FREE (AND FULL OF HISTORY): If you can tap back into your elementary school self, you can recall learning about all of the various components that construct what is the modern state of California. The Gold Rush, your elementary school self was fascinated to learn, was at the heart of the making of the Golden State and Sacramento served as the thrumming, turning centerpoint for several developments to come. But we grow up, and some of us grow away from historical knowledge of our region, how it came to be, and all of the characters that populated its stories. This isn't a willful turning away from facts and figures. It's simply that few of us get the intense privilege of learning about state history, day in and day out, in our grown-up, go-go-go lives. There are ways to correct this, though. Reading works. The watching of documentaries, and the going-to of places like Coloma and Jamestown. And visiting the museums of our capital city, which is made all the more easy, and all the more wallet-coddling, when Museum Day rolls around each winter? Why? Because Museum Day is free.
FREE, FREE, FREE OR REDUCED-PRICED ADMISSION: So if you road trip it to Sactown on Saturday, Feb. 7, the official day when almost 25 places vamoose with the admission, or discount it, stow some cash for parking or eating or postcards but don't stow it to get in -- you won't need it for several of the places on the roster. And on that roster? The Aerospace Museum of California, which will offer an "open cockpit" day ("where most of the aircraft will be open for viewing (weather permitting)"). There shall be gold-panning going down at the Sacramento History Museum. And will the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum fete both Laura Ingalls Wilder and the first school in Sacramento, which opened not long after that fabled year of 1849? It will. It's a grand day of soaking in state stories, and getting to see the cultural offerings of the capital. And did we mention it was free? Ah right. Typing "Free" three times in a row tends to convey that pretty well.