First Three Weeks of our Summer Staycation

San Diego kicked off our summer staycation and we really haven’t stopped. When you are home with two toddlers, finding new and exciting things to do are a must. For both them and you! I have been trying to make the most of living in Southern California, and I think we are on track to a great summer.

Strawberry Picking

We started off with strawberry picking. A must-do when you live in Southern California.This is our 2nd year picking strawberries. The ever popular Underwood Farms is where we usually go. Our morning is spent playing around the farm and then the berry picking begins. Having grown up on the East Coast where every fall, we pick apples, I was worried my kids wouldn’t get to experience such a thing. There is something so great about picking your own fruit right off the vine.

Los Angeles State Historic Park / Chinatown

In the heart of Downtown and Chinatown, lies the newly renovated and expanded LA State Park. We actually lived in Chinatown when the boys were born. In the short amount of time since they were born and now the park has transformed into a fantastic park in the middle of the city. It is wide open, great for flying kites or having picnics. They have a ton of events, including movies in the park. When you live in a city, kids love any open space where they can run free.

We took them back to Chinatown and showed them our old apartment. Visited spots we used to frequent when they were babies. It was incredibly touching to listen to them ask questions like “did we play at that playground when we were babies?”  Being back with the boys bittersweet in many ways. I don’t know how we survived that first year, yet cannot believe how fast this is all going.

Los Angeles State Park on our Staycation Toddler looking out at Los Angeles State Park

Gene Autry Museum

I have lived in Los Angeles for a very long time and I always snubbed my nose at this museum thinking it was just about cowboys. I am so sad I was such a snot. The Gene Autry is an incredible museum and fantastic for kids.

Right now on view is Play! An amazing, interactive exhibit for kids. Play chronicles toys and games over time and across cultures. My kids were obsessed, as was I. It was a lesson in how far toys have come, yet how much toys and what kids like to play, have stayed the same.

The rest of the museum was just as cool and family friendly. One of my guys is obsessed with all things “old-fashioned and from a long, long time ago.” Seeing relics from early old west days, seeing how our history has unfolded, made for a fantastic day.

Toddler riding a horse at Gene Autry Museum Toddler Panning for Gold at Gene Autry Museum

KidSpace Children’s Museum

The best part about this museum is its outdoor play. They have a mini Arroyo where kids can splash around. It’s set amongst the trees providing a ton of shade and enabling city kids to play amid the trees.

Another fantastic aspect of this museum is how interactive it is, in unique ways. There are various climbing towers in bright vibrant colors, mimicking raindrops or a bird’s nest. Kids can dig dinosaur bones, play in the physics forest, touch various items in the nature exchange. There is a ton to do at KidSpace.

Toddler digging for dinosaur bones at Kids Space Museum twins climbing raindrop at Kids Space Toddler playing in Arroyo at Kids Space Museum

Beach Days / Pool Days

Of course summer isn’t summer without ample time spent by the water. We are fortunate enough to live by the sea. Our favorite beach spot is Annenberg Community Beach House, given how easy it is with kids. But we still have a list of other beaches to hit this summer and the rest of our summer bucket list to complete.





How Our Vacation Turned Into A Staycation

We had finally settled on a destination for our family vacation. It was even listed on Family Adventures Await’s top destination list. Then my husband’s work schedule changed and we had to nix our vacation plans.

Not to be thwarted by work, and not to lose out on precious family time that we don’t often get, we decided to make this the summer of the staycation. Our first stop was San Diego.

My husband was able to take a day off, so we decided to make a long week-end of it. Packed the car and the kids and headed south. We didn’t do anything super out of the box during our stay but we did manage to pack each day with some adventure.

Old Town San Diego

Day one – Old Town San Diego

We arrived late morning, ditched our bags and hopped on the train to Old Town, San Diego. One of my guys is obsessed with anything from a long time ago. He kept calling it “Old Fashioned San Diego from a long long time ago.”  And while trying to explain time to a 3-year-old is seemingly impossible, it was super fun showing them how things used to be.

It’s important to incorporate not traditional kids activities. What they see and what they absorb can leave a lasting positive impact. It allows them to ask questions and use their brain in ways they otherwise would not. It is also a great opportunity for the entire family to get educated and participate in an activity.  We learned that chocolate grew on trees and how it gets made.

Tip: Take the train, leave the car. The kids love riding the train and it beats having to find parking.

San Diego



Day Two – The San Diego Zoo

In all honestly I am not a big zoo person. I have a hard time seeing wild animals in a city dwelling. For me, this was definitely a parenting moment when I had to choose between my own personal beliefs and something my children have always wanted to do. I choose the kids.

My kids are animal obsessed and the San Diego Zoo definitely delivered. They got to see every animal on their ” I want to see a…” list. We hit every corner of that zoo. If I had a fit bit it would have exploded with the amount of mileage I think we did. But it was worth it. Especially when your toddler gets to see his favorite animal.

Tips – 1. We made a lunch reservation prior to getting to the zoo at Alberts. It was well worth it. Being able to sit inside mid-day and relax gave us all the energy for the next half of the day.

Tip 2 Save the bus tour until the end of the day when everyone is tired. Some people recommend taking the bus tour at the start of the day to get the lay of the land but the maps are pretty easy to use and most of the animals are active in the morning. You don’t want to be stuck on a bus when your favorite animal is alert and active.

Day 3 – Balboa Park

We knew we had to leave that afternoon. So we hit Balboa Park and just roamed around. There are so many incredible museums, and when you’re 3, little adventures can be had around every corner. We kind of let the boys run this day. While we did have a few spots picked out ahead of time, the boys determined most of the day. We told them to pick the direction and we followed, with a little directional guidance from us.

Tip 1 – Have a game plan. The grounds are so big, don’t try to see what is there before deciding what to do. Have a museum picked out ahead of time.

*We stayed at the Hampton Inn which was perfect. The location was ideal for families. A playground across the street. Right in front of the harbor. Within walking distance to a train stop and had free breakfast.







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