Monday, June 25, 2012

Legoland Again!

We love Legoland! This summer we got to splash in its Water Park -- awesome clean fun with lots of lifeguards and plenty to do for the big kids & the little kids. We got to build with giant legos as we floated around on river rafts. Alex soared down his first rollercoaster water ride.

In the main park, there are more rides for smaller children, the lines aren't nearly as long as some of the other theme parks, and there is a section of wet-n-wild rides with play areas if you don't want to pay the extra for the Water Park. You can feel like you experienced the full park in one day. Its worth the 120 mile drive from our house on the northern rim of Los Angeles.

Next year, the Legoland Hotel will open its front door just footsteps from the entry gates. With themed rooms - Pirate, Adventurer or Kingdom -- we might have to visit again and again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

NASA's Mars Curiousity Rover: Dare Mighty Things

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is a mobile laboratory known as the rover Curiosity. Curiosity landed at the bottom of the Gale Crater on the planet Mars on August 5th after seven minutes of terror, a series of maneuvers guiding the rover through decent to landing with a parachute, computer controlled propulsion rockets and a sky crane. Its mission is to look for life on the red planet. Alex got to visit NASA JPL's control room and a replica of the rover just weeks before touchdown. Alex is proud to tell everyone, "My dad works for space." With a payload of scientific data rolling in since Curiosity's landing, the people of earth will know just that much more about one of the planets in our little solar system. And, Alex's dad will continue to be the center of Alex's universe.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

LA Arboretum

The LA Arboretum features a Baldwin Lake (stocked with turtles), Tule Pond, Meyburg Waterfall, extravagant Queen Anne Cottage featuring Victorian architecture, Madagascar Spiny Forest, and lots of peacocks and other waterfowl. Alex and Serene got to see baby peacocks huddling next to their mommies. If you like botanical gardents, its a must see place to visit! (But avoid hot days! There's not enough shade until your well into the gardens.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Long Beach Harbor Cruise

The hour long Harbor Cruise of Long Beach was lots of fun. Picking up directly outside of the Long Beach Aquarium, there are several informative tours daily that include a narrated history of the harbor, animal life and dynamic views. Alex loved it. The wind whipped through his hair and he might have caught a few bugs in his teeth smiling all the way through. Serene cried like crazy making mommy wish that we could both just jump overboard. But, it is a must-do family activity in Long Beach for out-of-towners and locals. Next time, we'll try the whale watching. 

Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach features penguins, sea turtles, sea otters, seals, sharks, a giant Pacific octopus, jelly fish, a ray touch pool, sea horses, giant sea stars, king crabs, clown fish and thousands of other sea creatures. Many exhibits are interactive and children get to touch the animals. There is a huge tank inside the lobby where divers in full scuba gear feed fish and talk with visitors daily.The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The programs are fun. There are dozens of educational programs & special events, for all ages, offered every month. Now and then, the walls of the main floor lobby wall turn into a giant movie screen and a conservation film is shown. The aquarium is a "must see" for every kid and a place to visit again and again. It would just be a lot more fun without all the crowds. A popular site for school field trips, camp field trips and weekend family day trips its hard to find a good day to go without having to elbow your way into the exhibits. Guess we'll just have to keep going back again and again. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

178 visits to Travel Town

(All photos taken by Joanna S.)

Travel Town is one of the best places to take little boys who love trains. A free open-air museum it features retired full-size engines, as well as passenger and freight cars. Some are more than 100 years old. For a couple of bucks, a little train even loops passengers around the park for a 10 minute ride.

Alex's end-of-kindergarten school trip was held at Travel Town. As we pulled into the parking lot he announced it was his 178th visit. He may not have been that far off. When Alex was younger, we did visit Travel Town quite a lot. These days, Alex no longer lays out miles of track inside our house and guests no longer trip over Thomas, Percy, Henry and Gordon strewn across the floor. (We could even resist the gift shop at Travel Town that use to cost us a pretty penny.) But, when he saw the old trains he couldn't resist climbing on the engines -- with full steam -- and running along the tracks just like he did when he was little. 

Little Ninjas boarding Little Steamers

The Los Angeles Little Steamers Railroad Museum in Griffith Park in the center of Los Angeles is open for the public on Sundays only to ride narrow gauge model engines.There are steam, diesel and electric engines that pull three or four freight cars that guests climb aboard. The track is 1.5 miles taking visitors around a steam plant and several parked cabooses. Alex thought it would be more fun if he used his ninja skills while riding the train.