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Archive for the ‘San Diego Day Trips’ Category

Photo Friday: Spring Comes to the Self Realization Temple Meditation Garden Encinitas

June 3rd, 2011 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Outdoor Adventures, San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, San Diego Family Travel, Uncategorized


Family Adventure Guidebooks Photo Journalist in Training, Justin Smith

This post is made possible by one of the hansomest young photographers I know,  my son Justin Smith, age 12.  I did not join him on this outing.  Although this garden really brings out the best in kids who are able to walk quietly and use their inside voices, it is not appropriate for preschoolers, toddlers and even exuberant kindergarteners.  Jared and I stayed home!  Recently my seven year old daughter joined my mom for a trip to the Self Realization Temple Meditation Garden.  It was a rite of passage for Destiny that she was able to enjoy the garden in a quiet and mature manner, and we lavished her with praise.  Looking forward to that hopefully not so far off day, when the entire family can enjoy this garden.  In the mean time I live vicariously through Justin’s gorgeous photos:

Cactus in Bloom, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas

Koy Pond, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas

Cacutus by the Sea, Self Realization Temple Garden Encinitas

Check out Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday for more amazing travel photos!


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New Addition to LEGOLAND, California: “Clutch Powers 4-D Adventure”+ Legoland Ticket Giveaway Info.

May 3rd, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Legoland, San Diego Day Trips

Clutch and Friends, Clutch Powers 4-D Movie Legoland, California

This Spring my kids and I were invited to preview LEGOLAND’s newest 4-D movie, “Clutch Powers” and spend the day at LEGOLAND.  As usual LEGOLAND delivered a fast paced and creative 4-D movie experience that great for preschoolers and young school aged kids.  We also received a complimentary Clutch Powers DVD that was watched many times at home.

As long as your child can handle a darkened movie theater with lots of noise and some surprises, (mist, blowing air, etc), this movie will be lots of fun.  It’s a great way to take a rest after a busy day at LEGOLAND.

I enjoy Clutch Powers a lot because he is creative and solves problems using LEGO Bricks.  One of my favorite things about the LEGOLAND  movie is that the creations look very much like the models I see being invented at home.  They are interesting, show out of the box thinking, but don’t look like the slick LEGO models that you can buy in the store.  I think this encourages kids to think creatively and problem solve.  With a little imagination, it’s easy to become Clutch Powers saving the universe with their LEGO building prowess. 

The movie starts out with a lot of competition and infighting among Clutch and his friends, but ends with a message of cooperation.  It might be good  to review this lesson on your way out the door, since of course the competitive extremes are what get the big laughs from the kids.

If you think your kids would enjoy a copy of the Clutch Powers DVD you can purchase  LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers at Amazon using the highlighted link.

I was joined at the preview by my friend Colleen Lanin, from Travel with her daughter.   Our kids immediately bonded and we had a great time exploring the park together.  You can read more about the Family Adventure Guidebooks/ Travel Mamas adventures at LEGOLAND at Colleen’s Travel Mamas Blog.  She is also giving away free LEGOLAND tickets plus a copy of my excellent LEGOLAND Guidebook so be sure to stop by.

Summer is coming up.  If you want to make the most of your LEGOLAND visit, check out my UPTAKE post on beating the summer crowds at LEGOLAND, California.

Happy Trails,


*Photo Courtesy of Legoland California


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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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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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Easter Adventures Close to Home

April 2nd, 2010 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in At Home Adventures, San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, Smith Family Adventures, Spring Adventures

OK, I admit it, this travel blogger will not be traveling during spring break this year.  We had considered a vacation, but have a lot going on right now and decided that it would be wiser to stay close to home.  My kids are actually quite happy about the prospect.  We will attend an annual Easter Egg hunt tommorrow morning and enjoy a quiet Easter luncheon with the Grandparents  and some neighbors on Sunday. 

We will be spending our spring break being tourists in our own home town.  Since I am starting a new guidebook there will be trips to the San Diego Zoo to check  out the polar bears and to the Wild Animal Park to visit with the butterflies.  I’m hoping for hike at Elfin Forest to or Mission Hills to see if the wildflowers are still out.  We might head North to ride in the big orange balloon in Irvine.

I’m a little disappointed that there won’t be a hotel stay and new places to explore in our near future, but on the other hand:

  • Everyone sleeps in their own bed
  • DH and I can spend private evenings alone instead of sharing a room with three kids.
  • No waiting for food in restaurants.
  • We still have a great (albeit cold) pool to swim in.

Hope your spring break Adventures are just as fun.

Happy Trails,



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Family Travel Tip Tuesday: Choose Their Own Adventures

March 30th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips


Batiquitos Lagoon, Carlsbad

This morning I attemped to take the dog and a very reluctant preschooler on a walk at one of my favorite spots, Batiquitos Lagoon here  in Carlsbad.  Jared started out being unwilling to participate in our adventure, but  a promise that we might get to pet some dogs along the way allowed me to coax him out of the car.  Once at the lagoon, we listened for birds and spotted some bunny rabbits. Our adventure didn’t really get rolling however until I started to let Jared take the lead on our hike.

“Where do you want to go,”  I asked.  Surprisingly he pointed to a path thatwound up a steep hill.   So, off we went, up the hill and along a ridge overlooking the lagoon.  We listened to the bird calls and tried to interpret their messages.  Jared decided that they were saying it was a beautiful day or maybe they were in church.  We admired the brillant purples and yellows of the spring wild flowers.  Eventually it was time to head back.  Jared decided to return to the path another day with his brother, sister, and a picnic.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera so the picture above is of Jared on a Batiquitos lagoon hike almost precisely one year ago.  We will return within the next few days to capture those wild flowers in photos and share them with you in a future post.

I am a mom and a travel blogger.  I love to plan and execute elaborate adventures for my kids.  Time after time,  however, I find that the adventures that have the most success are the ones where the kids can take the lead.  The  power of choice is almost magical.  It makes the difference between an ordinary day trip and a true adventure that the kids remember long after their return home.

So this week have your kids lead you on a spring adventure.  Get out and enjoy the sunshine!   Until my Batiquitos Lagoon post is up here is more information about this beautiful, kid friendly place to get outdoors and enjoy an adventure.

Happy Trails,



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Polar Bear Plunge Preview, San Diego Zoo

March 26th, 2010 by bsmith | 6 Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, San Diego Zoo, Special Events

The San Diego Zoo graciously invited me to attend the preview for  the revamped Polar Bear Plunge exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.  Little did I know I would be attending a star studded event.  Tori Spelling also attended with her family.  I caught glimpses of Denise Richards and the cast of The Modern Family.

I dined on delicious finger sandwiches and nibbled on delectable polar bear cookies.  Tomorrow morning I will be enjoying the fancy “Zoo Brew” organic coffee that was included in the swag bag.  The Zoo is starting a coffee club where you can help the environment and have your daily cup of joe.  For more information click here.

Of course the real stars of the show, weren’t the sophisticated travel bloggers like myself or the tabloid celebrities like Denise and Tori.  The real stars were the majestic polar bears who grace the exhibit.  One of  our polar bear friends had fun observing the kids observing her.

I was lucky enough to meet some members of the polar bear’s supporting cast who work hard to promote conservation and make a visit to the exhibit memorable.  First I introduced myself to Daniel Straub, the Zoo’s  Teen Arctic Ambassador who shared with me his experiences helping researchers with Polar Bear International.   He described waking up in the morning during his research and peeking out his tent at the polar bears.  Daniel also explained the differences between the kelp and beaches of San Diego and the kelp and beaches of the Arctic.  Apparently in the arctic the kelp leaves are shaped like maple  leaves! If you know a teenager who would  be interested in becoming an arctic ambassador click here.

I also had fun watching the zoo staff, spread out some kelp for the polar bears to enjoy.


Finally I was privileged to meet some of the enthusiastic volunteers who will be sharing what they their extensive polar bear knowledge  when your  family visits the exhibit.  They did an amazing job of explaining to me how we can make lifestyle changes that can slow global warming and improve the conservation outlook for our polar bear friends.  Even if you won’t be visiting the San Diego Zoo in the future, be sure to check the Polar Bear Plunge website.  It contains lots of great information that was shared at the exhibit today.

For those of you who think every blog post should include a picture of a celebrity, here you go.  Enjoy my not so great shot of Tori, Dean, and the kids enjoying a day at the zoo (while being photographed constantly by the paparazzi).  So glad I am not a celebrity!

Thanks to the San Diego Zoo for the invite!  I had a wonderful time and can’t wait to bring my kids back to enjoy this amazing exhibit.

Happy Trails,


P.S. Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.  Click here to see what my fellow travel bloggers  have been up to.


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Elfin Forest Adventures

March 12th, 2010 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, Uncategorized

As my cub scout den was working on their Webelo Forester Badge, I set out to find  a forest in close proximity to Northern San Diego.  Good luck…we are blessed to experience a wide variety of ecosystems, but forests are not one of them.  Still, just a few miles away from our house I discovered Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve which is run by the Olivenhain water district.  The rangers kindly agreed to lead the boys on a hike and educate our scouts about the plants and animals of the reserve.

Elfin Forest Stream, Elfin Forest, Ca


When we arrived on site,  I immediately felt like I was home.  I love San Diego, but I really miss access to wild spaces for hiking and exploring.  So much of San Diego is about palm trees and immaculately landscaped yards, it was nice to discover a place with a rushing stream and plenty of oak trees.

Hiking Sticks are Available at the Foot of the Trail

Two of my favorite things about this hike:  dogs can hike with you as long as they are on a leash and there is a “hiking stick loaner box” at the foot of the trail.  I have found that my kids will go almost anywhere as long as they can have a stick to help them along the journey. 

Elfin Forest is the perfect place for a spring outing.  Pack a picnic, wear your hiking shoes, and get ready for adventure.

Happy Trails,


P.S. Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.  Click here to enjoy more great travel adventures.


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State Park Sunday: Anza Borrego

August 15th, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, San Diego State Parks, Spring Adventures, State Park Sundays

Anza Borrego State Park, California

The media is starting to recognize the dire straights faced by the California State Park System.  This past week, a local reporter came upon my blog and interviewed me for a piece on the California State Park closures.  Reading the North County Times article I learned something new.  The Colorado Desert District which includes local treasures such as Palomar Mountain State Park and Anza Borrego Desert State Park spends significantly more than it collects in revenue. This may put both parks on the closure list.Anza Borrego Desert State Park, wild flowers

Anza Borrego is famous for the wild flowers that bloom in the midst of the desert every spring.  Local volunteers  in the area come together to greet and assist the large numbers of visitors who flock to Anza Borrego in order to experience this natural wonder.  During my parents last visit  the line was so long that they were unable to enter the visitor’s center!

Fields of Gold, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

I didn’t make the trek to go wildflower hunting last spring, but I was certainly hoping to head out there this year since my little ones are a bit more patient and better travelers.  Unfortunately, if Anza Borrego is one of the one hundred parks that will be closed, my children will lose this opportunity to observe a desert spring.

Anza Borrego offers alot more than wild flowers.  It is the largest state park in Calfornia and has numerous hiking trails.  The website says that visitors may see a wide range of animals including roadrunners,  golden eagles, kit foxes, and big horn sheep.  If you plan to visit in the spring, check the park’s website for weekly flower updates. 

Hope that you are all enjoying your last days of summer.  State park closures will be announced after Labor Day.  Visit the California State Parks Foundation for updates and action alerts.  Also, Knudsen is making a donation for every one of their products purchased before September 6th up to $100,000.  Food for thought next time you head to the grocery store.

Happy Trails,


PS The beautiful pictures in this post were provided my my talented mother and Family Adventure Guidebooks correspondent Lee Gillin.  Thanks mom ;) .

PPS I am cheating a wee bit and entering this post in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday in order to call attention to the potential closure of many of California’s State Parks.  To enjoy Debbie’s beautiful pictures of a Japanese Garden in Seattle and more great travel posts from around the world click here.


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Photo Friday: Camp Pendleton Stables

June 19th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in San Diego Adventures, San Diego Day Trips, Uncategorized
Cow Poke Jared, Camp Pendleton Stables in Oceanside

Cow Poke Jared, Camp Pendleton Stables in Oceanside

If you are active duty military or related to someone who is you might want to consider a visit to Stepp Stables at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.  They offer horse boarding, day camps, trail rides and other great activities.  Through my kid’s preschool we had the opportunity to attend a fieldtrip there.  Bring plenty of carrots.  The horses love the snack, almost as much as the kids love feeding it to them.

The following pictures are a testament to the resiliency of my sweet daughter and the magical dedication of her  preschool teacher.  Destiny insists on living life on her own terms at all times.  As you can see from the first picture, she didn’t want to join Jared on the trail ride because she was worried about riding the horse.  She stayed behind with her teacher, and by the time I returned with Jared she had vanished. 

Destiny's Drama

Destiny's Drama

A few minutes later I was greeted by this beautiful sight:
Destiny's Triumph

Destiny's Triumph

 Ever heard of Take Your Daughter to Work Day?  Well, if you live in California this should be take your dad to a California State Park Weekend.  Learn more about SOS weekend at the California State Parks Foundation website. 

Check out Delicious Baby for more great Photo Friday Posts to get your travel juices flowing. Debbie’s post on “Babies First Road Trip” is pretty adorable.

Happy Trails,


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