Legoland California

After having thrown a giant birthday party for my daughter last month, we needed a break from parties and so we decided to do a weekend at Legoland for my son’s fifth birthday instead.  We drove down early on Saturday morning and checked into the Legoland Hotel.  We dropped off our bags since our room wasn’t ready yet and lined up for early access to the park.  Hotels guests can get in at 9:00 am, instead of 10:00 am and there are about six rides that are open during the hour.

We went straight to the newest ride, Ninjago, which is a little like Toy Story Mania at Disney.  You use your hands to shoot at enemies and wear 3-D glasses.  The kids loved it and we went on it four times over the whole weekend.  We were able to do pretty much all of the rides throughout the day and even took an afternoon break at the hotel pool to swim for awhile.  We went back to the park for dinner, a last ride and the 4-D show.

We stayed in a pirate themed room and the kids were in heaven.  There was a treasure chest that the kids had to figure out the code and then got to keep the Lego prizes inside.  They had bunkbeds in a separate alcove area and there was a large King bed in the main area of the room.  The theming was super cute.  The hotel’s elevator plays disco music when the doors close and it never got old for the kids.

We had breakfast at Bricks, which was the included buffet with the room.  The food was actually pretty good and there was plenty for everyone to choose from.  After using our early access hour, we went over to the water parks when they opened and spent most of the day going down the slides and watching the kids run around having a ball.  They are finally old enough that we can sit and watch them in an area without having to be right next to them 100 percent of the time.  Legoland is ideal for this age group and nothing was too overwhelming for them.

Everyone was pretty tired by mid-afternoon, so we got one last ice cream treat and drove home.  Both of the kids told us they had the best time and we have some great memories of our weekend away.


Ojai – Day Three

We had our last day in Ojai today.  It was so nice to get away, even if it was just for a few days.  It is so important for our marriage to reconnect away from work and the kids.  I genuinely enjoy spending time with him and talking about everything.  We had some great conversation and really connected.

We grabbed a quick breakfast at Jimmy’s Pub at the resort and then headed out on a walk on the trails around the property.  We walked over to the family pool, which was not nearly as nice as the adult one, and through the herb garden.  We walked down past the tennis courts and around to the road leading back into town.  Then it was back to the road to pack and watch a little news before checking out.  We had lunch at Jimmy’s Pub again and split the tortilla soup, a salad and a pizza.  Traffic back home wasn’t horrendous and we made decent time.  The kids were excited to see us and had a fun time with Nana and Papa.  Hopefully we can make time to do these short trips every so often.

Ojai – Day Two

We had a fabulous second day in Ojai yesterday and never even left the resort.  The Ojai Valley Inn is amazing and we would definitely recommend it.  We started with room service, a luxury we rarely do, especially with kids.  It was so lovely not to have to get ready to go eat.  Then we played tennis for a hour, my favorite sport.  The courts were in great shape and we had a nice workout.

After tennis, we went to the pool for a few hours.  We had fun swimming, laying in the sun some more and ordering lunch poolside.  I had a salmon salad and my husband decided on the turkey burger, both of which were really good.  We had massage appointments in the afternoon and so we walked over to the spa and used the sauna, steam room (eucalyptus, yum!) and had relaxing massages.

After the spa, my husband hit a bag of balls at the driving range and then we got ready for dinner.  We ate at Olivella and opted for their four course menu.  I tried the yellowtail appetizer, the crab and lobster pasta and the short ribs.  I ended up trading my short ribs for my husband’s lamb because the lamb was too rare for his liking, but everything was excellent.  I ended with the chocolate mousse dessert, which was fantastic too.  I also tried a fun drink that had champagne, lemon sorbet, honey syrup and rosemary in it.

Ojai – Day One

After our Christmas getaway was cancelled due to illness (boo!), my husband and I had planned a quick weekend trip to Ojai for this weekend.  Bonus points for it being Valentine’s Day too.  Traffic was a little brutal, but we made it here in time for a late lunch.  We ate at the Ojai Beverage Company and tried a beer flight and burgers.  I had the 50/50 burger, which was super spicy and delicious.  We went to Bart’s Books, a really cool used bookstore in town and picked up a few for the kids.

We then checked into our hotel, the Ojai Valley Inn.  It is beautiful and exactly the time of place to relax this weekend.  We went straight to the pool for the rest of the afternoon and enjoyed laying in the sun and being in the pool.  We especially enjoyed the frozen berries they brought around to us.

We ate dinner in town at Suzanne’s Cuisine.  It was Italian and had such a cute atmosphere.  We sat in the enclosed patio and looked out on a garden with lights.  We tried the tomato puree soup, the scallops and jumbo shrimp with goat cheese shells, as well as the flourless chocolate cake with ice cream.  Everything was really good and well prepared.  It was a great meal for our first night in Ojai.

Xian – Day Two

We had a great breakfast at our hotel before traveling to see the Terracota Warriors. It’s hard to believe that they were only discovered in the 1970s. We started with a short (and probably skippable) film and then headed to see the pits. 

There are three pits that were excavated and each had various warriors. We also saw horses and chariots. I couldn’t believe how many were there and how they have even so carefully put back together. I also bought my son some miniature warriors to play with on our way out. 

We had lunch at another local restaurant and I really liked the spicy noodles. I think my mouth is still on fire. 

We went to Muslim Street back in the central part of Xian next. Chinese Muslims live here and they have made a pedestrian street filled with shops and food vendors. We saw some strange food items, including goat’s feet. I bought a silk bathrobe and some bracelets to give as gifts too. 

Xian – Day One

We flew from Beijing to Xian, which is about a 2 hour flight. With the traffic in China we are becoming extremely familiar with, we finally arrived at our hotel a little after lunch. We grabbed something quick at the cafe there and headed out to the city wall. We rented a tandem bicycle and cycled around the wall. It would take about 2 hours to go all around it, so we rode for about 30 minutes and then started back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

It took over 30 minutes to find a can to take us back to the hotel. Apparently the drivers here are in short supply and can pick where they want to go. We finally begged one to take us paying double what we should have.

We went to a Tang Dynasty dinner show at night and had a dumpling dinner. It was neat to try all of the different kinds. The show was pretty impressive with music and dancing from that time period.

Longqing Gorge and Ming Tombs

We started our day with a drive out to the Longqing Gorge, which is normally a summer and winter resort area for Beijingers. We went up a large escalator inside a dragon on the side of the moutain and arrived at the boat dock. We took a boat ride through the gorge and enjoyed the scenery and mountains. 

We stopped off at the Diamond Temple to see the Buddha there and then took the boat back to the dock. We went with our guide to another local restaurant and he ordered some interesting items this time, including pig intestines. No thanks on that one, but the glass noodles were so good. 

After lunch we toured the Ming Tombs, which have been uncovered and opened to the public. We went through the Dingling tomb, which had been ransacked during the a Cultural Revolution. It was still amazingly to see the structure they built. 

After a rest at the hotel, we went to a hutong for diner at TRB, one of the newest restaurants in Beijing. It is seriously my new favorite restaurant. They greeted us with champagne and appetizers before we even ordered and then kept brining out thugs between courses too. My favorite was prosecco poured over lemon ice. We clearly saved the best for our last night in Beijing.