Before we knew for sure that we would sell our house and most of our possessions to go on the road full time, we had been planning for our family vacation. The destination……San Diego! There were a couple of reasons for choosing this location. Our vacation destinations had to be within driving distance, as paying for five people to fly would basically deplete the vacation fund before we even arrived. San Diego was somewhere we had never been and has many family friendly attractions. The big reason for choosing San Diego; however, was that for the whole month of October kids go free (with adult ticket purchase of course) to all the major attractions. This was going to save us some serious dough. So why change plans? No reason we could see and so to San Diego we did go!
There are so many awesome things to do in San Diego that we decided to stay for two weeks, our longest stay yet thus far. We stayed at a county park about 20 minutes from just about everywhere. It was nice except for the ants we woke up to the first morning and some sort of issue with their sewer hookup which caused a smell, but once we took care of those problems it was fine. It even had a little water park the kids got to play at for free along with two playgrounds. We also ended up being there for Halloween. It was great being able to stay for two whole weeks because we did so many fun things that we never could have squeezed into a 4-5 night vacation like we had originally planned.
Balboa Park was our first destination. There were two museums we were able to visit that are on our ASTC membership, the Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Natural History. This park actually has a bunch of museums, a visitor center, restaurants, art galleries, several gardens, the San Diego Zoo, and a playground. It is so big in fact that we went twice and still only saw a fraction of it. The museums were cool. I think I liked the Natural History Museum best, but they both had some fun stuff. The science center had a whole area for building Lego’s, you would think that since the kids have Lego’s that they play with all the time that this would not be of interest; wrong. They still played in this area for quite a while and Journey built a really cool elephant. At the history museum they had a section with old books some of the first books written on plants and animals, they all had hand drawn and painted illustrations. It was so interesting to see. The kids liked the dragon book cove and would have stayed there all day reading if we hadn’t dragged them away. We wandered around the desert garden and were able to see a ton of different plants and cacti, which we all enjoyed. It’s a really cool park and the parking is totally free!
We decided to go to Sea World on a Saturday because in October on Saturdays the kids can wear their costumes and do some trick-or-treating. It was very busy being the weekend and kids free and all, but it’s so big that it didn’t feel to crowded. We saw some shows, touched some sea life, and rode some rides. They really try to appeal to all ages so we all had a good time. There are rides for younger kids, and a couple of big roller coasters for the older kids. We got to see the Sesame Street Halloween show which was fun and even my oldest enjoyed it. The sea lion show was also Halloween themed and very funny with costume changes and parodies of some Halloween classics. We touched sting rays and almost got to pet the dolphins (they just wouldn’t come close enough). It was a long day, we got there an hour after they opened and didn’t leave until they closed, but it was a memorable day for all of us.
The San Diego Zoo is known for being one of the best zoos. They have around 4000 species of animals which is definitely impressive. The animal enclosures are very big and spacious, it doesn’t make you feel sorry for the animals kept in them. During our visit there was a large portion of the zoo under construction. Meaning animals were either moved from their regular viewing areas or just not able to be viewed altogether. The zoo is also built on hilly terrain so there is a lot of up and down walking. We still got to see many animals that we had never seen before. Journey was looking forward to seeing an elephant so it was pretty cool that we got to see it while it was eating. Trip wanted to see the komodo dragon, he was very active in his enclosure when we went by. The polar bears were very playful and we watched one swim around and play with the toy they had for him. I am glad we went to this zoo since it is so well known, but overall I felt like it was just too much to try to see in one day.
We saved the best for last…….. Legoland. The kids were so excited to finally get to go to Legoland. It is really geared for kids between the ages of 4 to 10 so they are at the perfect ages to get the most from it. All the kids could go on almost all the rides (there were two rides our 4yr old couldn’t ride). They loved it! Our first ride was the bumper boats and the kids could not have been happier to really drive the boats. It was a great day for us to be there too, we only had to wait in lines for two of the rides. We had read online that the granny fries were a must and an exclusive Legoland experience, so we splurged and bought one for each kid. They were definitely worth it (at over $5 each) so good, and they come with whipped cream to dip them in, YUM! The mini lands they have built are really cool and the Star Wars section was also a hit. On the boat ride they take you around and tell you how many bricks it took to build the different displays, it is pretty unbelievable how many bricks they used to build some of those things. It was just about closing time and we were making our way to the front when we saw a section of the park we hadn’t been to yet. We made our way through it and saw a ride we had missed it was pretty much closing time so we thought the ride would be closed, but they let us on. So glad we went over there it was a fun ride with a 3-D interactive thing to it. Legoland was awesome.
There are so many things to do in this town we probably could spend a year trying to see it all. We spent one day at the beach watching the surfers. In the old down town area we went to the Mormon Battalion which was an interactive museum depicting some of the history behind the Battalion, and it was totally free. The kids got to go trick-or treating not only at Sea World, but at an outlet mall down by the border, and in a nice neighbor hood near our camp. It was so fun and a great experience. We can’t wait to get back there someday (have I said that already?).