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Monday, September 17, 2018

San Diego Fall Bucket List 2018

We may not have a dramatic changing of seasons here in San Diego but there is plenty to do to celebrate Fall! Whether you are local or visiting, here's my list of must-do events and places to visit to celebrate Fall in SoCal. Considering we have to fit in having baby, checking off the entire list may be a bit ambitious for us this year. What are you most looking forward to this season? 

1. Visit Bates Nut Farm pumpkin patch
Visiting the field of Big Macs at Bates is an annual tradition for us. The pumpkin patches are the main attraction but every year the celebration seems to get bigger and better. We love visiting and feeding the goats, the pony rides and hayrides and straw maze. Go early in the season when the patches are still full of pumpkins for the best photo opportunities. Go early in the day because the traffic to get to the farm gets crazy backed up.You can see photos and my mom tips from last year's visit here.

bates nut farm, halloween, pumpkin patch, san diego

[Every year the Big Macs look smaller next to my growing kid]

2. Julian Apple Season

Drive just an hour from the city and you will be in a whole other world/time. Julian offers all the rustic, leaf-crunching Fall fun that you can't find anywhere else in the county. Starting early September, you can go and do alllll the apple things: apple picking, apple cider drinking (SO GOOD), apple pie eating. We love visiting the Julian Mining Company, Mom's Pies and browsing the shops on main street. Apple picking season varies year to year so be sure to call ahead if you are planning to visit a particular orchard.

[Itty bitty baby Parker at Volcan Valley Apple Farm]

3. Celebrate Dia De Los Muertos in around town

Culturally immerse yourself and honor lost loved ones in one of Mexico's most important holidays, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). There are many celebrations around town but the biggest can be found in Old Town where you can find entertainment, authentic food, activities for all ages including a catrina and catrin costume contest, arts & crafts and skeleton displays. If your kiddo is a fan of Coco, they will love celebrating Day of the Dead.

4. Legoland Halloween Brick-or-Treat
You love Legos? You love Halloween? Every October, the theme park hosts Brick-or-Treat, a special ticketed event that gives guests access to Halloween exclusives and special goodies throughout the park. We've never been but it looks like a great event and we are planning to attend this year.

5. Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

The Mid-Autumn moon festival was one of my favorite holidays to celebrate as a kid. My parents would let us stay up late, parade our lanterns around and eat decadent moon cakes. My favorite moon cake is the one with the double yoke but I have been wanting to learn how to make snow skin mooncakes for a few years. Maybe this will be the year! Here is a list of ideas on how to celebrate the Moon Festival with kids.

6. Kids free in October

The huge summer crowds are gone and now is perfect the time to visit San Diego's top attractions, hotels and restaurants. The list of locations offering free admission to kids is massive (100+) and includes some of our favorites like the Birch Aquarium, New Children's Museum, Fleet Science Center and the Living Coast Discovery Center. 

7. Stuff your face with seasonal pies from some of the best local bakeries.

This may be a pregnancy thing but I'm really really into pies right now. Fall is the best because every bakery is stocked with pumpkin, apple and berry pies. My personal favorite places to get pie are Pop Pie Co. and Moms Pies where they make everything from scratch. Don't forget the scoop of ice cream!

Comment below if there are any local events that you think should be on this list!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Our Last Trip as a Family of Three - Maui 2018

I never thought we'd repeat a vacation location in such little time but  my sweet boy loves the ocean and there is something magical about Maui that calls you back. For us, it's a combination of sun, surf, island culture and, of course, the delicious food.

If you follow us on instagram, you know we arrived just in time for Hurricane Lane. Luckily for us, the hurricane never hit and was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm. Unluckily for us, our hotel the Grand Wailea and pretty much all the local business boarded up mid-vacation to prepare for the storm. We made the most of our trip despite the inclement weather and managed to be in either the ocean or pool every single daym rain or shine.  Here are some of my favorite vacation snaps and the stories behind them. I hope everyone had a fun-filled summer! Where did you travel?

Vacation stats

Beaches visited: 4 (Makena Beach, Baby Beach, Sprecklesville Beach, beach in front of the Grand Wailea). We attempted to visit Ho'okipa but it was closed due to the storm.
Shaved ices consumed: 5
Sea turtles spotted: 1
Sunburns: ZERO woo hoo
Hours spent in the pool: too many to count
Hours spent playing Pokemon Go: too many to count

maui, travel, family travel, travel with kids

[You know your kid has been forced to take too many pictures when he starts posing like this.]

Off to our first dinner on the island! We really wanted to try Mama's Fish House on our last trip but were not able to get a reservation. This time around, we booked a reservation far in advance and Mama's did not disappoint. The food was fantastic, the service was impeccable and the sight and sound of waves crashing onto shore could not be beat. If you have a chance to dine here, do it and try not to cringe when you pay $25 for a kids meal. Totally worth it, I promise.

The main reason for this trip was to celebrate Tuan's 35th birthday but he was weird about telling people it was his birthday and made up other reasons for why we were celebrating the whole trip. Happy Anniversary to us?

[Look Mama, I'm a tiki man!]

Here's the thing about traveling west. We're on vacation and we want to sleep in, right? But P is on west coast time and used to waking up at 7 AM everyday. So even when he "slept in," we were up by 5 or 6 AM every single day and in the pool or at the beach before the the crowd arrived.

I didn't plan a full itinerary for this trip but I did make a food list (duh) and one of the spots I bookmarked was Coconuts Fish Cafe. Lucky for us, it stayed open during the storm and I was able to eat their delicious coconut shrimp and chips when all the restaurants at the hotel were closed. This casual restaurant is super kid friendly. Parker couldn't resist standing up on the surfboard shaped benches. On our way out, the owner gave out apple bananas given to her by another restaurant that boarded up early! 

Thank you to all our friends, family and followers who reached out to check in on us! News coverage of the storm was panic-inducing but thank goodness it never hit as hard as what was predicted. Even if it had, the Grand Wailea did a fantastic job of communicating with guests and did the best they could to provide Waldorf Astoria service. All the restaurants at the resort were closed and complimentary meals were provided in the ballroom. The pool and beach were closed, though I still saw plenty of guests swimming, but the spa, gym and kids center stayed open. The storm was not that severe in Wailea but other parts of Maui were affected by power outages, wild fires and road closures. Some resort employees were not able to make it to work. Mahalo to the staff who continued to serve guests when staffing was short-handed. 

We spent an embarrassing amount of time playing Pokemon Go on this trip. We are in so deep you guys. With everything being closed and limited kids activities available, Poke-walks became a daily thing. The resort has great amount of gyms and pokestops, we made friends with other players and even managed to gather enough people for a Regirock raid in the middle of a rain storm. That, my friends, is dedication.

[Parker and Tuan at Sprecklesville Beach]

Before the trip, I online shopped for maternity bikinis only to realize that they are basically regular bikinis worn by pregnant people. Ha! I'm determined to embrace my body for this last pregnancy and rocked a two piece almost the entire trip. Weird skin discoloration, stretch marks and backne did not stop me from giving this bump some sunshine. It really helps to have a hubby in love with my curves as much as I am. Thanks for all the love for my belly pics on insta!

[Just the three of us after dinner at Humuhumu]

We treasured every day of this last trip as a family of three. In just two short months, baby Harrison will be here. We'll be that family schlepping a stroller and car seat through the airport, boarding early because we need the extra time, getting those "I hope that baby doesn't cry the whole flight" look from strangers. It's been so nice traveling with a (mostly) independent 5 year old. No diapers, no carriers, no extra baby gear. I saw a mama carry on her breast feeding pillow in the Maui airport and I'm like whyyyy mama, whyyyy. Fingers crossed that Harrison will be as good a traveler as is brother is. Aloha, Maui! We will see you again soon.