Monday, July 30, 2007

Florence Joyner Olympiad Park, Mission Viejo

Florence Joyner Olympiad Park, Mission Viejo

Why we love it: The creativity of the design of the park is fantastic. The kids have a great time and there are seemingly endless areas for the kids to explore. There are quite a few shaded areas but the swings in particular are in full sun. There are tic tac toe boards, a large corkscrew slide, clubhouses and other neat park structures I have not seen at other parks. There was even a giant enclosed cave-like area with dinosaur etchings inside.

Be sure to bring: Lots of sunscreen, water and a few snacks for the kids. If it is your first time going to the park, plan on staying there for at least an hour, because kids have so many areas to explore. There are restrooms, but as always- bring hand sanitizer! There are also shaded picnic benches.

Appeals to: Kids of all ages and sizes. There are copious amounts of shade for babies, little clubhouses for toddlers and some of the neatest climbing structures I have ever seen for older kids! There are lots of walking paths, so bring a jogging stroller and go for a good trek in the mornings or evenings. There is also a large field adjoining the park for outdoor sports.

Directions: It’s easily accessed off of Alicia Parkway near Lake Mission Viejo, at the intersection of Olympiad road and Alicia Parkway. The entrance is about a block down Olympiad. 22760 Olympiad Road, Mission Viejo
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Mission+Viejo,+CA&ie=UTF8&ll=33.631987,-117.632675&spn=0.025691,0.036221&z=15&iwloc=addr&om=1

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Crystal Cove State Beach, Newport Coast

Crystal Cove State Beach, Newport Coast

Why we love it: It is always an adventure and different every time! It feels off the beaten path and is rarely every packed with people, even in the summer. The kids love to explore the tide pools and there is an infinite amount of things to explore. A huge bonus is our book is the physical element of it. We always park by the stairs down to the beach- so the kids get a great workout in addition to all the trekking on the sand. The views are incredible. Lifeguards are present during tourist season.

Be sure to bring: Sunscreen most importantly! We always bring a good sized back pack or tote with towels, change of clothes, water, snack, sand toys, swim vest (just in case I turn my attention for a minute) and of course a camera. I have seen many people bring their own portable umbrellas or shade tents in addition to chairs. Flip flops are a good idea because you want to be sure to wear something on your feet on the trek down to the beach from the parking lot. There are restrooms on site, but be sure to bring hand sanitizer because there isn’t soap at the sinks.

A day pass for parking is $10, but you can also buy a yearly pass for just over $100 (which is good at all California State Parks).

Check out the tides before you go because going at a low tide is one of the neatest experiences we have ever had exploring. There are rocks full of mussel shells, pools full of sea anemones, sand crabs, hermit crabs, fish and other sea life to explore. You can track the low tides on http://www.weather.com/ under tides for the Newport area.

Appeals to: Toddlers and up. It’s a bit of a trek down to the beach, so it can be cumbersome if you have young ones. We always take the stairs, and I am very careful to hold hands with my youngest because the stairs can get slippery with sand. The stairs are a little steep for a few steps, but well worth it in my opinion. My kids LOVE that beach. As an example: the last time we found an amazing tide pool, it was perfect for a young toddler because the waves weren’t reaching it, yet it was perfect for the kids to get in to explore the shells and other sea life very safely.

Location: Just off of Pacific Coast Highway, at the Laguna Beach and Newport Beach line. There are several parking lots, we turn in at Reef Point Drive. This is a link to the Google Map. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=crystal+cove+state+beach,+Ca&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=45.822921,70.576172&ie=UTF8&ll=33.574904,-117.838111&spn=0.02367,0.034461&z=15&om=1

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Terramor Aquatic Park, Ladera Ranch

Terramor Aquatic Park, Ladera Ranch

Why we love it: The kids have endless fun and are watched closely by the multiple life guards stationed around the water. The lifeguards do an outstanding job of keeping kids from running or otherwise getting themselves hurt. There are lounge chairs and tables set up around the water, so unless you have very young children (under age 3), parents can comfortably sit around the edge of the pool without worry. The deepest point of the pool is 18 inches.

Be sure to bring: Ladera Ranch Access card is required, so if you don’t live in the area- you must attend with someone who does. Lots of sunscreen, several towels, snacks and water are a must! Pool toys are not allowed (they aren’t necessary because the kids have plenty to explore on the elaborate structure), but I would recommend water sandals for tender feet. Children under age 4 are required to wear plastic underwear (provided by the facility) for hygiene reasons. If it’s a hot day and/or a weekend you should also consider bringing your own folding chairs and shade. Vending machines and restroom facilities are also on site.

Appeals to: Children of all ages. There’s a beach entry at all sides of the pool so even the youngest children have a safe area to splash around. For older children there are water blasters, steering wheels and other activities on the structure. The giant red bucket also slowly fills with water and dumps on to a roof that inundates the eagerly waiting children below- which also seems to be a congregating point for many of the older children. At the top of every hour there is a mandatory 10 minute “safety break,” in which the staff do a quick check of the pool to be sure there aren’t any surprises in the water. The safety break also provides a much needed break for younger children to drink some water and snack.

Location: 26281 O’Neill Drive, (Mission Viejo) Ladera Ranch. Take Crown Valley Parkway then turn right (south) on O’Neill. The Terramor Aquatic Park will be on your right and it is easily identified by the giant red bucket visible from O’Neill Drive. See link for exact map of the area- http://maps.google.com/maps?f=l&hl=en&geocode=&q=&near=26281+O%E2%80%99Neill+Drive,++Mission+Viejo,+CA&ie=UTF8&ll=33.552769,-117.646966&spn=0.023676,0.034461&z=15&om=1

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Aliso Creek State Beach

Aliso Creek Beach, Laguna Beach

Why we love it: Because it has a great playground adjacent to the beach. While the kids are playing on the elaborate play structures, you can enjoy the views of the beach and soothing sound of the waves crashing on the beach. There are two play structures- one geared towards 5 and up, the other for younger children. There are two standard swings but aren’t any bucket swings for young toddlers. It can get busy during the summer season, so it’s best to go on a weekday. Watch for dolphins, whales and lots of ocean life out in the water. We’ve seen all of the above over the years. Take the kids just before sunset on a summer night. The kids will have a wonderful time and you can enjoy the breathtaking sunset.

Be sure to bring: A couple dollars to pay for parking. Its $1/hour and you can only use the vending machines- cash only. It is patrolled daily- don’t get caught without the parking validation in your window! Make sure you lather on the sunscreen, there is very little shade. Flip flops or sandals if you decide to venture down to the water. During the summer the snack shop on site is open. There are restrooms on site as well as lots of picnic benches.

Appeals to: Toddlers and up. The play structures are nautical themed and children love pretending they are sailing the sea on the ship/playground. You do have to keep an eye on younger children being so close to the beach and near the busy parking lot… but the ambiance it well worth it!




Location: It’s off of Pacific Coast Highway in South Laguna Beach. Here’s the link to Google maps for the precise location: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Aliso+Beach+Park,+CA&sll=33.509572,-117.751443&sspn=0.005367,0.008508&ie=UTF8&ll=33.510556,-117.752194&spn=0.021469,0.034032&z=15&om=1

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Springdale Park, Aliso Viejo

Why we love it: It’s cool on a hot day. Literally. With copious trees and the trademark shade structures over most of the play areas of Aliso Viejo- it’s a great place to go with kids any time of day. Most afternoons there is a gentle breeze. Its a few blocks from any busy streets, so you have zero concern for children wandering in to the street. It’s a great place to bring a picnic because the picnic tables are shaded and the views of the Saddleback Mountains in the distance are refreshing.

Be sure to bring: You won’t need much. Don’t worry about sunscreen. There are plenty of benches for parents to sit on if needed. Feel free to bring your dog, just be sure to have it on a leash, the city of Aliso Viejo supplies bags in dispensers throughout the city. One is located at the entrance to the park.

Appeals to: Kids of all ages. There are two play structures- one geared to older kids and one for toddlers. There are bucket swings for younger children as well as regular swings. An elaborate spider rope structure is also great for preschoolers and up. A cute little clubhouse is perfect for toddlers. A basketball court sits next to the swings for teenagers and a soccer field next to that.

Location: It's on Springdale Road in Aliso Viejo. Off of Aliso Creek Road, turn on Summerfield then left on Springdale. The park is at the end of the small street. Check the link for a precise map. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Springdale,+Aliso+Viejo,+CA&sll=33.575552,-117.719085&sspn=0.010762,0.017016&ie=UTF8&ll=33.575405,-117.719021&spn=0.021525,0.034032&z=15&om=1





Next Time: We head to the beach for one of our all time favorite parks!

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Welcome to my blog!

I hope you will find it informative and full of neat things to do with your children. I am a mother of two active young boys, Brett age 5 and Kyle age 3 ( http://brettandkyle.blogspot.com ). I am always looking for new and neat things to do with them. Over the years I have come across many parks that we have loved and others we didn’t care for. I want to share what we have found to help other parents find new adventures and to know the best features about it before they leave home. I'll include pictures whenever possible.

I’ll be sharing direct links to places (if applicable) and sharing any pertinent info about the place. Check back often because there should be a few posts each week.

I would love comments or ideas of adventures not mentioned- so feel free to share them with me and I’ll be happy to talk about them in a future post. We are always up for a new adventure!

Best Wishes!

Katie

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