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Archive for the ‘Autumn Adventures’ Category

October Family Fun in San Diego: Brick or Treat

October 7th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Autumn Adventures, Legoland, Legoland bargains, LEGOLAND Brick or Treat, San Diego Family Travel, theme parks

 Destiny, Jared and I boogied down at the Brick or Treat Celebration at LEGOLAND CA last weekend.  The weather was pure Indian summer and we had a great time getting together with friends, watching the shows, and getting our groove on at the Brick or Treat Dance Party.  Brick or Treat activities are much more spread out this year, which makes things a lot easier and more fun.  The last one I attended there were moments that felt more claustrophobic especially as we went from place to place with preschoolers.  Now that the festivities take place throughout half of the park, kids and parents have plenty of room to enjoy the fun.  Here are some highlights of our Brick or Treat adventures:

Meeting Up With Friends

Family Adventure Guidebooks was lucky enough to receive a VIP invite to attend Brick or Treat.  The kids and I had fun seeing two of my favorite travel bloggers and their kids.  Sharlene Earnshaw of Trekaroo and Double the Adventure came with her delightful twins.  We had fun swapping stories as moms of bossy big sisters and mischievious little brothers. Coleen Lanin of  Travel Mamas brought her kids as well and as the kids enjoyed to Duplo Play Area the moms shared blogging and travel writing war stories.  I love the picture below because it shows that girls like construction equipment to ;) .

Construction Girls, LEGOLAND CA

LEGOLAND is an ideal place for a play date.  Kids love hanging out with their friends, and Moms have someone to help keep them sane as they navigate the theme park lines.  It is also allows for a little kid swapping so the daring can ride the roller coasters and the timid can find other fun.  We were lucky to spend the rest of our evening with Destiny’s best friend and her family.  Aren’t they cute as they pose by the Brick or Treat Trail?

Destiny and Friends LEGOLAND CA


This was one of the best parts of our Brick or Treat Adventure.  The witchy cast members were experts at  creating a fun environment where  kids felt comfortable boogieing down .   The music was fun, kid appropriate yet bearable for the adults.  Kids got participation ribbons which unfortunately didn’t stick to clothing very well and were lost within minutes.  Destiny  and Jared could have spent all night  shaking their groove things.

Destiny's Brick or Treat Dance Moves

Disco Jared, Brick or Treat Party LEGOLAND CA

Brick or Treat Trail

Brick or Treat Trail, Legoland Ca

The kids love this experience because they get candy.  I love this experience because they don’t get too much candy.  This year LEGOLAND is offering Brick or Treat Trails at two different locations, but kids can only choose one.  I’m glad they’re spreading out, but wish the kids could try both trails.  It’s pretty hard to explain to an impulsive five year old, why he can’t go trick or treating at that cool are over there.

The Scoop on Brick or Treat

My kids are passionate fans of Halloween and it is excruciating for them to wait 31 days until trick or treating despite the spooky decorations popping up on our neighbor’s houses and the giant bags of candy showing up in the stores.  Brick or Treat is the perfect place for little kids to get ready for Halloween.  The LEGOLAND staff and Cast Members work very hard to transform LEGOLAND into a truly magical place for a night time adventure.      Brick or Treat continues Saturday Nights through Halloween.  It’s free with a full day admission, but there is also a lower cost option for evenings only. $30 to visit LEGOLAND.  That’s a bargain!

P.S.  To learn more about other fun Halloween happenings in the San Diego Area check out my post on UPTAKE.COM.

P.P.S. Family Adventure Guidebooks is a proud participant in Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursdays Blog Roundup.

P.P.P.S.  Family Adventure Guidebooks received complimentary passes to attend Brick or Treat.  This didn’t really influence my review as I am already a huge LEGOLAND fan without the freebees.  I even wrote a book about it.  Check out The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook on

Happy Trails!



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Photo Friday: Couples Getaway to Juneau Alaska, Day 1

September 10th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Alaska, Autumn Adventures

Mist Over the Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Alaska

This week I was lucky enough to catch the last few days of summer in Juneau Alaska.  The cruise lines stop running September 15th, so it may be too late for you to head to Juneau this year.  Still, I would highly recommend putting this breathtaking vacation destination on your itinerary for 2011.  Ken and I had so much fun, we contemplated moving there. Not really an option however due to the house, the grandparents, the lack of jobs for Radiation Safety Officers…well you get the picture ;)

 If you are looking for an active outdoor family vacation that is completely different from anything you have ever experienced, Juneau is your ideal vacation destination.  Here are  some of my favorite pictures from our first day in Juneau.

Enjoying Breakfast at the Sandpiper Cafe, Juneau Alaska

 We started out our day with breakfast at the unexpectedly elegant  Sandpiper Cafe  in Juneau.  This cafe is connected to the Driftwood Lodge, an economy hotel with basic  comfortable accommodations located in the midst of downtown Juneau.  Ken and I felt like we were walking into another world when we entered this flawlessly decorated   Juneau oasis.  The menu was fresh and innovative with an Alaskan twist.  You could order venison, wild boar, and antelope burgers.  The specials of the day included a $150 dollar ostrich egg omelet.  Needless to say that wasn’t in my budget!    Still, I was very pleased with my delicious  Italian omelet, and I know that the kids would have adored the M&M pancakes.   The prices were mid level and generally reflected the price of a meal out in Juneau.  My Monday breakfast of waffles topped with fresh seasonal fruit and  a side order of sausage with  coffee ran about $20 with tip.

Captain Toni from Hi-Time Charters, Juneau Alaska

My husband Ken was determined to catch a big one, and we were glad we hired Captain Toni from Hi-Time Charters  to help us in our search.  Toni is one of the only female fishing boat charter captains in Juneau.  Her boat was clean and exceedingly well maintained.  Toni even loaned us  rain pants which came in handy during our blustery fishing adventure.  She entertained us with stories of her work as a boat captain , commercial fisherman, and cook for  the Alaska State Legislature.  We reeled in a variety of  fish including halibut and salmon, but unfortunately all of them were either too small or not good eating.  In September, the fish can be rather elusive  in Alaska, and we had a bum day.  Ken plans to buy some smoked salmon to bring home so we can enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.  Toni  also does custom  whale watching and wild life photo charters, so be sure to keep her in mind if you are considering an Alaskan adventure.

My Little Salmon, Juneau Alaska

Despite our lack of luck in the fishing department, I wouldn’t trade that day on the water for any other adventure.  We shared our charter with  Becky, a student from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Our long fishing tour gave Becky and Toni plenty of time to talk about life in Alaska.  The scenery was breathtaking. Every moment you were out on the water begged to be captured on film.  Reeling in fish from the bottom of the bay was also a rush!

Eagle in Flight, Juneau Alaska

 I’m looking forward to sharing more of my Alaskan adventures  in the coming weeks.  I will be also contributing some posts to UPTAKE  with tips on how to make the most of your trip to Juneau and how to eat like a local.

I’m also playing catch up with my posts from summer vacation.  If you want a preview of our Washington D.C. adventures be sure to check out my UPTAKE post on  Exploring Mount Vernon with Tween.  For the inside scoop on the LEGOLAND  Water Park check out my review on Trekaroo.  Warm Carlsbad weekends mean this may be an ideal time for a visit to LEGOLAND

Family Adventure Guidebooks  is always happy to participate in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup .  This week Debbie has a beautiful picture of music on a Hawaiian beach.  Maybe that should be the Smith Family’s next travel destination?

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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A Spooky Train Ride…

October 12th, 2008 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Autumn Adventures

Roaring Camp is one of the jewels of Santa Cruz County.  It offers two railroad adventures, a narrow gauge ride up  a steep hill into the redwoods and a beach train that rides to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  Our family has been blessed to enjoy the beauty of the Holiday Lights Train complete with carols and a visit from Santa.  We have also had the chance to ride Thomas the Tank Engine, and enjoy post Fourth of July festivities.

I regret, however, that I never had the chance to ride the ghost train. On October 24th and 25th train passengers will be treated to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow as they ride through the redwoods.  That ride was pretty spooky already.  I think that this fun Halloween themed presentation would make it even better.  If you are lucky enough to be in the Santa Cruz area, check it out and tell me about your adventure.

Here’s a picture from our Roaring Camp visit this Summer.


Happy Trails,


Destiny gets to work at the Blacksmith Shop

Destiny gets to work at the Blacksmith Shop


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Legoland is Spooktacular on Saturday Nights in October!

October 5th, 2008 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Autumn Adventures, Legoland
Destiny and Justin Show off the Headless Pumpkin

Destiny and Justin Show off the Headless Pumpkin

The kids and I had a blast at Legoland tonight!  It was crowded, but since we stayed until closing we were able to have the rides all to ourselves at the end of the night.  For those who are curious, if you come during the day you do not need to exit the park and then re-enter.  You do need  to come to the front of the park and pick up a wristband for the night time festivities.

Castle Hill is alive with music and stilt walkers.  The Rides in Land of Adventure were also open.  Jared tried Knights Tournament for the first time.  The kids enjoyed the Brick or Treat Trail and collected an assortment of doodads and unhealthy goodies.  Justin made friends with fellow Clone Troopers at the Hideaways and they captured the fortress.  We opted out of the costume contest since we were dressed in rather generic costumes, and I’m somewhat glad we did.   The lines didn’t seem worth the goodie bags.  During the contest we built Lego pumpkins and received some great balloon creations.

The party was a very fun way to enjoy Legoland, but I don’t think I’d recommend attending the night time party alone since your access to the park is limited and the price is steep.  If you purchase a regular admission on a Saturday in October you can get added value from your entrance by enjoying the night time party.  If you are a member make sure you use your coupon and enjoy the party!


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The Great Pumpkin Adventure

October 1st, 2008 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Autumn Adventures
Destiny and Jared are off on their pumpkin adventure.

Destiny and Jared are off on their pumpkin adventure.

If Linus ever comes to San Diego, he will surely wait for the Great Pumpkin at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center.  Destiny, Jared and I just returned from the hottest preschool field trip I have ever experienced!  Despite temperatures over 100 degrees, the Smith family had a great time at Bates Nut Farm. 

Our preschool purchased a package, also available to the public, that included tractor pulled hay ride, a hay bale maze, an informative presentation about pumpkins with lots of audience participation, and the privilege of picking one medium sized pumpkin from the patch.  The kids also visited with  farm animals in pens including geese, llamas, and sheep.  The pens were surrounded with plenty of dried corn, that the kids enjoyed gathering and feeding to their new friends.  Larger amounts of corn can also be purchased from the well stocked gift shop.

Two other very fun, but pricey, activities offered were a baby animal petting zoo  and pony rides.  These activies were $6.00 each.  Since I had already shelled out over $16 to visit, I decided to pass.  I would recommend deciding whether or not you plan to fund these activities before your visit, and warning your kids ahead of time if this is not on your agenda.

Bates Nut Farm has lots of special family activities planned this Fall.  This Saturday, it is sponsoring a scarecrow contest.  Every entry gets a free jack o’ lantern pumpkin.  There will also be a pumpkin festival and craft fair Oct 4-5.  Other fun events that Bates Nut Farm has planned are a costume contest  on October 25th and a doggy costume contest on Oct. 26th.

Bates Nut farm has been a tradition in our family since before we moved to San Diego.    I’m looking forward to returning next year.  Perhaps we’ll build a scarecrow.

Happy Trails,


P.S. I couldn’t resist posting this picture of Destiny…too cute!

Destiny's Great Pumpkin


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