Happy Monday, everyone! We’re back! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. My family spent the week at my sister-in-law’s home in San Diego and aside from an unfortunate bout with what we believe to be the norovirus, we had a great time. All in all, there were 16 of us there for the week and we got into a lot of fun activities. Let me just say that the San Diego area is stunning. It was my first trip and the beauty of the area really blew me away with its rolling hills and lush landscaping all bordering the ocean. It couldn’t have been more beautiful. I thought I would take some time to review (from a parent’s point of view) some of the local attractions we were able to visit while we were there.
Disney California Adventure Park and Disneyland
During our first full day there, we made the trek north to Anaheim to visit Disney California Adventure Park and Disneyland. This place was amazing and was my first experience with the world of Disney. At 30, I had never been to either Disney World or Disneyland. Having this experience during the holiday season was especially magical. We started the day at California Adventure Park visiting the Cars, Monster’s Inc, and Toy Story themed rides in the park and then had lunch at Ariel’s Grotto, where we had a wonderful lunch and then met all of the Disney princesses as they walked through the dining area, spoke to everyone, and took pictures. After lunch, we headed over to Disneyland (a very short walk from one park to the next). At Disneyland, we rode the It’s a Small World ride and spent time walking around the park looking at all of the different areas until it was time for the Christmas parade. This was a favorite part of the trip for me. The Christmas parade was the perfect start to the holiday season and the castle was decorated beautifully for Christmas, complete with snow on the roof tops. I loved the entire Disney experience and can’t wait to go back!
That being said, I have to be very honest and say that I don’t think my children were really old enough to appreciate it. This will not be true of all children and of all situations, but for us, we need a few more years. My sons both need naps daily and my oldest will not just fall asleep in the stroller. Add to that the lights, sounds, and excitement that Disney offers and it was a recipe for very overtired children. Neither were old enough to really get into the characters, neither cared about meeting the Disney princesses, and both were exhausted well before the parade started at 5:00 p.m. They fell asleep as soon as we got back to our car, but Ian yelled and screamed in his sleep for much of the trip and neither one slept well that night. Also, since Declan was not yet walking, he ended up in the stroller pretty much all day. For us, if our family hadn’t been there to join in the fun, it simply would not have been worth the price yet. For ages 3-9, a one day only hopper pass (the one that allows you to go between California Adventure Park and Disney Land) was $131. From 10 and up, the cost was $137. That’s a lot of money for one day of fun not to get the full enjoyment. We’ll try again once they’re past the napping stage. 🙂
The next day, we all headed to Legoland in San Diego. This park was great and much more age appropriate. Everything is built of Legos and the imagination that goes into all of the attractions and rides is amazing! We all loved it. The Star Wars area was right up my husband’s alley with the X-Wing fighter. I loved Miniland USA, which has monuments and landmarks from around the country. Both boys loved playing in the DUPLO village where they were able to actually put the blocks together and build. The rides were also very age appropriate and even my one year old was able to ride with me. The three year old had a blast! Tickets were $95 (ages 3-12) and $105 (13 and over) and this was good for two days, meaning we had the opportunity to go back the following day. Legoland was definitely a family favorite!
San Diego Zoo
One of our other main outings was the San Diego Zoo. We are big zoo people and have had season passes to the Houston Zoo for two years now, so I knew we would love this attraction, but I was honestly blown away by the San Diego zoo. First of all, it is HUGE! I’m talking massive. So big, that they have bus stops at regular intervals so that you can hop on the bus to get to another stop. There are also inclined moving walkways to help individuals and families get up to the top of the hills. We started our day by doing a guided tour on a double decker bus. It was a forty minute ride around the zoo that allowed us to have a great overview of where we wanted to go next and the kids loved riding the bus. After the tour, we were able to then go to specific areas. Of major interest to us, since the Houston zoo doesn’t have them, were the koala bears (they are just as cute as you think they are), pandas, kangaroos, polar bears, and penguins. The whole place was amazing and you can tell that they really invest a lot into making their zoo a world class attraction. The children loved seeing all of the animals and I could have spent days and days just walking around looking at everything! The cost was also much more reasonable. A one day pass was $34 (for ages 3-11) and $44 (12 and up). This made for a great outing and I would love to go back!
These three attractions were enough to keep us super busy, especially with Thanksgiving Day, the aforementioned stomach bug, and the beach right at our doorstep. I hope these quick reviews might help in making some travel decisions.