Posts

Restaurant Hacks for Kids That Make Eating Out Easier

Eating out with kids can be an ordeal. You just want an enjoyable meal but often feel rushed and busy cutting food, entertaining the kids and wiping up messy faces (all while trying to eat a hot meal yourself!) What if you have a picky eater and have to pack food that they’ll actually eat? Then there’s the potential for mess. A BIG mess. Is it better just to eat at home? I like to eat out, especially when traveling, but sometimes I dread it with all the kids! Here are my travel dining hacks for kids, including products that can make eating out with kids easier!

I received free product for several of the items mentioned in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

How to Take Young Kids to a Restaurant – Travel Dining Hacks for Kids

To be fully honest, when we’re at home we don’t really eat out in restaurants very often. Restaurant dining with kids is reserved for times when we’re traveling and far from our kitchen. Being able to enjoy a special meal out is something we don’t do often, but absoutely plan for when we travel. Since we have a toddler, kindergartener and two teens, I have a bag of tricks to keep them entertained and happy until the food arrives! (Hint: This doesn’t have to include electronic devices, keep reading!) I’ve included my travel dining hacks for kids with lots of tips on eating out as well as the must have travel items for babies, big kids and toddlers when restaurant dining is in your plans.

Choosing the Best Restaurants for Kids

Sure, you can take your kid to just about any restaurant you want, but do you really want to? I know I don’t want to eat in a fancy place with my noisy toddler and feel like I’m needing to shush her every 2 seconds when she uses her “outside” voice indoors! Personally when I’m eating in a restaurant with my kids I choose a place that might be just a bit more noisy and more on the casual side.

Before you step inside, check out the ambiance and weigh whether you think it’s a good place for your kiddos. Second, peek at the menu. If there’s something there that your kids will eat, then proceed! If you have a picky eater in the family, see my post with practical dining tips for at home or on the road.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

What to Order Kids in a Restaurant?

When we go out to eat (which isn’t very often), we usually encourage the kids to order something they don’t usually eat at home. Why get buttered spaghetti noodles when you can order steak and baked potato with all the fixings?!

My middle son always orders chicken nuggets and fries because we simply don’t feed him that at home. For him, that’s his special restaurant meal. I’m not going to spend dinner out arguing with him to try something new, especially if I may get push back. Restaurant dining isn’t the time to pressure your kids. And if nuggets and fries is something he’ll eat (and usually finish!) then that’s what I let him order!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Give ’em what they want! If ordering nuggets & fries will get them to eat, then so be it!

1. Table Covers Keep Food From Touching Dirty Tables

If you’ve been eating out with kids before, you know that the food doesn’t always stay on the plate. In fact, if given a plate of food my two-year old will immediately dump all the contents directly onto the table! Instead of giving your toddler an entire plate to herself, dole out a few pieces here and there to minimize mess. I use disposable table covers so I know her food stays away from germs.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

The moment right before the pizza hit the table – thank goodness for the disposable table cover!

2. Portable High Chair for Babies and Toddlers

Dirty restaurant highchair? Skip toting around the bulky cover and consider the Totseat Chair Harness. Quickly convert a regular chair into a secure seat for babies on the go.

3. Drink Up! Kid’s Travel Cups That Are Easy to Clean

My baby daughter used to make the biggest mess when she tried to drink out of a cup. She never grasped how to drink out of a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup had been equally challenging. Fortunately she learned how to drink out of a straw very early on. But that still didn’t minimize the mess (she tended to let whatever she doesn’t swallow dribble down her chin!)

When we went on vacation, I brought along a set of Silikids Siliskin Silicone Sippy Tops. These silicone tops stretch over your own cup, turning it into a child-friendly sipper. While in the hotel room, I was able to convert a small drinking glass into a sippy cup for milk. And when taking her in the stroller, I placed a Siliskin Sippy Top onto a plastic cup filled with water.

The Siliskin Sippy Top has tiny holes that do not leak out liquid. The child has to gently bite on the top and suck to drink. This made it much less of a mess because my daughter only took in what she was swallowing. I really liked having these on-the-go to convert any cup into a sipper. They are dishwasher and microwave safe, though I just washed by hand in the hotel bathroom sink.

I also have the Silikids Siliskin Silicone Straw Cup. I’ve always been hesitant to purchase sippy cups with straws because of the cleaning aspect (tiny parts are challenging to get totally clean, even in the dishwasher).

This cup is only three simple parts and all can be boiled in water to sanitize. The straw is really quite big for my toddler daughter to use but my preschooler drinks from it perfectly (and I don’t have to worry about spills in the car).

4. Entertaining Ideas for Baby

I’ve taken my baby on a few trips by myself, including traveling alone to Walt Disney World. If you don’t have extra hands, make sure to pack a few things that will make your dining experience more enjoyable. A few toys for entertaining baby and a clever strap that keeps the bottle or sippy cup from falling to the floor.

If your baby is in the loud screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs phase request a seat on the patio where the extra noise may be better absorbed. If Disney is your destination, check out this post with additional tips for dining with a baby.

5. Keep ‘Em Clean with Disposable Bibs

Other than taking extra clothes with you (always a good idea anyway, I guess), a bib is the best way to keep clothes clean when eating out with kids. A disposable bib is even better! Pop it on, fold in the bottom to catch any food that falls and then toss it when done with the meal. So much better than toting around crusty clothes!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Disposable bibs are a must in my travel bag!

6. Best Travel Snack Ideas for Kids

Despite your best efforts for choosing kid-friendly restaurants, some kids just won’t eat. Consider packing in a few of their favorite snacks that you know they’ll eat. I like the b. box Snack Pack. There are two separate compartments. And it comes with a child-sized utensil that snaps in to the lid!

In between meals or while on the road, try the Munchkin Snack Catcher. I use it in the car with my toddler and big kids! You can fill it up with an age-appropriate snack (fishy crackers for little ones, trail mix for older kids). This really helps to minimize spills and mess in the car when they drop it (because you know they will!)If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

7. Kid’s Restaurant Busy Bag (Aka: The Device-Free Dinner)

We went to a restaurant a few years ago and before my kids were even in their seats they were each handed an electronic tablet to play games. We weren’t even asked by the waitress if it was okay. Our kids don’t use devices at home so naturally it was a special occasion. Was the wait for the meal really quiet? Yep. They had their noses pressed against the screens the entire time, silently playing their individual games.

There are times that having the devices come in handy during travel (like on a boring road trip). But for me personally, I’m not a fan of having electronics at the dinner table. We let our kids play with them at this particular restaurant for about ten minutes before removing them and asking the waitress to take them away. My husband and I enjoy chatting with our kids together and while it was certainly quiet, it didn’t connect us as a family to have the kids playing games alone. However do what you have to do – if the kids are bickering and all you want is 10 quiet minutes, then maybe letting the kids use a device is what you need to do.

Waiting for food to arrive can make young diners impatient. Some restaurants will offer paper and crayons but not all. Consider having a restaurant “busy bag” to occupy kids. The contents inside the bag can be items that the entire family would enjoy. Supply a grab-bag of goodies to keep kids entertained while you wait. Here are a few mess-free ideas for different age ranges, from babies to big kids! Grown ups, set your phones down and pick up one of these family favorites.


If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families! #Restaurant #TravelWithKids #FamilyTravel #EatingOut #Dining

33 Things to Do Outside In San Diego with Kids

With its temperate climate year-round, San Diego is a beautiful place to explore outdoors. Fortunately there are tons of things for families with kids to do in San Diego county. From the beaches to the mountains (and all the spots in between!) I’ve included my top 33 things to do outside in San Diego with kids.

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

Things to Do Outside in San Diego

I’ve lived in San Diego my entire life and I have a confession to make. Even I haven’t done everything on this list! There’s just so much to see and do outside in San Diego with kids. It’s my goal to get through everything here with my kids. We’re going to hit all the outdoor adventures in San Diego from North County to the South Bay! I have suggestions for things to do with toddlers and teens, and all ages in between. I’ve even included some free things to do in San Diego! These are my suggestions for the best San Diego attractions for kids to do outside.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

Fly a kite, ride a bike or just run on the grass at Embarcadero Park.

If you’re looking to save money on your San Diego vacation, check out these specials from Get Away Today, my travel partner. There are hotel discounts, ticket savings and even a San Diego travel coupon book! Also if you book a SoCal vacation package, use my special code REWRITTEN for an extra $10 off!

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529


Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

Old Point Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo Monument.

Outdoor Learning for Kids in San Diego

Julian – Step back to the Gold Rush days in the quaint town of Julian. Particularly popular in the fall (during apple pie season) or winter (when there’s lots of snow on the ground).

Living Coast Discovery Center – Located south of downtown San Diego in Chula Vista, this zoo & aquarium offers environmental education and animal encounters with SoCal wildlife.

Cabrillo Monument – Located in the Point Loma area, see where Juan Cabrillo first landed in San Diego nearly 400 years ago. The Cabrillo Monument houses a visitor center, lighthouse, trails and tide pools. The only cost here is $10 per vehicle. Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn and Suites is an ideal overnight location near Shelter Island.

San Diego Harbor – Take tours on the USS Midway aircraft carrier or Maritime Museum of San Diego with the Star of India and HMS Surprise.

Free Things to Do in San Diego with Kids

If you’re looking for more free things for kids in San Diego, check out this post with all the freebies offered annually in October.

Balboa Park – You could spend a week in this huge outdoor venue and still not experience everything! From weekly outdoor concerts at the organ pavilion, hiking trails and free special events, there’s a lot of ground to cover at Balboa Park.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

So many outdoor places to explore at Balboa Park.

Embarcadero Park – Walking and biking paths along with lots of shady trees and green space for napping or running around. Bring a kite as this location has some of the best kite flying wind around!

Old Town – The perfect place to start if you want to give kids a history lesson on the beginnings of this city. Kids can walk through the free museums of Old Town, including the old school house to see how people lived in San Diego 150 years ago. Consider staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Old Town.

Waterfront Park – Kids can make a splash in this outdoor play area with splash pads and fountains along San Diego harbor. Free to play, just bring water shoes and a towel.

Outdoor Places to Eat in San Diego with Kids

Liberty Station – This hip center houses many restaurants, a movie theater, art studios, boutiques as well as historical museums, rose gardens and fountains. You can work up an appetite walking the length of the large Liberty Station area. We personally enjoyed the al fresco dining at Officine Buona Forcetta. The authentic Italian food is incredible and there is a play set outside for the kids.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

The outdoor patio at Buona Forcetta (there’s a play structure for the kids on the lawn)

Little Italy – This tight-knit community is host to a weekly outdoor mercado farmer’s market. There are also many family-friendly patio cafes, including our favorite restaurant in Little Italy, Civico 1845.

Seaport Village – This 14-acre shopping district is located along the bay, with some beautiful boardwalk views. Seaport Village offers a lot of outdoor dining, including Buster’s Beach House (order the Short Board Sampler!)

Dine with Orcas at SeaWorld San Diego – Definitely one of the most memorable meals! Click through to read more about Dine with Orcas (and find out how to get discounted tickets).

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

Gardens to Explore with Kids

Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch – This seasonal event includes oceans of gorgeous flower gardens, tractor rides, mazes and Santa’s Playground. Check the website calendar when specific days are designated for kids with face painting, bubbles and more.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – Families can hike the Pacific Crest Trail to see some of the beautiful wildflowers that bloom in this 600,000-acre state park. Cost is per vehicle, charged Fri/Sat/Sun.

Water Conservation Garden in Rancho San Diego – Kids can learn about water conservation, drought tolerant plants and rain water collection in this large series of gardens. Kids especially enjoy the sensory garden. I’ve loved the gardens as a pretty place for taking photos of the kids. No cost for admission, though donations are accepted.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

The Water Conservation Garden has some beautiful back drops for portrait taking of the kids.

Carlsbad Lagoon – Rent an aqua cycle, stand up paddleboard, canoe or peddle boat to get kids active on the water! For more power they also rent waverunners, pontoon boats and power boats.

San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas – Kids can play in several of the beautiful gardens and look at the 4,000 different species growing here.

Outdoor Recreation in San Diego

Santee Lakes – Grab your fishing pole and toss a line into one of the many lakes here. Bring a bike, a suit and towel for the splash pad or just play at one of the playgrounds. There are also boats for rent.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

Enjoying the weekend with a fishing pole at Santee Lakes

Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad – The tidal wetlands trail here is stroller friendly and you can spy habitats for birds, fish and other animals.

Mission Trails – Start at the Visitor Center where you can learn history of the area and about natural wildlife. Then lace up your hiking shoes for one of the many rugged trails here (not stroller appropriate).

Old Poway Park – While the park is open each day, the Poway-Midland Railroad, Nelson House and Heritage Museum are only open on weekends.

Biking at the Beach – My two little ones and I enjoyed a bike ride along the coast in Carlsbad last year. Pedego Electric Bikes gave me a bike with a seat in front for my toddler. They even had a bike with training wheels for my kindergartner! You can find bike rental locations all over San Diego, especially near the shore.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego

Adventures Outdoors in San Diego

Coronado Ferry – Hop aboard one of these “Flagship Cruises” that take you from downtown San Diego over to Coronado Island. Takes about 15 minutes total for less than $5 per person one way. Once at the Coronado Ferry Landing, you can walk or bike the paths along the water and enjoy the grassy areas, playgrounds, sandy beaches and public restrooms.

Aquatica Waterpark- Everyone can have fun in the sun at SeaWorld’s water park (located in South Bay, not near SeaWorld). Be sure to check the schedule online as to when this water park will be open.

Potato Chip Rock – Adventurous kids who like to hike will enjoy standing on this famous rock near the top of Mt. Woodson in Poway.

Petco Park – What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the sun, watching a major league baseball game in downtown San Diego. Purchase tickets in the Park at the Park and kids can kick back on the grass (bring a blanket!) Join the Compadres for Kids and after Sunday home games, kids will have access to special activities like running the bases, bounce houses, playing catch on the field, autograph signings and more.

San Diego Theme Parks for Kids

Click the red links to find out how you can purchase discount tickets to these popular attractions!

Sea World San DiegoEveryone can make a splash at the aquariums, thrill rides and family fun theme park. SeaWorld San Diego has a focus on animal education and learning in a safe environment with touch pools, shows and sealife interaction.

Find out where you can touch and interact with sea life at SeaWorld San Diego including special tours that get you into the water. #SeaWorld #SanDiego

LEGOLAND California and Waterpark – LEGOLAND is a family favorite with amusement park rides that are best suited for ages 3-10. The LEGOLAND waterpark is a newer addition that just keeps growing. It’s a great place for teens and adults as well with giant wave pools and adventurous slides. Here’s what you should know before visiting

San Diego Zoo This is the ultimate zoo for nearly every animal under the sun! Read more on how to cover the San Diego Zoo in a single day.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park These are the animals you’d see on safari. Bring your walking shoes, this 1800 acre park in Escondido covers a lot of ground. Don’t miss the Africa Tram, you’ll be able to get a closer view of the animals.

Best Beaches in San Diego for Kids

Mission Beach – Arrive early to grab free parking in one of the lots to enjoy this popular boardwalk beach with lots of sand and waves. Mission Beach also houses Belmont Park with amusements like the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, Wave House and other kid-friendly activities. I’m partial to nearby Mission Bay, with the grassy parks and playgrounds. Consider a stay at the Bahia Resort Hotel, right along beautiful Mission Bay.

Carlsbad – There are 2 great beach spots for families here including Tamarack-State Beach and South Ponto Beach. Both have lifeguards on duty and public restrooms with showers.

Snorkling in La Jolla Cove – You’ll find Garibaldi and leopard sharks (both tame to swim around) in the beautiful waters of La Jolla. Bring your snorkle to spy these creatures. The beach here is very tiny and extremely popular so arrive early to stake out parking and a spot on the sand.

Dozens of ideas on outdoor activities to do with kids in San Diego, from the beaches to the mountains (and everywhere in between!) Includes suggestions for FREE events and locations as well #SanDiego


 

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

Holidays at LEGOLAND California – Ultimate Seasonal Guide

While my family and I have been to LEGOLAND California dozens of times, we’ve never been during the holidays! This weekend we had the chance to experience the holidays at LEGOLAND events, including seasonal treats, unique LEGO photo ops and live shows. And did I mention the treats?! Peppermint milkshakes, need I go on? Keep reading for all the fun things to do during the holidays at LEGOLAND, along with my insider tips for an enjoyable day with the family.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Please note that I was provided complimentary tickets for my family and I to experience the holidays at LEGOLAND. All thoughts and opinions are my own and there was no monetary compensation. I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Holidays at LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND California is open almost every day in December. Opening times vary, as well. Be sure to check the days and hours of operation online before your visit. In addition to all the usual rides, the holidays at LEGOLAND offers special seasonal shows, foods and photo opportunities throughout the park. I’ll share with you how to maximize your day at LEGOLAND and how to experience all that the holidays at LEGOLAND offers.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!


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). 

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529


Must-Do Photo Ops

LEGO Santa, Reindeer and Christmas Tree

While there are always lots of unique and larger-than-life LEGO figures to pose with throughout the park, make a point of visiting Santa and his reindeer during the holidays at LEGOLAND. This photo op is located in Fun Town, under the glow of the huge LEGO Christmas Tree!

LEGOLAND Holiday Tip – Arrive in this area about 30 minutes before/after one of the stage shows when the crowds aren’t as heavy.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

It “snows” in Fun Land!

Live Entertainment

My kids never want to take a break from all the attractions long enough to watch the shows. However we often catch both shows when walking through these areas.

LEGO Friends Holiday Show

Targeted mostly as young girls, the sweeter-than-sweet holiday show in Heartlake City features the five LEGO Friends.

Fun Town Show – The Yule Tides

This one couldn’t be more jolly! Santa’s elves are singing and dancing old and new Christmas carols on the stage in Fun Town.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

LEGO Friends Holiday Show in Heartlake City

Little LEGO-Sized Touches

Be sure to take a visit to Miniland U.S.A. to see where the Christmas spirit has been sprinkled! We found many of the buildings have fun holiday touches, including Santa and his sleigh and wreaths decorating the LEGO White House.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Holiday Eats and Treats

Throughout the park, seasonal treats are sold that will surely get you into the holiday spirit. For lunch, dine on a Holiday Smoked Turkey Sandwich with rustic stuffing and spiced cranberry dressing or a smoked turkey leg. Sip warm apple cider or hot chocolate. And for dessert indulge in churros con chocolate, holiday cookies, peppermint milkshakes, and candy apples!

LEGOLAND Holiday Tip – Dining can get really crowded at LEGOLAND. Also, food is prepared fresh, so it often takes longer than you might expect to receive your food. Have one person order while the other gets the table to save time.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Seasonal shopping is available in the retail shops

Winter Holiday Market

Saturdays, December 9th and 16th till 7:00 pm in Fun Town.

The Winter Holiday Market is all new this year. Guests can purchase authentic “German Christmas Market” inspired treats like grilled sausages, giant Bavarian pretzels, spiced wine, and specialty hot chocolate.

Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

Holidays at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Take the time for a tour through the SEA LIFE aquarium where seasonal décor appears throughout . There’s even a special holiday themed daily dive show daily from December 1st – 24th.


Celebrate the holidays at LEGOLAND in California with seasonal shows, treats and LEGO-sized Christmas touches around the park!

 

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!

What’s New, What’s Returning and What’s Coming To Disneyland?

So much exciting news has been developing at the Disneyland Resort this summer! From the Marvel-inspired Summer of Heroes, new and updated rides and attractions, the release of MaxPass and the building anticipation of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there’s tons to explore! Find out what’s new, what’s returning and what’s coming to Disneyland Parks.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

I received complimentary Park Hopper tickets and MaxPass for myself and my children to attend a Family Media Day event at Disneyland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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

#SummerofHeroes

As you enter Disney California Adventure Park, you can’t miss the huge Marvel-style signage above the entrance. It’s the Summer of Heroes at Disneyland and there are several new things going on in the Parks. Some of these events will be ending when Halloween Time arrives. Other attractions are here to stay!

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Entrance to Hollywood Land at Disney California Adventure park for Summer of Heroes event.

Check out this video from Disney Parks Blog that outlines what’s happening at Disney California Adventure park for the Summer of Heroes event:

Super Hero-Style Dining

There are some super bites for guests to enjoy representative of Summer of Heroes! I’m mean, how cool is that Groot Bread! I had the chance to try several dishes. The yummy Obviously Nachos are made with fried blue corn tortillas and topped with red pepper cheese sauce, mojo-marinated chicken, chipotle crèma and green onions. Multiverse Parfait was rich and delicious (Chocolate cake layered with white and dark chocolate mousse and cherry jelly, topped with chocolate ganache).

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT

The jewel of the Summer of Heroes is the most grand attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT. This ride opened to guests earlier this summer. While my three kids rode, I stayed behind with the baby. I thought since this new ride had previously been The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror there might be some similarities. As my eldest explained, “It’s nothing like The Tower of Terror!” I’m looking forward to visiting again soon so I can ride and see for myself!

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT attraction remade over the Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park.

MaxPass

I’ll admit that I was a little fuzzy on the details of MaxPass up to our recent visit. This new feature had debuted about a week before my trip and I’d not done much research. Fortunately it’s a very easy program to use and saved us immense amounts of time!

Here’s an outline video from the Disney Parks Blog on how MaxPass works:

A few of my own thoughts about MaxPass. At a cost of $10 per ticket, per day (along with unlimited PhotoPass downloads) I found this to be a good value. My family and I were able to experience 24 rides on our single day visit (over the course of 13 hours). This was on a summer Saturday in July!

While we were leaving one attraction, I was able to arrange a MaxPass reservation for our next ride. I appreciated being able to access the app to see which times were available next. This allowed me to pick and choose the next available time for an attraction that was nearby. This allowed us to maximize time and eliminated unnecessary running around.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

I also liked that I could quickly scan all available open MaxPass and pick and choose which attraction I wanted. This meant I didn’t have to physically go to the attraction to see the return time before choosing that reservation.

I even found that I was able to hold several MaxPass at the same time, something that didn’t happen for me when using the old FastPass system.

MaxPass Tips!

  • Start the day with a fully charged mobile device battery and bring an external charger as well. Using MaxPass all day really drains the battery! I brought my external charger and even after a full charge, my phone battery still died before the end of the night.
  • Before “locking in” on a MaxPass reservation, scroll through all the available options. Some attractions had several hour waits before we’d have been able to redeem our MaxPass reservation. Other times we were able to find some attractions with only a 5 minute wait!
  • MaxPass works between the Parks. This means you can book a Disneyland Parks MaxPass even while at Disney California Adventure. This was an awesome feature, being able to book a reservation for the opposite Park just before Park Hopping!
  • FASTPASS tickets that are printed are only your reminder of the return time. With MaxPass you won’t be printing anything so you’ll need to view your return time on your mobile device.
  • You can use either your Park tickets or your mobile device as the proof of your reservation. I used my Park tickets each time (simply to save phone battery). This meant I was pulling my tickets out to show them to Cast Members over and over throughout the day. I can see how easily this would mean losing them (in fact, my daughter DID lose her ticket, about an hour before closing). Keep your tickets in a safe place. I’d recommend a water proof lanyard.

I feel that MaxPass truly did maximize our visit and streamlined our time spent in queue. We never spent longer than 20 minutes in any one line all day, even for the E-Ticket rides like Radiator Springs Racers, Space Mountain and Guardians of the Galaxy. Here is my video review of how MaxPass worked for my family:

New FASTPASS Opportunities

Two new FASTPASS locations means that lines will be moving more swiftly! For the first time guests can book a FASTPASS for Toy Story Midway Mania and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. These two attractions are also available on the MaxPass system. FASTPASS continues to be complimentary to any ticket holders for the duration of your visit. MaxPass costs $10 per ticket, per day.

Another change is that the FASTPASS ticket that is printed is only a reminder of the time. You’ll need your actual Park ticket to redeem the reservation. The only exceptions are for special shows like Fantasmic! and World of Color, as you’ll still need the actual FASTPASS ticket to redeem when arriving for your reserved time.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Paper FASTPASS is only a reminder. You’ll need your park ticket to redeem FASTPASS.

 

Rivers of America

The Rivers of America re-routing and Railroad track construction is complete. This means that the Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes are back on the water! And Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island has reopened as well.

Here is a video from Disney Parks Blog that celebrates their return.

Disneyland Railroad

After being closed for a year, the Disneyland Railroad reopened on the day of our visit (July 29th, 2017). Several elevated trestles have been installed along the tracks and for the first time the train makes a left turn along the route.

What's new & what's coming to Dis

This new view of the Mark Twain is taken from atop the bridge for the Disneyland Railroad

With the Railroad reopening another often-forgotten attraction has been rejuvenated as well. Just after leaving the Tomorrowland Station, the train enters The Grand Canyon and Primeval World dioramas. This attraction has always been one of my favorites and the new updates don’t disappoint! The dioramas look refreshed and have been updated with projections that add even more interest to the dramatic scenes.


CLICK THIS IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEYLAND & DISNEY WORLD VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


Entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

With the reopening of the pathway between Frontierland and Fantasyland, guests can now access the path that will lead to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Though this new Land won’t be opening until 2019, the excitement is already building for what will be an amazing new addition to Disneyland Park.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

This is to be the entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The pathway leads under a new bridge for the Disneyland Railroad.

Here’s a “fly-through” of the model that will be Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from the Disney Parks Blog:

Red Rose Taverne

This new restaurant opened to guests earlier this year, in celebration of the feature film Beauty and the Beast. The Village Haus Restaurant in Fantasyland has been transformed into a French chateau, the Red Rose Taverne.

I dined on the Beast’s Burger, which was over-the-top yummy. A Gray Stuff Gateau (white chocolate mousse and red velvet cake with a sweet raspberry center) is offered here for dessert. We’ve heard mixed reviews so we skipped it this time.

This restaurant is being called a “limited time offering” but it’s still going strong several months later and I’m not sure when it will be ending.

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

Fantasmic!

This long-running nighttime spectacular returned to Disneyland Park mid-June with updated technology. Guests who wish to watch Fantasmic! should grab a FastPass early in the day. This will allow you entrance into a reserved viewing area (you are unable to watch the show with this ticket).

There is a Fantasmic! Dining Package available, which offers you a meal along with that reserved FastPass ticket. Choose from Blue Bayou, River Belle Terrace or Hungry Bear Restaurant. The dishes look delicious and the desserts are even more amazing.

(Image: Disney Parks Blog)

Check out this Sorcerer Mickey “Fantasmic!” Dessert, with milk chocolate mousse, bananas foster sauce, milk chocolate pound cake and a chocolate glaze…wow!!!

Here’s a sneak peek video of Fantasmic! from Disney Parks Blog:

Save money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount Disneyland 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). 


 

What's new & what's coming to Disneyland? Find out more about MaxPass, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and more!

 

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

Guests staying at the LEGOLAND Hotel or the new LEGOLAND Castle Hotel (read the review from my friend Karen at Desert Chica) may wonder if a Water Park visit is worth it, since they will have swimming pool access. I’ve heard that the pools at the hotels just aren’t very special, so I highly recommend upgrading to the Water Park ticket.

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!


What to Do on a Non-Park Day at Disney World with a Preschooler

No ticket? No problem! There are tons of things to do on a non-park day at Disney World. I had the chance to spend time at Walt Disney World with my five-year old son and baby daughter. We padded our trip with several non-park days to explore. I’m sharing my tips of things to do with your preschooler at Disney that don’t require a park ticket (including the free stuff at Disney World!) Keep reading for the ideas on what to do with a preschooler at Disney World from resort hopping, dining and free fun.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing fun things to do at Disney on non-park days.

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


11 Things to Do at Disney World with a Preschooler

Preschoolers can be notoriously fickle and many will have a better attitude when allowed free time and play without structure. These ideas for a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler show you exactly what you can do with little ones without having to purchase a Park ticket.

As a longtime Disneyland guest if we go to Disney, we always go into the Parks. Outside of the resort hotels and a few shops at Downtown Disney, there isn’t much that’s “Disney” to do if you’re not inside the Parks at Disneyland.

However at Walt Disney World there are so many amazing things to do at Disney without parks (and lots of these ideas are totally free!) I’ve always wanted to pad my visit with several non-park days and I was able to do that. My one-year old toddler and my 5-year old preschooler and I were recently at Walt Disney World and we had three non-park days on our visit. This allow us plenty of free time to explore some of the entertainment options outside of the Parks. Keep reading for my ideas of things to do at Disney World without going into the parks.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)


CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE A FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


1. Transportation at Disney World is a Ride for Preschoolers

My preschooler couldn’t wait to get on his first Disney World ride and was disappointed when I told him we weren’t going to Magic Kingdom the first two days. He was appeased however when I told him we’d be taking the Monorail, the bus, and several boats that day instead. For preschoolers hopping aboard transportation is a Disney ride. And you won’t need a Park ticket or even need to be a resort guest to ride them.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The boats from Epcot to the Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club and Hollywood Studios are totally free to ride!

2. Disney World Resort Hopping

During our visit we were able to visit a total of six different resorts. We chose to stay overnight at three different places (Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Beach Club Resort). Then we jumped aboard the Monorail and made stops at the trio of resorts on the loop (Contemporary, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian). Walking through the lobby, wandering the grounds, grabbing a snack inside a quick service restaurant and perusing the gift shops were fun activities for my preschooler.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Be sure to check online as to different activities that take place inside the resorts that anyone can enjoy. After reading an article on the Disney Blog site, I found out that the annual Easter eggs would still be on display in the lobby of the Grand Floridian during our visit.

3. Preschool Fun in Disney Springs

The first night of our stay we hopped on a boat that took us from the Port Orleans Riverside. In just under 15 minutes we were deposited into Disney Springs, a lively outdoor shopping spot with plenty for preschoolers to see and do.

My preschool was enthralled by the splash pad. It was quite late at night but being Florida, but still pretty warm. I happily let him run through the water and it totally made his entire vacation!

Other preschool activities could be taking in a G-rated movie at AMC Theater, The night of our visit there was family-friendly singing and dancing at the Waterview Park amphitheater. Brave preschoolers could take a high ride in the basket of the Characters in Flight helium balloon. If preschoolers just can’t wait for their first ride, the Marketplace area has a train and carousel.

4. Dining at Disney Springs That’s Perfect for Preschoolers

We ate dinner at Blaze Pizza, the perfect VERY quick meal for hungry preschoolers who don’t want to wait. The pizzas cook in just 180 seconds! Blaze had some deliciously unique pizza combinations available but we settled for simple pepperoni for my guy. It was a decent size for the two of us to share along with a green salad.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Other dining locations that preschoolers would love are T-Rex, Earl of Sandwich and Rainforest Cafe. The volcano outside the Rainforest Cafe ignited with shooting flames, something we had to stop and watch. Splitsville would be a great place for a few hours of dining and entertainment so you can eat and bowl a few games.

Ghiradelli ice cream and soda shop was our dessert location that night, with overflowing cones of mint chip. We’d intended to grab cupcakes from Sprinkles but the shop was closed and they were in the process of loading the cupcake ATM. There is also very preschool-friendly shaved ice from Florida Snow Company and treats from Erin McKenna’s Bakery.

5. Disney Souvenir Collecting Outside the Parks

If you plan on resort hopping, one fun activity that my son enjoyed was collecting pressed pennies. Resorts have themed pennies that you can only collect in that location.

Disney Springs has many great souvenir locations for preschoolers. Souvenir shops that are preschool-perfect here are Build-a-Dino inside T-Rex, The LEGO Store, Once Upon a Toy and the enormous World of Disney (only go in there if you have LOTS of time!)

6. Walt Disney World Resort Playgrounds

What do preschoolers love more than playing! Many of the resorts we visited had playgrounds that let little ones burn off steam. My preschooler loved the waterside play area called Caribbean Cay at Caribbean Beach as well as the rustic playground in the woods at Fort Wilderness.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

7. Get in Character

Even if you’re not going to walk through the Castle that day your little princess can still get dolled up. A visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Disney Springs allows her to get a magical makeover with make-up and hair styling. With any luck (and no swimming!) her hair will still look stylish the following day.

Another fun option is face painting or hair braiding. Many resorts as well as Disney Springs have this option.

8. Making a Splash at the Resort Pool

Take advantage of the amenities right there at your resort hotel. A day at the pool is one of the best ways for preschoolers to enjoy a non-park day. While parents can grab a drink from the poolside bar, preschoolers can swim and splash to their heart’s delight. There are life jackets available for new swimmers. Some resorts have very cool interactive pools like the water slide at Port Orleans Riverside or the fenced in pirate play area specifically for preschoolers.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

This play area at Caribbean Beach is made for preschoolers.

And nothing beats Stormalong Bay at Beach Club Resort. It’s the ultimate pool experience! My preschooler loved the sand-bottomed zero entry pool and the beach buckets and shovels to build sandcastles. And for brave preschoolers the dramatic water slide that shoots you through a pirate ship will be the talk of the trip!

9. Grab a Bite at a Resort Hotel

One of our favorite things on our non-park days was enjoying some of the dining at the resort hotels. While resort hopping, we enjoyed lunch as Gasparilla Grill inside the Grand Floridian. This quick service location offers freshly prepared dishes along with grab & go items (like this adorable and delicious Minnie Mouse cupcake!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Minnie Mouse cupcake at Gasparilla Grill, Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

The following day we enjoyed lunch at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club Resort. This charming location has such a fun vibe from the kid-friendly food and of course, the sweet treats. My son loved that his hot dog lunch came with the happy ending of a Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae comes with a kid’s meal at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

Dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was definitely one of our favorite things of the entire trip. We took the boat from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and wandered the grounds before dinner. I’m so glad we indulged in this dinner show. Everything from the plentiful and delicious food to the top-notch entertainment was perfectly tailored for everyone in the family. My preschooler loved the loud atmosphere, the strawberry shortcake & being handed a washboard to make loud music!

Read my thorough review of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Strawberry shortcake at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

10. Indoor Fun for Preschoolers

Inside many of the resort hotel lobbies are artists waiting to draw your child’s portrait. My son had never had a caricature drawn before and it looked like a great souvenir to bring home so I had him sit for one.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

We don’t usually watch television when we’re on vacation but I did let my preschooler watch a bit before bed each night. Disney World has an entire channel devoted to safety. This very fun and informative cartoon series features Timon & Pumba from The Lion King. It was the only thing that my preschooler wanted to watch!

While waiting for our dining reservation we wandered the lobby inside the Beach Club on a hunt for Hidden Mickeys. Preschoolers absolutely love spotting Hidden Mickeys everywhere from the flower arrangements to the carpet design. Be sure to check the resort guide for other activities they offer to guests. Many have organized things to do indoors including scavenger hunts.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Hidden Mickey finding is perfect fun for preschoolers! Here’s one in the Beach Club lobby.

11. Outdoor Adventures

If your preschooler loves the great outdoors, take ’em to the fishing hole and see if they can catch the big one! There are small places to fish (like this area at Port Orleans Riverside) or larger fishing excursions (like on the Seven Seas Lagoon).

https://youtu.be/TXvOjyZfnRI

Some of the resorts have horse drawn carriages that will take you for a tour of the property. Or rent a bike surrey and everyone can pedal while enjoying the resort.

We’d intended to visit the Campfire at Fort Wilderness however our dinner at Hoop-Dee-Doo let out later than expected and we missed it. Many of the resorts offer this evening activity with the option to purchase and prepare your own s’mores over the flames. At Fort Wilderness, Chip & Dale greet guests and there is a cowboy singer (no charge at all to attend this event!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Ready to explore Fort Wilderness

While at Fort Wilderness we had the chance to see the horses. My preschooler didn’t want to ride but that option is available if you have a horse lover.

Did you know that Disney World has two mini-golf courses (Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland – read Adventureland Pam’s review on that with the link below). My son really wanted to go miniature golfing during our trip but we just didn’t have enough time. Guess we’ll just have to plan more non-park days on our next Disney World vacation!

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Looking for Discount Disney World Tickets?


For more ways to spend non-park days at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Green | Things to Do on Non-Park Days at Disney

 

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with your kids that don't even need a park ticket!. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!) #DisneyWorld


I’m a Traveling Mom! #TMOM

La Jolla, CA

I’m so fortunate to live in a tourist paradise, sunny Southern California! As a San Diego native I have had the privilege to explore so many beautiful places just outside my front door. But there are many more that I’ve yet to experience! It’s my goal to try new and exciting things in my own area and share the reviews with you all. If there is anything I like to do, it’s to brag about my lovely hometown. And what better place than at TravelingMom.com!

I have been so blessed to have been invited to post as a permanent author on Traveling Mom. I recently had three guest author articles listed and have several more in the works, all with a SoCal spin.

SoCal Traveling Mom, Julie Bigboy

The motto of Traveling Mom is “We’ve Been There”. You’ll find articles and reviews for locations around the World. Before your next trip, check the Traveling Mom site because chances are, one of the writers has a review about it!

Traveling Mom, We've Been There!

Thank you to Traveling Mom for accepting me into the flock. I can’t wait to post my SoCal experiences and share them with the world! Please consider following along with me and posting a comment on my articles at TravelingMom.com.


signature

 

 

 

Why I think the Disneyland Resort is the Best Disney Resort for Larger Families

Welcome to the next stop on Magical Blogorail Green. Today we are discussing which Disney resorts are the best for larger families. I love the Disneyland Resort for so many reasons, one of which is that it’s very accommodating to my family of five. I’ve also traveled to Disneyland with a family of eight and found it to be a fun and relaxing vacation!

2013-10-02 14.06.45

We know that when we stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, we’ll be within walking distance and that the hotel room will have enough space for us all to spread out. You have the choice of calling ahead for dining reservations, but generally at Disneyland a walk-up with a short wait at a restaurant is typical.

Unlike at Walt Disney World, where finite details are planned out 3 months in advance, a Disneyland vacation is a bit more casual. Dining and rides are planned mostly on a moment to moment basis. This definitely allows for some flexibility in scheduling, which is much appreciated when traveling in a large family or group.


DISNEYLAND RESORT ROOMS

Image of Standard Room at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa from Disneyland.com

Several years ago my extended family took a weekend vacation to the Disneyland Resort. We were able to book two rooms with connecting doors and the third room across the hall.

Image of two Queen Beds and a sleeper sofa at the Paradise Pier Hotel from Disneyland.com

Most of the Disneyland Resort hotel rooms fit 5 adults. Rooms may include a combination of the following:

  • 1 King Bed and 1 Queen-Size Sleeper Sofa
  • 1 Queen Bed and 1 Bunk Bed and 1 Trundle Bed
  • 2 Queen Beds
  • 2 Queen Beds and 1 Day Bed

Rooms also have a fold-out pack n’ play for babies.

Image of Disneyland Hotel Suite from Disneyland.com

Maximum occupancy for most Disneyland Resort rooms is 5 (the baby doesn’t usually count into the total). Suites can sleep from 6-12 guests, making it ideal for extended families traveling together who can divide the cost of the room between them. Dial (714) 956-MICKEY to speak with a Cast Member about booking just the right space for you and your large family.


PROXIMITY TO THE PARKS

When traveling with a large group, it’s important that everyone’s needs are met. If little ones need to nap in their crib, grandparents need to rest their feet or if everyone is hot and needs a swim mid-day, it’s nice to have the hotel within a quick distance. This is completely different than a vacation at Walt Disney World, which might mean a turnaround time of an hour to get back to your room.

The hotels of the Disneyland Resort are just a quick walk from the Park entrances. No buses or trams to wait for. You can hop aboard the Monorail in Tomorrowland from inside Disneyland Park, which will deposit you into the Downtown Disney District. From there it’s about a 5 minute walk to the Disneyland Hotel (#3 on the map) and about 10 minutes to the Paradise Pier (#2 on the map), so you’re quite close to the action. #1 on the map, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is even closer, sporting it’s own entrance to Disney’s California Adventure Park.

As you can see on the map the two Parks entrances face each other and are extremely close. This makes Park Hopping a breeze and very easy to do within minutes, even with a large family in tow. The Downtown Disney District is also only a few minutes walking distance away with a wide variety of shopping and dining that will please everyone.


Dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen, 2008

DINING CHOICES.

When dining with 5+ in your group, consider that your party may need to be split up. Choose restaurants that can accommodate a large group and offer a variety of dining options.

  • The Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue is a good choice, with outdoor seating at picnic tables and all-you-care-to-eat ribs, chicken, cole slaw, beans and cornbread.
  • We fit a party of 8 at Goofy’s Kitchen. This buffet is great, with food to please nearly everyone in your group.
  • We also like the Plaza Inn for the large platters of fried chicken and mashed potatoes that can be shared and the spacious seating to seat a large group.

Reservations are offered up to 60 days in advance at select restaurants throughout the Disneyland Resort. You can make dining reservations online or call (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.

Planning on a very large group like a family reunion? Read which restaurants can accommodate 50+ in this question and answer on the Disney Parks Moms Panel.


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney Chef.

Here is the map of our Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop – Disney with Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

3rd Stop – For the Love of Disney – The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

4th Stop – Saving Up for Disney- Disneyland Resort -YOU ARE HERE

2nd Stop – The Disney Chef – Disney’s Art Of Animation Resort

Final Stop – Disney Mamas – Disney’s Contemporary Resort & Bay Lake Tower


signature5