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Beyond Disneyland – Great Things to Do in Southern California with Kids

Orange County is one of my favorite places to spend time because there is so much to do in this sunny SoCal area! Besides Disneyland in the Anaheim area, there are other amusements very close in Buena Park, Santa Ana, and San Juan Capistrano. And you can’t forget the sandy beach side fun all along the Pacific Ocean. These are my suggestions for things to do in Orange County, beyond Disneyland!

Things To Do in Orange County With Kids

Hey, y’all know how much I love Disneyland! But Southern California is more than just a single amusement park. Come to Orange County for one thing and you’ll miss out on some really cool attractions. I’ve compiled a list of my top ten don’t-miss things in the OC.


Start off your SoCal travel planning by checking out this travel guide from Visit Buena Park filled with tips, transportation, maps and special event information.


I have received compensation by Visit Buena Park for writing this post. Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

4 Things to Do at Knott’s

With humble beginnings in the 1930s, Knott’s Berry Farm has built upon the success of the boysenberry and Mrs. Knott’s fried chicken to create a family-friendly destination. The theme park, restaurant, water park and historical  Consider an overnight at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel so all the Knott’s fun will be within quick walking distance.

1. Knott’s Berry Farm

Looking for family fun? How about thrill rides? What about history and a look back into the old West? Or maybe you just love really good food! Well, Knott’s Berry Farm has you covered on all fronts. With Camp Snoopy for little visitors and extreme coasters for big kids & adults, there is entertainment for all. We’ve loved our trips to Knott’s Berry Farm over the years (I’ve been visiting since I was very young). Don’t miss Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. That’s our favorite show (they used to perform in the Golden Horseshoe at Disneyland). The amazingly detailed Calico Mine Ride is a don’t-miss family attraction! And my big kids hit all the thrill rides like Xcellerator and GhostRider. For more, read my tips on taking kids of all ages to Knott’s.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Knott’s Berry Farm day passes are considerable less expensive than Disneyland. Purchase discounted Knott’s Berry Farm tickets through my partner Get Away Today (under tickets, click “Huntington Beach” to find them).

SoCal Insider Tip: Line waits for the rides in Camp Snoopy can be ridiculously long, especially on the weekend. Be sure to check out my post on how to maximize your time with little ones at Knott’s Berry Farm.

2. Knott’s Soak City

Making a splash under the California sun is a great way to spend the day! Knott’s Soak City features 7 new water attractions including one with an Aqua-Launch chamber – the floor drops out from under your feet! I love a good lazy river and the one at Knott’s Soak City is one-third mile in length – one of the longest water park lazy rivers in the world. Knott’s Soak City is located across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm theme park.

SoCal Insider Tip: This seasonal water park will be open in mid-May 2018 to early September 2018. Be sure to check the schedule online as Soak City is only open select days during the season.

 

3. Knott’s Independence Hall

History lovers will enjoy a side-trip to Knott’s Independence Hall, an exact, brick-by-brick replica of the original building in Philadelphia. This is the nation’s only exact replica of the Philadelphia landmark. View a replica of the Liberty Bell, explore presidential artifacts and hear the forefathers discuss the Declaration of Independence.

Independence Hall is located outside Knott’s Soak City (across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm) and is open every day except Christmas from 10 am – 5 pm. Admission to Knott’s Independence Hall is always free.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

4. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant

Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park offers a pretty great All Day Dining Plan. However I still recommend leaving the park for at least lunch or dinner to hit this popular restaurant. You can sometimes walk-in, but to avoid a long wait it’s best to make a reservation.

Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant has been recently remodeled since my family’s last visit. I was able to look at the new design online and it reflects a rustic chic design that is so popular now. The restaurant is very large, with three indoor dining rooms, outdoor seating and a full-service bar (with boysenberry-infused cocktails!)

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Order the chicken dinner, you won’t regret it! Each complete dinner comes with handmade biscuits, side salad, choice of cabbage or cherry rhubarb, three pieces of fried chicken and mashed potatoes smothered with gravy. And for dessert,  your choice of boysenberry pie or boysenberry sherbet. Seriously, the BEST fried chicken!

SoCal Insider Tip: Share the chicken dinner- the portions are huge. But order an extra dessert, because you won’t want to share the boysenberry pie!

5. Discovery Cube Science Center

Just down the freeway about ten minutes from Disneyland is the Discovery Cube Orange County, a science center with a hands-on focus for kids. Ongoing exhibits (like the water lab and healthy kitchen) are mixed in with limited time exhibits (like Rainforest Adventure). During spring break, their annual Bubblefest is can’t miss (extra add-on cost per ticket).

SoCal Insider Tip: The Discover Cube does not allow in and out privileges and guests cannot bring in snacks or food. There is a Bean Sprouts restaurant inside with healthier options, however the prices are higher than the usual fast food choices.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

6. Lunch Suggestions All Over the OC

Looking for a reliable and delicious lunch spot in SoCal that the entire family will enjoy? These four restaurants have locations all over the OC. A quick Google search while you’re out-and-about should pinpoint them on a map for you. I’ve chosen chain dining so where ever you are in the area, one of these restaurants should be close by.

Rubio’s Coastal Grill

More than just seafood, through you should at least try the original fish taco. Beer battered fish drizzled with white sauce and topped with cabbage and salsa, it’s a California tradition! I’m a fan of the loaded grilled chicken nachos (big enough to share). Don’t forget to try the salsa verde and roasted chipotle salsa, they are delicious!

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

Fancier dining than you expect for a brewery (crispy tofu appetizers, black garlic fondue, veggie linguine). Or course there’s plenty for kids too, including burgers, mac and cheese and root beer floats. Plan ahead and call to book a brewery tour during your visit.

Blaze Pizza

I love pizza but I don’t always love the toppings that my husband wants to order. And the two little ones always just want pepperoni. I like that Blaze Pizza is super fast – pizzas cook in 180 seconds! And everyone can order their own personal sized pizza with whatever toppings they want.

Souplantation

This is one restaurant we frequently regularly because it offers something for everyone. The large salad bar has amazingly fresh toppings. Then there are the fresh baked breads and muffins, fruit, pasta and soups. You won’t leave hungry! I sign up for their email list and get great coupons.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Don’t forget the soft serve after your Souplantation meal!

7. Hit the Beach

No matter where you are along the coast of Southern California, you’re never too far from the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Beaches in the OC feature some great view points, walking trails, tide pools and yes, even ocean swimming. Note that these are not tropical waters and even in the early summer, the Pacific Ocean can still be quite chilly. If you plan on visiting the beach early in the day, bring at least a hoodie to keep you warm from the “May Gray” or “June Gloom”.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach offers ten miles of coastline for surfing, swimming or sun on the sand. The 10.5-mile Back Bay Loop Trail in Upper Newport Bay is great for hiking and biking. Kids will be drawn to the Balboa Fun Zone amusement areas with the waterfront Ferris Wheel and arcade games.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Huntington Beach

Enjoy Huntington Beach’s ten unbroken miles of sand for swimming and sand castles by day and beach bonfires at night. If it’s salty sea air in your hair that you’re after consider a ride on Captain Dave’s Dolphin And Whale Watching Safari. Hi-speed catamarans take you out in search of gray whales, blue whales and dolphins. Discounted tickets for the Safari can be found through my partner Get Away Today (under tickets click “Huntington Beach” to find them).

Laguna Beach

Seven miles of coastline include tucked-away coves and viewing-only tide pools in beautiful Laguna Beach. This is also home to the famous Pageant of the Masters theater show in which actors recreate famous works of art (you have to see it to believe it!)


8. Dinner & a Show at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

My kids and I were able to visit the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament a few years ago while in the Buena Park area (you can read about our entire Medieval Times experience here). In a nutshell, this attraction is well worth the cost! Exploring the castle grounds during the pre-show is fun. The meal is hands-on delicious. And the show is really top notch entertainment!

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

9. Farrell’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlour

Farrell’s isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a lot of fun! Yes, they have burgers, salads and sandwiches. But save room for dessert because there are shakes, build-your-own sundaes and a candy shop with old-fashioned favorites.

Back when I was a kid, Farrell’s was the place to have your birthday party. I have distinct memories of spending one of my earliest birthdays hiding under the table because my family had ordered THE ZOO! This enormous ice cream sundae big enough to feed ten was delivered to your table in a loud fanfare of banging drums and sirens! Farrell’s has the same tradition today, should your family order THE ZOO.

SoCal Insider Tip: Dine on Tuesday night and the kids will eat free with the purchase of an adult entree.

10. San Juan Capistrano

Visit Mission San Juan Capistrano, the legendary location where the swallows return each year. These birds migrate 6,000 miles from Goya, Argentina to San Juan Capistrano in large groups, arriving every March 19th. Founded nearly 200 hundred years ago, guests visiting the Mission San Juan Capistrano can still see the chapel where Saint Junipero Serra celebrated Mass. Hands-on activities like basket weaving, art and both audio and guided tours are engaging for older children. There are also 10-acres of beautiful gardens and fountains for little ones who just want to be outdoors.

SoCal Insider Tip: There are a number of businesses occupying historic buildings around the Mission, including several museums that offer more details on the heritage of the area.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! But these are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!)

Photo credit: LaVerne McMillion

Looking for More?

For more information on what to do in Orange County, be sure to download the Buena Park travel guide stuffed with tips, transportation, maps and special event information.

Of course you can't miss Disneyland when visiting SoCal! There are so many great things to do in Orange County with kids! These are the top 10 can't-miss things to see and do in Southern California (other than Disneyland!) #VisitBuenaPark #Snoopy

Sounds Like Fun at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad

The Museum of Making Music is exactly what it sounds like! It’s a place to learn about instruments. To listen to music. It’s a place to learn about the history of music. And while learning about and hearing music is great, playing it yourself is even better! Fortunately everyone has a chance to get their hands on musical instruments inside the Museum of Making Music, as well.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Museum Galleries

Guests at the Museum of Making Music are encouraged to move at their own pace through the galleries. There are interactive buttons where you can hear music played. A good amount of history and background is included in each exhibit area. And of course lots of instruments to look at.

I enjoyed the music store gallery. There were so many instruments I’d never seen before inside the Museum of Making Music, including a harmonica that had scrolls similar to a player piano.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Actress Joan Crawford promoted the “player harmonica” (which was a flop!)

Hands On Learning

My five year old was so excited to play the tester instruments that are located throughout the museum. He had the opportunity to play a mandolin, electric guitar, gong, slide guitar and a harp guitar. I’d never heard or even seen a harp guitar in my life, but there is an entire special exhibition at the Museum called, “Floating Strings”, dedicated to the harp guitar.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

A beautiful collection of harp guitars (you can play one too!)

Leave plenty of time at the end of your visit. There is a large area with dozens of available instruments for free play. You can see a few of the instruments my son was able to play on this video. My son REALLY wants his own drum set now!

Visiting the Museum of Making Music

The Museum of Making Music

5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA

Admission $10

Students $7

Under three are free

  • Located just a block away from the theme park LEGOLAND California, in Carlsbad (about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego).
  • Be aware the mid-day visits may include children from school field trips. Our tour guide recommended visiting the Museum in late August or September, when many schools do not visit.
  • There are concerts held at the Museum, check the event tab on their website.
  • The museum opens each day from 10 am to 5 pm (except Monday, when it’s closed).
  • Plan to spend at least one hour exploring this unique museum.
  • There is a gift shop to purchase your own music makers.
  • Strollers are allowed (thank goodness, because my baby napped through the entire visit!)
  • I’d recommend the Museum of Making Music for school-aged children and up.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Family Fun at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular is making a splash this fall season. This fun daytime family event is included with park admission, and takes place every Saturday and Sunday from September 23 through October 29, 2017.

My family and I enjoyed SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular several times in the past but this was our first visit in several years. We packed up the kids and a few costumes and headed for SeaWorld San Diego this past weekend.

My family and I received complimentary admission to SeaWorld San Diego to enjoy the Halloween Spooktacular event. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Costumes Encouraged, But Not Necessary

We brought Halloween costumes for our two littles, just to help them get in the spirit of the event. You can totally collect treats without the costume but it is fun to wear one if you have it. We brought extra clothes for the kids to change into when they didn’t want to wear their costumes anymore.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Collecting treats at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular

We even saw mermaid costumes at one of the shops, in case you wanted to purchase a costume while you’re in the Park!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Costumes for sale inside SeaWorld

Treat-or-Treat Stations

Located all over the Park are designated trick-or-treat stations. Each station offers something different from SunRype fruit snacks, Sugar Babies, lollipops and gummies. Grown ups can participate too! We were encouraged to hop in line with the kids to receive treats. It was nice to be able to just jump into a trick-or-treat line while roaming the Park at our own pace. Perhaps it’s because this was the first weekend of the Halloween event, but the treat lines were never busy.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

One of the many treat stations located around SeaWorld San Diego

Dia de los Muertos

A special themed area (near the entrance to the Manta ride) celebrates Día de los Muertos. Colorful flags fly overhead and there are detailed displays to teach guests about this traditional Mexican holiday.

Bring Your Own Treat Bag

In a conservation effort, SeaWorld requests that trick-or-treaters bring in their own candy collection bag. Reusable bags are available in the gift shop for around a dollar, with 5% of each bag purchase going directly to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. We brought one trick-or-treat  collection bucket that the kindergartener carried and we all tossed our treats inside.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

One of the Halloween-themed activity stations

Dance Party Fun and More

With the addition of the newest area Ocean Explorer, the location of the dance party has moved since the last time we were there. Located just in front of the entrance to the Sky Tower, the Halloween Spooktacular dance party area is set with a stage, free play activities and carnival style games. The DJ was spinning family-friendly tunes and costumed characters like Tabitha Taffy and Timothy Toffee encouraged families to join the party.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

My little zebra was intrigued by the candy-encrusted shoes on one of the dancers but refused to bust a move on her own. The kindergartner loved that there were bubbles! My older kids also enjoyed running their hands through the bins of moon sand at various activity stations. I was thankful that the music wasn’t too loud and that there were places for parents to sit while the kids danced. However it’s quite hot under the sun and shade is very limited here.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Soaking in the SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular Dance party

Party at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular for FREE?!

Did you know that kids admission is FREE to SeaWorld San Diego in the month of October? For every adult ticket purchased, you’ll be able to bring in a child for free. Purchase your adult SeaWorld San Diego tickets ahead of time at my affiliate Get Away Today and you’ll be able to receive the free child’s ticket.

Halloween Shows and Attractions

The comical California sea lion duo team up again for Clyde and Seamore’s Big Halloween Bash. The younger kids will love Who Said Boo?! that features Sesame Street characters in a live Halloween-themed show. Manta has been made-over for Halloween into Manta Madness with spooky special effects. My kindergartner was just a half-inch shy of the 48″ height requirement and was so disappointed not to be able to ride!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Enjoy the Rest of the Park!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular takes place during the day time hours at SeaWorld. Everything in the Park remains open for enjoyment including the various aquariums, rides, and shows.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Tentacle Twirl at SeaWorld San Diego

What sounds like the most fun at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular?

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

10 Things to Know Before Visiting the LEGOLAND California Water Park

As LEGOLAND California continues to grow, I’m finding that one day just isn’t enough. This is definitely a destination vacation spot for families! If you’re planning a visit to LEGOLAND California, consider adding an extra day or two to your visit. You’ll be able to spend time in the theme park itself, as well as the attached LEGOLAND Sealife Aquarium and LEGOLAND California Water Park. The water park has recently undergone an expansion and it’s a fantastic place to spend a warm day!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The Duplo Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad

I am a LEGOLAND ambassador. I have received complimentary tickets to the parks. All thoughts and opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Last year I visited the LEGOLAND water park for the first time. My kids had been with their grandma but this was my first visit. I was really impressed with the variety of play areas for a wide range of kids. I have a 15-month old, 5 year old and two 13-year olds and each of them enjoyed something different at the water park.

I’ve since been able to visit two more times and have truly enjoyed the visit. There are ample seating areas for those not wanting to swim. Areas are spread out to lessen the crowd impact. And I love the diversity of the play areas for a variety of ages.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

1. Locker Rentals and Changing Areas

You can’t wear your swimsuit inside the LEGOLAND theme park. In the mornings, I’d suggest wearing your suit under your clothing to enter the park. Once inside the water park you can easily remove your clothes, apply sunscreen and be quickly ready to swim!

After you’re done swimming and you need to walk into the theme park again, there are ample changing areas available. I like that I don’t have to stand in the toilet stall to change and that there are roomy private areas to change out of my wet suit.

I highly recommend renting a locker if you don’t have someone to watch your things. Don’t risk leaving your purse on an empty beach chair while you splash; get a locker instead so it’s safe inside.


2. Get Soaked (or Just a Little Wet)

Wanna get soaked? Stand under the Joker Soaker, where over 350 gallons of water drops from the clock tower overhead.

Don’t want to get submerged? At Eglor’s Build-a-Boat, guests can build a LEGO boat and set it free in the rushing water in a CHIMA display.

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

Joker Soaker dumps buckets of water!

3. Things for Families to Do Together

My three oldest kids (ages 5 to 13) enjoyed a good amount of time in the Lion Temple Wave Pool (over 42″ tall). My preschooler is a tall 46.5″ and the waves were still strong enough to knock him over. Take note if your younger kids aren’t swimming and make sure they’re wearing a life jacket.

The float on Orange Rush can hold four adults and two children (over 42″ tall).

Have a side by side water slide race on the Twin Chasers (over 42″ tall).

Build-a-Raft River. The idea of this lazy river is that you can collect the floating blocks in the water and add them to your raft. Unfortunately there are only a handful of blocks available. Best to just kick back and enjoy the ride!

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

The lazy river is my favorite!

4. Places for Babies and Toddlers

Duplo Splash Safari has shallow water that’s nice for wading. My baby was able to walk in the water while my preschooler went down the short water slides. There are even wide “family-sized” mini-water slides here so you can splash down together.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy the LEGOLAND California water park Safari Splash

There are complimentary life jackets for use in the parks. All babies are required to wear a swim diaper. If you forget to bring one with you, they do have a small gift shop that sells them.

Splash Zoo is specifically sized for babies and toddlers however there were older kids running around here on our visit. The spray from some of the fountains can be rather intense. As you can see, my toddler was none to happy about the sudden squirt!

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

5. Take Frequent Potty Breaks

Every few hours each of the sections will close. This allows guests to take a break, eat and use the restroom. Signs encourage parents to take their children for potty breaks. Even that might not be often enough, as they did have to close down one section for a “poop evacuation”…yuck! Kids under 3 need to wear swim diapers, so don’t forget to bring them!


Visiting with a Preschooler? Check out my post about LEGOLAND California on Traveling Mom.

6. Rent a Cabana

A total of 35 standard, premium and deluxe premium cabanas are located all over the LEGOLAND Water Park. Cost is dependent upon the season and can be found HERE.Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

7. Surfers’ Cove is Coming Soon

Opening very soon is Surfers’ Cove. In Surfers’ Cove, kids will be able to race their friends at Riptide Racers timed water slides and enjoy an epic splash-ground at Wipeout Lagoon.

Riptide Racers will be a competitive water raceway designed for children to jump on a mat and race down one of six slides with family and friends for the fastest time! Each slide stands 17 feet high and is more than 100 feet in length. Wipeout Lagoon is a “spray ground” with multiple water jets splashing on and off and plenty of new LEGO® models like a surfing dog to create a fun place to cool off this summer.


Check out this post for 5 reasons to plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

8. Swimming Makes Me Hungry!

Big appetite? There are some truly tasty and hearty dishes to order here. I had a chicken and avocado burrito on my last visit and it was big and delicious.

When Surfers’ Cove opens you can eat like native Southern Californians at the new Beach Street Tacos. My family got a “sneak taste” of the tacos and they were deliciously authentic. I still can’t decide which were my favorite – carnitas, carne asada or the fish!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Amazing street tacos will soon be offered at the LEGOLAND California Water Park

Legoland California hosts Brick or Treat Party Nights during Halloween.

9. Park Hours & Ticket Information

Hours of the LEGOLAND Water Park vary, depending upon the season. Be sure to check the guide to make sure it will be open when planning your visit.

Unfortunately there is only one entrance to the LEGOLAND Water Park and it requires a regular LEGOLAND theme park ticket to enter. This means you can’t plan a visit only to the water park. You’ll need a theme park admission to get to the water park. Upgrading your theme park ticket to included the water park is $30.

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!

10. What to Bring with You (And What to Leave at Home)

Bring:

  • Your swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Flip-flops (especially important when you need to use the restroom!)
  • Wet/Dry bag to hold suits when you go into the theme park
  • Water shoes are allowed (except on slides).

Leave:

  • Beach chair
  • Umbrella
  • Outside food

Save Money at LEGOLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

Planning to include a visit to the LEGOLAND California Water Park in your Southern California vacation? Here are 10 things you need to know before you go!


For more great water parks,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


5 Reasons to Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

We’ve been LEGOLAND California guests since shortly after the park opened in 1999. I appreciate that it’s a park for a good variety of ages, with places for toddlers to roam, rides geared just for preschoolers and adventures for older kids too. These are my 5 reasons why I think you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

I am a LEGOLAND ambassador. I have received complimentary tickets to the parks. All thoughts and opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Why You Should Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

Like the versatile LEGO play sets, the LEGOLAND California park is constantly reinventing itself. Over the last few years LEGOLAND has been consistently adding new and exciting pieces to their theme park. New sections like Ninjago World, Star Wars to Miniland USA and LEGO Friends Heartlake City have rejuvenated areas of the park. Additions to the resort like Sea Life Aquarium. LEGOLAND water park and the Resort hotel make LEGOLAND California a true family vacation destination.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Waiting for the water park to open at LEGOLAND California

1. LEGOLAND Water Park

Last year I visited the LEGOLAND water park for the first time. I was so impressed with the variety of play areas for a wide range of kids. There is a Duplo-inspired Splash Safari and Splash Zoo for toddlers & preschoolers. My kids liked the wide “family-sized” short water slides here. There are plenty of big-kid water slides too with lots of interactive ways to get wet. I’m partial to floating in the Build-a-Raft River.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The size of the LEGOLAND water park is impressive as well, with the addition of the Chima section. This includes a more slides and the Lion Temple Wave Pool. And the water park is about to get even bigger!

Opening next month is Surfers’ Cove. In Surfers’ Cove, kids will be able to race their friends at Riptide Racers timed water slides, enjoy an epic splash-ground at Wipeout Lagoon and enlighten their taste buds with the new Beach Street Tacos. My family got a “sneak taste” of the tacos and they were deliciously authentic. I still can’t decide which were my favorite – carnitas, carne asada or the fish!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Amazing street tacos will soon be offered at the LEGOLAND California Water Park

Riptide Racers will be a competitive water raceway designed for children to jump on a mat and race down one of six slides with family and friends for the fastest time! Each slide stands 17 feet high and is more than 100 feet in length. Wipeout Lagoon is a “spray ground” with multiple water jets splashing on and off and plenty of new LEGO® models like a surfing dog to create a fun place to cool off this summer.

The LEGOLAND Water Park is open seven days a week starting Friday, May 26 2017.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The Duplo Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad

2. LEGOLAND Hotel and Castle Expansion

My older two kids stayed at the LEGOLAND Hotel with their grandma a few years ago and I’m jealous! This hotel is jam-packed with fun (if a disco-ball in the elevator and a treasure hunt in the room is any indication!) Check out this enormous pirate play house in the hotel lobby.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

This big pirate ship play area is inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel lobby

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel has already broken ground and is slated to open in 2018. Given the popularity of the LEGOLAND Hotel, I’d expect this new hotel to be equally fantastic!

3. LEGO Fun for Babies

With all the bright colors and interactive elements, LEGOLAND California includes things for baby as well. Sweet and slow rides like Fairy Tale Brook and Coast Cruise are appropriate for baby to enjoy. There are baby-friendly splash pad areas in Pirate Shores and Heartlake City (just be sure to bring swim diapers & a towel).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy the LEGOLAND California water park Safari Splash

There are some rides that I would have thought would be okay for babies to go on (like Safari Trek) but my 14-month old wasn’t tall enough. Make sure you check the height requirements before getting in line.

My baby’s favorite place in all of LEGOLAND is Duplo Playtown. She enjoyed walking around the playhouses, playing with the blocks and riding the LEGOLAND Express train. My preschooler was able to climb and explore in this area as well.

Book a stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel and you can return to the room mid-day for a nap then return to the park later in the day.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Riding the LEGO Express Train in Fun Town

4. The Perfect Park for Preschoolers

Coastersaurus is a great first roller coaster. Mia’s Riding Camp is a cute carousel. Every preschooler loves the Royal Joust which takes kiddos on a LEGO horse ride through the “countryside”. Junior Driving School is a can’t-miss attraction for kids 3-5 (they can drive their own LEGO car!)

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers will love to drive their own car at LEGOLAND California Junior Driving School.

I love that there are places in many of the queue for little ones to play with LEGO blocks while parents wait in line. You can simply scoop up your kids before boarding the ride!

The 4D movie experiences are short films that preschoolers will delight in (3D glasses and quirky interactive moments will make preschoolers giggle!) Leave time in your day for a visit to Sea Life Aquarium. This area is nicely geared for preschoolers, with plenty of hands-on activities in this LEGO-splashed space.

Check out my TravelingMom post for all the reasons to take preschoolers to LEGOLAND.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers can gallop on a LEGO horse at LEGOLAND California

5. Stuff for LEGO-Loving Tweens and Teens

My teens love taking in all the brick-by-brick details of Miniland USA. The Star Wars section is of particular interest! The scenes replicated from each of the Star Wars movies are crazy-detailed and impressive (1.5 million LEGO bricks were used!)

There aren’t any wild thrill rides at LEGOLAND California but unique and clever wins over thrills in my book (The Technic Coaster, Knight’s Tournament and Ninjago the Ride are all cool for tweens & teens).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

LEGOLAND California features amazing Star Wars displays in Miniland

LEGOLAND California is also a foodie paradise as far as theme parks go. There are a great variety of flavors represented here, from Japanese style ramen bowls, smokehouse ribs and Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches. Of course there are the traditional pizza and burgers too. For dessert Granny’s Apple Fries are a can’t-miss. Your tweens & teens could happily eat there way around the park and be quite content!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel

Save money at LEGOLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

What’s New at LEGOLAND California?

I was able to take my little guy for the day a few months ago and we were able to play in the park together and experienced the newest film, ‘The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure’. However since baby girl has arrived, I’ve not been able to visit again. My mother-in-law was happy to take my son to LEGOLAND recently and they enjoyed the theme park and water parks on their visit. The new NINJAGO World area was all he could talk about and I can’t wait to experience it myself soon!

We received complimentary passes to experience NINJAGO World at LEGOLAND California. All thoughts and opinions as an official LEGOLAND Blogger are my own.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

So what’s new at LEGOLAND California?

Find out What's New at LEGOLAND California, including the innovative NINJAGO World

CA.(Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Legoland California)

NINJAGO World

NINJAGO The Ride uses “cutting-edge Maestro hand gesture technology”. This enables guests to throw fire balls, shock waves, ice and lightning to defeat villains during the ride, collecting points along the way. Their scores are displayed when the quest is completed. Special effects like heat, smoke and wind are incorporated, giving guests an interactive 4D experience. My four-year old delightfully reenacted his hand gestures for me when he came home!

This ride is the center of NINJAGO World. In addition there are 22 new LEGO models, a retail outlet and and a dining option, Ninja Kitchen. LEGOLAND chefs serve up Asian street food like pork belly sandwiches on steamed Bao Buns with crispy pork belly, lemongrass chicken or baked sweet chili tofu.

Two 4D Films

My son and I were able to attend the red carpet premiere of ‘The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure’, the fast-paced story of Emmet, Wyldstyle and friends from the popular feature-length movie. My son and I loved the humor and silly special effects (you will get wet!)

‘LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS: The Book of Creativity’ is  the newest film that combines LEGO Nexo Knights in a 4D world of wind, water and smoke! This new 12 minute film was created especially for LEGOLAND Parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Center and is a way for children to interact with the NEXO KNIGHTS world. Guests can go on a quest of their own to discover six shields hidden across the Resort to unlock exclusive ‘power ups’ for the LEGO® NEXO KNIGHTS Merlok 2.0 mobile app. I’m sure my kids would love this one too!

Legoland Blogger

Save money at LEGOLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

 

LEGOLAND California – A New Adventure is Here!

LEGOLAND California is Perfect for Preschoolers

Lots of new things going on at LEGOLAND California this year which makes it the best time to plan your SoCal visit! We’ve always loved LEGOLAND for the ability to entertain everyone from a toddler who wants to drive his own car to the grown-up who is fascinated by the Star Wars MiniLand exhibits.

Ninjago World rides are being assembled as we speak, the LEGOLAND water parks will reopen for the warm weather season in March and there is a fun new show, The LEGO® Movie™ 4D -A New Adventure!

As a new Official LEGOLAND Blogger, my preschooler and I were recently treated to a special event in honor of the new 4D film being shown exclusively at LEGOLAND. What a special evening, complete with character meet n’ greets, a red carpet and fun foods. And don’t you know, 3-D glasses make everything awesome!

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The film was fantastic too; really cool special 4-D effects, fast paced and humor interjected throughout. It’s under 15 minutes long, so anyone 3+ would love it!

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Be sure to check out my newest post at TravelingMom about this Park, LEGOLAND California – a Delightful Amusement Park for Preschoolers.

Legoland Blogger

 

Free Things for Families in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Free Things for Families in San Diego's Balboa Park

Free things for families to do together is always great, right? And in a location with a 100+ year history that’s full of outdoor hiking trails, culture, playgrounds, museums, art, music and dancing? It’s the perfect place for learning and exploring…or even just a simple picnic and a nap on the grass!

Check out my top 21 things to do in San Diego’s Balboa Park that are completely free. Please stop over at TravelingMom to find out more!

I’m an Official LEGOLAND Blogger!

My family and I have been visiting the LEGOLAND California Resort since shortly after it opened in 1999. I’ve written about it here on my own blog as well as on the Traveling Mom website. We were annual pass holders for several years. My kids love to visit, whether it’s for the rides, attractions, water park, shows or simply to wander through Miniland and recreate the scenes at one of the many building stations.

Legoland Blogger

I’m proud to say that I’ve just been given the title of Official LEGOLAND Blogger! So, what does that mean? As a LEGOLAND Insider, that means I’ll be able to share with you some of the cool new rides and attractions that will be coming to the LEGOLAND California Resort, including the highly anticipated Ninjago The Ride. The ride vehicles were just delivered to the Park last week and are getting ready for the grand opening this spring.

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According to the LEGOLAND Calfornia Resort, “NINJAGO World features LEGO® building stations, a game to test reflexes, spinners to test balance, Asian cuisine and a new shopping venue.” Sounds like another winning addition to this already action-packed resort!

I’m looking forward to this new opportunity and to bring you more news of this fun resort in the San Diego area.

Have you ever visited the LEGOLAND California Resort? What’s your favorite part?


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SoCal Guide – Hands-on Fun at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Ever visited the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park? There are tons of hands-on science-minded activities for kids and adults alike. The IMAX movies are fantastic in the dome theater. We especially like visiting if it’s a rare rainy San Diego day because there is enough here to fill up the entire day.

Stop over at the Traveling Mom’s website and read my newest article, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego -100 Ways for Kids to Learn and Play.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego