As some of you know and some of you might suspect already, we moved to Woodland last year. One of the first events we enjoyed here is their annual ‘Stroll Through History’. Besides an open house tour, where generous owners open their door to the public, there are walking and bike tours. Last year we did one walking tour, the bike tour explaining Woodland’s trees, and enjoyed the open houses. We learned so much about our new home town and met really nice people along the way!
This year on Saturday October 7th, 2023, the 34th edition of the Stroll Through History invites people to five homes. Among them is the Gable Mansion, Woodland’s signature Victorian. Their sidewalk roses cascade around the fence, enclosing it with beauty. I just recently learned it is in private ownership; it is so grand! Imagine it as an event space. I think couples would love to have such a marvelous backdrop for their wedding celebration. I can’t wait to see it up close myself.
Last year I was amazed at the generosity of the home owners to open up their private residences. Some were present to talk about original features, things they changed, and memories.
The bike and walking tours are free. If you decide to participate in the house tours advanced tickets are $30, but they also offer tickets to purchase at the event for $35.
Swimming is one of the greatest exercises, low impact that uses a lot of different muscles. I always liked it, sometimes it takes me a while to remember this. I finally checked out the local public pool in Woodland, the Charles Brooks Community Swim Center. After the kids are back in school, the opening hours are reduced, and you have to make a reservation online to reserve a lane.
What really surprised me was that they are open not only during the day from 11 – 1, but also in the evening from 7-8. This, I have to admit, is information I am a bit reluctant to share. It really feels like an insider super secret tip. It was beautiful to swim in this heated pool at sunset. Only some of the lanes were taken and two lifeguards were there.
The public pool is located at 155 N. West Street in Woodland, next to the Woodland High School. Current lap swim schedule is Monday to Friday from 11 am – 1 pm, Monday to Thursday from 7 pm – 8 pm, and Saturday and Sundays from 10 am – 11:30 am. A one time visit is $5 for residents and $7 for non-residents. Residents over 55 swim free (NR $6). Sign up for a one hour slot here. There are also monthly passes and 10 visit passes available. You can only pay with a credit card at the pool. Cash payments are accepted at the Woodland Community & Senior Center during business hours (Monday-Friday 8:00 am-4:00 pm). Lockers are available but you have to bring your own lock.
Velocity Island Park is a gem for staycationers. You can rent out a little piece of beach with a small water access. But most of the artificial lake is taken up by the cable towing wakeboard park. Six people on wakeboards can be pulled simultaneously on this circular cable system. You can rent wakeboards and life vests. On a second lake is the practice track and an inflatable obstacle course. In fact this is Northern California’s largest floating obstacle coursewith 30,000 square feet of blow up slides! You have to be six years or older to book a 50 minute session for the aqua park.
We went to check out the place and had lunch overlooking the wakeboard riders. You have to order online and pick it up. Lunch fares are pretty standard fish tacos and burgers. But the eating area was really nice and is cooled off with a mist. There is also a full bar to help you chill. This makes it the inexpensive version of hanging out with a vacation feel. No outside food and drinks are allowed on the premises.
You can also reserve the space for an event like a wedding. At night there are sometimes special happenings like foam parties.
Velocity park is located at near the exit of interstate 5, at 755 North East Street
Opening hours vary, it’s best to check out their calendar for information.
Libraries offer much more than books to borrow. The Woodland public library teamed up with the Obama Foundation to show off their amazing programs: getting a pass for a national park, getting a backpack with nature activities, attending book clubs in English and Spanish, and being able to work in a maker space, Square One.
Woodlands public library is one of the few Carnegie built libraries that are still being used as a library. I already made you aware of the excellent rose garden, and the kids reading program on Saturdays duringthe farmers market. But did you know they also have Henrietta, the library cat?
Square One, the maker space in the basement, offers laser cutting, screen printing, 3d printing, woodworking, and much more. You must have a valid Woodland library card. And, you have to participate in a workshop in order to use some of the equipment.
Woodland’s library is doing a great job engaging the community. However, I’m sure if you explore your local library you will most definitely find more than books to keep you busy.
I remember when I volunteered at the Mountain View food bank (CSA) every time we had flowers to give out, these were the most precious items that day. Gifting flowers is something the Mezger family in Woodland understands very well. They provide the zinnia patch on the outskirts of Woodland. This is a give-it-forward patch. You can pick a bouquet of zinnias and you are asked to pick one for someone else, who is not able to come and pick their own. Check out their facebook page to follow the announcement when the zinnias are ready to pick, usually at the end of June until September. I love this concept so much! Thank you, Mezger family!
Some tips for zinnia picking. First, please note that the field has moved. It’s now located at 11990 County Rd. 96, Woodland, CA 95695. We brought our own scissors, but saw that there were scissors on a table. A very important fact I learned was that zinnias don’t like to lay down. They do much better in a vase during transport (and obviously when at home). It doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring a high jar with a wide mouth (or more if you have many to share). There is a water station to fill up the jars. Just make sure they can sit upright in your car and don’t tip over! If you have a lot of vases, this might be the spot to donate them. And I’m sure the scissors will need to be replenished, too.
Zinnias attract a lot of pollinators, and it was pure joy to see the butterflies dance around. What a fantastic place and a generous family.
How to get there
To find the zinnias patch follow the signs attached to the blue boxes. Located at 11990 County Rd. 96 in Woodland. I did not see any opening hours, but there is a private driveway next to the patch, so please be respectful and don’t park there.
Farmers markets are my preferred food shopping sources and I visited many of them in Northern California. It is always a pleasure to browse the fresh produce that grows a short distance away, buy bread with a crust, and get lunch while listening to some music.
Next to the library on First St, the Woodland farmers market presents a small offering of fresh produce. If you are looking for a larger variety of produce you should consider driving to nearby Davis for its more expansive farmers market. Nevertheless all fruits and vegetables offered at the Woodland location are brought to you within an hour away. And, Woodland’s farmers market stands out for bringing together the community while shopping.
The library offers outdoor children’s reading circles, from 10 am to 10:30 am, and the Friends of the library open up their book store in the basement of the Carnegie Library, from 10 am to 1 pm. Furthermore you might be able to have an interesting photo opp; I saw stormtroopers peacefully engaging with the public on my last visit!
If you have gardening questions, two master gardeners from the UC Davis are on hand to answer them. Last but not least every other week the farmers market offers the kids farmers market a free event where kids get to shop for their own fruits and vegetables. This teaches future market shopping skills and gives them an appetite for fresh produce.
The Woodland farmers market is open from May to October, 9 am – 12 pm, located on 1st St. in front of the Woodland public library. There is a second market every Tuesday from June to August 10 am to 1 pm at the Woodland Memorial Hospital on 1325 Cottonwood Street.
Besides the 1.5 miles of hiking trails the Cache Creek Nature Preserve has also a Tending and Gathering Garden (TGG) and the Jan T. Lowrey Memorial Grove. The Tending and Gathering Garden provides educational space to teach cultural practices of the Wintun people. You can learn about controlled fires known as Good fire or Leok Po, in a workshop, or check out some weaving baskets that were left behind.
We started our hike at the wetland overlook. A calming place to take in the beauty of the area. On clear days you will be able to see the Anderson mountains located to the West. Next stop was the heron boardwalk, a pier that is in the middle of the wetland, with info signs on local birds. We only took the short loop through grassy land. Afterwards, we checked out the old barn with the impressive Hold Harvester tractor. And finally we saw the natural lawn mowers – a herd of sheep with a lot of lambs – decimating the landscape.
You can do yoga under the oaks Sundays at 8 am for $15. Further, there are guided nature walks; June 11th and July 9th starting at 9 am. These walks are free!
If you have little kids and live near Woodland you might want to check out the library’s Creek Explorers program. Every Monday from 10-11am, in June and July, the Putah Creek Council will teach children about the biodiversity of the Putah Creek.
The Cache Creek Nature Preserve is located at 34199 County Road 20 in Woodland. Hours are Sunday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The visitor center is currently closed.
I’ve written about labyrinths before. There are a few in Palo Alto, and I highly recommend the one on top of Eaton Park in San Carlos. Mostly these are classical patterns of walking from the outside in, winding to the center, and then back out again. A great tool to contemplate life’s questions.
The American Lutheran Church in Woodland, CA invites you to walk their beautiful garden walk. The path is made of dirt and lined with bricks in a zig-zag pattern. It ends at a bench, inviting you to sit and reflect. While on your walk you can either focus inward or appreciate the mural of a sunset over a mountain range with sunflower fields.
The garden walk is open from dawn to dusk, so you can enjoy it any time of day. The church is located at 1114 College St, Woodland, CA. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to relax and connect with nature, be sure to check out the American Lutheran Church’s garden walk.
A more traditional labyrinth can be found at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on 515 2nd St, Woodland, CA.
The Carnegie Library in Woodland is on its own worth a visit. From the 121 libraries built by the Carnegie Corporation in California, from 1899 to 1917, 37 still operate as libraries. Since 1989 there is another attraction around the building, the rose garden. To be exact, this garden is composed of multiple rose gardens. In 1991 the Memorial Rose Garden was established. A year later the Perimeter Wall Garden opened up. Since 1998 the John A. Saltsman Garden has extended the gardens of the Library to the north and west.
With nearly 600 varieties of roses this is a delight for every rose lover. Furthermore, in 2015, they won the “2015 Garden of Excellence Award” by the World Federation of Rose Societies. It’s an incredible honor, overall there are only 11 US rose gardens that received this award. Other examples are: San Jose’s Municipal Rose Garden, Sacramento Historic Rose Garden, and Biltmore Rose Garden.
Gregg Lowery, an antique rose expert, reveals that
”Their two plantings of Rosa primula represent the only correctly named specimens that I have encountered in gardens, both public and private, in the world.”
If you would love to learn more about how to cultivate roses you can join the group, meetings are every 2nd Saturday of each month, membership fee starts at $15. Every January they invite you to learn about pruning. Check out their web site for further events.
The Woodland Rose Garden can be found around the Woodland library, between College and Court.
Remember the fairy garden in Fairy Glen, San Jose? Someone told me about one in Woodland. In this garden the fairies and gnomes live together. They enjoy gardening (of course!), but they also have a zip line that you can help them use. If you have a wish you can take one of the trinkets, turn around, close your eyes and throw it over your shoulder into the pond. Adults will find a penny jar to use for their wishes.
The garden itself is a gem on its own. I believe the grown up inhabitant is a landscape architect. There are various elements of Japanese garden design, like bonsai trees, and buddha statues. Another interactive feature is the gong and children are encouraged to ring it.
You can find the fairy garden on the corner lot of Rancho Way and Westway Drive in Woodland. Please supervise your children when they interact with the fairies and gnomes.
I hope your wishes will come true.
Do you know of other fairy garden in the Bay Area?