9.04.2018

Every October Kids Go Free in San Diego!


October is coming! That means kids go free in San Diego. Every October, so many San Diego theme parks, museums, attractions, restaurants, and hotels offer fabulous deals - even free admission for kids! It all began more than 30 years ago when the San Diego Zoo began celebrating the anniversary of the month it opened by allowing kids free entry for all children! Now, more than 100 places, in and around the county offer what popularly known as Kids Free San Diego. While we can't list all 100, there are quite a few we love to participate in every year. Of particular note is the San Diego Museum Council's 40+ museums participating in Kids Free October. The council has opened the doors to it's many museums and your kids are going to love it! There really is so much for kids to see and do. It's good to know that the October Kids Free San Diego program is for children ages 12 and under. You will want to visit each location's website to see their specific coupon, hours of operation, and any restrictions. This is such a fantastic community offering for the residents of Southern California. And because San Diego boasts one of the most temperate climates in the world, October is the perfect month to visit San Diego from anywhere in the world! Below is a list of our favorite San Diego attractions taking part in Kids Free San Diego.

Kids Free San Diego

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

The world renown San Diego Zoo and Safari Park is offering kids free admission to the parks during the month of October. Your kids can feed a giraffe, watch a flamingo parade, catch tigers playing, and monkeys swinging all for free during the Month of October. We love the children's area of the San Diego Zoo and the Tiger exhibit at Safari Park. Children receive free admission to the park all month long. Children must be 11 and under.


Sea World San Diego

Kids play for free at SeaWorld San Diego all month long. See Clyde the Sea Lion, Seymore, and all of his animal friends. October is a super fun time to visit Sea World. They have trick-or-treating stations on the weekends, stellar halloween decor, delicious fall food, and so much more! Admission is free for kids with an accompanying adult admission. You don't want to miss out on the all new Deep Water themed area of SeaWorld -there are new rides and animal encounters. One of our favorite  encounters at Seaworld is the all new re-imagined Orca Encounter Experience that features animal behavior demonstrations and tons of educational information about Orcas . Admission to Seaworld San Diego is free for children in the month of October, with 1 paying adult. See here for Details and Info.


San Diego Botanic Gardens

Children 12 and under recieve free admission to the San Diego Botanic Garden with each paid adult during the Month of October. It's good to know there is a small parking fee and the garden is located in the North County coastal town of Encinitas. There is plenty for children to do at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Check out our post of visiting the San Diego Botanic Garden with kids here.


Belmont Park

Belmont Park is San Diego's Coastal Amusement Park. Kids 12 and under can "Ride, Eat, and Play" for free at Belmont Park during the month of October with the purchase of an adult ticket! Visit the Belmont Park Website for more info.

Birch Aquarium At Scripps

The Birth Aquarium is another fantastic experience for kids in San Diego. Located north of the city, in La Jolla. The aquarium is the public viewing space that is associated with the world famous Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD. The aquarium sits high on a bluff overlooking the pacific ocean. Children can explore hundreds of species of ocean animals and there is even a hands-on touch pool, the kelp dive show, rotating one-of-a-kind exhibits and more. If you can be sure to schedule your visit on a tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday when they offer one of their many rotating feedings of the sea creatures. You don't want to miss it! During the month of October, kids 12 and under are free with the admission of at least one paying adult. Be sure to visit the San Diego Museum Council's website for the Kids Free San Diego Coupon for the Birch Aquarium! We love the Birch Aquarium!


The New Children's Museum

The New Children's Museum is located in downtown San Diego, and is such a great place to take the kids when exploring all that Kids Free San Diego has to offer.  You can think, play and creat your way through every inch of this epic space for kids! There are interactive art installations, think spaces, places spaces and studio art spaces for kids. Travers the Wonder Sound exhibit, take in the pantone mural where nature's fruits and veggies are matched to a pantone color square, races cars in the desert derby, and solo much more! Visit the San Diego Museum Council's website to download your Kids Free San Diego Museum coupon.

San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art, locate in Balboa Park is actually free all year round for kids 17 and under. This makes for a fun and inexpensive outing for families. Things to do at the San Diego Museum of Art for kids include having a little mini art scavenger hunt with the "search and find activity book", seeing priceless works of art up close, and the teen art cafe! You can learn more about the San Diego Museum of Art here or by visiting the San Diego Museum Counsel to get your Kids Free San Diego coupon

Balboa Park Museums including Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum

So many museums to see in Balboa Park as part of Kids Free October! I think the Fleet Science Center and The San Diego Natural History Museum might be doable in one day. YOu could even take a picnic lunch or grab a bite to eat with the kids in the Nat's new Backyard Cafe. The Fleet Science Center offers hands on science experiences, live science shows, as well as tons more. The Nat has multiple floors of dinosaur bones, and interactive exhibits. You won't want to miss the Backyard play space for children 5 and under on the bottom floor. Children 12 and under are admitted free in October with a paid adult. Be sure to download your Kids Free coupon from the San Diego Museum Council!



U.S.S. Midway

Steeped in history, The decommissioned Aircraft Carrier USS Midway is permanently stationed in San Diego and is open to the public for guided and self-guided tours. There are many docents who willingly impart their knowledge of the carrier, Navy history, and the military in general. The Midway is a floating museum that honors the legacy of the aircraft carriers service. There are different exhibits on each deck including 26 restored aircraft up on the flight deck, 7 pilot ready rooms to tour, and viewing the captain's quarters. One of our favorite spots was getting to sit in the conference room where decisions about Operation Desert Storm were being made in the early 90's. 
Kids will love the flight simulator on the hangar deck as well as the all of the aircraft on board.  Adults will love the on board cafe, rich history and stunning views. As we have mentioned above, be sure to visit the San Diego Museum Council's website to download your Kids Free San Diego coupon 

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Discount

The Pacific Surliner is the Amtrack railway that spans over 300 miles of California Coastline. Amtrak makes it easy to explore Southern California by train and takes the stress out of driving through traffic. In October and every month of the year, kids ages 6-12 are always 50% off of the adult fare and children 5 and under ride free. See PacificSurfliner.com for more details.

Know Before You Go

  • Be sure to check websites for each offers rules and restrictions, including children's age requirements, days available. etc.
  • Follow along on social media with the #KidsFreeSD hashtag
  • Check for hotel deals to get the most out of your stay. Some San Diego hotels offer deals in October to accompany the Kids Free San Diego promotion.
  • For a complete list of San Diego Attractions offering Deals For Kids Free San Diego visit SanDiego.org 
  • For a complete list of San Diego County Museums participating in Kids Free in San Diego visit the San Diego Museum Council


8.27.2018

Tradewinds Island Resort St. Pete Beach Florida

St. Pete Beach is a small resort beach city on the gulf coast of Florida. It's actually located on a barrier island off the west side of the state. Our family vacation there and stay at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort is something we will always remember! 


The views! There is no need for a passport to see paradise. You can find it at St. Pete Beach! Walking out onto the beach from the hotel, we were greeted by the most gorgeous ocean views. The sand was pillowy, powdery and white. There are no waves on the gulf coast of Florida, just the sea gently lapping against the sand. Perfect for long walks and collecting seashells.




We stayed at the beautiful Tradewinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach. This  sprawling resort encompasses 2 hotels, 31 acres of resort space, 14 dining options, a resort day spa and more!
The resort's motto is "Just Let Go" and we can see why!



The hotel grounds are lush and beautiful. There is even a river that winds it's way around the resort.






Tradewinds Island Resort Accomodations

The Tradewinds Island Resort offers a variety of hotel rooms and suites to suit your vacation needs. They even have pet-friendly options! We loved our two bedroom suite with a gulf ocean view. We can only speak to the suites, but we think if you choose that option, you will enjoy it as much as we  do. Inside each suite, there is a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster and plenty of counter space. The 2 bedroom suite has 1 king room, 2 queens room, and a lovely sitting area with plenty of seating, a flat screen TV and a stunning view of the water.

For more photos, check out the Tradewinds Island Resort website.


Tradewinds Island Resort Hotel Activities for Families 

There is a mini golf course on the grounds, a giant chess set, a dance party every day by the pool, venders poolside that showcase a variety of fun activities for kids like pottery painting, crafting, and hair braiding. There's also jet skiing, kayaking, and more right from the beach! There are even adorable paddle boats that you can ride in the waterway river around the resort. 

Our favorite activities for kids at Tradewinds are probably the floating watersides and giant Island Grand High Tide Slide that is located right on the beach. Tradewinds also has a chaperoned kids program and a teen program where they provide care for kids if parents want to have some alone time.

The water is a beautiful shade of blue green and perfect for all kinds of water sports.


The beach side inflatable water slide was a hit with the kids.


As you make your way from the hotel to the beach, you are greeted by several beach hammocks that are perfect for lazy afternoon naps.


The resort has an 9 hole mini golf course in the courtyard area. This was such fun for the kids.


The giant chess set was set under a covered patio, so this made for a great rainy day activity. And trust me, it will rain at some point while you are there. 

The weather in Florida, no matter where you are vacationing, can change in a moment. So, be prepared for the weather with activities or games to play indoors or under cover. Thankfully, Tradewinds had us covered, literally.


A fun outing was visiting the famous fish tank from the TV show "Tanked". It's located next door at the sister resort Guy Harvey's Outpost. there is a side viewing area, but if you want to see the full tank in all it's glory, you'll need to make reservations at the hotel restaurant.




We love the Tradewinds Island Resort in St. Beach Beach, Florida. It's the perfect St. Pete Beach hotel for families. We can't wait to get back there soon!

Tradewinds Island Grand Resort Amenities

The Tradewinds Island Resort offers a "resort amenities pass" for $45 per unit per day plus tax. Parking is part of this pass and with all that comes with it - this is such a great deal!

Daily reservable cushioned beach cabana for two.
Ride on Island Grand’s High Tide Slide
Ride on Guy Harvey Outpost’s Surf WipeOut
Take a waterway paddleboat out for a spin.
Guy's Great Touch Tank Experience (perfect for children!)
Family Pirate Show
Campfire S'Mores (weather dependent)
Sea Turtle Talk expeditions
Use of two state-of-the-art fitness centers
Complimentary Yogafit classes
Day play for beach volleyball and mini golf
Beach games, like paddleball, bocce ball and corn hole
Unlimited access to both resort's SEVEN swimming pools
Poolside activities
Dive-In Movies
Plush pool towels
Self-parking (one parking pass per room)
Two bottles of water per day



For more of our family travel posts, check out our travel section and if you loved this post, you might like our San Clemente, California family vacation post.

**This post was not sponsored in any way.




8.16.2018

What To Do In San Clemente, California


As a Southern California family, we've been to a lot of beach towns. There are a few though that hold a special place in our hearts. We've recently been spending a lot of time in San Clemente, California. We love it there! It's definitely a place for relaxing and slowing the pace of life. But, there's also plenty of things to do in San Clemente too. From the beaches to the food, we think you'll fall in love with this charming beach town as much our family has.

Where is San Clemente, California located?

San Clemente, California is located in the southern most coastal tip of Orange County, California. It is the last stop on the 5 freeway (Yes, we really do put "the" in front of our freeways when we talk) before crossing Camp Pendleton and into San Diego County. From San Diego, it's just after Camp Pendleton. You can literally just get on the 5 freeway and exit El Camino Real and you are there!

Things To Do In San Clemente

San Clemente Pier

San Clemente Beaches

The beaches in San Clemente are beautiful! Plenty of sprawling Southern California coastline to enjoy. There's North Beach, The Pier, T Street, Riviera, Lasuens, and San Clemente State Beach. Many of the beaches have public access and parking. T Street access is either via the pier or by the walkway that is at the end of Esplande.  If you want a beach that is close to everything, including bathrooms and food, you'll want to stick to the beach near the pier or North Beach.

San Clemente Pier Sunset
Low tide sunset view of the San Clemente, CA pier.

Luke's uncle gave him a few surfing lessons while we were there!

Surfing and Stand Up Paddle Boarding

If you are an experienced surfer, you'll want to head to T Street. T Street is south of the San Clemente Pier about .25 of a mile. Access to T street beach is by way of walking along the beach or the large covered walkway from T Street. Otherwise, the beaches at the pier are great for surfing. If you are visiting and don't have a board, surfboard rentals can be found at Surfboard Rentals San Clemente of T Street Surfboard Rentals.

San Clemente Trolley

Getting Around Town

The San Clemente Trolley (runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day) is a great way to get around town, but be prepared to have a wait on holiday and festival weekends. We love that it stops at the pier and the San Clemente Outlets!

If you are traveling by Amtrak train to San Clemente or staying at the San Clemente State Park Campground, you will be happy to know that there is plenty to do within walking distance.

Coastal Activities

You won't want to miss the San Clemente Beach Trail that spans a good portion of the coastline. You can access the walking/running/biking trail by way of a few points including North Beach, West Escalones, Linda Lane, Corto Lane, Esplanade,  and Calafia Cafe. We did this often, sometimes both morning and evening, and it is a beautiful backdrop to your stroll.

What to do San Clemente
View of the San Clemente Beach Trail from the north. Doesn't this walk look so peaceful?


You can also shop along Avenida Del Mar or the Outlets at San Clemente, go camping at San Clemente State Beach campground and visit Casa Romantica the historical landmark home of one of the founders of San Clemente. Casa Romantica is free to the public the 1st Sunday of every month. On Sundays, the San Clemente Farmer's Market takes place and the sidewalks along Avenida Del Mar are lined with small businesses and farmers selling their goods. The San Clemente Art Gallery is open to the public. Local artists showcase their work.

A front view of the doors to Casa Romantica.

Street view of Avenida Del Mar
Food and Dining

If you are planning a trip to San Clemente, come hungry! We have tried a variety of yummy food. There is no shortage of great restaurants in San Clemente. If you are staying near the pier, treat yourself to a crepe or french toast for breakfast at La Galette Creperie. There's also Cafe Mimosa along Del Mar, or for something north, closer to the freeway, try The Bagel Shack. A meal at H.H. Cotton's, Pedro's Tacos, Pizza Port Brewing, Sonny's on El Camino Real, or Poke + Roll 808 are solid choices for lunch or dinner. For an afternoon treat or dessert, visit Southswell on Avenida Del Mar where they serve up Hand-dipped ice-cream bars and floats. Or try the newly opened Caterina's where they serve up decadent gelato across from the San Clemente pier. Looking for a quick cup of coffee? Bear Coast Brewing across from the pier is a good choice.

French Toast at La Galette


Delicious poke bowl from Poke + Roll. If you are looking for a well-priced, delicious meal, go here! But know they are closed on Mondays!

Southswell ice cream bars don't last long in our family.


A south swell ice-cream bar dipped in am ice cold root beer is the treat you've been waiting for.

Yes, the ocean really does look like this in San Clemente. Don't be surprised if you spot a whale or a school of dolphins swimming by. 



A stroll on the beach with the family at low tide.

Know Before You Go 

There are 2 Amtrak train stops in San Clemente, but only the north beach location runs midweek. The pier train stop is the perfect location to stop off for a quick day trip.

There are several hotels close to the water, but you'll want to book in advance to get the best price and room location. 

Locals wear hats and sunglasses, especially while walking the beach trail. Pack a good hat and sunnies to protect your eyes. 

Always look at the tides before you head to the beach. Some parts of the coastline are closed off due to high tides.

The weather is pretty temperate year round, but pack a cozy sweater and a pair of long pants for when the ocean breeze picks up.



San Clemente beach
If you can believe it, this photo was taken Thanksgiving weekend in San Clemente.


 Have you been to San Clemente? We would love to know your favorite spots!

8.10.2018

The Best Thing About Raising Teens


best thing about raising teens

Raising teens in today's day and age can be challenging. There are so many messages our society and  culture are throwing at them on a day to day basis. Not to mention their peers. Add to that fluctuating hormones and neurological changes and that makes for some daunting parenting years.

As a parent, I've heard it all when it comes to the struggle of parenting teens. And so far, I've just about felt it all too. What I haven't heard a lot of is the positive side of parenting teens. What are the joys? The successes? The triumphs? So, I went on the hunt for what parents love about parent teens. I asked fellow bloggers, my friends, and family (thanks mom!) to share "What's the best thing about raising teens?" Whether you have teens or will have teens in the future, I hope this is as encouraging to you as it to me.

Here's what they had to say.

The Best Thing About Raising Teens is...

"I enjoyed the energy of raising teens. There was always something going on! There was always planning and looking forward to the next thing. I also enjoyed getting to know your friends!" - My mom, Robyn.

"I think my favorite thing about raising tweens and teens is just watching them grow into the people they were born to be. I consider it a privilege to be along for the journey. I remember hearing from the moment I announced we had found out our baby was a girl, "Well, she will be cute when she was little, but just wait, she will be so awful by the time she hits puberty..." People need to quit this nonsense.  Being a tween is hard and telling someone they are destined to be awful is not helpful for anyone involved.  It is bittersweet to watch our babies grow into their own people, but I do believe that comunication, constructive confrontation, and empathy is what builds a firm foundation." - Kate of Highlights Along The Way

parenting teens

"Teens remind us of our good old days. They have a vitality and live for today! They also remind us ti remind us to remind them of how important their choices are during their teen years (and the rest of their lives." Susan Farese of SJF Communications

"Now that my oldest son is a teen, I love that I can be a little more frank with my feelings and provide him with truer, less edited insight on how the world ‘really’ works. Even though we have our moments, we are able to have deeper conversations about our feelings with each other and the world." - Lisa Robertson of BabesinDisneyland.com

"The best thing about having teens is having real discussions about real topics and learning about the amazing people my teens are becoming. We discuss our opinions about education, politics, driving , love, economics, heroes, solutions to world hunger, religion, family, friends, how to help people, humor, animals, everything. Teens have so many big ideas. It’s a blessing to be able to sit and hear them." Gina Valley of ginavalley.com



"Seeing their dreams unfold." - Diana, mentor and advocate for childhood cancer awareness

"You never get bored!" - Patricia, Mom of two teens.

"I love seeing them light up when they learn a new life skill like driving." - Naomi, mother of 2

"I really enjoy doing things with her. We enjoy concerts, movies, fun places to eat that we both actually enjoy. She's a pretty cool person." Shannon, mother of two and blogger at BentoLunch.net

"The best thing is when your teenage daughter buys you something with her hard earned money, just because. I also love seeing them be good leaders to their friends and siblings." - Cori, Mother of 4.

"I love being able to talk with them in a more mature way about situations, life, character, values, beliefs, etc. Watching them grow, learn and discover themselves and their world." Karen, mother of two.

"Watching them accomplish a goal. I get so much joy out of watching my son do his photography and live out his dream!" - Andi, Mom of two teens.

"Watching their fledgling independence grow, and as they experience successes in their attempts, seeing their self-love and confidence grow!!" - Claire, Language Arts Teacher to teens.

"You're reminded that you can control very little!" - Darlene, mother of two, grandmother of many and my aunt.

"They sharpen my views and beliefs." Roy, Father of two.

"The conversations I get to have with her." - Kalyn, Friend and mother.

"I love seeing how much they care about the world and want to make it a better place." - Jackie

"Having great conversations." - Melody, friend and mother of 3.

best thing about parenting teens


And as for me, the best part of raising teens is being able to have grown up and deep conversations with them, hear their hearts about things that matter to them, and to watch them show love to others.

What about you? What do you think is the thing about raising teens?

If you liked this post, check out my open letter to my sister on thoughts on motherhood