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Archive for April, 2010

Free Admission to the Reuben H Fleet Science Museum in San Diego This Saturday!

April 29th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Free Stuff, San Diego Adventures, Travel Discounts


 Lunchables is sponsoring free admission to the Rueben H Fleet Science Museum this Saturday May 1st  for the first 1,500 people to visit. Those lucky few can also attend an IMAX film for five dollars on that day.  Doors open at 9:30 a.m.  See you there!

Happy Trails,


P.S.  Thanks to my friend Deb at San Diego Momma.  She has a really funny and interesting blog about motherhood and life in general. 



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San Diego Zoo Fun: Name the Baby Langur

April 29th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Zoo




This little cutie is currently named “Tiny Tiny” but she will be growing soon so the San Diego Zoo is in search of a new name.  Stop by their blog  and vote for your favorite.  You can also read Tiny Tiny’s story.  The San Diego Zoo website has a dizzying array of fun animal facts and information and is worth a visit with your little ones.

Happy Trails,



Family Travel Tip Tuesday: Park Workout

April 27th, 2010 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Santa Cruz County Adventures, Travel Tips

Bridget and Jared's Park Workout

 A trip to the park with Jared today reminded me that park playgrounds are not just for kids.  Usually I just sit back on a bench and relax, but one of my goals for this new year is to get moving every day.  With appointments and homework supervision I knew I wasn’t going to find an opportunity to walk the dog or get some other form of exercise. 

There was not a judgemental grownup in sight at the deserted Leo Mullen park in Encinitas, so I seized the moment and started swinging on the swing.  Before I knew it I was climbing ladders, joggy across  the jumpy bridge and sliding down the slides.  My heart was beating fast, and I even worked up a little bit of a sweat.  Best of all Jared described this as “the best park day ever!”.  I like to think this had more to do with Mom’s participation and less to do with the ordinary play equipment pictured here:

Leo Mullen Park, Encinitas

 Looking back at my files, I realized this wasn’t the first time that the Smith grownups have enjoyed a park work out.  Here are some pictures of my husband Ken enjoying Louden Nelson Park during our Santa Cruz vacation.



Ken and Justin go for a Spin, Louden Nelson Park, Santa Cruz, Ca

 So next time you’re on vacation find a park and hit the monkey bars.  You’ll build some muscle and your kids will have a blast.

Happy Trails,



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Dreaming of… my Victoria BC Adventures.

April 26th, 2010 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Canada Adventures, Mondays are for Dreaming

Life has been busy/crazy/stressful lately.  Although I love being a mom, sometimes it’s travels WITHOUT children that can be the most fun and relaxing.  Lucky for me I have a husband who spirits me away from time to time to have some kid free adventures.  He even offered to take me to Las Vegas this week, but alas Radiation Protection Technology and kid doctors appointments were calling  to me with their siren song.

Every time I go to post, I pass by this picture of Butchart Gardens that sits in my Family Adventure Guidebooks folder.  Ken suprised me with a trip to Victoria last spring, and the garden  was an explosion of color.  I envy Mrs. Buchart’s little cabin at the edge of her amazing sunken garden.  I can just imagine taking a cup of tea up there while my little ones frolicked among the daffodils down below.  Even one year later this picture brings me back to the soft golden light of that spring day with a new surprise around every turn.  I can feel the soft touch of Ken’s hand and smell the sweet fragrance of all those flowers.

No, I won’t be catching the ferry to Victoria any time soon.  When I do it will probably be with three rambunctious kids in tow who will  be disturbing the peace of Butchart.  Still, on Wednesday when the kids are in school I can brew myself a cup of tea, sit down on the little wall in front of my house and watch the hummingbirds sip from the emerging blossoms of our pineapple guava.  I will close my eyes and take myself  back to the moment I first walked into that magnficient garden. 

Thanks for the memories, Ken.  Looking forward to many more just the two of us adventures.



P.S. This post was inspired by Mondays Are For Dreaming at Mother of All Trips.  This week Maura is sharing a romantic adventure in Rome while traveling with a child.  Who knew such a thing was possible?


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April 23rd, 2010 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Legoland, theme parks, Travel Discounts

The Census is Happening at LEGOLAND, Ca

Every so often LEGOLAND comes up with a Miniland installation that reflects current events in a clever way.  I’ve seen portapotties at the Obama inauguration and the agony of defeat reflected in the LEGO depiction of the Little Leauge World Series game.  I really enjoyed this picture of the census which is going on in Miniland right now.  Fun fact:  The census taker is modeled after Beth, the PR person at LEGOLAND.    The humans are also doing a real life count of the Miniland population since it has grown considerably since the park opened. 

LEGO census workers will be hard at work though July, so take your kids on a hunt for them a la “Where’s Waldo?”.  How many Minilanders to you think that the human census workers will find?  Record your guess below, and I’ll try to get the final count from Beth in the near future. 

Stopped by Wendy’s for a burger the other day and discovered that San Diego Wendy’s Restaurants are offering free child admission with an adult admission while supplies last.  Now that’s a great travel bargain!

Have a great weekend!

Stop by Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday to see what’s happening in the world of travel. Love Debbie’s son’s choice of future occupation.  Check it out ;) .

Happy Trails,


P.S.  The Photo is Courtesy of LEGOLAND, CALIFORNIA.  My camera doesn’t take closeups that are that spectacular ;) .


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Armchair Adventures: Travels With Charley

April 21st, 2010 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Armchair Adventures

Here in Carlsbad our public library system does an annual “Carlsbad Reads Together” program.  The library orders multiple copies  of the same book and encourages the entire town to read it.  All the library book clubs read the book and there are other special events offered.  When I first heard that the John Steinbeck book Travels With Charley was chosen for 2010, I must confess that the hippie World Literature and Cultural Studies major in me wondered…why not something more “relevant” and multicultural to reflect today’s world.

Still, it was something of a travelougue, a  book about Steinbeck’s road trip around the country with his dog Charley.  I needed something light and fun for our family roadtrip to Tahoe so I checked it out.  After a few chapters Travels with Charley had me absolutely mesmorized.  The writing was vivid, the real Americans that Steinbeck encountered in his travels were quirky yet fascinating, and relevant???? It sure was! At certain moments I wondered if Steinbeck could have added time traveler to his resume.  Steinbeck predicted some modern realities with an accuracy that was absolutely eirie.

The book starts out in a rather light hearted way, but does have it’s dark moments.  In general, most of the content would be appropriate for tweens and teens, but there are a few moments that are too sophisticated.  I would recommend reading the book before listening to it in audio form on a family road trip.  You might be able fast forward through a few parts and still enjoy a rewarding road trip “read”. 

Since my kids are younger, I read Travels with Charleyon my own and  then shared the concept with them.  They were delighted by the idea that an author wrote a story about traveling with his dog.  The Carlsbad Public Library had a similiar approach.  They had kids write about where they would travel with Charley. 

One of Steinbeck’s last stops was in New Orleans where six year old Ruby Bridges was desegregating a school.  Steinbeck’s first hand account is very moving.  I firmly believe that this is a part of our nation’s history that should be shared as early as possible with our children if we are ever to overcome the racism that is still so prevalent in our culture.  When my oldest was a first grader he performed in a musical about Rosa Parks.  When asked why she was addressing such sophisticated subject, Justin’s teacher Ms. Flora replied, “Six year olds can relate to what Rosa experienced.  Fairness is very important to them.” So true!

Even if you don’t read Travels with Charley , I recommend that you share the book The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles with your children.  It’s another first hand account of Ruby’s experiences desegrating a school in the deep south that is written for children.  The Story of Ruby Bridges is a beautifully written and illustrated book, and can be a great jumping off point for talking about fairness and racism with your kids.

If you are in the San Diego area this Saturday April 24th , The Carlsbad Public Library is having Thomas Steinbeck, son of John Steinbeck as well as noted Steinbeck scholar  Dr. Susan Shillinglaw discuss John Steinbeck’s life and work.  For more information click here.  On April 26, The Carlsbad Playreaders  are performing The Grapes of Wrath.  Ticket prices are very affordable $5 general public and $1 for students. 

If you are interested in reading Travels With Charley and The Story of Ruby Bridges please consider purchasing them below.

Travels with Charley in Search of America: (Centennial Edition)

The Story Of Ruby Bridges (Scholastic Bookshelf) Photobucket

Looking forward to sharing more Armchair Adventures!

Happy Trails,



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Family Adventure Bargain Alert: Max and Ruby by Moonlight

April 20th, 2010 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, Travel Discounts

Max and Ruby by Rosemary Wells

Lately here in Northern San Diego County it seems like we have been so blessed with fun kids events that it’s hard to choose.  On Saturday Jared, Destiny and I will be heading to a musical theatre production of Max and Ruby at the Moonlight Ampitheatre in Oceanside.  If you haven’t attended something at this performance venue , you must give it a chance.  It’s casual and outdoors atmosphere  makes  it the perfect place for an early theatre experience.  This particular production is by Theatreworks/USA a professional  New York Theatre group.

How much would you expect to pay for this spectacular production????  The unbelievable price is $5 a ticket.  Order yours here.  Gates open at 5:30 curtain goes up at 5pm. 

Hope to see you there!


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Armchair Adventures

April 19th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Armchair Adventures

Ever since I was a child, my experiences with travel and reading have been intertwined.   My children and I frequently ready Timothy and the Forest Folk, the  that my family brought back from a month long trip to England when I was a preschooler.  I chose to study at the Catholic University in Chile, because I was inspired by the books of Isabel Allende.  For the story of how a Hawaiian librarian set me on the path to reading click here.

My subscription to National Geographic World gave me a whole new series of adventures to dream on.  I still remember the articles that I read on Latin America and Africa as a child.  I entered a contest for a trip to Easter Island and was crushed when another winner was chosen.

Reading continues to be an important part of the Smith Family travels.  We usually hit the road with a big bag of library books to keep us occupied as the miles fly by and to bring a little taste of home to our hotel room at night.  We listen to audio books to take a break from the endless stream of DVDs.   I always bring a book in the hopes of finding the luxury of a stolen moment when everyone is busy doing something else.  Whether I am on a ferry to Vancouver British Columbia or in the laundry room of the Holiday Inn Express South Lake Tahoe you will find me with a book in my hand.

When I’m not on the road, magazines and travel blogs are  sources of armchair adventure.  They give me a peek at adventures I may never take… rappelling through the Jamaican jungle on a zip line,  keeping my eye out for jaguars  in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, pushing a toddler in a stroller throughout the Louvre  in Paris.

Lately it has occured to me that it is time to share these sources of armchair adventures with you. I am pleased to announce that Armchair Adventures will be a regular feature on Famiy Adventure Guidebooks.  I’ll review travel books and magazines, share some of our roadtrip favorites, give you some new travel blogs to discover, and point you in the direction of some amazing travelogues and works of fiction that will give you inspiration for your adventures.

If you find something that inspires you, you can also use this website to make a purchase.  For now I have the link to my favorite  Armchair Adventures on the column to your right.  Eventually I hope to have an Amazon Store up and running that will give you a more convenient place to purchase your favorites.

Would love to hear what books and magazines inspire your adventures!

Happy Trails,



Photo Friday: Crunchy Meal Worms and Missed Butterfly Kisses, San Diego Wild Animal Park

April 16th, 2010 by bsmith | 5 Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Special Events, Spring Adventures

We have been San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park members on and off for the last three years, and I have never attended annual “Butterfly Jungle” exhibit.   This year Spring Break fell during the tail end of this fabulous event and nothing…not dishwasher deliveries or kids with colds was going to stop us!  So a bit sniffly we ventured out after lunch in search of some Wild Animal Park butterflies.

Silly Butterflies, SD Wild Animal Park

Upon our arrival we met some pretty amusing butterflies.  My kids were a bit skeptical and didn’t want to stop and dance with these unusal  creatures.  There were a bunch of two year olds boogying down with Latin American instruments however.  We followed the giant silken butterflies posted throughout the park until we came upon… a pretty substantial line!

Luckily the Wild Animal Park made waiting in line both amusing and enjoyable.  There was a guy in butterfly wings giving out barbecue flavored meal worms and crickets for the guests to try.  It was fun to see people’s responses when they were offered real live bugs.  My ten year old, Justin and I tried these delicacies.  Justin was a little hesitant to eat the cricket, but in the end he found it delicious!  He made me eat the legs, however.






Bottoms Up!

Not So Sure About the Crickets!

Not So Sure About the Crickets!

The highlight of our wait in line was a visit with the Butterfly Queen who was giving out bookmarks.  Destiny and Jared thought she was delightful!

Butterfly Queen, San Diego Wild Animal Park

Once again I was amazed by the patience and creativity of the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park’s staff and volunteers.  They are truly a priceless gift to the visitors.

The kids were very bummed.  Despite being decked out in our most colorful threads, we didn’t have a single butterfly land on us.  Justin and I had fun taking pictures though.

Green Butterfly, Butterfly Jungle, SD Wild Animal Park



Taking Flight

 The kids had fun spinning for the volunteers as we left the exhibit.  They need to check to make sure that there aren’t any hitchhikers since the FDA prohibits these butterflies being released into the wild.

If you want to catch this colorful exhibit before it leaves, head to the San Diego Wild Animal Park this weekend.  Say hi to those silly butterfly folks from me!

Happy Trails,


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


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Best LEGOLAND Bargain of the Year:$15 discount tickets-1 day only!!!

April 9th, 2010 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Legoland, theme parks, Travel Discounts

Taking the entire family to LEGOLAND California can be a pricey, but worthwhile adventure.  Still, if you are on a budget or just want to preview the park before spending big bucks, Celebrate Carlsbad Day can be a great way to help  Carlsbad Schools and enjoy a LEGOLAND adventure.

Every year LEGOLAND California generously holds this day as a  fundraiser for the Carlsbad Educational Foundation.  Funds raised are used for music and science enrichment at the Carlsbad Unified School District (including my son’s school).  Tickets are $15 and are good for a visit between 1pm-9pm on May 1, 2010.  It will be crowded that day so plan accordingly.  It may not be the best day to promise to take your 5 year old on all the most popular rides.  Still LEGOLAND is seldom open past 6pm and it’s fun to catch a glimpse of LEGOLAND at night.

If you are interested, you can order tickets by phone at 760-929-1555.  Tickets include coupon for a $5 admission ticket to the Sea Life aquarium on May 1 or 2nd which makes them an extra great value.

Hope you enjoy your Legoland adventure.

Happy Trails!


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