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Archive for January, 2009

Fun Family Activities in San Diego for Superbowl Weekend

January 30th, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Special Events

I will be cleaning up my kids preschool, attending a kids birthday, and celebrating my Dad’s 83rd birthday on Super Bowl Sunday this weekend.  You can enjoy the following fun family activities and tell me what I missed :)

  • San Elijo Nature Center grandopening is this Saturday 1/31.  This is a super eco friendly educational nature center off of Manchester in Cardiff.  I can hardly wait to check it out!
  • The Da Vinci Experience opens at the Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park this weekend.  It will have replicas and models of designs described or created by Da Vinci.  Should be amazing.
  • The Lux Art Institute in Encinitas is offering free admission and lots of family friendly activities.

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Free Admission to Sea Life Aquarium for Public Safety Personnel 1/25/09

January 24th, 2009 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Legoland

Wow! Almost let this one slip by me.  In honor of  The National Day of Service  The Sea Life Aquarium is offering up to four free admissions for public safety personnel.  This promotion ends Sunday January 25th. 

If you are a  police officer, firefighter, emergency response personnel, military police officer, federal agent, Homeland Security official or INS official download a coupon from the following website and head on over with your family. 

As a San Diego resident, I want to give a special shout out to our firefighters.  Last year was a tough one and they should be proud of what they accomplished here in San Diego and throughout California.  Thanks for keeping our homes and families safe!

Kudos to the Sea Life Aquarium  and Legoland California for this amazing promotion.  What a great idea,


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Family Fitness Adventures for the New Year

January 20th, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

One of my family resolutions for the new year is to get the whole famly moving including the dog.  Over Christmas vacation this translated into lots of creative walks/scooter rides around Carlsbad.  We walked along Armada drive and checked out how the Flower Fields were coming along.  Mesquite must have smelled the fertilizer because she kept peeking over the wall.  We parked at Tamarack beach then took a walk just as the sun was setting…breath taking!  I also found this great park in Encinitas, Cottonwood Creek, that includes a small walking path, has super play equipment, and allows dogs.  My idea of the perfect park!

Let’s face it.  Squeezing in family fitness between school and activities doesn’t always happen.  All my best intentions have gone by the wayside now that we are back in school.  I plan to get everyone out today.   The sun is shining and a sapphire blue ocean beckons.  Hopefully I will meet up with an old college roommate and we’ll go for  a walk or a hike.

One of the best times for family fitness is when we’re on vacation.  Suddenly our time is unassigned, and we have unlimited choices for active family fun.   Here are some ideas that have helped our family have fun and get moving while on the road:

Bring Some Wheels

We have bicycled in Yosemite (a great way to get around) and skated in Santa Cruz.  If you are taking a  road trip throw in a scooter or skateboard.  Put the bike on your roofrack.  

Skateparks are great ways to keep the older kids busy.  In many communities skate parks are built close to a playground so everyone can be happy.  Sky Park in Scotts Valley, Ca ,  Jose Ave park in Santa Cruz, and  Great Oaks Park in San Jose, Ca are good examples of these.  If the park isn’t busy, the little ones may be able to try out the bowls.  Make sure that you pack helmets and elbow and knee pads for everyone.  They are usually required.

When camping, bikes can be a great way to get out and explore.  Also, lots of communities also have fun biketrails to that are kid friendly.  You’ll find beautiful ones in Larkspur, Ca and Tiburon California.  Westcliff  Drive in my old stomping ground of Santa Cruz is also a spectacular place to ride a bike.  Check out the Parks and Recreation websites for cities you will be visiting to get some ideas.


When my kids were smaller I dreamed of someone writing a guide to the location of local parks in all the towns we passed through.  Now, in my guidebooks I try to make parks a priority.  I think they are the best kept family travel secret in most towns.  They can dispell grouchiness on a long roadtrip and be a great way to give relatives you are visiting a little break from their guests.  Parks bring a sense of familiarity and stability to small children when they’re far from home.  Looking for a park which is full of family adventure?  One of my favorites is Dennis the Menace park in Monterey California, a real locomotive the best slides ever, wobbly bridges, that park has it all!

Take a Hike

Go off the beaten path and take a hike.  I love to watch kids discover the little things instead of the breath taking vistas, the little bug, the pile of leaves, the runaway squirrel  every detail holds adventure for the little guys.  I find that kids really surprise you with distances they can walk if they are really motivated.  When Justin was four, he joined us on a hike in Yosemite.  We adults were dragging by the end, but he was still going like the Energizer bunny.  When possible, let the kids plan your route.  It helps give them some power over their adventure.

Theme Parks

Theme parks may seem to be an unlikely source for family fitness.  If you think of how much walking your family will do on your average day at your local theme park, you may discover its a great way to get moving.

If you are free this weekend and are ready  for a more active theme park adventure, head to Legoland for the Keebler Kids Marathon Mile.  This kids event of the Carlsbad Marathon is a fun 1 mile run around Legoland.  There is also a diaper derby for the little guys.  Registered kid participants can hang out at Legoland later this weekend since the receive a Legoland/Sea Life parkhopper pass and an Ultra Star movie ticket for completing the race.  The cost is $20 for kids or adults and $30 for for a kid with an adult chaperone.  Visit  the Carlsbad Marathon website for more information.


Undersea Fun for Martin Luther King Weekend

January 13th, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Legoland, San Diego Day Trips, Special Events, Winter Adventures

A three day weekend looms ahead.  What is the adventurous  parent to do?  Head to Legoland of course!  The Sea Life Aquarium is busy with special activities and a great discount offer.  Legoland is paying tribute to MLK with a Lego mural depicting Kings “I Have A Dream Speech”.  That must have kept those Lego builders busy for quite a while.

The weather is gorgeous here in Carlsbad right now.  It’s eighty degrees and everyone is wearing shorts.  Even though it is cooling off it should still be in the 70′s this weekend.  Perfect weather for some Legoland fun.

January 17th is Under Water Parks Day.   The Sea Life Aquarium has fun activities planned to help kids learn about marine protected areas and the world’s ocean ecosystems.  In honor of Under Water Parks Day the Sea Life Aquarium is offering a great coupon for free admission for up to four kids for each paid adult. I think that the Sea Life Aquarium is usually overpriced, so this is a great deal!  Find out more information here .

To get ready for your Legoland and Sea Life adventure, download my e-book The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook from

If you live near the coast, celebrate Under Water Parks day and head to the beach!  Find a great beach side playground like those in Oceanside, Ca and kick your heels up while the kids play.  The Ocean Institute in Dana Point is hosting a seaside hike and other activities.  Admission for kids under twelve is free at the Ocean Institute that day.

 Rumor has it the weather is also pretty nice up north. Head to Monterey and rent a kayak to explore the beautiful Monterey Bay Sanctuary. Go Whale Watching.  Explore a local tidepool. 

At either end of California you can take a hike on the coastal trail

Finally, at the risk of being a little political.  As you celebrate Under Water Parks Day, look out and enjoy that oil rig free view.  Let’s try work together to keep it that way.  There’s a lot of political pressure  right now to develop this finite resource.

Hope you all have a great weekend.  Pretty soon we will be back to dreary winter so let’s take advantage of the sunshine get out and have an adventure!

Happy Trails,



Gather Ye Lego Bricks While Ye May!

January 5th, 2009 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Legoland, San Diego Day Trips

The 2009 Junior Master Model Builder Competition holds its January competition next weekend.  We tried this activity out this summer and it was very fun.  Kids meet in the Imagination Zone and construct a thematic model using the bricks and baseplate provided.  They don’t have the January 2009 theme up..bummer.  It would still be a good idea to have your little one start planning his or her building strategy.

Have kids from multiple age groups? Want to join in the fun yourself?  Good news!  There are several different age groups in the competition.  You and your family can enter in 9 and under, 10 -15, and 16+ (adults are welcome…but you will have to beat out those teenage Lego geeks.  They do high quality work.)  If you are heading to Legoland with big kids, next weekend would be a good time to do it.

The competition is open from 10 am to two hours prior to park closing.  The models are judged the following week by a real Legoland Master Model Builder and the winner in each age category wins four Legoland admissions and gets to advance to the big buildoff on January 9, 2010.    Even if your child doesn’t win, his or her work may be displayed in the cabinets in the Imagination Zone.  Good for bragging rights if you get to revisit with friends.

Want to find out about more fun Legoland events?

Check out The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook available on LULU.Com.

Happy Trails,



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A Road Less Traveled

January 2nd, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Travel Tips

Happy New Year!!

We are lucky to have a final post from my guest blogger Joanne Smith.  I received this one in November and it inspired me to take a wonderful hike with my crew.  Everyone had a great time.  I’m grateful to Joanne for all her contributions.  I need a little time to try and promote my book, and her posts have helped me keep the blog going.  I plan to contact local hotels next week and will hopefully be back to blogging very soon.  I sure have alot I want to say!  My New Year’s resolution …take lots more pictures.  I notice that my latest blog entries have been very text heavy.  Hopefully I will soon be contributing to Delicious Baby’s photo Fridays.

Without further ado…

A Road Less Traveled

by Joanne Smith

As a child my parents used to load my brother and me in the car to get away from the house for a few hours.  The reason’s varied from my mom working a lot of overtime and she wanted some time with just the four of us where she could tell us what was happening in her world and find out what was going on in ours.  Or perhaps the phone just wouldn’t stop ringing and getting out of the house meant we didn’t have to answer it, and since there were no voicemail or answering machines back in the day, we never knew who called either. 

The places we went were simple enough and generally we set out to go nowhere in particular, just get there without driving on a major freeway.  That’s right, find a lesser known street or state highway and head out of the city.  Pack a picnic, visit a small town museum or park.  Or perhaps a seasonal activity like in the winter we’d often find some snow and sled or have an impromptu snowball fight.  Summer might find us in a swimming hole on our favorite creek, river or lake.  

The point is to put away the electronics, leave the cell phone turned off, don’t bring the portable DVD player or the handheld video games, and talk to each other.  Do you remember playing the license plate game or I Spy?  These same simple games kids today will play.  Just like we did, they are apt to tell you they aren’t having any fun.  So break out a real paper map, leave the GPS at home too, and find the road less traveled in your neck of the woods.

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