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This was not our first time in Legoland California, but it was our first time as a family of 5! I was a little bit nervous because I didn’t know if our 1yr. old was going to enjoy the park at all. Thankfully, we had a great time and I wanted to share with you some Legoland California tips so you can also have an amazing family vacation.

Family in front of legoland califonia castle hotel

 

Plan to stay at a Legoland Hotel

There are two hotels in Legoland California the Legoland Hotel and the Castle Hotel (new!). We have been to Legoland twice now, once staying at the Legoland hotel and once as a day trip. We all unanimously prefer the trip where we stayed at the Legoland Hotel. It really changes the experiences for the kids, and the grown-ups too.

 

Child in form of Legoland California Hotel

The hotel is basically lego heaven, there are lego themed rooms, nightly entertainment for the kids, and lego play areas all over the hotel. Staying at the hotel also includes a free breakfast buffet and early access to the park. For the parents, there’s a bar located in the lobby of the hotel, and just the opportunity to take a break during the day, especially if you have little ones is great!!

Child in from of lego chwebacca

If staying in the Legoland hotel is out of your budget there are hotels near Legoland California that would be a good options like Hyatt House Carlsbad, Carlsbad by the Sea Resort, Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach, and Fairfield Inn & Suites Carlsbad.

Children with unikitty Legoland california

Use the Legoland App

The Legoland app was a lifesaver, especially the interactive park map. It made everything so much more efficient, no more carrying a round a flimsy paper map or wandering around to find a ride with shorter wait times. You can find ride wait times, show times, and dining options as well.

Children in front of Legoland California Chima waterpark

Hit the Waterpark Early

If you go in the summer, I recommend you go to the waterpark first. It is much less crowded in the morning than in the afternoon. Bring a change of clothes, so you can change afterwards and enjoy the rest of the park nice and dry. We stored all of our valuable items in the lockers and just carried around our towels in the waterpark, but I wish I had taken a waterproof phone pouch so I could take pictures of the kids in the water.

Child inside Legoland California lego armor

The Best Legoland Rides for the Whole Family

There are so many good rides, but our favorites were the Adventurer’s Club in fun town, Fairy Tale Brook, Heartlake Stables, Mia’s Riding Camp, Driving School and Sky Patrol. Our little girl loved everything in Heartlake, and our older boy loved Driving School. In the water park our favorites were the Wave Pool, Duplo Splash Safari, and the Soak and Sail.

Vegan hamburger Legoland California tips to eat vegan 

Enjoy Legoland Restaurants with Vegetarian and Vegan Options

I always carry around healthy cookies or bag of trail mix in my bag for trips like these, in case they are no vegan options available, but I was pleasantly surprised at the vegan options and the friendly staff who had no problem accommodating my requests. (Legoland does allow you to bring in small snack and water.)

Child with lego california hot dos character

We had lunch at the Castle Hotel (the restaurant is open to the public). Which I’m so glad we did, because it gave us the opportunity to cool off and enjoy a beer with our meal. I had the impossible burger, a veggie soup, and some hummus and vegetables. There are more vegan options inside the park as well. The Market, which is a sort of convenience store/café has plenty of nuts, chips, baby pouch purees, fresh fruit cups, and popsicles.

children in castle lock up Legoland california tips

Fun Town’s Urban Kitchen has a nice salad bar and they offer a tofu and veggie bowl as well. Wok n’bowl ramen has a tofu stir fry with rice, and in the Ninja Kitchen there is a tofu Bahn mi. Last but not least the pizza and pasta buffet has a huge salad bar and you can order a cheese-less pizza or some noodles with marinara.

Disclaimer:  I received two complimentary media passes to Legoland, but all opinions and thoughts are my own.

 

We have been living in San Antonio for about 6 months now and We are still discovering new things about the city and what it has to offer. We really like it here! I was very pleased to learn about the La Villita Day of the Dead Festival that took place Oct. 28.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the whole thing, I just wanted the kids to see a big altar and maybe do some fun crafts. Boy was I wrong!!

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

There was an altar contest, where schools, organizations, and artists created their own altars honoring a special person. There was also a good variety of Latino local business offering anything from jewelry, clothing to painting and pottery. Of course there was face painting and sugar skull decorating.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

There were also food tents, though not many vegan options, and a tent selling pan de muerto. The live music set the mood for the whole thing, but the best part was seeing Mexican culture celebrated and honored.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

The event itself was well organized and really well setup, but if you plan on going next year, be sure to get there early so you can find parking.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

Unfortunately, we missed the procession that takes place in the evening, but maybe next year. I could go on, but all you need to know you can get from the beautiful pictures of the event. I hope you were able to celebrate the Day of the Dead in your own way, and share in this beautiful Mexican tradition.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival in San Antonio will not disappoint. A beautiful event to honor those who have left before us.

La Villita Day of the Dead Festival (Festival del Día de los Muertos)

La Villita, south of the River Walk in downtown San Antonio, was originally settled nearly 300 years ago as one of the city’s first neighborhoods. In 1939, La Villita Historic Arts Village was established and the neighborhood was adapted into a center for teaching regional arts and crafts and to serve as an artists market.

Address

418 Villita
San Antonio, Texas 78205

My sister just left, and as I try to hold back the sadness that threatens to engulf me I realize I’m just really glad she came. She got here about a week ago, but instead of spending a whole week in OC, we met her in Tijuana for a quick road trip to Ensenada and Rosarito, Baja Califorinia, MX. The hubby and I have been wanting to go there for a while, since we live so close, but we had never made the time.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

We walked across the border, where my sister and her boyfriend picked us up. We decided to skip Tijuana and went on to Rosarito, we stopped for breakfast at Los Pelicanos Restaurante. The restaurant is supplied by their own farm where they raise quail, deer, and lamb. In season you can find these items on the menu cooked over an oak and mezquite wood fired grill, served with warm tortillas, and homemade jams. After a a breakfast of crispy chilaquiles, fried quail eggs, and refried beans we drove off to Ensenada.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

We decided to take a detour and visit el Valle de Guadalupe, which is Mexico’s wine country. We only visited one winery, L.A Cetto. We had a wine tasting led by a Chef Iker, who shared his knowledge of the local wines and gave us some recommendations on where to eat. Honestly, we weren’t too impressed with the wines or the winery, but we did just come back from a trip to Napa, so it’s not really fair to compare.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

While driving back to Ensenada, on a last minute whim, we decided to go to ” La Bufadora”. “La Bufadora” is the site of one of North Americas largest blowholes, and one of the many tourist attractions in Ensenada. The site is surrounded by shops selling all kinds of hand crafts and souvenirs. There are also small food stands offering fresh seafood and cold drinks to quench the summer heat.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.On our return to Ensenada we stopped for tacos before checking into the hotel. Did you now fish tacos are said to have originated in Ensenada? So naturally I just had to have some. I can’t seem to remember the name of where we ate, I’ll have to get back to you in that one. The tacos were simple: battered and fried fish, a chile ‘guero’ stuffed with smoked marlin, topped with pickled onions, cabbage, and salsa verde. Quite unique and delicious.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

Finally we arrived at Hotel Coral and Marina and spent the rest of the day at the pool. In the evening my sister watched the munchkin so we could go out for a drink. Well at least that was the plan, but after a whole day of travel and activity all we could muster was to stop by the hotel bar. I like Mexican hotel bars. They have plenty of tequila, and are generally “old school”. The bartender was an older gentleman dressed in a classic waiter’s uniform, bow tie and all. We had margaritas, no sour mix (thank goodness!), and peanuts.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

The next day, the guys went deep sea fishing while we walked around the center of town, stopped at Sanborns for some caldo Tlalpeño (spicy chicken soup), and paid a visit to the Mercado Negro (local fish market).  On the drive back to Tijuana we stopped at Puerto Nuevo to feast on their famous lobster dish: broiled lobster, refried beans, hand-made flour tortillas, and Mexican rice. All in all, for such a short trip we had a wonderful time. With our bellies full and our hearts content, we walked across the border pondering how two worlds so different can be so close, and yet the wall that claims to separate them cannot keep them from blending into each other.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

An amazing road trip to Ensenada and Rosario with the family. Great food and friends made the trip one to remember.

Our daily routine is back in place, the familiar faces and places of Orange County surrounding our thoughts and our lives. Yet, the sweet memories of our road trip to Napa still flood my days.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

That’s what vacations are for right? To get away from our lives even if it is momentarily. So here are the best pictures of our trip, the places we visited and where we ate, just in case you were thinking of planning a trip to Napa.

Road Trip to Napa: The Pictures

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

 

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

 

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

This road trip to Napa has created so many sweet memories for our family. Dinner at the French Laundry, wineries, a dinner with friends.

Note: I promise this is the last post on Napa. The next one will have a recipe for sure!!

Waking up at 3:30 am was not what I had in mind for the start of our vacation, but if we wanted to make our reservation for lunch at Chez Panisse, we had to.

Chez Panisse is a restaurant in Berkeley, CA. It was founded by Alice Waters in 1971. It is said to be the birthplace of the farm to table,-organic-sustainable-California cuisine movement that has now swept the country. But back then it was a small house turned into an improvised restaurant, run by a couple of college graduates with hardly any experience in the industry.

The reason why Chez Panisse is so important and why we wanted to visit, is the fact that it has played such an important role in making American cuisine what it is today and forged a path in establishing a relationship with the farmers that grow our food.

At Chez Panisse the menu changes daily with the seasons and the ingredients are local and organic. We are fortunate enough that spring is in full bloom right now, so the menu included tender peas, buttery fava beans, and baby artichokes. The food was simple, unpretentious, and well executed, oh, and did I mention delicious. The ambiance and the decor was not what I expected. I though we were going to literally walk into an old house filled with a couple of tables, but instead we walked into a rustic house decorated with elegant and modern touches.

I didn’t take any pictures of the food because I find it to be an interruption to the dining experience as a whole, so sorry if you were expecting a detailed description of our lunch. The next stop on our vacation is Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and a lot more wine drinking. Thankfully, after lunch at Chez Panisse waking up so early doesn’t seem like it was a hardship at all.

Lunch at Chez Panisse, the food was simple, unpretentious, and well executed, oh, and did I mention delicious.

Lunch at Chez Panisse, the food was simple, unpretentious, and well executed, oh, and did I mention delicious.

I can’t seem to find the right words or pictures to share. I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I’m not talking about the beautiful Mexican resorts, beach or even the natural resources of Oaxaca. I’m talking about the raw beauty of a small border town, so different from the manicured lawns and pristine streets of Orange County.

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I’ve been here for about a week now and I’ve been enjoying it so much, but somehow it´s always bittersweet. I delight in the fact that my parents have lived in the same house for over thirty years, so I can literally come home. I love that I can eat my favorite foods at our family restaurant, and that there´s people around me who actually want to take care of the munchkin for a little while. Oh and that he actually has someone to play with!

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

At the same time ever since this “drug war” started, Acuña has gone from one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico to almost a ghost town. Businesses are closing because Americans have stopped crossing the border to eat and drink, and the fees imposed by the cartels are too large. In the past two years there has been an increase in poverty in Mexico, with the numbers climbing to 46.2% of the entire population. This means that there´s practically no middle class, just disgustingly rich, poor and extremely poor. All of these things remind me why many Mexicans have chosen to leave their home country legally or illegally.

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I guess what I should be telling you are the little details that make Mexico unique. For example, at the movies we don´t pour butter on our popcorn, there´s hot sauce readily available in a dispenser. Also, Mexicans are not afraid of color and it shows in store displays, houses, and even the supermarket. The food here is so good, usually not processed, and full flavor. Honestly, I think blandness doesn´t exist here. One of the best features of Mexico are the people, the people are warm,  honest, joyful, well most of them are. They certainly know how to throw a party and enjoy one, but most of all they know how to make the best out of what they have.

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I want to show you the beauty of Mexico, but I'm not talking about the beautiful resorts, beaches or natural resources. The real beauty

I will be here for two more weeks, so there will be more to tell. In the mean time have a Happy New Year!