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Archive for the ‘theme parks’ 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

 LEGOLAND DANCE PARTY

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 LULU.com

Happy Trails!

Bridget

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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: A LEGOLAND CENSUS, PLUS LEGOLAND DISCOUNT COUPONS

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,

Bridget

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

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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!

Bridget

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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 www.brickortreat.com 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,

Bridget

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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Legoland Misses Me! (Legoland Offers Great Deals to Lure Members Back)

August 19th, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Legoland, theme parks, Travel Discounts

Lego New York City, Miniland California

After much deliberation our family let our Legoland passes expire this year.  Due to a family trip last year, we have Disneyland passes through December.  Two themeparks seems like too much during the school year.  Still, Legoland is making it awfully tempting to re-up.  Here are two offers I have received in the past week.

Legoland’s Tenth Birthday Offer

 My ten year old is finally getting his long awaited birthday party this Saturday.  After partying in the pool with five of his closest friends, we may be heading over to Legoland.  It turns out that like Justin, Legoland is celebrating its tenth birthday.  To acknowledge this milestone its ten year old members (and apparently former members) a FREE Legoland Standard Membership. (Yes, you read that correctly…absolutely free).  The only catch of course is that you have to pay alot for parking, and find a Legoland member willing to bring your kid along or buy Membership yourself. 

 If you have a ten year old in your family and are planning to by a whole bunch of memberships, it might be worth asking if they would honor this promotion.  It expires Sept 1, 2009 and requires a postcard so act fast.  I am hoping that like most memberships this one will come with some bring a friend coupons in December and April.

Legoland Resort Pass Offer

Our three kids had a three month Resort Pass this year that we purchased from Costco.  Since we had been 3-Month mebers we also received a postcard offering Resort Memberships for the price of a  Standard Membership.  This is a pretty good deal, since it includes free mini golf and unlimited Sea Life Aquarium admission.  The aquarium admission would come in handy on the occasional rainy days we have here in Carlsbad.  It also includes free parking which is always awesome and is offered for any Resort Passholder, even kids.  That’s a savings of $40 off of the regular adult Resort Membership price.

Will these great Legoland bargains succeed in luring back our entire family? Frankly I’m still thinking about this one.  I do miss the special member Lego building events, the free entrance into Brick or Treat, and being to head over to Legoland for a Rocking New Year’s Eve Celebration.  We will take advantage of Justin’s free membership and see how it goes.  At the very least,  another three month pass for me and the little ones may be in our future. 

Anyone else out there seen some great theme park discounts and promotions?  Feel free to share below.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Sea Life Aquarium (Carlsbad, Ca)

June 5th, 2009 by bsmith | 12 Comments | Filed in Sea Life Aquarium, Special Events, theme parks, Travel Discounts
Jared Fish Explores a Tank

Jared Fish Explores a Tank

I must confess that I have had a major change of heart about the Sea Life Aquarium.  When I visited a few weeks after opening, I wasn’t really sure if this aquarium was worth the trip.  The Sea Life Aquarium is pretty small, and it was very crowded the day of my first visit.   My three year old kept running ahead and getting lost in the crowd. 

A few weeks ago I returned to the aquarium on a Tuesday.  The crowds were gone. They had done some tweaking with the exhibits, and I began to see that the Sea Life Aquarium is perfect for little kids.  The tanks are designed so the kids can actually come up inside and have close encounters with the fish.  There are plenty of down low peek holes, so no one has to be lifted up to see the tanks. 

Enjoy these pictures from our latest Sea Life Aquarium Adventure:

Jared and Friends Explore the Touch Pool

Jared and Friends Explore the Touch Pool

 

Fascinating Fish, Sea Life Aquarium

Fascinating Fish, Sea Life Aquarium, Carlsbad, Ca

 Another wonderful thing about the Sea Life Aquarium is its dedication to marine conservation.  They have many special events and celebrations including beach clean ups and the upcoming World Oceans Day Celebration which takes place on Sunday June 7th.  There will be special arts and crafts and a reading of  Surf Angel  by local children’s author Terry Krazewski. You can also check out the aquarium’s  brand new shark exhibit.  Get a discount coupon here .

Lego Sand Castle Building, Sea Life Aquarium, Carlsbad, Ca

Lego Sand Castle Building, Sea Life Aquarium, Carlsbad, Ca

World Oceans Day,  is Monday June 8th.   The Ocean Project encourages ocean lovers to “wear blue” and tell two.  This means, wear blue on Monday and tell people two facts that they may not know about the ocean.  If you live in California, I have one fact you can share.  Many of our state beaches may be closed at the end of the summer due to budget cuts.  I will be talking more about this at Family Adventure Guidebooks throughout the summer, but for now you can get  more information from the California State Parks Foundation website.

Finally, Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicous Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Round Up. Be sure to check it out.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Where the Wild Things Are!

May 22nd, 2009 by bsmith | 11 Comments | Filed in Smith Family Adventures, Spring Adventures, theme parks

What adventures do the Smith Family have planned for this weekend?  I’ll give you some hints.

jared-camp-mataguay-2008

And

justin-cans-for-critters-san-diego-zoo

 

Here’s the Smith Family Itinerary for Memorial Day Weekend:

Friday Night

 Represent Family Adventure Guidebooks preview  event for the new Elephant Odyssey exhibit at the San Diego Zoo.  I’m so excited to be invited, and the best news is I get to bring the whole family!  I sure hope those preschoolers behave themselves.  My son is a little disappointed that we won’t be sleeping over at Mataguay on friday night, but I’m hoping that a close encounter with an exotic animal will cheer him up.  I’m also glad for an extra night in my own bed!

Saturday

We will leave for Cub Scout Camp Mataguay at the crack of dawn.  Mataguay is located near Julian in San Diego county.  We plan to get really dirty, canoe, fish, look for lady bugs, climb rocks, and just have a generally wonderful time. The kids will just generally run amok like wild animals from dawn until dusk.  Hope we will get some sleep after the campfire on Saturday night. 

My kids love Camp Mataguay.  Our trip last year was one of the best family adventures ever! The kids love the freedom of climbing on boulders, exploring new trails, and catching fish.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from our 2008 camping adventure.

On Top of the World, Mataguay 2008

On Top of the World, Mataguay 2008

Mugging on the Mountain, Mataguay 2008

Mugging on the Mountain, Mataguay 2008

Sunday

The big Boy Scouts and Venturers will make us a pancake breakfast.  We’ll  attend a sweet ecumenical morning prayer service.  I hope that Jutin can squeeze in a little more fishing and fun before heading home.

Thanks for Bringing Us Mom!  Mataguay, 2008

Thanks for Bringing Us Mom! Mataguay, 2008

If you have a chance stop by Delicious Baby and see more great Photo Friday posts.  May your weekend be filled with family adventures.
Let the wild rumpus begin!
Happy Trails,
Bridget
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Family Travel Tip Tuesday: Theme Park Membership Has Its Privileges

May 19th, 2009 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Disneyland, Family Travel, Legoland, San Diego Day Trips, Sea World, theme parks, Travel Discounts
Jared Makes A Camel Friend, Legoland California

Jared Makes A Camel Friend, Legoland California

If you are thinking about purchasing a theme park pass, be sure to investigate the extra benefits and privileges that the theme park may offer passholders.  Although these vary from park to park, many times these extras will almost pay for your entire membership.

Since my two youngest were born less than a year apart, our family has become experts at the “staycation”.  Traveling far from home with two preschoolers seems a bit too crazy for us at this point.  Our location here in Carlsbad gives us many options for family fun.  Visiting theme parks and zoos is one of the things that we enjoy doing together as a family.  In the past three years we have held passes for the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Legoland, and Disneyland.

Legoland

If you live in Southern California or visit frequently throughout the year, a Legoland membership offers many opportunities for family adventure.  In addition to the great special events and members only activities that Legoland holds throughout the year,  Legoland offers excellent deals and discounts to its members.  Twice a year, members receive coupons for free entrance with a passholder.  This gives your family opportunities to bring friends and grandparents along to enjoy a Legoland adventure.  Also, if there is a Dad or teenager in your family who won’t be making it to Legoland very often this can be a great way to bring them along to enjoy the fun.

Legoland pass holders also receive free entrance to The Wave in Vista and Wild Rivers in Irvine.  In addition to the regular member dining and shopping discounts, Legoland’s quarterly newsletters contain coupons for additional savings.  This month I have a $10 voucher for the Ocean Journey Cafe, a free bucket of water balloons at the Raptor Splash, and other discount coupons.

Members benefit from Legoland’s efforts to promote the new Sea Life Aquarium.  Legoland is continuing to offer special visitor rates to Legoland members and friends and family.  Come enjoy the aquarium for as little as $5 per person!  Note that a coupon is required.  The curent coupon says that it expires 5/31/09, but keep checking the site.  So far they have extended this offer several times.

The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook  will help your choose the combination of  memberships that will save you money and work for your family.

Disneyland

When we were planning a three day trip to Disneyland, I decided to investigate the price of membership.  I knew that we wouldn’t be visiting too often, but since we live only an hour away a few return visits would be fun.  After doing my research I decided that the Southern California Select passes offered the best value four our budget.  Unlike Legoland, non premium Disney Passholders do not receive many benefits.  However, they do receive some limited dining discounts in the parks and shopping discounts at Downtown Disney.  Still, with prices that can be less than a multi-day visit, an annual Disneyland pass is worth considering.

San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park

Membership at these attractions is extremely affordable.  (Kids passes are only $2 more than the one day Best Value Ticket).  Adult members receive two free guest passes which come in handy for out of town guests.  Pass holders also receive free admission to the Journey into Africa Tour at the Wild Animal Park…this is a must see!   In addition, they receive unlimited Skyfari aerial tram rides at the zoo.  These are important since, kids have to do alot of walking at the San Diego Zoo.  Membership covers both attractions so your family has plenty to explore.

Members also receive a monthly zoo magazine that contains interesting articles about the animals and great coupons including more free admission tickets for passholder guests.   All pass members also receive discounts on Wild Animal Park parking.

Sea World San Diego

We have had the opportunities to obtain discounted entrance to Sea World with our preschool, so I haven’t gone the pass route yet.  I am dreaming of an  Unauthorized Sea World Guidebook some day, so we may be getting passes next summer. 

In the mean time, be aware that Sea World offers the Fun Card which is a great deal.  You get a pass good for admission throughout the entire calendar year for the price of a single admission.

Parking

Make sure you factor the price of parking into your membership decisions.  Sometimes it pays to buy a more premium membership for at least one member of your family in order to get free parking.  Be sure to investigate whether the person needs to be the driver or just in the car.  Premium child memberships are often cheaper and  also offer free parking.

If you don’t live in Southern California, I encourage you to research theme park memberships in your area.  You may just discover the ticket to a whole year of family fun.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

 

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Free Sea Life Aquarium Ticket!!!

May 15th, 2009 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Legoland, theme parks, Travel Discounts

The Sea Life Aquarium is sponsoring an E-Waste recycling event.  If you bring your old TV, DVD player, cd player, computer, cell phone etc. to the Legoland back gate between 8am and noon on Saturday May 16th.  This event is sponsored by Recycle San Diego and I Love a Clean San Diego.

I’ll be heading to the Sea Life Aquarium next week with one of my mommy blogger friends so I could really use a ticket.  I plan to pack up my old electronics and head over.  See you there!

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