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Archive for December, 2009

Happy Trails, 2009!

December 31st, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Disneyland, Family Adventure Guidebooks, Family Travel

Fireworks Over Disneyland, 2009

Can it really be New Year’s Eve already?  Hard to believe that it has flown by so fast!  I’m thankful for this year filled with Smith Family Adventures and for you my faithful readers.  One of my resolutions for next year is to go back to bi-weekly posts.  This fall I returned to life as a college student, and it has taken some adjustment to discover a work/school/life balance.  Well actually I’m still searching…

The above picture is one of my favorites of 2009.  I captured it while leaving Disneyland before the end of the fireworks show to beat the crowds.  It was a magical moment and a small miracle to catch the shuttle without the lines.

This year I hope to develop another Family Adventure Guidebook, perhaps take an international trip with the kids, and enjoy some family camping adventures.  I hope you’ll join me!

Happy Trails,



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Where to this Christmas??? Hitting the Slopes in South Lake Tahoe

December 28th, 2009 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Ski Adventures, Uncategorized

Happy Holidays from Family Adventure Guidebooks

My regular readers may have been waiting for a follow up post about a Mexican getaway this past  Thanksgiving.  I was overruled by three kids who were rooting for a white Christmas.  Our family hadn’t made a trip to the snow for almost five years, and my little guys had never made a snow man or a snow angel.

So instead of a tropical Thanksgiving we spent a snowy week before Christmas in South Lake Tahoe. Getting there and back was quite the adventure.  This was major roadtrip and I have lots of tips to share.  We stayed in South Lake Tahoe, skiied the fun and affordable Sierra at Tahoe, and generally had a great time. 

We drove home on Christmas Eve, stopping for a beautiful Christmas Eve Children’s Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clarita.  (Thanks to our spirited five year old Jared with a penchant for making up his own religious songs a trip to mass requires the assistance of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  She was with us that night.  Jared even made it up on the altar to listen to the sermon!)

 I have a lot of great info to share, but am a little under the weather today so I’m going to sign off.  Hopefully everyone had an incredible holiday.  Here’s hoping for a fun year of travels for 2010.

Happy Trails,



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Do You Trekaroo To?

December 17th, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

A few months ago I discovered a great family travel website, Trekaroo.  Users can post profiles, review travel destinations, and pose  questions about traveling with kids forum.  There are also great articles by family travel bloggers like me :) .  With the Trekaroo Kids Mobile, moms all over the US are highlighting some of their favorite family travel destinations.  I am honored to join many of my blogging friends at the San Diego Stop of this fun travel tour.


Trekaroo families  have been voting for their favorite kid-friendly activities and hotels in and around San Diego.  We’ve tallied their votes for 2009 and here’s the line up!

Top Activities for Kids in San Diego, CA – voted by parents

Top Kid-friendly Hotels in San Diego, CA – voted by parents

Living in San Diego leaves local families little excuse to stay home.  These moms bring you their personal recommendations of the best places to take kids in their hometown.  Want the local scoop?  Here it is!

Bridget Smith, the author of The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook not only shared with us her Top Tips for a Legoland Adventure with Toddler and Preschoolers, but now gives us some great ideas about Fun Things to  Do After Visiting Legoland, California. Bridget spent countless hours in Legoland one year and made more than full use of their family’s season pass to bring us the blow-by-blow of making the most of your visit to Legoland.  Follow their family’s other adventures on her blog:  Family Adventure Guidebooks


The Q Family  isn’t local but lives to travel.  If you have 5 days to spend in San Diego, here’s their list of the Must See Attractions with Kids in San Diego. This is a family who’s constantly on the go!  The Q Family Adventures Travel Blog chronicles their adventures with wonderful photos, fun stories and helpful tips.

Balboa Park is a wonderful urban park that families love.  But when hunger strikes, Carolina has a list of Kid-friendly Dining in Balboa Park.  She is the mom behind the blog Kids Go West.  As a public school teacher, mom and freelance travel writer, she shares her insider tips on all the totally awesome places to go with kids in her home state of California. Bookmark her blog if you’re heading to California.


Rockinmama loves to mix fun and learning.  She recommends these 5 Fun and Educational Kid Activities in San Diego.  On her blog Rockin Mama, she writes with great humor about pregnancy.  She also write prolifically about parent-friendly products.  If you’re looking for the inside scoop on new products for parents out there, this rockin mama’s got it.

Amie O’Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino brings us San Diego: Favorite Family Hotels . Ciao Bambino is a one of Trekaroo’s favorite partners because we share a common passion – inspiring families to travel.  Ciao Bambino provides tips and advice around all things related to traveling with kids and is a guide to the best kid-friendly hotels.


Sarah Wyles runs Toddler’s Travels – a local baby equipment rental company for visiting families.  Naturally, she’s a guru on Fun Activities for Toddlers in San Diego.  Instead of lugging all those bulky items on the plane, rent it when you arrive from Toddler’s Travels.

Colleen of TravelMamas has the scoop on the 5 Best Family-friendly Restaurants in San Diego County.  Her blog, Travelmamas, gives tell-it-like-it-is tips about traveling with kids.  Relying on her own family’s experience as well as the advice from other traveling parents and experts, she gives loads of practical advice on traveling well with kids.


La Jolla is one of the most beautiful suburbs of San Diego and La Jolla Mom shares with us her list of Things to Do in La Jolla With Kids. Her blog La Jolla Mom has become a meeting place of sorts for local moms looking to connect.  Her Family Fun section is full of popular and off the beaten path places to go with kids.  Hop on over and see why La Jolla is a town you must stop at when visiting San Diego.

Other Resources for San Diego, CA

Which Hotels came up at the top?

Top Activities for Kids in San Diego, CA – voted by parents

Next stop, Denver, CO (that’s right, the launch of Colorado is coming soon)

KidsMobile_jumponThe Trekaroo KidsMobile is a blog carnival with a twist. It’s designed to provide a unique opportunity for mom and dad bloggers to be featured on Trekaroo while

1) expressing their unique point of view

2) getting a web of link exchanges.

Join us for one of our next stopovers.


Happy Trails,



Making a List and Checking it Twice- Time to Treat Yourself to Passports With Purpose

December 14th, 2009 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

You’ve been good this year, right?  A great mom, a cheerful polite traveler, a hard working soul…since you lurk on my blog, I am sure that you are all of the above.  While Santa is busy making toys for all the good little boys and girls, perhaps it’s time to take a chance on a holiday suprise for yourself.  Dreaming of a getaway to Costa Rica or a night at the Four Seasons in Seattle with your hubby…a ten dollar donation might make that dream come true.

The school is on its way to being built, but the Passports With Purpose crew is still dreaming of a kitchen garden, cook, and gardener to give the kids at our new school some healthy lunches.  Malnutrition is a serious problem throughout Cambodia and our school can make a difference.

Here are some kid friendly prizes that have great odds as of today:

  • The Legoland Prize Pack including 4 park hopper tickets and two nights at the Sheraton Carlsbad. Family Adventure Guidebooks contributed this prize after the deadline, so with a ten dollar donation you have pretty good odds for winning this fabulous prize.  Don’t worry.  There are lots of fun things to do here in Carlsbad on that second day.  I’d be happy to fill you in.
  • $150 gift certificate to  Food is a major expense for any vacation.  Just think about how many days you could spluge on dessert with these great gift certificates.
  • $100 My Busy Kit Certificate  I am a big fan of these fun kits that keep kids busy while traveling.  Lorraine at Keeps Me Smiling comes up with some great travel toys.  Get some as gifts or give them to your friends.
  • $100 Gift Certificate to Tots on the Go- This would make that cool new umbrella stroller you dream of taking on your next vacation alot more affordable.
  • $75 Southwest gift card.  With three kids, air travel is very expensive.  Southwest fares are so low, this gift card would make a big difference.

See more prizes with great odds here.

Happy Trails,



Photo Friday: Jared’s Birthday at Disneyland

December 11th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Disneyland, Winter Adventures


“Mom,  mom!  Do you know this is the place where dreams come true?” , my five year old asked me as we  walked in the gates of Disney’s California Adventure. 

“So I’ve heard, Jared” I responded.  I had to laugh, because Disneyland has not always been the place where my dreams came true.  I have plenty of fond recollections of tantrums,  soggy shoes, long lines, and rude crowds.  Still, just for this evening I did have a dream.  I was dreaming for a perfect birthday visit for Jared’s fifth birthday.

Since Jared’s birthday fell on a school day our time was limited.  We arrived at about 3:30 p.m. I stopped by the ticket booth and picked up Jared’s birthday fun card worth around $60. (Since we are members we received the cost of admission  in Disney cash for Jared’s birthday visit.)

Jared chose a light up Buzz Light Year as his birthday present.  This simple toy turned out to be a  perfect way to keep Jared occupied in line.


 It was a short visit, but we had a delicious dinner at California Adventure and hit most of the roller coasters appropriate for the 5-10 set.  Jared was so excited to finally be old enough to ride the Indiana Jones ride!   The Nightmare  before Chrismas was also a highlight of the evening.


We used our $60 gift card to purchase some matching Micky Santa hats that will keep our heads warm and merry all season long!


 Happy Holidays from the Smith Family to your family.  I hope that all your holiday travels are merry and stress free (ha ha).  I’m busy planning a pre Christmas trek to Lake Tahoe.  Outfitting three San Diego kids for skiing can be rather expensive-I highly recommend Play It Again Sports.

If you would like to start the new year off with a visit to Legoland including a stay at the lovely Sheraton Carlsbad Resort, please check out the Family Adventure contribution to Passports With Purpose here.

Happy Trails,



Passports With Purpose:Win a Legoland Adventure and Help Build a School in Cambodia

December 8th, 2009 by bsmith | 6 Comments | Filed in Legoland, Passports With Purpose

Passports With Purpose-Every Child Deserves a Great School

 A few years ago on a Vegas getaway with my husband, I picked up a life changing book.  Three Cups of Tea  by Greg Mortenson chronicles Greg’s experience as a mountain climber recovering in a small village in Pakistan.  He  promises to build a school for the village, and his new mission leads to the building of schools throughout Afganistan and Pakistan.  Greg talks a lot in his book about the transformative power of education, and how he believes it will bring peace to the region.  He explains that the education of girls can make a major impact on the community since in Afgan and Pakistani culture women tend to stay within the community, while men leave for greater economic opportunity.  Mothers in this culture have a strong influence on their children’s decisions including the one to join organizations like the Taliban.  Pick up Greg’s book  Stones into Schools  for someone on your Christmas list.

This year, a group of travel bloggers is coming together for Passports with Purpose a fundraiser to build schools in Cambodia,  another part of the world that is desperately in need of educational opportunity for young people.  The non-profit American Assistance for Cambodia  is dedicated to improving life for the youth and rural poor of Cambodia.  For a ten dollar donation to this worthy cause, you receive one entry for one of a large number of great travel blog giveaways from around the world.

Since I think that American Assistance for Cambodia is a fabulous cause, I contacted LEGOLAND California and they generously donated four park hopper passes to this great theme park in Carlsbad, California.  These tickets will allow you to check out the kid friendly Sea Life Aquarium and see the amazing models of LEGOLAND.  I will also throw in a copy of The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook  so you can be prepared to enjoy every minute of your LEGOLAND adventure.  (If the winner is located outside the US, I will provide you with a PDF copy of my guidebook or you can pick up a copy when you reach Carlsbad).


Since you may have quite a journey to get here to sunny Carlsbad, the elegant Sheraton Carlsbad Resort located next to LEGOLAND has generously donated a certificate for a two night stay at their hotel.  This beautiful hotel has its own private entrance to LEGOLAND.  Be sure to check out the LEGO  flower bouqet in the lobby.  It was constructed by the talented LEGO Master Builder Gary McIntire.

Sheraton, Carlsbad

This total Legoland Adventure Package is worth more than $700! 

Passports With Purpose kicked off last week, and has already collected the $13000 needed to build a school, but there is still work to do.  The group  is trying to raise an additional $13000 to fund a school nurse, water filter for the school well, and a “victory garden” which will allow the students to have a healthy lunch at school daily.

Click here to make your donation to Passports With Purpose today.  A ten dollar donation will give you a great chance at winning the Ultimate Legoland Adventure.

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