We spent the past week on vacation in San Diego. We were on a 7:40 A.M. flight from Philadelphia on Monday, which involved getting up very, very early. The flight was very, very long, though I managed to read for about an hour while the baby napped on my lap. I spent some time counting seconds, but eventually we landed, got our car (a mini van for 7!), and went over to Sea World.
It was probably good we did Sea World first, as I would rate this as the least cool attraction we visited. A highlight (for me) was the Arctic exhibit, and the kids liked the Sesame Street part, but the aquariums were not particularly great, and my 6-year-old, after getting to go on the Manta roller coaster once, was told the second time he was not tall enough (he hit the mark everywhere else for that particular height, so go figure).
We had a fairly jet-lagged dinner at a BBQ place in Ocean Beach that night, and then settled into our rental house. It was a cute little place with views of the Pacific, and we all crashed, though unfortunately the baby was up at 3:40 A.M. due to the change to Pacific time. At least that was better than my last trip to San Diego a few years ago, when my then-baby woke at 3, ready to go! We were all up at 5 for breakfast, and by 7 A.M. we had gone down to see the ocean crashing against the cliffs. Blustery but beautiful.
That day was the day my husband got “off.” (We each had one). P (nanny) and I took the kids to the San Diego Zoo. We skipped the pandas — too big a line! — but we enjoyed the elephants, the Rio 4-D movie, the playground, and the moving walk way that took us up one of the hills. A highlight: the kids watched a short movie about dung beetles, and then spent a significant amount of time looking at a dung beetle display. If they had not seen the movie they would have walked right past it, given that we were right by the far more charismatic elephants. But hey, all creatures great and small, right?
We overspent in the gift shop, but each child had been told they could get one souvenir during the week, and the 8-year-old and 4-year-old elected to get theirs there. She bought a stuffed animal. He bought a 200-piece puzzle, which turned out to be a great buy. The kids did it 4 or 5 times while we were on the trip.
That evening we cooked fajitas on the grill, and took a quick trip to the naval base area to watch the sunset. Then I met blogger Wandering Scientist for a drink. We went to the same bar we went to 3.5 years ago. The beer was still good!
Wednesday was my day off. The others were out of the house at 7 to head toward Disneyland. I spent two hours getting on top of my inbox and then had a great day of running, reading, walking around town, eating fish tacos and drinking beer at lunch. They did not get home until 10 P.M.
Thursday we did Legoland. The park opened at 10 A.M., so it was a nice slow start. I really like and recommend Legoland for families with young kids. Sure, there are rides, but there are a lot of things to do that do not involve waiting in line, which is a huge plus from my perspective. The kids loved the playground, which was a huge castle-like structure with big rubbery Legos in it that you could play with. There is this walk-through exhibit where you find 6 keys amid various Lego scenes. There are all the Star Wars displays, and the U.S. cities. We loved looking at the miniature Central Park Zoo, where we used to take the kids all the time. Everyone got a good laugh at the cut-away of Grand Central, featuring a Lego figure going potty in the basement. Even lunch was better than the usual park fare; I managed to find these wonderful parmesan vegetable “fries” — asparagus, carrots, beans. I was thrilled to get any sort of vegetables. It was warm enough to go to the water park, and we spent about 90 minutes there. I pushed the 6-year-old and 4-year-old around the lazy river, and with the warm sun, blue sky, and happy kids, I would say that was a highlight of the trip right there. We went through the Sea Life Aquarium, and then my 6-year-old elected to get his souvenir for the trip at the Lego gift store. But not Legos! He bought two plastic swords, one for him, and one for a sibling to use. It is hard to have a sword battle on your own, after all.
We went from there to La Jolla for dinner. I was nervous about this, as the baby was hungry and tired, but I fed him in the car while the big kids and P and my husband went down to the beach to see the sea lions. We ate outside under heat lamps at a restaurant by the water. The kids were not perfect, but it was OK. I ate more fish tacos and drank a blood orange margarita. Everyone crashed after another long day.
Friday was a slow start too. Then we drove up to Escondido to hit the Zoo Safari Park. We had gone there 3.5 years ago too, but it was 100 degrees that day, which made the whole thing a bit difficult. This visit was a perfect 75 to 80 degrees. So it was a lovely walk in addition to some spectacular wildlife viewing. Highlights included the herd of rhinos, the lions walking around while we were waiting in line for the Africa tram, the 6 baby cheetahs, a whole family of gorillas, and seeing the tiger up close. We left relatively early (I tend to believe in quitting while we are ahead). The kids played for a bit, then we went back to the naval base to see the sunset again. Then my husband and I went to the Marine Room in La Jolla for a date night dinner. The food was OK, but the view was awesome — right there on the waves, with them splashing against the windows.
Saturday we packed up, went back to the naval base during the day while the light house park was open, saw the scenery, and then drove back to the airport. The flight was an hour delayed, and then it was a long time on the plane too, but we survived. We heard from some cousins flying to Disney World that day that their flight was 6 hours delayed. So it could have been a lot worse!