Only in San Diego can a January birthday be celebrated with a trip to the beach! On this sunny Carlsbad day Jared and Destiny joined me for an outing to South Carlsbad State Beach. The kids braved the frigid water in their swim suits. I preferred to wade in rolled up jeans. Here are a few highlights of our beach adventure:
Watching the Waves
Rock Collecting (A few of our favorites came home with us)
Time to Go Home, South Carlsbad State Beach
I often forget how little I need to pack for a trip to the beach. Here is what we brought.
Don't forget the water bottles to wash off sandy feet!
I should have left the chairs at home. With no lifeguards on duty and two active kids, I didn’t get time to sit and read my book. We survived a small tantrum from Jared when he found out he had to leave his baby clam at the beach. ”But he’s an orphan, Mama! ” Jared cried piteously. Still, I wouldn’t have traded a moment of my beach birthday adventure.
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.
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.
“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.”
Anyone who followed me on Twitter early this August may have noted my increasingly desperate posts about grunion ( a little fish that comes up to breed on Southern California beaches) . I had organized a Cub Scout Grunion Run, only to discover that the grunion were not running anywhere in the San Diego area. When I desperately contacted the leading grunion experts, they informed me that grunion are very sporadic by August. Optimal conditions to spot grunion occur in late April/early June.
The hard lesson I took away from my quixotic search for grunion is this, do your research! If I had contacted the grunion experts before I planned the outing, my scouts would have been alot happier and surrounded by fish. Instead, as you see above, we had a blast walking up the beach at 10:30 at night, eating brownies and juice, and heading home to our beds.
Which brings me to the second lesson of the evening. Even failed adventures can be fun!
Beach Cleanup, South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, Ca
Let me introduce you to my soul place here in Carlsbad. South Carlsbad State Beach is the site of many wonderful family memories. This is where Justin learned to boogie board, and Ken learned to surf. When we first arrived at this beach three years ago, Destiny was too timid to get anywhere near the water. Now, on a good day, she’ll splash and be dragged along on a boogie board.
It’s where we bring our dear friends from Santa Cruz when they come to visit. All the Northern California folk savor the warm water. We break out the boogie boards and teach the kids to ride the waves.
On summer evenings our family heads down to the South Carlsbad State Beach to picnic and watch the sunset. Every anniversary Ken and I head to the beach for burritos and boogie boarding until the sun goes down.
This beach is special to our family. It is our beach and we care for it by packing our own trash and sometimes other people’s. Twice a year we join our fellow Cub Scouts in a huge beach cleanup. Happily so many people treasure this beach, that there is usually not much trash to find.
Exploring the Logs, South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, Ca
All this may be changing at the end of the summer. Due to budget cuts, South Carlsbad and many other state beaches and state parks are on a closure list . Such closures be devastating on a personal level for the citizens of Carlsbad and other local communities. It will also have a significant impact on tourism. According to a recent Sacramento State study California State Parks generates $300 million dollars in California sales tax for “park related expenditures”.
The budget crisis is very grave here in California. The Governor and Legislature have tough decisions to make that will have a significant impact on health, human services, and education. Although State Parks are very important to me and my family, I feel somewhat guilty advocating for them, when there is so much need elsewhere. Recently , however, I read a great idea from the California State Parks Foundation that would free up some money in the budget, keep the parks open, and even promote in state tourism. Last spring, in the midst of the last round of budget battles the foundation proposed the implementation of a California State Access Pass program. In exchange for a $10 fee on the California vehicle tax, all vehicles with valid California license plates would receive free admission and parking at most California State Parks. The fee would raise $282 million for the State Parks and the current allocation for the parks in the budget would be returned to the General Fund for the next four years in order to assist the State of California in resolving other budget concerns.
E-mailed my City Council to express my concern regarding this issue and educate them about the California State Park Access Pass proposal.
Planned to participate in Save Our State Parks Weekend. We will head to Carlsbad State Beach on or before the weekend of June 20th and take pictures/ film a Flip video of my family holding the Save Our State Parks sign. I’ll upload the pictures to the CSPF as well as my blog.
I am also starting a regular feature on my blog to raise awareness entitled State Park Sundays. Every Sunday I hope to feature a profile of a different California State Park. It’s a big project and I would love some help. Spread the word about State Park Sundays. I also welcome guest blogs about your favorite California State Park. Let’s make sure that Californians appreciate the treasure that they have before its gone.
Thanks for your patience with my very word intensive Photo Friday Post. For more Photo Friday Fun check in with my friend Delicious Baby.
If you are planning to visit the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, California, this book contains all the information you need to make the most of your family adventure. The book also includes information about other area attractions, local restaurants and hotels.
Bridget Smith, mom of three, loves to blog about everyday adventures. Her mission is to change the world; one kid, one destination, one effortless trip, one overworked mom, one frazzled dad... one day at a time! Come and join her.