classes to help those of us who lack the skills necessary to create palatable dishes. Join Chef Darnell for “Holiday Appetizers and Champagne,” and he’ll help you make the perfect hors d’oeuvres to complement your holiday champers. Sign up for “Fondue Fun,” and you’ll be creating delicious fondue recipes in no time! Take a “Classic Asian Cooking” class, and learn how to cook savory dishes from Vietnam. Classes cost between $5 and $45 and are scheduled through December 28. Whole Foods Market is located at 4315 Arden Way. Call (916) 488-2800 or visit for more information.

Get to the (needle) point
Most Sacramentans know that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is what keeps our power running, but how many of you are aware that its headquarters—located at 6301 S Street—also serve as a meeting point for various needlework groups? It’s true! At 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of every month, you can find the Camellia Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America Inc., stitching away. The group boasts a total of 114 members but is always on the lookout for another embroidery enthusiast. Stop by and meet the group or send an e-mail to for more information.

Interested in the craft of needlepoint? Stop by at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month, and you’ll find the Golden Needlers Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild Inc. Right now, the group is stitching a 6-foot-by-6-foot wall hanging for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. If you’d like to help with the project, send an e-mail to for more information.

For those who prefer to knit and purl, the Camellia City Stockin’ettes, the local chapter of the Knitting Guild of America Inc., can be found at the SMUD headquarters at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Send an e-mail to for more information.

Sacramento’s answer to The Polar Express
If you find yourself tempted to spend the winter days hibernating, first consider the great activities the California State Railroad Museum has planned. On December 4, beginning at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the museum will host a presentation and book signing honoring legendary railroad photographer Richard Steinheimer. Seating is limited, so arrive early to ensure a spot. Tickets for the event are $6 for adults, $2 for youths ages 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and younger. Museum admission is included!

Stop by on December 11 and 12, and you can board Santa’s Yuletide Express. The steam train departs every hour, on the hour, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. with Santa onboard. Tickets for Santa’s Yuletide Express, which also include museum admission, are $10 for adults, $5 for youths ages 6 to 17, and free for children ages 5 and younger. The museum is located at 111 I Street in Old Sacramento. Call (916) 445-6645 or visit for more information.

Football and hand rolls
A sushi bar in America plays a curiously similar role to that of a pub in England. Each provides a relaxed and informal atmosphere, where patrons can sit and enjoy their food and beverages. In England, it’s not unusual to find a pub packed with patrons drinking Guinness, dining on fish and chips, and cheering for their favorite football team. (That’s soccer, not American football.)

We all know that beer and sports go together like peanut butter and jelly, but what about sushi and sports? Well, the folks at Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Roseville think it’s a good fit, and every Monday night they host an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet for football fans. Tickets are $25 for adults, $12 for seniors and kids ages 5 to 12, and free for kids 4 and younger. Appetizers are served at 5 p.m., and the eating wraps up around 8:30 p.m. Mikuni’s Roseville location is at 1565 Eureka Road in Roseville. Call (916) 797-2112 for more information. And remember to use your chopsticks, not your hands. You wouldn’t want to be accused of unsportsmanlike conduct.