please leave nothing but your feetprint

What do you do when spring break comes around and haven’t planned/saved for a vacation!?! You enjoy a staycation!

Growing up, vacation wasn’t a word I was familiar with. We usually visited family a couple of hours away, but that was the extent of our outings. Dad and Mom worked non-stop and it just wasn’t feasible to plan for a vacation for a family of 6, not to mention, we really did love being home. Southern California has so much to offer, so much so, that people plan their vacations to come here, to our backyard.

Needless to say, our kids get the best of both worlds. Between a yearly camping trip in Yosemite, one of the most famous National Parks in the U.S. and an “away” vacation every other year, our travel calendars are quite full. But I have to admit, having staycations with our kids are the best.

For indoor adventures, we can visit local historical sites, missions, museums, and more. And for outdoor fun, the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains are practically in our backyard where we have access for a quick hike and/or picnic in the forest. But by far, one of the best things about Southern California is that from just about anywhere, you can essentially visit the city, mountains, beaches, or desert within less than an hours drive. So planning a few of our favorite activities for this spring break is pretty easy.

Amusement Parks

Although the cost of living in So Cal is pretty high, exploring the sights doesn’t have to be. About the only splurge we allow ourselves is our Disneyland Annual passes. It doesn’t matter what time of week or year you visit, it’s a horrible experience if the park is packed, not to mention, pretty much a waste of money.  Between long lines for rides, food, and bathrooms, most of your day is gone trying to maneuver around the crowds. This is why we invest in the annual pass. It’s close enough to go and visit when we want, ride a few rides, leave when it’s too crowded and go back some other day.

Museums

Museums are another fun exciting activity we enjoy. With so many museums to choose from and a variety of different free museum days to go on, why wouldn’t we take advantage of it!?! Some of our favorites are the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum, and the Discovery Cube, but there are so many! Click on the hyperlink above for a full list of free dates and times.

Beaches

California is famously known as the Golden State for many reasons, the gold rush, the golden gate bridge, but mostly for it’s golden sunshiny days and what better way to soak up those rays than heading to the beach!?! A few of our favorites are Huntington Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Laguna Beach, and Cabrillo beach & aquarium, just to name a few. But with so many to go to, how do you choose? It just depends what kind of adventure you’re up for. Some beaches are more about sightseeing and walking the pier or boardwalk. Others are just to put your feet in the sand and splash in the water. Yet others still, are most famous for night time bonfires by the beach. I’ve attached a list of beaches, that has been divided up by counties and has something for everyone. Have a look!

So, between using our Disney pass to visit Mickey, soaking up some rays at the beach, picking a few historical sites to tour, and catching some free museum days, what could possibly be left to do during spring break!?!  How about doing just that…..taking a break. Sneaking in some naps. Maybe visiting family. Catching a movie. I don’t know. But the best part of a Staycation is just that, being able to stay home and not rush around cramming in everything you possibly can, as we often do on vacation.

-Sandra

I have to say, one of the best things about being a Southern Californian is the close proximity to Disneyland. I admit, even if I didn’t have kids, we’d still go as often as possible. As annual passholders, we have some perks to the park that others don’t.  Such as a monthly payment plan (making it affordably easier to pay off). Park hopping and discounts on dining and merchandise,  Not to mention occasional Disney exclusives.

The California Adventure park has been hosting it’s Festival of Holidays event (November 10, 2016-, 2017) with a mixture of Latin flair and Disney magic. Although we’ve gone a few times since it started and have found something new each time.  

I’m sure I’ll miss something, but below are a few of the additions we’ve enjoyed:
  • The nighttime World of Color water and light show in front of the boardwalk now boasts festive holiday colors and music.
  • Additional food and beverage kiosks have popped up all over with a delicious array of goodies, from warm tamales and sopes, pozole and ceviche, and  some southern comfort food like spicy chicken sausage and sweet potato pie. With pumpkin spice hot cocoa, fruit punch, and eggnog for the kiddies and beer and wine for the adults, there’s something for everyone!
  • They’ve kicked up the entertainment around the park, from a stilt circus, to live acapella singers, live bands, mariachi bands, and dancers.
  • Let’s not forget a festive corner to visit, chat, and take pictures with the jolly ol’ man in red, Santa!

Disney Festival of Holidays

One of the perks of being an annual passholder is a special corner with exclusive activities, such as coloring, making ornaments, and a special outdoor “photo booth”,  just to mention a few. While our kids are slightly older, it didn’t hold their attention too much, but we did have a great time watching all the little kid’s faces light up by the Disney Christmas merriment in the air.

As much as I have loved the change in the Disney air for the Holidays, I’m ready for the new year and for things to go back to normal…..and smaller crowds.

-Sandra

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My princess is 8 years old now!!!  I can’t believe it’s been 8 wonderful years since the midnight birth of my baby….where did the time go?
As you can tell by the background…there’s only one place we spend birthdays at……Disneyland!  I’m all about the Anaheim Rat (Mickey), so we went to the happiest place on earth.  Although this particular day was overly crowded, we still managed to have a great time.  We got on some rides, had dinner, and went shopping.  Since we have the annual pass, it doesn’t bother the girls much how crowded it is or how many rides we get on because we can always go another day.  We were all just happy being together and enjoying what turned out to be a gorgeous day!
I did however have an epiphany!  I figured out why Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth…..it’s not because you have such a great time, or the great rides, or even the food….it’s because they make so much damn money!!!  It’s the Happiest Place on Earth for them, not for us!  It’s like Las Vegas…yeah, you have a great time while you’re there, but once you leave (with empty pockets) you find it really wasn’t that great now that you’re broke.  Either way, the novelty of it is wearing off of the girls; they could care less how many times we hit Peter Pan or swirl around on Dumbo.  They still love it, but it’s not as exciting for them anymore.  I’m sure once a new ride is put in; they’ll be excited all over again….
       
Anyhoo, all that just to say…Happy birthday Toria!
-Sandra

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                                                                 *Courtesy of Hawaii Magazine
Two things I love the most are coming together, Hawaii and all things Disney!!!  I heard about this possibly happening a long time ago, but I try not to get too excited about things before I know they’re really going to happen.  One of the benefits of being a Disneyland Annual Passholder and a Castaway Club Member is that you get the insider’s scoop of events, vacations, and movies on the horizon.
Disney will be presenting the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa next fall (follow the link for full details).  We were lucky enough to pull together some money a few years ago and go on one of the Disney Cruises to the Bahamas and have been dying to do it again.  I had just gotten the news that Disney will be hosting cruises to Alaska & the Pacific Coast next summer 2011 leaving from the west coast, which is perfect since we live in Southern California.  So I started to budget and plan for our next Disney trip, even though we promised the girls Hawaii this summer.  With a Disney cruise this close (and no 5 hour plane ride), how could we pass up this opportunity!?!  Hawaii will always be there….and now Disney will be there too!  My dilemma is….we promised Hawaii this year, how do I break it to the girls?  Since we only do a major vacation every other year, our trip would’ve been this summer, but pushing it back a year will push my little ones over the edge and my sanity out the window! LOL!  Not to mention, we’d be pushing Hawaii back to 2013!
Knowing my work-a-holic hubby, he’ll want to pay off bills for the next three years and have no vacations at all.  I’ve only been able to convince him of fresh air every now and then because we have kids and no matter which way we look at it, we’re going to be in debt for a long time (kids, school, sweet sixteens, college, weddings, etc), so we might as well enjoy ourselves (and them).  If it were up to me, we’d be taking three big vacations, instead of choose one or another, but life is about compromising….sometimes!  I have yet to price out all of the choices, which I’m sure will be the deciding factor.  Until then, I can be happy knowing it’s at least one or the other!!! 😉
 -Sandra

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