Category Archives: Travel

Family Fun at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life, only miles away from the Los Angeles Arboretum. Even though it was just minutes down the road I really never visited except for school functions like taking Senior portraits around the grounds. That changed completely after I had my son – it has become my family’s new, huge playground complete with fountains, ponds, a waterfall, oak grove, orchid greenhouse and historic home. To say we love this San Gabriel Valley treasure is an understatement.

When it comes to botanical gardens in the San Gabriel Valley, the Arboretum might not be quite as lush as some other locales, but their gardens are beautiful when in bloom and I love that is is much more accessible, which makes you feel like it belongs to you. Your family can enjoy a picnic on the lawn, then your kids can explore the eucalyptus grove or engage in a game of tag without feeling like you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. You can feed the ducks, geese, fish and turtles the bread you’ve saved from home. It’s your garden and you are welcome to enjoy it.

The Arboretum has many events throughout the year such as Pasadena Pops concerts, art shows, plant sales, and lectures. Maybe you’ll choose to stroll through the historic train depot and Queen Anne Cottage and see what life was like for Elias “Lucky” Baldwin. Kids can have a fun summer learning about nature through the Arboretum Summer Nature Camp which runs June through August.

Admission for an adult is only $8.00 and children 5-12 are $3.00. Kids under five years old are free! The best value I believe is the Family Membership which is only $75.00 and allows two adults and all your children to enter. Here’s the bonus: with a membership you also have free admission to more than 270 participating gardens throughout the United States and Canada!

For more information on Los Angeles County Arboretum hours & admission, memberships, and events, visit their website and learn what a wonderful gem is waiting for you in your own backyard.


Big Family Fun at Adventure City

 Adventure City Anaheim California Toddler Amusement Park

When family visits us it usually means a trip to Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm – and we love those amusement parks. However, when my sister decided to visit a couple weeks ago we decided to try something new – Adventure City in Anaheim. I have lived in L.A. my whole life and had never visited this unique California theme park for young children. It has been around for decades (it was formerly known as Hobby City) and now that Jack is two it seemed the perfect place to go.

Just down the road from Knott’s Berry Farm, Adventure City was really easy to find and parking was plentiful – and free! Where do you get free parking anymore?
Adventure City Anaheim California Toddler Amusement Park
The entrance fee was only $14.95 per person but we used the coupons Sarah found online at the Anaheim Visitor and Convention Bureau’s website to get an additional $2.00 off.  Upon entering the park all of us adults thought it was adorable. Everything was decorated well, sparkling clean and just plain cute. The staff we encountered throughout the park were all friendly, helpful and seemed genuinely happy to be there which was refreshing.

Adventure City Anaheim California Toddler Amusement ParkMy sister and I took Jack on the Fire Rescue ride, where you get to pick a rescue vehicle and ride around a small track with lights blazing. I think my sister had as much fun as Jack! We also went on the airplane ride and visited the petting zoo before heading over to my son’s favorite thing of all – the choo choo train. We ended up going on it twice, riding all around the park (and through their birthday party room) and Adventure City Anaheim California Toddler Amusement Parkwatching employees wave to us along the way. Other venues in Southern California that have trains can charge $2.50 – $3.00 per ride which can add up quickly!  At Adventure City your kids can ride over and over and over again until they get their fill all for $14.95. I think the train and carousel alone are worth the admission cost. There are several rides such as the Freeway Coaster or Drop Zone that would satisfy older children who enjoy something racier.  Adventure City has 11 rides in all plus other attractions like a rock climbing wall, shows and an arcade to keep kids of all ages entertained.

Adventure City Anaheim California Toddler Amusement ParkWe did have lunch at the park and our meal was fine. It’s typical amusement park food with burgers, hot dogs and chips as standard fare, but they do offer a chicken wrap which was fairly tasty. If you prefer to bring your own food there are several tables both inside and outside the park available for your use.

Overall our experience was great and I know we will be going back again and again in the future, and probably bringing more people with us. While we all still love Disneyland and Knott’s, Adventure City is tailored to the little ones which makes it special. If you’ve been to Adventure City leave us a comment and let us know what your experience was like!

Spring at the Bellagio Conservatory

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012 Floral Painting

The Conservatory at The Bellagio is a must visit for us whenever we go to Las Vegas.  You’ll find this giant atrium adjacent to the hotel lobby.  The stunning horticultural display changes five times a year, so you’ll always see something new. Best of all, it’s free!  Here is just a glimpse of the Spring Celebration exhibit which will run through May 13.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012

Giant flower-covered bees and daffodils add a bit of whimsy to the display.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012

Rowboats and waterfalls – what spring daydreams are made of.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012

They must have known poppies are my favorite…

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2012 Poppies

Have you ever visited the Conservatory at the Bellagio?  What are your must-see Las Vegas attractions?