Still planning to get away this summer? You might want to consider San Diego for a quick getaway. San Diego is one of our favorite family destinations. We haven’t been there in awhile and decided to spend a special weekend there for my birthday! With Teagan in tow, we added LEGOLAND and Sea World to our itinerary. LEGOLAND recently opened their new Water Park. Sea World’s newest attraction is Blue Horizon. The excitement started to build as we thought of our adventures at the new attractions. For lodging, we decided to stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel in La Jolla. La Jolla is a beautiful location and an easy ride to and from both amusement parks. – Tee, Sean and Teagan
1 Legoland Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008-4610
Kids 3 and under get in free to LEGOLAND California. The Water Park Hopper passes get you both into LEGOLAND and the Water Park. Toddlers (ages 1-2 years) are required to have an admission ticket to the Water Park ($3). Adults (age 13-49) $79, Seniors (age 60+) and children (age 3-12) are $69. The Resort Hopper also gives you entry to SEA LIFE but seeing all three attractions in one day can be tough! Adults pay $87 and children $77. Parking is $12.
I suggest the Annual Resort membership passes for families that live locally. You can make up the costs after only a few visits. This pass allows admission into all three attractions, LEGOLAND, the Water Park and the SEA LIFE Aquarium.
The Water Park is only accessible through LEGOLAND. The new Water Park is located at the north end of LEGOLAND in Fun Town. It was extremely clean and offers restrooms, changing rooms, lockers (for a fee), and showers for their guests. Life jackets are also available free of charge. The Water Park shuts down for 10 minutes every two hours to remind guests to take bathroom breaks. Also, kids 3 and under are required to be in swim diapers. You can tell that safety is LEGOLAND’s number one concern at their water park. There are numerous lifeguards on duty and they made sure they kept things clamped down but didn’t damper anyone’s fun.
The focal point of the Water Park is the 45-foot-tall tower. The tower has three large slides that dump kid and families into the wading pools below. Kids have to at least 42” for this attraction. The Splash Tower is a big hit with the kids. Every 10 minutes or so the Tower releases water on top of some unexpected guests. I loved the reaction on the faces of every kid that got doused!
Build-A-Raft River was our next stop. The line was long but moved fairly quickly. Kids can customize their rafts with over-sized LEGO bricks before they take a relaxing float down the river. Teagan and my hubby rode down together so I could take pictures. I’m the designated family photographer but that’s by choice! LEGOLAND is photogenic but don’t worry, I know when to step from behind the camera to have fun.
LEGOLAND Water Park also offers cabana rentals. Rentals are available for full or half day. What a great option for birthday parties! Also, we didn’t eat at the Water Park but there is a snack bar and restaurant.
The Water Park was crowded but they do limit the amount of guests. We spent about 3 hours in the water park and would’ve spent more time if Teagan could get on the taller slides. When we were done, we had to change back into our clothes because bathing suits are not allowed outside of the Water Park.
Although the Water park was the meat we did get a slice of other LEGOLAND fun:
Bob the Builder! Can we fix it? My daughter loves Bob The Builder and was ready for some 4D movie action. The movie is the perfect length and has some cool effects. Bob and his Can-Do-Crew build a roller coaster! Expect some dips with 4D elements! I don’t want to spoil anything for first time guests! Teagan literally sang the theme song ALL DAY LONG after watching the 10-minute movie. You might even catch a glimpse of a live Bob the Builder. I actually met him outside for a quick photo op!
There aren’t many “adult” rides so my husband took advantage of Castle Hill’s Knights’ Tournament. It’s a giant robotic arm that flips and turns and basically shakes you around. He was daring to select the difficult level of the ride (5 out of 5) and loved it.
Definitely take the kids over to the Land of Adventure area. Teagan loves all the rides in this section. She screamed the entire time on the Beetle Bounce and a definite favorite of hers is the Dune Raiders slide. We slid down this 50-foot slide 5 times. She couldn’t get enough of it!
The Sky Cruiser always has a long line. We decided to brave the lines and waited 1.5 hours. We were disappointed about the wait time especially when the ride was over. The ride is kid powered but that was only for a small portion of the ride. The views are nice but I definitely suggest getting to this ride first thing in the morning or skipping it so you don’t waste any time.
I love that LEGOLAND is constantly expanding and adding new features. We think this park is perfect for families, especially families with young kids (I suggest 3+ or at least 36” tall). The park is colorful and there is no shortage of Legos and Lego creations! The Water Park is a great addition to the LEGOLAND California resort. With some planning you can see a good amount of the park and there are photo opportunities at every corner.
TIPS & DISCOUNTS:
• LEGOLAND is currently offering Free Kids’ meal between 5-7pm now through August 28, 2010. Offer is available at certain restaurants and an adult entree purchase is required.
• Check out AAA for current discounts. I just checked and www.AAA.com and they are offering 10% off and $13 off 2-Day Resort Hopper Tickets.
• Sign up your kids for the free LEGO magazine! I heard that you get some discounts!
• Apple fries in the Knight’s kingdom, they are yummy.
• Read my post “Legoland Imagination” for more tips and holiday experience at LEGOLAND California.
• Get to the park early to take advantage of what they have to offer especially when the hours go back to 10-5 which happens September 6, 2010
EMBASSY SUITES La Jolla
4550 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 91214
Traveling with kids means researching family friendly hotels. Does the hotel have a pool? Kids meals? After some careful research we decided on Embassy Suites in La Jolla. Embassy Suites is about 20 minutes south of LEGOLAND. This hotel houses 340 rooms and 12 floors. Checking into Embassy Suites La Jolla was easy and quick. The hotel offers self-parking at $19 a day. That can be pricey if you’re staying for an extended period. It looked like there were spots on the street. But we were not sure of local parking restrictions. The area felt safe but I always like parking on hotel property.
Embassy Suites has guaranteed late check-in that was nice since we were coming directly from LEGOLAND that night. When we did check-in, I immediately noticed the attractive interior of the hotel. The lobby had a nice Koi pond and every floor looked down to the nicely landscaped pond and restaurant area.
We rode up a glass elevator to the third floor. We were directly across from the elevators so there was some hallway/elevator traffic but the distance from our bedroom to the living room was a nice buffer. We didn’t hear any of the outside noise while we were sleeping. The only thing that was a little noisy was the air conditioner. It wasn’t loud enough to complain but I did notice it a couple of times.
Our room was clean, spacious and comfortable. The beds and 6 pillows were very comfy and we had no problem relaxing before we fell asleep. All the rooms are two room suites. The couch is a pull out bed and has a foot stool. Both the living room and bedroom have nice flat screen TVs! I’d say the space is perfect for a family of 4-5. The suite had an executive feel but wasn’t overly stuffy. Nice decor and a table that looks great for laptops and offers USB plugs that we used to charge our phones. The room came equipped with a mini refrigerator and a microwave. This is great if you’ve brought some drinks or snacks to help save some money.
The first morning, I awoke to Teagan squealing in the living room. She was stretched out across the couch and foot rest. She was watching PBS while dad was looking through the hotel binder. We read about the complimentary extensive breakfast and decided to make our way down to the lobby. Breakfast hours are 7-10:30 a.m. Sat-Sun and 6-9 a.m. during the week. The highest traffic time is 9:00-10:00 on the weekends. We were downstairs at about 9:30 and the line was considerably long. The staff was busy restocking trays and cleaning up tables. The buffet was stocked with breakfast items; eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, pastries plus they had a nice fruit bar and the usual cereal bar. A nice added bonus was the made to order omelet station. We didn’t make it back there since we filled up on the other various food options. We sat outside for breakfast and dinner that night because we loved the patios. They’re very attractive and the sound walls shielded the traffic noise. We enjoyed our dinner at the on-site restaurant called Indulge. The attire was casual and we sat outside near the fire pits, which were a nice touch. Our waitress was very friendly, accommodating and patient. A bonus when eating out with kids! The food was delicious and the portions were generous. We ordered the cheese pizza for Teagan and what an overwhelming kid’s portion! I definitely recommend staying in and enjoying a night at Indulge.
The hotel pool was small but perfect size for young children. There’s also a workout room, sauna and small hot tub in the same area (on the lobby floor). All amenities are small so it can get crowded. We went later in the evening and it wasn’t too crowded.
Also, my husband went to the business center and took advantage of the free internet access. We didn’t mind not having it the room. This was a family getaway so our objective was to stay off the computer and iPhones as much as possible!
The hotel is across from a P.F. Chang’s restaurant where we wound up ordering out for one dinner. There’s also a nice outdoor Westfield (University Towne Center) mall with an ice skating rink. There are definitely a lot of eating options in the local area if you want something other than the hotel restaurant. Just to note, the hotel restaurant does offer a free kids meal with the purchase of 1 adult entrée.
Embassy Suites La Jolla is only 10 minutes away from Sea World and about 15 minutes away from La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. Just a word of advice, get to the beach early! We drove to the beach just after noontime to hang out on our second day and it took us over an hour to find parking.
We really enjoyed our stay. Nice looking hotel with comfy rooms so very close to major highways and attractions. We love the natural light in the lobby that came in through the roof. We’d recommend this property to other traveling families. The breakfast is a huge plus. The hotel staff, from the front desk to the bartenders, were very helpful and friendly. Make sure you ask to feed the fish!
EXTRAS & TIPS
• Ask the front desk for food for the fish. Teagan loved feeding the Koi.
• FREE happy hour from 5-7pm! All drinks (yes, alcohol) and snacks are free.
• Kids East Free now through Sept 6, 2010. Buy an entrée and a beverage and receive a free kid’s meal. Choices are cheese Pizza, Grilled Cheese and Fries, Spaghetti and Marinara sauce.
• Free internet access from the business center.
• Book a stay using promo code “AIR” and your kids will receive an exclusive The Last Airbender movie prize pack upon check-in and be entered for a chance to win a Hawaiian vacation! Read more here.
• The hotel recycles! Use the provided recycled bag to dispose of glass jars, bottles, newspapers, and more.
• Hotel can provide a crib.
• Fun site for your children, EmbassyKids.com.
• Need diapers? The gift shop sells some but sizes are limited.
SeaWorld San Diego
500 Sea World Drive
San Diego, CA 92109
Single-Day Admission prices
- $69 for guests age 10+
- $59 for guests ages 3 through 9
- Free for guests 2 years old and younger
- Parking is $12
Our last day of our trip was spent at Sea World San Diego. We haven’t been to the park in a couple of years and we were looking forward to seeing their new Blue Horizon show. We also wanted to check out Sesame Street Bay of Play.
We love extended summer hours at amusement parks. You don’t have to get to the park at the crack of dawn and there are fun night shows and fireworks to enjoy at night.
I definitely suggest planning your day around the shows Sea World has to offer. There are so many shows and you can spend a lot of time waiting in line especially for the new Blue Horizons show in San Diego. The first show we tried to catch was already full (got there 30 minutes prior). We wound up getting to the next show one hour early. Inquire about wristbands on the weekends. Teagan LOVED Blue Horizons. She was totally mesmerized from beginning to end. Dolphins, birds, high divers, trapeze artists make up this exciting new 25 minute show. Blue Horizon is THE show to see since the trainers still perform in the water with the animals. Dolphins are so much fun! Their personalities make a splash that goes far beyond the “Soak Zone”!
Sesame Street Bay of Play area offers rides for the little ones. The best part is when the Sesame Street characters make appearances and do a show! You can also get your picture taken with your favorite Sesame Street character. Teagan loved seeing Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Elmo and Zoe. But, Teagan wanted to know where Big Bird was! The lines were a little long. We waited about 30 minutes to get on Oscar’s Rocking Eel ride. There’s a big play area with a rope and net jungle gym. Definitely a great way to burn off some energy! Parents are more than welcome to accompany their children. I advise this for parents of young children. There was a young boy who was very upset about not knowing how to get down.
Sesame Street Presents: Lights, Camera, Imagination! 4D movie runs throughout the day. This is a fun movie featuring all the Sesame Street characters. We loved Cookie Monster’s skit but be warned, you may get a little wet from the 4D portion of the film. Be careful of your belongings!
We ate at the The Deli (right of the park entrance) for lunch and the Shipwreck Reef Café for dinner. I was happy to see that they offered vegetarian meals. I had the Veggie wrap at The Deli and a Vegetarian burger at the Shipwreck Reef Café. We ordered the healthy meal for Teagan, which was a half turkey sandwich with carrots & raisins. For dinner, Teagan had the Chicken Tenders with Island Fries. How many turkey sandwiches can you eat? The kid’s meals come with a souvenir plate and kid’s beverage. We liked that the majority of the restaurants offered healthy options for kids.
We ended the day at The Shamu Rocks show. Unfortunately, this show was a small let down. The introduction features amazing graphics and visuals and even a live guitar player! My husband and I even enjoyed the musical selections (the show started off with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll.”) The killer whales are amazing and people love the thrill of the “Soak Zone.” But what let us down was the feeling of a little disconnection since the trainers are no longer performing in the water with the whales. I understand why and the need plus I agree with this new approach but the show did feel a little empty. Too much random dance moves from the trainers and no more breath taking interactions. I remember going to Sea World Orlando with my family as a kid and I was in awe of the trainers and the whales. They always did an amazing job. The last Shamu Rocks show segues into the fireworks finale. Looks like fireworks run through Sept 6th.
All in all, we had a fun time at Sea World. My favorite part of the day was going through the Penguin Encounter with Teagan. We went through a few times on the moving floor. I love watching the penguins propel themselves out of the water. The exhibit had the feel of what penguins might look like in their natural environment.
Tips & Specials:
• Get a Child’s Ticket for Only $5.00 and Help Wildlife Conservation! www.seaworldcares.com
• 2010 SeaWorld Fun Card, Pay for a Day, Get the Year Free Ages 10+ $69 and ages 3-9 $59. Why not??
• We opted out of the dinner plan but suggest purchasing it if you plan on eating three meals at the park. Plus, the price includes all you can drink, all day. Adult $29.99 plus tax, Child $14.99 (Ages 3-9) plus tax
• Inquire about wristbands for the Blue Horizon show. I hear weekends are really busy!
• There are a few mother’s nursing rooms throughout the park. One is located near Dolphin’s Stadium and another near the Shipwreck Reef Café. Many of the bathrooms have diaper stations.
• The Skytower and Bayside Skyride are not included in the price of admission. They are $4 for one ride or $6 for two rides. We didn’t get a chance to ride these but they both look like they offer amazing views of Mission Bay.
• Bring a change of clothes, sunblock, and plastic zip lock bags if you plan on getting wet on some of the rides. Lockers are available for $9.