There’s a tale of a Cat, so cool in a Hat, that…did you hear…was created right here! 🙂
Yep Dr. Seuss, that master smith of rhyming words for kids, lived atop a hill called Mt. Soledad in La Jolla (north of downtown San Diego) where his fantastical world of Cat in the Hat and other memorable characters came to life for readers of all ages.
I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Seuss whose real name BTW is Theodore (Ted) Seuss Geisel. His widow Audrey still lives in lovely seaside La Jolla.
On the heels of Dr. Seuss’ recently released new book, Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more Lost Stories, me thinks with my thinker that a fun way to tinker would be an incredibly fun linker to a few Seussian sights and events in La Jolla:
Wish Dr. Suess at Happy Birthday at UCSD
Dr. Seuss birthday celebration at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla
Every year in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2, the aptly named Geisel Library at University of California at San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla exhibits selections from their Dr. Seuss Collection of over 10,000 items(!), including his drawings, rough drafts, notebooks and other cool memorabilia. It’s the world’s largest repository of original works by Seuss. Last year Mrs. Geisel substantially added to the collection, donating an additional 1,500 items from his personal archive!
Look for an announcement of next year’s big b-day bash on Geisel Library’s news page after New Year’s.
7 ½ foot Cat in the Hat
Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla
In the meantime, next time you’re in La Jolla, check out the life-size bronze sculpture of Dr. Seuss and a towering 7 ½ foot Cat in the Hat in front at the library. Seuss selfies are encouraged!
Secret Art of Dr. Seuss
The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss includes Unorthodox Taxidermy
In the charming Village of La Jolla, the Legends Gallery displays some wonderful imaginings in its “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” exhibit. Visitors can view the sophisticated, technically accomplished and unrestrained side of Seuss’ talent, including lesser-known paintings, illustrations and sculptures from his Unorthodox Taxidermy collection (a fun fav!).
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Old Globe
“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe in Balboa Park
Fall in San Diego means warm days, cool nights, Halloween fun and, of course, pumpkin patches! Browse the list below to find the perfect pumpkin patch near you.
Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch
Acres of pumpkins await at Bates Nut Farm
Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center has been a Pumpkin Patch staple for as long as I can remember (the Bates family has owned the farm since 1921, and I have been going since the early 80s). Bates has plenty of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, tractor hayrides, a straw maze, pony rides and a petting zoo. Weekends at Bates include live entertainment from 12:00 to 3:00 PM, BBQ, kettle corn, food trucks, rock climb, bounce, slide and other family friendly events.
Where: 15954 Woods Valley Road, Valley Center, CA 92082 When: September 24 – October 31, 2014 Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Saturday-Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM Cost: Free Admission. Pumpkin and activity prices vary. > Find out more about Bate’s Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch
Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt
Pick an amazing pumpkin by the beach at Belmont Park’s Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt. While you’re there, bravely walk through the Boomont Manor (a kid-friendly haunted house and maze), play zombie laser tag, ride the spooky Giant Dipper and enter the costume contest on Saturdays. Don’t forget to bring the pumpkin pail for free trick-or-treating.
Where: 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 When: October 3 – November 1, 2014 (Fridays-Sundays) Hours: Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM. Saturday-Sunday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Cost: Free admission. Haunted House, rides and laser tag have separate admission costs. > Find out more about the Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt
Your conductor is dying to take you to the Great Pumpkin’s Pumpkin Patch
Join in the fun aboard the Pumpkin Express at the historic Campo Depot and travel to the Great Pumpkin Patch. Enjoy the one hour train ride, then tour the Haunted Train, where each child gets to pick out his or her own pumpkin and decorate it inside the Display Building. Advance reservations are required and arrive at least 45 minutes before your departure time.
Where: The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum – 750 Depot Street, Campo, CA 91906 When: October 11-26, 2014 (Saturday-Sunday) Hours: Departures at 10:00 AM, 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM Cost: $5-$15 > Find out more about the Pumpkin Express
Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch
Pick the perfect pumpkin straight from the field at Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch
Get a true pumpkin picking experience by picking the perfect future jack-o-lantern straight from Farm Stand West’s pumpkin fields. Stop by over the weekend of October 25-26 between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM for the Annual Farm Stand Fall Harvest Festival & Boutique. Have fun on a hayride, pick up some delicious homemade jams and farm fresh produce, and shop from local artisans.
Take the family on a day trip to Julian for apple pie from Mom’s and pumpkins from the Julian Mining Company. Even more fall fun awaits with Indian Camp, Tomahawk throwing and farm animals. Upgrade to the Harvest tour and enjoy a hayride, fresh apple cider and an animal corral. In for a fright? Well then ride on the kid-friendly Night Time Spooky Hayride: Tale of the Doomed Miner through the pastures and fields and includes the tale of the doomed miner (you may even see his spirit wandering with a lantern in the distance). Spooky Hayrides are offered on October 18 and 25 at 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM. Reservations for the Spooky Hayride are required.
Up near the small mountain town of Ramona is the Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch. Take some time to find the perfect carving or cooking pumpkin, get lost in the gigantic corn maze, launch an ear of corn out of a cannon, pet a few farm animals and add a few pictures of the kids on antique farm equipment to the scrapbook.
A whole day of fun at Norris Amusements Pumpkin Patches
Norris Amusements has North County and South Bay covered with locations in Chula Vista and Oceanside. Both locations offers pumpkins and fun for the little ones with bounce houses, giant slides and obstacle courses. Go on Tuesdays for Wristband Tuesday and enjoy unlimited rides for one price.
Where: Chula Vista – 555 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Oceanside – 2205 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92054 When: October 1-31, 2014 Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Friday-Saturday: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Cost: Varies, Ride Wristbands: $10-$25 > Find out more about Norris Amusements Pumpkin Patches
15th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch
Over in Lakeside, Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is offering fun for the whole family. The child admission includes a Jack Patch pumpkin, a bottle of water, covered hay rides, a hay bale maze, petting corral, kid-powered games, sand pile with toy trucks & tractors, and a large play area with the climbable Cottonseed Mountain.
All aboard…one of the seven convenient Pumpkin Station locations (including the two actual farms) throughout San Diego County. At the Pumpkin Stations, kids can peruse for the perfect pumpkin while enjoying the kiddie rides, slides, inflatable play centers and petting zoo. At their two farms in Rancho Bernardo and Bonita, little pumpkin carvers will find a living pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm animals and a tractor-pulled haywagon ride.
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum Fall Family Festival
Stop by the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum for hands-on education (don’t tell the kids), pumpkins and fun. The Fall Family Festival will feature live music by Hullabaloo, a petting zoo, pumpkin patch, food, gardening workshops to educate children and families on current environmental and conservation issues, Halloween costume exchange, and other fun fall activities!
Bring something to help carry home your harvest at Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza.
Make a day of it in San Diego’s South Bay with pumpkin picking at Suzie’s Farm. Bring a wheelbarrow to carry home plenty of pumpkins for carving and cooking picked right from the fields, fresh produce, jams and more. During Pumpkin Palooza, enjoy live music and plenty of delicious food. Don’t forget the camera!
Liberty Station in Point Loma offers everything from sports to arts to food to just hanging out. Photo courtesy of Liberty Station
San Diego’s Liberty Station, on the site of Point Loma’s former Naval Training Center, is a thriving, continually reviving, slice of San Diego history – and one of the best ways to explore the neighborhood it is by attending Friday Night Liberty, beginning at 5:00 PM on the first Friday of each month.
It’s an opportunity to visit galleries and performance venues for free and meet artists at work in studios that have replaced barracks and classrooms where the U.S. Navy once practiced the art of turning boys into men.
What Is Liberty Station?
Liberty Station’s roots go back to 1923, when San Diego’s Naval Training Center was dedicated. Over the years, the base produced nearly 2 million sailors – making San Diego the home base for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
When the Navy closed the base in 1997, a master developer went to work transforming the 361-acre site into a massive mixed-use neighborhood. While the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains a work in progress.
More than 50 of NTC’s original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been restored and transformed into performance spaces, artists’ studios, galleries, fitness salons, shops, grocery stores and restaurants. Today, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens serves locally crafted brews and gourmet eats in the space that once was the NTC mess hall.
Liberty Station also includes a residential district, office space, schools, churches, two hotels and nearly 50 acres of park/open space along a boat channel that leads to San Diego Bay. The community’s parks have become a popular venue for special events and ethnic festivals. Seasonal kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered.
Put Friday Night Liberty at Liberty Station on your calendar.
Free Audio Tour of Liberty Station
Another great way to experience the neighborhood is with a free audio tour. Stop by the visitor center (the former Command Center) to pick up a map. Then call 619.342.8021 on your cell phone, enter a number from the map and hit the # key.
There’s plenty of free parking throughout the area.
Folks checking out the new Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
I didn”t know what to expect when I ventured to the market a recent Saturday morning with my camera at the ready. Some fish on ice…perhaps an unusual sea creature or two. But when I saw spiky crabs clawing for attention and a massive 5-foot octopus wriggling for a close-up, I knew I was in for a treat!
Fresh catches of the day at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
Hours are from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and folks line up early for the best seafood picks online casino to purchase before they”re sold out. I opted to arrive a bit later (around 9:30 AM) and though the line was a few dozen people deep, it moved along at a nice steady pace.
For shutterbugs like me, there”s no line to wait in. Just aim your camera between folks as they shuffle by, zoom in on the bountiful sea life and click away!
What I saw was amazing! Albacore and skipjack tuna, yellow tail, blue fin, lots of bright red-colored rock fish, black cod, Mahi Mahi, halibut, sea urchin (San Diego”s known for delectably fresh sea urchin/uni – yum!)…
Sea urchin/uni, a local San Diego seafood delicacy!
…three varieties of crab, including rock crab…
Rock crab at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
…and my favorite, the feisty box crab; check out this cool video I took!
The weekly catch is posted here. The fisherman and women are very friendly and more than happy to pose with their catches and fishing boats anchored in the background!
If you”re looking for a fun, photo-worthy San Diego experience second-to-none, head downtown to the Big Bay on Saturdays and dive into the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. San Diego”s legendary commercial fishing and maritime heritage come alive before your eyes! 🙂
From the newest public water park on the San Diego harbor to favorites at LEGOLAND and Aquatica, visiting San Diego splash zones offers ample opportunity for a soaking good time beyond the beach.
Here are some top choices for San Diego non-salt-water adventures.
San Diego County Waterfront Park
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the harbor views and interactive fountains at San Diego County’s new Waterfront Park. Courtesy Stephen Whalen
The County of San Diego gave a great gift to locals and visitors alike with a free harborside water park. The park includes large civic greens, children’s play area, intimate garden rooms and expansive interactive fountains that kids and adults are allowed to run around and play in! Yes, you can tell the kids, it’s okay to jump in the fountain!
Hop aboard Aquatica’s Loggerhead Lane lazy river, 1,250 feet of easy tubing the whole family can enjoy.
This amazing conglomeration of twisty turning slides and long, lazy river rafting rides offers acres of water fun set amid gorgeous live tropical plants, flamingos and turtles. I was pretty wowed by the extensive offerings for every age group, from knee-deep pools with tiny slides for toddlers, to Tassie’s Twister, a waterslide in several parts that I dared only look at. At Aquatica, friends and families can race each other down six-lane slides on Taumata Racers or travel solo in complete darkness through a tube slide on the Kiwi Curl. The park knows how to make a visit enjoyable for guests with plenty of free lounge chairs, cabanas for rent, lockers throughout the park and a new “cashless wristband” connected to your credit card that lets you charge chicken tenders and margaritas without having to access your wallet.
Children enjoy Cragger’s Splash at the new Legends of Chima Water Park. Courtesy LEGOLAND California Resort.
My family flipped when LEGOLAND opened its original water park in 2010, turning what was already a favorite theme park into a place with rides and a water park! What could be more fun than building your own LEGO raft and floating down the lazy river after spending a warm day riding roller coasters and propelling self-powered rides at LEGOLAND? There is something for all of us at the LEGOLAND water park, including my little toddler nephews (3 and 5) and my daring 12 year old. We all love the Orange Rush, a giant tube-boat that slips and slides down a wide waterslide way up high while mom shrieks at the top of her lungs (yes, I’m a wimp, but I love a water slide).
This spring, LEGOLAND debuted a Chima-themed water park, a connecting water world based on the popular toy line and Cartoon Network’s “Legends of Chima,” featuring more slides for all ages, a large wave pool and over 50 interactive water play opportunities for visitors.
Learning to surf the Flow Ride Wave Machine at Belmont Park is just one of the fun activities at Belmont Park in Mission Beach.
While I admit that I lack the nerve and coordination to try the two flow wave machines at The Wave House in Belmont Park, I have sat in the centrally located outside, beachy dining area and ordered sushi and watched those braver than I battle the fake sea. I love the setup here: real Pacific Ocean waves rolling in on one side (and the people watching of Mission Beach Boardwalk); on the other side is the amazing skill of the Flow Riders, experts tackling the Flow Barrel‘s consistent and unique waves while they practice surf board tricks. Nearby is the Flow Rider, a beginner friendly wave simulator where you can watch students eat it (a wave, that is) while you dine nearby.
This critically endangered Visayan Warty piglet was born at San Diego Zoo in a successful breeding program that has produced 80 piglets since 2002. Courtesy Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.
In its effort to bring species back from the brink of extinction, the San Diego Zoo was delighted with the birth of two Visayan Warty piglets, born on June 26. The baby animals are just beginning to eat solid foods of vegetables and fruits. Keepers describe the piglet as extremely energetic and curious. Visayan warty pigs, endemic to the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines, are a critically endangered species due to loss of habitat, illegal hunting and hybridization
Southwest African Meerkat Pup
A Southwest African meerkat pup is carefully watched over by its mother. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn at the San Diego Zoo.
Such a punim! (Yiddish for “what a cute face”). This meerkat pup was six weeks old when it recently emerged from its burrow, and while it still spends most time below ground, it is beginning learning to forage for food and play above ground with its mother and other members of its mob, or family group.
Shadow – Grey Wolf Pup
Wolf pup is eager to play courtesy Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.
The playful two-month-old 23-pound grey wolf pup pictured here is now three months old and just moved from the Children’s Zoo nursery at the San Diego Zoo. The pup, named Shadow, will live at Wegeforth Bowl and serve as an ambassador for his species.
Bundles of Joy at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
4 Lion Cubs
Lion cubs born June 22, 2014, peer out of the maternity den at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn San Diego Zoo Safari Park
I had the pleasure of peeking at these kitty cuties in the nursery last week. Keepers report lioness mom Oshana is attentive and the cubs appear healthy – nursing, moving and vocalizing well. The cubs will continue to bond with their mother behind the scenes and when they are older and stronger, they will be able to explore a larger habitat and gradually be introduced to their father Izu, and the Safari Park’s other adult female, before going on public view at the Safari Park’s Lion Camp.
Joanne – Baby Gorilla
Baby gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park enjoys the ride. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn.
Now five-months old, baby gorilla Joanne has been growing and gaining independence, reaching milestones such as riding on her mother’s back and crawling. Joanne was born at the Safari Park on March 12 after a rare emergency C-section. This was the first baby for mother Imani and the 17th gorilla to be born at the Safari Park.
Black Rhino Calf
Black rhino baby takes charge at San Diego Zoo Safari Park courtesy Ken Bohn.
This male black rhino calf, born on July 12, marks a significant achievement, since black rhinos are a critically endangered species with approximately 5,000 left in the wild. “Poaching is the main reason why the numbers of black rhinos are on the decline,” according to Julie Anderson, a keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Any birth here at the Park is an important birth, and we have been very fortunate to have a newborn baby here.”
Birds of a Feather Hatching Now at SeaWorld and the Safari Park
SeaWorld San Diego is celebrating a successful Caribbean flamingo breeding season in 2014, with 18 chicks hatched so far.
SeaWorld’s latest flamboyance of Caribbean flamingo chicks range in age from two weeks old to two months old. The birds are currently being raised by their parents (both mother and father play a role) in the flamingo habitat. The park’s bird keepers are on watch as additional eggs will hatch out in the coming days and weeks. SeaWorld San Diego has been caring for and breeding flamingos since the 1970s.
Three Magellanic Penguin Chicks
SeaWorld San Diego recently celebrated the hatching of three Magellanic penguin chicks, Courtesy Mike Aguilere/SeaWorld San Diego.
Celebrating the marriage of science and conservation, one of these little guys was conceived through artificial insemination and a frozen sample, perhaps a milestone for preserving endangered species in the future. These baby animals just joined the adult colony of Magellanic penguins in an outdoor habitat outside the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego. Since 1980, more than 600 penguin chicks have been hatched and raised at the marine park, including the first-ever chinstrap and emperor penguins. SeaWorld aviculturists have had a worldwide impact on pioneering techniques for rearing penguin chicks.
Two East African Crowned Crane Chicks
Crowned crane chicks take a walk, courtesy Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Two East African crowned crane chicks hatched in mid-June at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park get daily exercise to strengthen their feet and long legs and to gain balance before they can join the adult birds in the Safari Park’s African Plains habitat. East African crowned cranes are listed as an endangered species due to the loss, transformation and degradation of their habitat. These two baby animals represent the 62nd and 63rd hatchings of East African crowned cranes at the Safari Park.
Located just minutes from downtown San Diego, Mission Bay Park is the largest park of its kind in the world, spread out over 4,200 sparkling acres. Something you may not know about this aquatic playground is that there are some really cool and surprising animal encounters along its 27 miles of beaches.
A recent visit to the Bahia Resort piqued my interest in Mission Bay’s wildlife when I spotted a friendly seal named Gracie frolicking in a pool out front of the resort. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What a fun and memorable way to welcome visitors!
I soon discovered that other creatures great and small call Mission Bay home and make for some great photo opps, if you know where to look. And the best part: viewing is free.
Here’s the inside scoop on Mission Bay’s amazing menagerie of animal encounters and where to find them:
Gracie the Seal at the Bahia Resort
Gracie the seal basking in the sun at Bahia Resort
Gracie the seal, a rescue from La Jolla Cove, first called Bahia Resort home in 2006. She’s curious, outgoing and well-loved by all. When she’s not swimming around her spacious pool with her best friend Billy, she can be found sunbathing on the rocks. A great time to visit is during feeding time: 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM daily.
Parrots, Macaws and Cockatoos at the Catamaran
Meet the the talkative parrot named Cornell and enjoy even more animal encounters at Catamaran Resort
Colorful parrots, macaws and cockatoos can be found at the Catamaran Resort, located outside behind the main lobby. The bright – and talkative! – birds are on display daily from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Check out the cool Bird Cam. You can call each of them by name; feathered pics of who’s who (including Cornell the parrot, above) can be found on the resort’s exotic wildlife page.
Catamaran also has two ponds with koi fish, ducks and turtles that love to bask in the sun.
Animal Encounters at Paradise Point
When it comes to fascinating fauna on land, sea and air, Paradise Point Resort has it all! Swimming beneath the surface of the large lagoon next to Barefoot Bar & Grill are spotted leopard sharks, stingrays and guitar fish! The resort’s network of gardens and lagoons is also home to ducks, red-eared slider turtles, frogs, hummingbirds, herons and egrets…oh my!
See you in Mission Bay for some close encounters of the animal kind! 🙂
I’m on a “mission” (pun intended 😉 ) to find the most affordable sights, bites and places to stay in Mission Valley and share them with you for when you visit San Diego.
Find out how to win a stay in San Diego when you finish reading this post!
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley
Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first in a chain of 21 Alta California missions, is our first stop. For only $3 you can visit a small museum brimming with artifacts from the mission’s early years. It’s pretty cool and surreal being able to step back into time to the 1770s – especially with so much modern development in the valley now. Also be sure to check out the quaint chapel, padre’s quarters and stroll through the beautiful gardens, including a cool archeological dig!
Just down the road is Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the nation’s largest urban natural parks covering over 6,005 acres and featuring 42 miles of scenic trails for hiking, mountain biking, birding and rock climbing. Best of all: it’s Free – everything! – including free guided nature walks every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 AM. Stop by the Visitor Center to get the lay of the land.
A fantastic view from the top of Cowles Mountain
My favorite spots are the historic Old Mission Dam on the San Diego River and Cowles Mountain where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views of all of San Diego from its 1,592 foot peak!
The San Diego River
San Diego River flowing through Mission Valley
Running through Mission Valley is the picturesque San Diego River. It’s sometimes hard to find through all the condos and shopping centers, but it’s there. Pedestrian/bicycling paths can be found along the Mission Valley Greenway between Texas Street and Hazard Center. There’s also urban kayaking, for the more adventuresome!
Mission Valley Eats
If you’ve worked up an appetite, at Mission Valley Center the popular new Broken Yolk Café is perfect for breakfast or brunch (recommend the eggs benedict and hash browns). Nearby Pho’ Cali serves up some of the tastiest Vietnamese beef noodle soups. And for dinner, local favorite Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza is yummy, as is Oki Ton Japanese Bistro, one of the best sushi bars in town!
Tiki Oasis in the Heart of San Diego
Tiki Oasis art at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley
If you’re looking for a place to rest your head at night, look no further than Hotel Circle North and South dotted with numerous affordable motels, hotels and resorts. My personal fav is the tiki oasis known as Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Hanalei).
Back in the day it was much more tiki-fied, but remnants remain and it’s a hoot to spot Polynesian artifacts in the lobby and pool areas. The Crowne Plaza, BTW, is the site of 14th annual Tiki Oasis festival on August 14-17. I’ll be there! 🙂
Tip: To see all of Mission Valley in one fell swoop, catch a ride on the San Diego Trolley’s scenic Green Line which hugs the San Diego River. It only costs $2.50 ($5 for a day pass), with convenient stops at Mission Valley Center and Mission San Diego.
See you in Mission Valley – in the middle of it all!
Mission Possible: Stay and Play in San Diego Sweepstakes
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stay and play in the heart of San Diego.
Just steps from the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley’s central location, the Rio Vista Trolley Station makes it a breeze to visit some of the best of San Diego offerings including Petco Park, Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero.
The entry page will self destruct on Monday, 9 June 2014, at 10:00 AM.
Make it the perfect day with your little ones with these family friendly tips
From the beaches to the parks to the friendly vibe of the people, San Diego is truly one of the greatest destinations in the world for children. To top it off, our amazing city has several fun attractions to choose from! As a local mom of five kids, here are some family friendly tips on how to make the most of three of my favorite places to visit, the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and LEGOLAND California.
Known as the World-Famous Zoo, it truly lives up to the hype as one of the greatest family friendly destinations to see over 4,000 different animals! Trying to see them all in one day might be a tad ambitious, but here are my recommendations that maximize what you can fit in.
Start with a walking tour by heading down Center Street, checking out the bears along the way until it turns into Park Street and takes you to the pandas! Head there first as the viewing line for an up close look tends to get long. From there, continue the loop along to the polar bears, a truly fun exhibit where you can view the polar bears playing underwater! As your legs begin to tire, avoid the steep hill and hop on the Skyfari that takes you back toward the entrance of the park.
Disembark from your Skyfari bucket and head down Treetops Way to see the orangutan trail, making your way to the Treehouse Café to enjoy the views during lunch.
After fueling up, take Monkey Trail back to see gorillas and more, detouring through Scripps Aviary for some spectacular bird viewing. As you make your way back toward the main zoo entrance, catch the Hippo Trail as well.
By this point, the whole family will likely need a break, but you haven’t even gotten to the lions, tigers, giraffes and elephants! It’s at this time you can rest your feet on the bus tour catching several more great views of the animals.
Finally, if there is any ounce of energy left, head to the Children’s Zoo, truly a treat for the younger set. From hands on exhibits to the petting zoo, it’s a delight and the perfect way to end the day.
If you have tiny kids that need strollers, the Skyfari does not let strollers on board. I do recommend parking your stroller and enjoying the sky-high views round trip, then either walking some of the trails or heading straight for the bus tour.
The closest you may come to feeling like you actually are in the wild, this park is not to be missed. Note that during spring and summer, temperatures can heat up so head there early to beat the summer heat. Head straight to the African Tram first thing as lines tend to get long later in the day and it is pretty much the only line to worry about. This tram takes your family on a tour of the park and offers a view of the animals in an atmosphere created to be like their natural habitat – a favorite for my kids and me. Once the tour is over, walk over to see the lions since they also tend to draw a crowd, for a can’t miss, up close view!
From there, follow the path to see the gorillas, keeping an eye on the various show times. A personal favorite has been the bird show for years and a great way to take a walking break.
As lunch time hits, choose the Samburu Terrace and grab one of the tables near the amazing view area!
Also, be sure to check the schedule for animal demonstrations for up close views (and even some petting!) of some spectacular creatures. Speaking of which, the petting zoo is always a fun time for the kids as well.
Grab your map and seek out the rest of your favorite animals, then cool off in the kid’s fun splash area. Note: bring swimsuits and towels.
As the day winds down, hit the carousel near the front entrance.
Family Friendly Hints
Remember, when traveling with kids, make sure to equip yourself with several snacks to keep hunger away and try to go during times when your child will be least tired. Just as you think you might be headed toward melt down city, let the younger kids sit back and relax in the stroller while you take a walking tour as each of my favorite attractions have plenty of areas to stroll! And when all else fails, remember my mantra: relax while watching one of the shows!
For Lego fans young and old, this is must-stop destination while in town.
Bring your bricks! If your child has a Lego figurine they are ready to be rid of, they can trade it with any Legoland staff member and continue to keep trading throughout the day! And if you are ready to purchase more, be sure to hit the store early in the day as it can get pretty crowded.
Next stop is to head to the back of the park first to avoid the long lines later in the day.
Be prepared that the height requirements are very strict for the rides, so be sure to measure your child before waiting in long lines only to be turned away (and I have seen that happen to many a screaming child!).
During the warmer months, bring towels and a change of clothes as several rides and the Pirate Shores will get you very wet. Though they have dryers you can pay to use, it’s nice to have a cozy towel handy.
When hunger strikes, eat at the restaurants in the aquarium (get your hand stamped for park reentry) and Mini Town as both have delicious food.
If you run into a “survey taker” during your visit, be sure to participate as you usually get a cool prize.
Once you are ready for a breather, hit the shows. In particular, the “The Big Test,” a.k.a. the fireman show, is a family favorite as are the 3D movies, too.
Rick Schwartz and his koala friend, Burly, are your Guides to the Good Stuff.
If you caught this week”s episode of NPR”s Wait Wait…Don”t Tell Me!, you might already be familiar with <a title=”Rick Schwartz – San Diego”s Guide to Family Fun” href=”http://www.sandiego.org/campaigns/good-stuff/rick-schwartz.aspx” target=”_blank”>Rick Schwartz, Animal Care Supervisor for the San Diego Zoo. As a member of the San Diego Zoo”s team for 13 years, Rick has more than a few good tips to share for exploring the grounds and beyond.
Let Rick Schwartz be your Guide to the Good Stuff in San Diego with his picks for the best animal (and people) watching!
Explore the San Diego Zoo Like an Insider
This animal care ambassador knows the zoo like no one else, so be sure to follow Rick”s suggestions when you visit the San Diego Zoo:
Be prepared to spend all day. The San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres and houses more than 3,700 animals.
During the summertime, the zoo is open for 12 hours, which allows you to see animals that are more active at night. See your favorite animals active in the morning, go take one of the bus tours, ride the Skyfari, check out a show, and then walk the zoo again in the evening time. You’ll see and hear many unique things you would miss otherwise.
Before you go, pick three animals that you absolutely must see. Rick suggests checking out casino the koalas at the zoo”s new Australian Outback.
Beyond the Zoo: Rick Schwartz”s Suggestions for the Rest of San Diego
The zoo is terrific, but there”s plenty more to explore in San Diego beyond the zoo”s grounds:
One of Rick”s favorite locations in San Diego is Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park. In addition to the access to Torrey Pines State Beach, there are some beautiful paths that wind through the preserve. You can have some unique coastal wildlife sightings right from the trails.
If you’re into people watching, Mission Beach is another of Rick”s favorite spots. You”ll see a lot of great characters, both local and visiting.
In the evening, Rick suggests heading downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter for great restaurants and clubs. “You could just get a nice little table on the patio of a restaurant there on one of the main streets and people watch all evening long,” says Rick.
Another of Rick”s favorite neighborhoods is Pacific Beach. With lots of bars and a fun beach culture, “that”s the place to go when you are done with the wild animals and want to go hang out with the party animals!” Rick shares.
Check out more of Rick Schwartz”s favorite things about San Diego, including tips for exploring Balboa Park, at <a title=”Rick Schwartz – San Diego”s Guide to the Good Stuff” href=”http://www.sandiego.org/campaigns/good-stuff/rick-schwartz.aspx” target=”_blank”>SanDiego.org/GoodStuff.