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Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

My Top Ten Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas

May 11th, 2010 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Legoland, Museums, Road Trips, San Diego Beaches, Ski Adventures, Smith Family Adventures, Snow Vacations, theme parks, Travel Discounts, Travel Tips

I have been meaning to do this kind of tip post for a while now, but my friends at Twittermom finally gave me the excuse I needed to get it done. Here are the Family Adventure Guidebooks Top Ten Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas:

Saving Money on Food:

1) Pack a Picnic.  Whether you’re hitting a theme park or on a road trip, packing a picnic cuts down on the cost of overpriced, yucky fast food.  I am always sure to include  some special treats: berries, salami sandwiches, etc…something the kids don’t get to enjoy every day.  Eat your picnic at a local park or rest stop.  Your kids will make new friends and get their wiggles out.

2) Do it Yourself Room Service .  Supermarket delis have fun, healthy take out.  Everyone can eat what they want and if you get paper plates…no dishes.  TV Dinners are a rare treat in our family so if there is a microwave and freezer in the room I sometimes pick some up.

3) Pick Hotels that Have Breakfast Included.  Last summer our family stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Santa Cruz for two weeks.  It was lovely to have a hardy breakfast (eggs or omlette, sausage, fruit,etc.) every day.  Since we filled up at breakfast we were able to eat a lighter lunch!

Saving Money on Lodging:

4) Time Shares Don’t buy one…rent one…!  Our latest discovery is renting time shares on a per night basis.  With a family of five, we find that we all have a happier vacation if we are able to spread out.  Renting a time share gives us extra space, a full kitchen,  and privacy for Mom and Dad at an affordable price.

5) Join the Club.  Join Hotel Chain loyalty rewards clubs and stay at only one or two chains when you can.  Also keep an eye out for stay ___ nights get a night free promotions.  Our summer Holiday Inn Express stay yielded a five day  ski vacation in Lake Tahoe.  We used our bonus nights at the Holiday Inn Express in South Lake Tahoe,  and used the the money we saved to pay for ski lessons. 

Saving Money on Themeparks and Attractions:

6) Do Your Research.  Figure out how many days you are going to spend  at a themepark, then look at all the admission possibilities including memberships.  Sometimes buying a membership is the same price or even cheaper then a number of single day admissions.  It may be worth buying a membership and making a return trip.

7) Keep an  Eye Out for Discounts and Special Events.  LEGOLAND holds a special fundraising event for the schools every year.  They also invite people to a smaller section of the park  at night to experience their Halloween festivities for less than the price of full admission.  The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk offers discounted weeknights during the summer.  Our family never misses them when we go to visit.  All rides are the cost of one ticket which adds up to significant savings if you want to ride the famed Giant Dipper more than once.

Vacation Fun on a Budget:

8.) Visit a Children’s Museum:  These are way cheaper than theme parks and are just as fun!  My friend Minnemom has pointed out that some museums have reciprocity agreements. So, if you purchase a membership at your local museum it may give you free admission to museums at your vacation destination.  Some of my favorites are The Bay Area Discovery Museum, The Children’s Discovery Museum of San JoseThe Lied Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas, The Exploratorium in San Francisco and The Portland Children’s Museum.

9) Hit the Beach. You can spend a blissful day (or two or three) with your kids entertained for hours.  Just purchase a few cheap buckets and shovels, pack a picnic, slather on the sunscreen, and read a book that you brought from home or picked up at a local used book store.  If you want to splurge you can rent surfboards or boogie boards from a local business like the one run by my friends at Concept Specialty Board Shop  in Encinitas, California.

10) Play at the Park.  Here in California playground safety laws were changed a few years ago so almost every town has had to update their playground equipment.  This is a real benefit for travelers.   No trip to Monterey would be complete without a visit to the famous Dennis the Menace Park.  Our kids love to perch on top of the train.  Even less famous parks can be lots of fun.    Some other favorite California Parks  are Cottonwood Creek Park in Encinitas, Louden Nelson Park in Santa Cruz,  Holiday Park in Carlsbad, and Moonlight Beach Park in Encinitas.

Happy Trails!

Bridget

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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Photo Friday: Antique Steam Engine Museum, Vista California

August 14th, 2009 by bsmith | 6 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Museums, Outdoor Adventures, Photo Friday, San Diego Adventures

Antique Gas Pump, Antique Steam Engine Museum, Vista

Every year Cub Scout Camp is held at the Antique Steam Engine Museum in Vista, California. As you will see, it’s not exactly a museum, more like a collection of old steam engines, farm equipment, model trains, etc.  Visiting always reminds me of  long quiet summer days visiting my uncle in Minnesota.  Old farm tractors and combines were scattered at the edge of the fields throughout his farm.  I loved to find a good book, and sit for a while just enjoying the peace and quiet.  Unfortunately at the Antique Steam Engine Museum you are not allowed to sit on the machines, but city kids won’t know what they’re missing.

Antique Frontloader, Antique Steam Engine Museum

 

Other features of this unique museum:

  • One of those fun metal merry go rounds that we enjoyed at the park when we were kids.  Jared spun on this for hours.
Old School Merry Go Round, Vista, Ca

Old Fashioned Merry Go Round, Vista, Ca

  • A short track  miniature railroad and an excellent model railroad museum

Rail Road Crossing

  • A one room school house.
  • A blacksmith shop.

Call to find out about special events.  Not every part of the museum is open every day.

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.  Check out some more great travel posts here.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

July 9th, 2009 by bsmith | 9 Comments | Filed in Museums
Build Your Own Arch, Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Build Your Own Arch, Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

I am a huge fan of children’s museums for affordable family fun.  The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose is one of the best I’ve ever visited.  My ten year old just couldn’t pick one favorite area.  Some of our top choices: a play pizza kitchen, real ambulances and fire trucks to ride, an amazing water play area and oodles of bubbles. 

Bubble Wall

Bubble Wall

 

Justin's Bubble Magic

Justin's Bubble Magic

What also sets this museum apart is that it has a fabulous enclosed play area called the Wonder Cabinet just for toddlers and preschoolers.   The Wonder Cabinet has it’s own art studio for preschool projects, a crawling space for the littlest visitors to explore, an amazing reading nook, and plenty of other goodies.

Here is the magnficent Discovery Museum Fire Truck:

Off to the Fire

Off to the Fire

Enjoying summer in San Diego and heading off for a hot week in Vegas.  Wish me luck!

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Photo Friday.  Be sure to check out Delicious Baby’s mystery photo here along with lots of other great Photo Friday posts.

Happy Trails,
Bridget
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