Waaay back in June, immediately after school got out (and just before my residency in Palm Springs), E and I took the monkeys to San Diego. We spent one day at Legoland, one day at the beach and UCSD, and our last day at the San Diego Zoo.
We've been wanting to take Henry to Legoland since he was tiny. The dude loves his Legos and he and E love to build things together. I knew nothing about Legoland before we went, and tried to go into it with as open a mind as possible, although I'd heard from friends not to expect too much. It was okay. Just okay. Henry had a blast, and I'm not sure he noticed the difference. Particularly since he spent last year's Disneyland vacation barfing in a hotel room rather than seeing what a quality theme park experience looks like. E and I felt the same about it, though. We both wanted it to be way better than it was. Especially for what it cost us, which (even after the AAA discount) was well over $250 for the four of us for a day. My friend JA put it best when she told me: if you're going to charge that much in a world where Disney is doing what they're doing, you better bring it.
Legoland, unfortunately, is not bringing it. Lots of little details in the park went unnoticed, like how clean things were and whether or not they were repaired and maintained. Things the employees did just didn't make sense--they kept telling people that the lines were too long so they should get out of them. Some of the rides were just odd or really boring. But we had a great day--don't get me wrong--we made our own fun and we were all happy. I just don't think we'll go back, which is too bad.
Our second day in San Diego was kind of a lazy day. We headed over to UC San Diego so we could show the kids a college campus. When I visited in February with my school's AVID program, I knew it would be a good campus to show our kiddos. E and I are trying hard to make college a part of our family discussion--not just the fact that we want them to go there, but the how and the why and the what it looks like when you do. And we want them to feel comfortable with the idea that they can (and should) go. So we've been talking about making college visits a part of our family vacations as they get older so they can have an idea of how different schools feel. This seemed like a good place to start. UCSD is pretty kid-friendly. There's a lot of cool stuff to look at and it's right by the ocean. Plus, it's home to the Theodor Geisel Library (yeah, that Theodor Geisel), which is just a neat building.
Visiting the school was one of the best things we did on the trip. All of us thought so. It inspired so much amazing conversation with the kids. We walked all over campus, answering their questions about everything from classes to majors to where you live and what you do when you go to a university. We took them to the bookstore and let them buy t shirts and stuff. We ate lunch in the food court at the Panda Express on campus. At that point, Henry announced that he'd only seen one college so far, but he was pretty sure he was going to this one. I'm sure he thinks he can major in Orange Chicken.
After UCSD, we spent the afternoon at the beach in Del Mar. It was a beautiful, sunny day.
Our last day in San Diego we went to the San Diego Zoo and it surpassed our expectations. I wouldn't say I think of myself as a zoo person, necessarily, but it was fascinating and so beautifully maintained and the animals seem to be cared for very well. It's gigantic. There was no way we could see everything; but we saw most of it and we had a wonderful day. If you go, I recommend taking the bus tour around the park first so you can see where everything is (and see a good portion of the animals), and then head out on foot to get a closer look at things you want to see. (I was grateful we got that advice from several people.) I highly recommend the zoo, as does everyone else I've ever talked to. It's wonderful.