SkyPark at Santa’s Village : An Outdoor Wonderland

Skypark at Santa's VillageWe set out on a foggy overcast day for the mountain town of Skyforest, just outside of Lake Arrowhead and about 30 miles from Big Bear Lake, in search of winter fun at Santa’s Village. As we weaved through light traffic on the 210 freeway, the entire mountain range of the San Bernardino National Forest was shrouded in clouds. We weren’t sure what would be waiting for us up the mountain – rain, snow or sun! Anticipation began to grow as we climbed our way up the mountainside making our way through the clouds, soon revealing a crisp sunny day ahead. Woo hoo!

Skypark at Santa’s Village is well known by many in Los Angeles for what it once was – a winter wonderland set in the woods. With 18 historic log buildings that have been restored, thousands of indigenous trees replanted and lots of love, Santa’s Village reopened last year after being closed for 20 years. The reopening brought a great deal of media attention, however season 2 looks to be even better.

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Exploring Long Beach with Kids

Exploring Long Beach with KidsMost southern Californian residents know Long Beach either for it’s spectacular aquarium or as the home of the famous Queen Mary. Situated on the coast, only 30 minutes from LAX or Downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach is an easy day trip destination for most SoCal families. However, as we recently found out, this cute harbor town also makes a great base for a staycation weekend of exploration. It is a hub for all kinds of outdoor activities making it perfect for outdoor families like ours.

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Guide to Legoland Water Park

Guide to Legoland Water ParkGrowing up in Texas, my summers were spent at the local pool or the water park, so I was super excited to finally take my son to his first water park. With hot summers, Southern California has a great selection of water parks to experience, but they are not all ideal for young swimmers. My research led me to Legoland’s Water Park as the perfect place for a first water park adventure. It is perfectly geared towards young kids who are all over the spectrum in swimming abilities. My son loves to play in water, but is still getting his confidence in deep water. Legoland’s Water Park looked to be the best place that would allow him to safely play on his own, while also providing opportunities to challenge himself.

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Rejuvenate at SpringHill Suites in Oceanside

Rejuvenation at SpringHill Suites in OceansideThe last thing I wanted to do after finding my car broken into was drive 80 miles south of Los Angeles to Oceanside for a planned weekend getaway. Turns out, it’s exactly what I needed.

Packed up and ready to head out for a mother-son weekend, we had one last stop to make at my son’s school for a parent-teacher conference. During our short time inside, a desperate soul decided to smash and grab my backpack filled with snacks for our weekend away. Not remembering when I packed it that it also contained our passports, all of my camera lenses, our Gopro (with photos from our recent trip to Costa Rica still on it) and so much more, I left the bag in plain sight thinking it would be fine covered with squeezey pouches and veggie stick snack bags.

Walking out to the street to see shattered glass all around my car, my heart sank. I was devastated. Once the hours of formalities were complete and the window was fixed, I knew we couldn’t pass up our retreat carefully planned by Visit Oceanside. With a heavy heart and cluttered mind, we hit the road.

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Top 5 Things for Families to Do in Palm Springs

An exclusive vacation spot for Californians and out of towners alike, Palm Springs is known for its outdoor exploration, relaxation and intense heat. These things blend together to create the perfect desert experience. Ideal for a girls weekend away or a couples retreat, Palm Springs is also a wonderful destination for families. Skip the beach … Read more

Things To Do In Oceanside CA

Things to do in Oceanside CaThrough the years, my son has become a real train enthusiast, moving beyond just playing with his toy trains to actually taking an interest in real ones no matter where they are. He loves to go to the local train station for train spotting (patiently waiting for trains so he can write down the train numbers as they pass), checking out boxcar trains at a local playground and taking the metro any chance he gets. For ages he has wanted to take a weekend train journey from Los Angeles to somewhere….anywhere!

When Visit Oceanside approached us about a stay there, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the train for a weekend getaway. Turns out, there are a ton of things to do in Oceanside, Ca and it’s the ideal weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of LA traffic, especially for train loving families.

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The Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa : Family Friendly & Budget Conscious

Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa
Photo via Flickr

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Go on Safari in Santa Rosa, CA

Safari in Santa Rosa, CaliforniaLong before we looked to go to Africa for safari, I had my eyes on a little known place in Northern California called Safari West. The Sonoma Serengeti as some call it, is unlike any wildlife preserve you will have visited before. Experiencing Africa-esque glamping style tent cabins and wild animals dotting the rolling hills of wine country is pretty extraordinary, especially so close to home.

But I know you are wondering, how can there be wild African animals just outside of San Francisco? Does it feel authentic? Is it really worth it or is it just a glamorized zoo? My thoughts exactly. Read on to find out more and hear all about our experience.

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Guide to Legoland California

Guide to Legoland CaliforniaEven though we live only 90 minutes away from Legoland in Carlsbad, it has taken us years to finally get there. My son isn’t a lego fanatic, so we weren’t pushed to make the trip. I regret now that it took us so long to get there. Being annual passport holders at Disney just up the road, we know the amusement park thing well. Don’t think of Legoland as a rival of Disneyland, but as a totally different entity that needs to be enjoyed in addition to the larger parks up the road.

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Fire Service Recognition Day Open House 2023

There are several important events in the year according to my son. Christmas and Easter are two, but right up there with national holidays are the open house days for the sanitation department and the fire stations! The second Saturday of May is designated as Fire Service Recognition Day in Los Angeles (and a few … Read more

Outdoor Activities for Kids in Los Angeles

Outdoor Activities for Kids in Los AngelesA struggle many parents have when living in a large metropolis is getting their kids outdoors more than just at the local playground. We are so blessed in Los Angeles to have beautiful weather most of the year and an abundance of amazing outdoor areas to explore. So really, there is no excuse to not get the kids outdoors. Although, I recognize with shorter daylight hours and how quickly afternoons become filled with extra curricular classes (and homework) that it’s easy to find that weeks have gone by without getting meaningful outdoor time. There are also parents who just aren’t that into exploring the outdoors themselves, but want their kids to have that access. Nature classes and scheduled programs are the answer!

There is a growing movement to get kids back to the basics and outside. With that, comes more options for meaningful outdoor time for the entire family. Below are some of our picks to get your fill of the outdoors every week!

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Inspire Your Inner Artist at Watts Towers

Watts Towers, Los AngelesLooking for something new to do? A micro-adventure? Or perhaps you need some artistic inspiration? Head down to one of LA’s finest cultural gems, Watts Towers, for a visual treat. From the massive spiral towers resembling Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to the garden and adorable turtle pond out back, Watts Towers in South Los Angeles is a unique and fascinating outing with much to interest everyone in the family.

What is Watts Towers? It is a beautiful piece of folk art that is the result of one man’s imagination and his persistence of realizing his vision. Watts Towers, designed and built by Simon Rodia (an Italian immigrant), are a collection of 17 interconnected structures made out of rebar, glass bottles, seashells, concrete and broken ceramic tiles. Over a period of 33 years, Rodia designed and built this magnificent structure on his own without machine equipment, scaffolding or drawing board designs. One day, Rodia handed over the deed to his property and walked away, leaving all of his work behind. Neighbors fought the city to save it from being demolished. After 16 years of taking care of it themselves, the neighborhood group donated the towers and art center to the City of Los Angeles.

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Exploring the Sunken City of San Pedro

Sunken City of San PedroExploring the ruins of San Pedro’s Sunken City has been on my to do list for a while. I was a bit nervous about doing it on my own with my son, so I had to find a time when the whole family could go. Today was the day!

Exploring Sunken City of San PedroIn 1929, this area of San Pedro began sliding into the ocean below. All that’s left now are ruins of roads and broken pipes covered in beautiful graffiti art. Artists (and visitors of all shapes and sizes) have been illegally entering this no man’s land for years.

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Vasquez Rocks with Kids

My son woke up saying he wanted to go on a hike and I knew immediately where we should go. Vasquez Rocks.  It has been on our to do list forever. All I knew about Vasquez Rocks was that it’s great for kids who like to climb rocks and that an episode or portion of Star Trek had been filmed there. … Read more

California Adventure Rides for Toddlers

California Adventure Rides for Toddlers

California Adventure is my pick for a toddler’s first visit to a Disney theme park. California Adventure is smaller than Disneyland and feels much more manageable to do with a toddler. The California Adventure rides for toddlers are mellow and have less ‘scary’ characters. Additionally, the park feels more spread out which helps with children who get overwhelmed easily.

Our experience at California Adventure tends to lean more towards rides rather than the classic “Disney” experience. However, you will see Disney characters, perhaps just not as much as you would at Disneyland.

After many many visits with our toddler, we have developed our guide to California Adventure rides for toddlers which will help you map out your day and choose what to see and what to skip. If this is your first visit to a Disney park, make sure to read our planning a trip to Disneyland post first!

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