Tuesday, March 16, 2010

San Jose!

We recently had a great three-day trip to San Jose! Our first day was amazing- we drove toward Santa Cruz through the most wonderful forest and took a train ride through the redwoods with Roaring Camp Railroad. The next day, the whole family was super happy at the Tech Innovation Museum. We checked out downtown San Jose, which was a little too stark. We were delighted to find Santana Row, a gorgeously colorful development with pretty architecture, sunny outdoor cafes, and flower boxes galore! It's just around the corner from Winchester Mystery House. The Egyptian Museum was a bit of a disappointment and I wished we'd gone to the Children's Discovery Museum on our last day instead. We found a great rope climby playground at Arena Green.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Editor's Bests in Santa Barbara

Best museum: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Best kid's playground: Kidsworld
Best beach for dogs: Hendry's
Best beach for a summer swim: Santa Claus Lane Beach
Best views over the sea: Shoreline Park
Best short hike with kids: Nojoqui Falls
Best restaurant for a romantic seaside lunch: Beachside Cafe
Best icecream with a view: Stearns Wharf
Best sunny spot to sip a coffee outdoors: Camino Real Marketplace
Best beginner's summer surf spot: Campus Point
Best place to comtemplate the beauty of life: Coal Oil Point
Best festival: Sandcastle Festival at East Beach
Best gardens: Alice Keck Park Gardens
Best Spanish architecture: Courthouse
Best bike ride: Andree Clark Bird Refuge
Best place to feed the ducks: Lake Los Carneros
Best shopping: Paseo Nuevo
Best place to learn about old California: La Purisima Mission
Have fun! You will :)

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Check out my new Solvang entries!

Solvang is a nice area- walk around the charming (if not touristy) town and sit in the sun at a cafe. Take your kids to the amazing Sunnyfields Park with its medieval playground. Enjoy the miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch. Skateboard or take in nature at Hans Christian Andersen Park.
For farms to visit, check out the Blueberry Farm and Ostrichland in Buellton.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Morro Bay

Check out my new entries for Morro Bay town and Harborwalk, a new pedestrian path and bike path that was build in 2008 to connect the main tourist strip with Morro Rock and Morro Strand State Beach. We had a great time playing chess on the giant chess board in town and then watching the surfers at the beach. I liked Morro Bay a lot more this time than last. I think the city has been putting a lot of effort into making it a nice place and it has made a big difference!


Saturday, May 02, 2009

New posts galore!

Hey Everyone, I've been working so hard that it's impossible to post all the new sites I've added in the past few months (I'll have to get on top of it and post them each day I make them in future). Here's a sampling of what you can find at Lotsa Fun Maps!
Check out the new posts for Oahu, which I'm currently making now that we're back from our super fun two week trip:
A find that I hadn't known about before, Police Beach, was a gorgeous beach to stroll along, and a place to see the campground out of the TV set for Lost. I got some great shots of lazy turtles at Turtle Beach, and had such a nice swim there. Aaaah, memories. We had the fortune to be given a complimentary stay at the Royal Lokoea while we were on the North Shore and it was a wonderful, peaceful place to come home to each evening, with the palm trees swaying and the sun setting over Haleiwa Beach. Nearby Haleiwa Alii Beach was a pretty spot to explore, and Haleiwa Town is always a fun place to absorb some surf culture. Of course, Baby needed a playground so we found one with gorgeous mountain views at Sunset Elementary Park.
We spent some time at my parents house in Hawaii Kai and I checked out some of the playgrounds there. I love the ones tucked back in the valleys, where you're surrounded by tall misty mountains. Hahaione Neighborhood Park is one of the most atmospheric. Kalama Valley Park was a bit more plain but still had nice mountains in the distance, and it's near the wonderful Southeast Oahu Scenic Drive. It's also near a lookout park that has romantic views at night, Na Pali Haweo Lookout Park, which unfortunately is a private park so you can only really stop and have a peek and not linger. Koko Marina is another Hawaii Kai spot that I've been to a million times and I got to take some photos of while there. It's nice to stroll along the marina there and look at the fabulous jagged mountain peaks. Kahala Mall is a place I've been to many a time with my son when he was a toddler. It was fun to bring my new toddler girl there. It's been redone and is sparkling now. There's also a bunch of new stores including an Apple store, and still the old favorites, Thinker Toys and Carousel Candyland. And the Barnes and Noble there is my favorite in the country (because of the kids section full of Hawaii books and the great selection of interesting travel books). Portlock Point is another spot that I grew up hanging out at! It was fun to go there in the early morning and get some beautiful shots of it!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Warm Spots in Santa Barbara

Coming from Hawaii, I had the idea when I moved to Santa Barbara that the place to go to warm up on a cold day is the beach. One can lay in the sun’s rays, feel the warm temperate ocean breeze tickle one’s skin, and forget about the rain clouds a mile away gathering over the mountains. It took me a while to realize that in Santa Barbara the reverse is true! The chilliest place to be is the coast and nothing could be less inviting than the ocean breeze on a winter day (or a foggy summer day for that matter)! So, I searched and searched for warm, balmy spots in Santa Barbara and here is what I found:

Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

When everywhere else is covered in a thick blanket of fog, the meadows here are bathed in sun. Go for a short walk, or choose a long hike. There is a stream, an oak-sycamore woodland, a redwood forest, and meadows filled with flowers. It’s a pity that the garden costs $8 to enter.

Stow Grove Park
The grassy lawn here is often covered in sun even while the rest of Goleta is foggy. When a cold wind is blowing, one can lay on a blanket in the lee of a little hill and warm up. The grove of redwoods is a pretty place to take photos. Children will enjoy the playground, which has a good selection of things on which to hang, climb, and swing.

Santa Claus Lane Beach

This is one of the warmest beaches in the Santa Barbara area. The opposite could be said for pretty, yet chilly, Goleta Beach Park. On mid-winter days, my husband and I dig a slight dent in the sand, lay in it, and put a blanket over us. We listen to the roar of the sea from our warm cocoon. This is as close to a day at the beach in Hawaii as you’ll get during winter in Santa Barbara- treat yourself to it!

East Beach Near Milpas Street

While most of East Beach has a chilly breeze on winter days, one little pocket is quite warm- the beach near the parking lot across from where Milpas Street begins. This beach has clean golden sand with no oily patches. The open, sunny feel to this beach cheers the spirit. Parking is $2 by the honor system, or you can park a little closer to the pier on Cabrillo Street for free.

Alice Keck Park
This park is a tropical wonderland. There is a large pond full of waterlilies and ducks, and people gather for picnics on the lush grassy hills next to it. One can meander past trees and flowers of every kind. For some reason, this little spot is very sheltered and warm. In summer it can be too hot. But in winter it’s a delight!

Santa Ynez River

If you want a great swim, avoid the frosty coastline and head for the mountains on Highway 154. Just over the top of the mountains, to your right you’ll find Paradise Road. Take it and there are a number of parks on the left where one can gain access to the Santa Ynez river. The water itself is cold but the air is so warm and lovely that you’ll be up for a dip. If you wimp out, you’ll still enjoy the tranquility of the river. Here you can hear the birds and the quiet bubble of the river as it flows downstream. My son loves to skip rocks across the surface. People gather here in the summer and spring with blow-up rafts and floats to enjoy a family swim.

Red Rock

You’re in for a treat if you make the effort to go to Red Rock. Driving the road is not possible after a rain so make sure to go when the waters aren’t high. Once you get to the end, there is still a walk to the large lagoon. In the summer, the water is warm enough- and the air very hot- for a long swim. Sometimes it’s too crowded, with students performing horribly hair-raising jumps from the rocks, but other times I’ve been there with my husband and we’ve had it to ourselves. Then it feels like you are far, far away from civilization at a “blue lagoon.”

Lizard’s Mouth
Anytime you head up the mountains, you can usually head out of the cold fog- no money-back guarantees on that though! Lizards’s mouth is a sunny spot on top of the world, with large boulders, and views from Santa Barbara to Goleta! Little “caves” make nice places for children to play imaginative games. We have brought a picnic up here many times and had a great afternoon- my husband even proposed to me here!

Steven’s Park

Warm and sheltered, this small park has a grassy lawn, a playground for toddlers, a bridge, and a hiking path. What I love about it is that one can lay on the lawn, and be surrounded by slopes covered in trees on all sides. It is a secluded little spot without the slightest sound of cars. Because it is tucked back towards thw mountains, it is sunny, and offers a peaceful, bright Sunday afternoon.

Manning Park

Gorgeously lush, Manning Park is set in a neighborhood in Montecito, surrounded by mansions. It is a large park with several different sections to discover. At the end of the road, past one parking lot, there is a second parking lot. The playground adjacent to it is old, but the sloping lawn is a great place to set out a big comforter and lay in the sun guessing shapes in the clouds. Though the trees above may show signs of a windy day, on the grass it is perfectly still and warm, because one is surrounded by trees and hedges. On the other side of the parking lot is a valley of grassy lawns and pine trees. It’s like a setting for a fairytale!

Wishing you a warm and balmy winter’s day!!!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sunny Solvang, mysterious Knapps Castle

Hey Everyone! Check out my new entries! Solvang has a fantastic new playground built like a medieval castle with gingerbread house and little town where kids can play make-believe. It's called Sunny Fields Playground.
Nearby there is a lovely winery that is nice to visit with kids- Sunstone Winery. Gorgeous views, outdoor patio with a little fountain, and a wonderful cold cellar that you can walk into. We found a new place to eat in Solvang that is perfect for toddlers- they can walk around on the patio while you wait for your food- Paula's Pancakes. Delicious food, fast service, and lovely flower pots and views of Solvang's quaint buildings all around.
We went to Knapp's Castle. It's a short easy hike for kids and the views up there are amazing! Also the ruins of the mansion look gorgeous in their sandstone glory against the blue sky. It's fun to read about the history of the mansion when you get home. The drive to the trailhead is pretty too.
A nice weekday outing to do with your kids is Lake Los Carneros. It's a pretty place and you can feed the ducks, which kids love!

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