Showing posts with label family travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family travel. Show all posts

What's New to LEGOLAND California in 2018 + Kids Go Free Ticket Offer

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Disclosure: LEGOLAND California provided me with free tickets in exchange for sharing this information about the Resort and the Honest Kids special ticket offer.

We are very fortunate to live close to LEGOLAND California. When Tyler was young, we took advantage of the Model Mom Club membership level. It was perfect for our nanny. She and Tyler were able to go to LEGOLAND once a week. They got fresh air and exercise. As an only child, he loved being with other little kids in MiniLand and the play area.

It was this early exposure to the park that sparked his interest in building with LEGO at home. For years, we bought increasingly elaborate sets that he would display in his room once he’d did put them together. We bought books on LEGO and played the LEGO games on the Wii. It was great!

Sadly, now that he’s older, he’s outgrown playing with Lego. I must admit that I miss it. For the past few years, when I'd walk through stores like Target, I looked longingly at the sets.

I thought I might never get my hands on those pieces again. I know. Adults can build, too. But it's more fun with people who share the love. My little brother must have sensed my pain because he’s given me two delicious nieces! He can be so thoughtful, sometimes.

The little ladies got their first Duplo sets this past Christmas, and Aunt Mimi was only too happy to sit down with them and build.

Since both girls are now old enough for a full day trip, my brother is ready to take them to their first theme park and he’s chosen LEGOLAND!

Even though it’s been a while since we've been to the park, his family has never been, so he’s asked me to put together a little bit of an itinerary for them. So, it was pretty much divine intervention that I received an email from LEGOLAND California Resort with information about what’s new at the parks.

There’s also a really good offer from Honest Kids that involves free tickets that I’ll tell you about in just a bit.

With three parks and one hotel (soon to be two), LEGOLAND California has more than 60 different rides, shows and attractions. There are 16 restaurants and 14 places to shop around the resort. The resort is designed for kids ages 2 - 12. There's a really handy guide for What To Do If You're Two that lists all the LEGOLAND attractions without height requirements, which is perfect for my youngest niece.

What's New to LEGOLAND California Resort

  • LEGO ® NINJAGO ® : Master of the 4th Dimension 4D film inside NINJAGO World 
  • Surfer's Cove at LEGOLAND and CHIMA waterpark
  • LEGOLAND Castle Hotel
  • Sea at Night bioluminescence display at the SEA LIFE Aquarium
The waterpark season begins March 5th, and Surfer's Cove opens this summer. The Castle hotel will be available for bookings starting April 27th. The Sea at Night display opens this spring.

Photo credit: LEGOLAND
If you'll be onsite for a few days, planning your visit is key. Though there are several hotels nearby, staying on the property is the most convenient and fun. The LEGOLAND Hotel has themed rooms, scavenger hunts and early access to the park.

Did you know kids can trade Minifigures with park staff? If you have duplicates, this is the perfect opportunity to get a different one. Fans of the LEGO Movie will want to make sure to look for the character meet and greet for a photo opp with Emmet and Wyldstyle.
Photo credit: LEGOLAND
Do yourself a favor and download the app. It has ride wait times, the park map and discount offers. The app will help you figure out what areas of the park to visit first. When you're creating your vacation budget, leave room to add on the Reserve N Ride. This is a pretty cool hand-held electronic gadget that you can use to hold your place in line for you!

If you live in Southern California and want to consider converting your park tickets into a membership, there are several price points available. While the Model Mom Club isn't offered anymore, the yearly member price is affordable, especially when you break out the payments. As a military family, we appreciate that LEGOLAND offers discounted military tickets.

Kids Go Free to LEGOLAND California


Right now, if you buy Honest Kids 8-count juice pouches, you can get one free One-Day Child Ticket with purchase of a full-price One-Day Adult Ticket. Look for the special boxes; the voucher will be on the side. 

If you have problems finding the boxes, go to the Honest Kids page on the LEGOLAND site and redeem the offer with code 189900. Note: the voucher on the box expired this past December, but it has the online code details.

To help with your planning, connect with LEGOLAND California on social media:

Feeling lucky? These blogs have giveaways for Family Four Packs of LEGOLAND tickets! Plus, search Twitter for the #LEGOLANDKidsGoFree tag for other sites offering giveaways. [Giveaways closed as of 1/31/18]

Megan and Wendy
Moms LA
Fancy Shanty
Keep It Simple Mama

LEGOLAND California provided some of the assets needed to craft this post. Click for details on my disclosure policies.

San Diego Staycation at the Rancho Bernardo Inn

Friday, November 18, 2016

I have a confession to make: my husband and I haven't gone away on vacation together since the early 2000's.

I know. I know.

It's entirely our fault. We didn't make getting away a priority. When Tyler was little, he would spend a week with his grandmothers, which, let's be honest, felt like a vacation even though Phil and I stayed at home.

Now, our travel is 95% related to Tyler's sports. For tournaments and games we've been up and down California, to Arizona and Lake Tahoe; and this year we add Las Vegas. But these trips can hardly be counted as getaways. The presence of smelly hockey gear is not remotely romantic.

You'd think, living in a city like San Diego, staycations would be a no brainer. There are so many things to do here! We have many distinct neighborhoods, miles of some of the best beaches in the US, mountains and deserts. It's ridiculously easy to find something to do no matter what your vacation style. For us to not take advantage of the awesome things our city offers is kinda ridiculous.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
So, it was a nice surprise when I found out I'd been chosen as Innfluencer for the Rancho Bernardo Inn. I applied on the fly and promptly forgot about it. When the email came with the available dates for our stay; I knew exactly what to do: surprise anniversary staycation!
Even though I do little things for Phil like buying his favorite ice creams, making sure he always has gum in his car and buying salt water taffy when I'm at a specific store; it's rare that I get to make a grandiose gesture like this one and treat him to something like this.

Hopefully, our stay at The Inn has exposed Phil to how nice mini getaways can be and he'll be more open to them in the future.
If you've never been to San Diego, the Rancho Bernardo Inn is a resort in the northern inland corridor between Escondido and Poway. It's tucked away in the community so that, if you didn't live there, you'd pass right by. The grounds are beautiful and the resort has plenty of things to keep you occupied like the 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, spa facilities and four dining options.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
If you've known me for awhile you know I love to read. I also think it's important to get kids to read. The fact that The Inn has a Little Free Library was really touching. I brought three books, left them when we checked in and two were gone the next day!
Photo credit Tonya Staab
We got to the hotel and had just enough time to check out the amenities in our room and wander the grounds before our dinner reservation at Veranda. Since we were early for dinner, we decided to catch the last of Happy Hour at Avant, the bar upstairs. They have live music several nights a week.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
We had a lovely dinner and it was nice to take our time and "catch up" with each other. We decided to hit the jacuzzi before bed and when we got back to the room, the hotel had left us a bottle of wine and a charcuterie tray.

Like most people who have been married as long as we have, we watched the news, continued our conversation from dinner and went to sleep.
Photo credit Tonya Staab
Early the next morning, we left the cozy hotel bed because Tyler had a game. Yes, yes, I know. What can I say? We love watching him play. Even though the room had a Keurig, we grabbed coffees and pastry from the cafe (which has a cute little gift shop filled with locally made products). After the game, one of Tyler's teammates was nice enough to take him back to their house so we could go back to the hotel for the breakfast that was included with our package. Sundays call for mimosas, right?
As part of our hotel package, the Eat, Drink and Be Merry, we had tasting room tickets to local wineries and breweries. After we checked out, we planned the rest of our afternoon around the football schedule. Since I don't drink wine or beer, guess whose husband got to bring a buddy? Just keeping my Wife of the Year title secure!

We visited three breweries: Iron Fist, Lost Abbey and Mother Earth. If you're visiting San Diego and book this package, you'll definitely need access to a car or service like Uber as the breweries are not close to the hotel.

If you or someone you know is planning a trip to America's Finest City, consider the Rancho Bernardo Inn resort! 

If you'd like to read about another package option, my blogging friend Maryann and her family stayed at The Inn earlier this summer and took advantage of the Family Fun Package. If you want to see what our overnight looked like in 'real time' I posted a few other photos on Instagram.

Thank you to The Inn for hosting us as part of their #Innfluencer campaign and to Tonya for her photography!


Family Road Trip : Books, Tech and Gadgets for Kids

Monday, July 16, 2012

I have a confession to make: we've never taken a roadtrip. Sure, we've taken to the freeways to visit family, but we've never loaded up the car with the specific intent of driving up the California coast or heading to Yellowstone (both are items on our family bucket list). So, I've never really had to worry about keeping our son occupied for more than a few hours. That said, we do have several items we always bring with us for car trips.

Headphones: They are a must. Our son has to use them for the DVD player, the Nintendo DS, the iPod Touch, the iPad and anything else that will make enough noise to bother everyone else in the car. We have a pair of Skullcandy headphones and they're great. When he's wearing them we can't hear any of the blips and beeps from his games.

Tech toys: As I mentioned, we're a gadget loving family. Before we head out on the road, I make sure all our apps are up to date on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and we look for new games to download. I make sure all my magazine subscriptions have the current issue downloaded. Even though I charge everything before we leave, I make sure we have our car kit, too.

Camera: Our son is picking up my photography habit. He's really starting to enjoy taking pictures. Even though he can take them with his iPod, I like to give him our point and shoot as well. If your kids have iPods too, there are a ton of free and easy to use photography and video apps they can use for the vacation photos.

Books: This is a no brainer. Since our son loves to read just as much as we do, a trip to the library is a must. Right now, our son is really into a few series. He's reading The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Secret Series and The Heroes of Olympus series.

It's no accident that I try to steer our son towards books with a high page count! He reads too fast to buy many short books. And yes, we know we're blessed.

Family games:  In addition to the things we played as kids like the license plate alphabet and license plate states game, I found a cute road sign bingo on Pinterest. You can download the bingo template from Oopsey Daisy.

Video camera: Right now my son is on vacation without us. I wish I'd had the foresight to order a waterproof video camera for him. He'll be riding a SeeDo, going fishing, kayaking and inner tubing for the first time. I'd love to have video of those moments captured from his perspective. This DB Power Waterproof Action camera is perfect for water activities.

Hopefully we'll be able to tackle some of the items on our family bucket list soon. There are so many cities, national parks and attractions we want to see. To quote Amy Foster from our trip to Disney this past spring, we only have 18 summers to spend with our kids. Make sure they are all memorable!

What ideas, tips or resources do you have to make road trips easy for everyone? What has been your 
favorite road trip destination?

This is post three in a series of sponsored posts and sweepstakes for the San Diego Honda Dealers Association. Visit and comment weekly for a chance to win Amazon gift cards! Affiliate links used. 

Our Ojai Weekend Getaway | Family Travel in Southern California

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I apologize for being a bad blogger and not taking enough pictures for this post.

Last weekend we went up to Ojai, an inland city north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. My brother's wife's family lives there and the wedding and reception were held there. Judging by the traffic and signs along the road, there were quite a few other weddings that weekend. I'm sure with all of the valleys and orchards there are probably some really pretty locations.

We stayed at the Hummingbird Inn from Friday to Sunday. The Inn is on Ojai's main road and is easy to get to from the 101 and 33 freeways. We liked staying there and would do so again. The Hummingbird Inn is an older hotel and it shows a bit in the outside but they started a remodel a few years ago and the touches they put in are nice.

We chose a room with a king bed over a room with two queens. We brought a twin sized air mattress for Tyler and there was plenty of room for it to the right of the bed (all of the roll-aways were reserved) . The room had a small closet but plenty of drawer space. We loved having a fridge and microwave. The room didn't feel cramped with three of us in it. I would have liked more space at the sink for getting ready, but if we had been there for an occasion other than a wedding it wouldn't have been as big of deal because I'm sure I wouldn't have been putting on a full face and doing my hair. It might be a tight squeeze for two women sharing the room.

The pool area was really cute but the pool wasn't heated. Since Ojai can get really hot in the summer, I guess they don't really need to heat it, but Tyler said it was a little cold. The jacuzzi was perfect at night. There was a bit of a chill in the air which is typical for that area at the base of the mountains.

Our favorite part of the stay was breakfast. The hotel puts out a full spread in the lobby. This isn't just coffee and dry cereal (though they do have that, too). They have a cast iron waffle maker and orange press! Tyler loved making his own waffle and squeezing his own orange juice. Ojai is known for its citrus so the oranges were fresh and super sweet. It was the best OJ I've ever had. If we ever go back, I'll make sure I have a bottle of champagne for mimosas. The breakfast spread also included toast, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, peanut butter, a jar of Nutella and an assortment of tea.

My other favorite perk was the WiFi and the computer in the lobby. The morning of the wedding, me, my brother, our grandmother and our mom were making revisions to the wedding ceremony script. I monopolized the entire tech setup transferring files between their computer, my laptop and iPad. It was a lot less stressful having access to another computer. The hotel staff was cool with me taking it over and didn't complain about all the paper we used formatting the script.

Because we were there for an event, we didn't get to explore the center of town. Phil and Tyler took a walk up the main street. Ojai Avenue has a coffee shop, bakery, movie theater, lots of women's clothes, art and furniture stores and restaurants. I also noticed a small park with a playground.

Friday evening we had the rehearsal dinner at Boccali's, an Italian restaurant at the end of town. We had a long table outside and ordered from a set menu. I was a little worried because of the reviews I'd read, but the dinner went off without a hitch. The food came out on time, people didn't have to wait long for beer or wine and everyone enjoyed their meal. I had the lasagna and ate all but a few bites it was so good.

The restaurant describes their signature dessert, strawberry shortcake, as world famous. I agree. Tyler, my father and I split one dish and I wished I had ordered one just for me. It was fantastic. The drive up to Ojai leads you through Oxnard, home of the Strawberry Festival (which was this past weekend 5/19 and 5/20). Oxnard berries are better than any other California grown berry (in my opinion) and the fruit in Boccali's shortcake was the perfect mix of sweet and tart.

I can't say for sure that we would go back to Ojai again. If we were more outdoorsy I think we would have had a great time. The Hummingbird Inn has beach cruisers that are free for guests to use. There are plenty of bike trails, lots of hiking and Lake Casitas is not too far away from the center of town. I think we would all have enjoyed nearby Santa Barbara or even Ventura as a getaway. If you visit, July might be the best time to visit because the annual Ojai Wine Festival and the Ojai Music Festival are both held then. But, Ojai is definitely cute and picturesque and since my new extended family lives there, I'm sure I'll get to know the area even better and come to love it.

Live From Disney World

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm in Orlando for my second Disney Social Media Moms conference. It's been a bit of a whirlwind and it's only our second day.

We took a redeye Wednesday night. I'm still trying to figure out if it was a good idea. Our idea was to have dinner, get on the plane, go to sleep and wake up in Orlando. A medical emergency on the plane changed that plan a little. Thankfully the person is OK. But it made for a really long day.

Yesterday we walked Epcot for a few hours and then met up with the rest of the conference for dinner on the beach in front of the Yacht Club. After dinner we let Tyler go back into the lazy river while we had cocktails in the jacuzzi. It was a great day and perfect evening. Until.

Phil accidentally dropped my phone in the jacuzzi. Now, since I've had a smartphone, I've become somewhat of an addict. I'm very overprotective of my tech. Kudos to the ladies at the bell desk for getting a bowl of dried rice up to our room within minutes. They must have seen the distress on my face. The phone is still in the rice. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I like attending this conference because it's different from some of the others I go to. We've had two fantastic speakers talking more about personal branding, purpose and passion than working with products. It's refreshing.

Yesterday was Take Your Child to Work Day. Sometimes I wonder if Tyler understands what I do and that it's more than playing on the internet. On the way here, he said, "thank you for being a blogger so we can go to Disney."


I love that kid.

*Disney is providing fantastic meals and entertainment during the conference.

Road Tripping, Someday

Monday, June 27, 2011

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move."                                     Robert Louis Stevenson

We have friends from Alaska visiting us in a few weeks. They are renting an RV in San Francisco and heading to Disneyland, Joshua Tree and Carlsbad Caverns. With three children under 10. They will be our litmus test. Phil has been wanting to rent an RV for awhile. Since I don't camp, this would be the best compromise.

When my family moved here from Illinois, we drove. We stopped at the Grand Canyon, the meteor hole in Arizona and the Petrified Forest. I was a little younger than Tyler. I don't remember all of the trip but I do remember having a good time. I played my handheld video games that were the size of a hardback book, read, napped and stared out the window. I love those memories.

I know it sounds cheesy, but we really want to get out and see our great nation. Aside from that trip across the US, I don't think I've set foot in more than 10 states. Tyler has only been to two. That's just sad. We want him to see Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, lightning bugs, see what a real fireworks show looks like, snow falling from the sky and the places he sees on the History Channel.

Travel is something I took for granted. I thought I had plenty of time to do it "when I got older." I had friends who took a family vacation every year. I thought that was the greatest thing ever and wished my family were the same. I missed out on the high school trip to Spain and I still kick myself for it. I don't want Tyler to wish we'd taken him more places.

We're trying to find room in our budget to set aside money for travel. We're starting small with a day trip to Catalina. If all goes as planned we'll be taking our first international trip in two years, two months (not that I'm counting). 

So, Alaska friends, if you're reading this (hi!) please keep in mind that your vacation is setting the tone for my future family outings. If things don't go well, don't tell me, tell Phil. 

How do you fit in family travel? What's the best vacation you've taken together?


This is the last in a series of sponsored posts from Safeway Dairy and National Dairy Month. You have a few more days to play at for a chance at a trip to a national park of your choice including airfare, accommodations, transportation, a picnic basket and a $200 gift card. Sweepstakes ends on 6/30/2011.
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