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Archive for September, 2009

State Park Sunday: Good News for California State Parks?

September 27th, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in State Park Sundays, Uncategorized
Save Our State Parks Booth, Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz

Save Our State Parks Booth, Wilder Ranch Santa Cruz


I have good news this State Park Sunday.  The governer has  decided not to close any California State Parks.  The budget cuts will still take their toll on the parks however in terms of loss of staffing and reduced hours.  This could continue to endanger the safety of the parks and the economic health of their surrounding communities.

Here are two different takes on what the Governer’s announcement means for the state parks.

California State Parks Foundation Press Release

Union Tribune Article

No doubt about it, a rough road lies ahead for the State of California and it’s State Parks.  User fees are going to be more important than ever, so have a picnic, go camping, and keep letting Sacramento know that you support a state access pass.  Get out and enjoy these great State Parks before the governor changes his mind!

Happy Trails,



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Photo Friday: Little League Victory at Legoland

September 25th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in Autumn Adventures, Legoland, theme parks, Travel Discounts
Chula Vista Little League Victory, Legoland, California
Chula Vista Little League World Series Victory, Legoland, California


One of the things that I love about Legoland is how they bring the real world into the park through their Miniland displays.  A few weeks ago, a team from Chula Vista in Southern San Diego County won the Little League World Series.   To honor this historic event, model builders installed a replica of the winning game at Miniland.  This is the first time that Legoland has immortalized local heroes.  How exciting this must be for the preteens on that team!

When I heard about this display, I had to share it with all of you.  The photos of the game were furnished by Legoland California and taken by the multi talented Lego Master Model Designer Gary McIntire who designed and constructed this amazing display.

Note the boys celebrating their victory with a dog pile.  I think that’s my favorite part :) .

If you would like to check out this amazing display, but don’t have the cash for full admission you have two options.

A) Enter my Family Adventure Guidebooks Birthday Giveaway to win four free Parkhopper Passes to Legoland.

B) Looking for a Legoland bargain? Visit to purchase tickets to Legoland’s Brick or Treat Celebration.  This fun after hours Halloween party starts at 5pm and includes a number of areas including Miniland so you can check out the display then enjoy some Halloween fun.  Night admission is only $25 or an all day admission is $55.  If you order online this includes a second visit free between November 1 and December 25th so this is really a great deal.

Activities include a dance party, costume contest, balloon artists, and roving musicians.  Kids get to come in costume and do some trick or treating.  Here’s a photo of  Justin, Destiny, and Jared enjoying some Halloween fun at Brick or Treat last year. 

Legoland Halloween

Brick or Treat only takes place a few nights in October, so act now to be sure you don’t miss out on the fun.

Happy Trails,


P.S. You can also check out my post on Uptake for more tips on how to save money on your theme park adventures.

P.P.S. Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.


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Photo Friday: Happy Birthday Family Adventure Guidebooks!

September 17th, 2009 by bsmith | 17 Comments | Filed in Photo Friday
Legoland or Bust

Family Adventure Guidebooks

Last Sunday Family Adventure Guidebooks celebrated its  first birthday.  It’s hard to believe that I have been blogging for over a year.  You can read my historic first post “Don’t Forget Your Shoes” here.  It is still one of my favorites!
What was started on a whim as a way to promote my book, has become a source of great  joy for me.  It has given me a chance to make some really wonderful virtual friends around the world as well as opening up new opportunities.  Thanks to Travel Savvy Mom, TrekarooWandering Educators, San Diego Bargain Mama, and Best Kid Friendly Travel for reviewing my book and/ or giving me the opportunity to guest blog for your sites.   
I hope that my readers have enjoyed the Smith Family’s Adventures this year.  I look forward sharing more with you in the future!
This Friday I wanted to share some of my favorite photos and to announce the Family Adventure Guidebooks Birthday giveaway: 4 tickets to my favorite theme park Legoland, California!  Legoland, which turns ten this year, generously offered four parkhopper tickets.  Click here  before October 3rd to learn more about how to enter.
Here are a few of my favorite photos from our adventures this past year:
Destiny at Bates Nut Farm, San Diego, Ca
Ken Splashes Down in Golden Nugget Shark Tank Pool
jared-battles-the-dark-side2 Justin Above Fort Point,  San Francisco, Ca

As always, I am grateful to Delicous Baby for her Photo Friday Blog Roundup.  Stop by and see what my fellow travelers have been up to.

Happy Trails,



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Family Adventure Guidebooks Birthday Giveaway-Legoland Passes!

September 17th, 2009 by bsmith | 47 Comments | Filed in Legoland

This week Family Adventure Guidebooks turned 1 !  How will we celebrate?  With a Legoland Giveaway of course!   Legoland California is providing  4 park hopper passes good for Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium to the lucky winner.

Here are eight ways to enter:

1)Leave your favorite Family Adventure Guidebooks Blog Post below.

2) Read and Comment on my Uptake Post on how to save money on your theme park adventures.  Then leave a comment below to let me know.

3)Follow me on Twitter @bridgetasmith. Leave your Twitter name below.

4) Retweet this Giveaway.  Leave your Twitter name below.

5) Subscribe to my RSS Feed. Leave a comment below.

6) Follow me on Networked Blogs. Leave a comment below.

7) Mention this giveaway on your blog.  Leave a comment below.

8) Retweet the Uptake Post.  Leave your Twitter name below.

Please leave a separate comment for each action.  Make sure that you include your e-mail when filling out the comment form so I can contact you if you win!

Selection will be made by based on the number of comments received on Saturday October 3, 2009.

Good luck!  Look forward sharing many more years of family travel adventures.

Happy Trails,



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State Park Sunday:Angel Island State Park

September 12th, 2009 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in State Park Sundays, Uncategorized

As a rule, I like to include pictures in these State Park Sunday posts.   Because I haven’t been to Angel Island since I  was about 10 years old I have none to share.  I can’t say that at the time it made a great impression on me.  I remember feeling privileged to see a Century Plant in bloom.  (Now I know that it does bloom more than once a century!)

A little later, however, I had a chance to learn more about the rich and tragic history of this state park.  Now I think  it is one of California’s most important state park treasures.  I was glad to hear that the federal government was considering transitioning this to a national park in case Angel Island was on the state park closure list.

This park is often called “Ellis Island of the West”.  However, unlike Ellis Island who welcomed most immigrants to U.S. shores this park was something more sinister.  As I did some background research on the Chinese immigrant experience for an ESL lesson on the book Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep, I discovered that Chinese immigrants were detained on Angel Island for many months, even years.

This island was also a temporary home for Japanese and German prisoners of war.  In the 1920′s it housed Japanese picture brides.

Immigration fascinates me.  My Irish ancestors arrived at Ellis Island at the turn of the century then made their way to California.  I want my children to understand their ancestor’s immigrant experience, learn more about how other immigrants have been treated by our country in the past, and show compassion towards the modern immigrants who live among us.  Hopefully, when we are ready to make the trip to Angel Island State Park, it will be open and ready to receive us!

Happy Trails,


P.S.  I’m digging this cross cultural adventure out of the archives to share with my friends  at Trekaroo for  Spotlight Thursday.  Stop by for more great adventures with kids from across the country.


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Photo Friday: Seattle Surprises

September 11th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Seattle Adventures

A few months ago, my husband took me to a business trip to Seattle.  Little did I know when I boarded the plane in San Diego what surprises he had in store.

We spent the first night in the tiny town of Mukilteo.  Ken was dying to see the Boeing Factory Tour which is the primary attraction in this suburb of Seattle.  I had trouble getting excited about the idea of touring a giant factory, but it was really fascinating to see how they put the planes together.  The Future of Flight Museum which is also located at the Boeing factory wasn’t the greatest, but Ken had fun playing pilot.

Ken Playing Pilot @ The Future of Flight

We managed to get a late reservation at Arnie’s in Mulkiteo, a restaurant that overlooks the water.  The food was delicious, but it took a very long time to get our dinner.  Ken and I were enjoying a leisurely dinner without kids so we didn’t really care.  The waitress even gave us a free dessert .

Free Dessert, Arnies Mulkiteo

The next morning Ken awakened me a little before 6 am, and announced that we were headed to the Seattle Fish market, then off to a day of site seeing.  I was more then a wee bit grouchy.  I didn’t think that the fishmongers needed to see my smiling face at that hour.

A few hours later, I found myself on a ferry boat heading to Victoria.  The good news, I had a very romantic weekend in beautiful Victoria,  British Columbia.  The bad news, the closest I got to the sites of Seattle was the view from the ferry boat as we pulled away.

Seattle Space Needle from the Yankee Clipper

Seattle Space Needle from the Yankee Clipper

I would love to go back, but my schedule this fall doesn’t permit a trip. However, if you are planning a Seattle adventure, I discovered that the Smart Destinations website is selling their Seattle Go Card at 15% off right now.  This covers most of the must see Seattle attractions.  Click on the Seattle Go Card link to your right for more information.

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday blog roundup.  Debbie describes another fun Seattle adventure to enjoy with kids here.

Happy Trails,



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Photo Friday: My Favorite Disney Parade

September 4th, 2009 by bsmith | 7 Comments | Filed in Disneyland

Tinker Bell at the Electric Parade

Although Disney Parades are the hallmark of the Disney theme park I am not a huge fan.  You need to find a spot and stake it out well before the parade begins.  This means lots of waiting with wiggly and whiny children.  Adults seem to forget that little people also need to see and end up standing up for the big event blocking everyone’s view.  Although the final result is pretty fun, the music is catchy and the costumes are great, your kids’ favorite part is over all too quickly. 

One the parade is finished leaving the park or moving somewhere else is very difficult.  You are caught in a wave of humanity.  Your kids find themselves surrounded by giant strangers and it’s a battle to keep track of everyone.

We often stop by Disneyland at odd hours and get caught in a parade at the entrance.  By then, all the spectators are lined up and you may find yourself trapped in some small area of the park until the parade moves on.  If we are in the park during a parade you will often find us, taking advantage of the shorter lines at some other area of the park.

Minnie @ Electrical Parade

During my last visit to California Adventure, however, I found a parade that’s worth waiting for.  Disney’s Electrical Parade lights up  the night sky.  It is full of lively music and sparkling electric lights.  The kids are mesmorized by all the great classic Disney characters.  Because it’s located in California Adventure and held at night, it is less crowded than other Disney Parades I’ve experienced.  If you’re lucky one of the light bulb holders will fall off the float and you’ll have a ready made souvenir!  My ten year old cherishes his.

Peter Pan

We headed to line up about 1/2 hour before the parade, and that was on the late side.  Next time we will shoot for 45 minutes.  We managed to find a spot in the back of the park by the SS Rustworthy. (By the way this one of my favorite attractions at California Adventure.  It  is interactive, you don’t need to wait in line, and there is plenty of space to run around.  My kids particularly like “surfing” on the surfboards.)   The parade started just a few feet away so the cast was fresh and spirited. 

After the Parade was over, we headed over to Toy Story Mania.  The line is long, but it is fun and interactive.  The kids and I decided that it was worth the wait.  I appreciated that by the time we had finished, the parade traffic had cleared and it was easy catch a shuttle back to our parking lot.

Honor America, Electrical Parade

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday  including a different perspect on Disney parades and other Disney tips from Tripping With Kids.

Happy Trails,


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