I am a father of two toddlers, Logan is 3 and Olivia is 1. When my wife and I have a simultaneous day off we like to have an extra special family outing, but we seldom have the energy for a Disneyland or San Diego Zoo excursion. I have found a few local Sunday activities that the kids think are special treats, and my wife and I can survive without the aid of a case of Red Bull.
Although it’s a far stretch from Disneyland, the Santa Monica Pier offers an amazing substitute with rides, games, food, all set against our beautiful pacific ocean. For young kids like mine, the rides are more than adequate- even exciting! It’s so easy to access, and the crowds are nothing in comparison with the big parks, and most importantly the kids really love it! The ferris wheel ride is definitely a highlight for kids (and parents) of all ages… the views from the top are breath taking. Another all time favorite is the historic Carousel located at the very beginning of the pier before you reach the amusement park. We like to finish our afternoon with a lovely fried fish meal at Bubba Gumps. It’s not the healthiest meal, but it’s extremely kid friendly and noisy enough to make any late day melt downs seem acceptable if not encouraged.
A little known secret located just below the pier is the Heal the Bay Public Aquarium. It focuses on the marine life found in the Santa Monica Bay that includes more than 100 species of animals and plants. My son’s favorite was the octopus who seemed to know he was on display and was showing off his color changing skills. The aquarium can host birthday parties (that is how we discovered it) and has a great staff to help the kids learn about all the sea life.
Another great Sunday activity that my family enjoys is the Farmers Market on Main Street. Unlike other farmers markets, Sunday’s event is more like a community gathering. People bring blankets, get food from the various food stands, and spend a few hours sitting, eating, and talking with friends that they see there each week. There are often activities for the kids including a petting zoo with pony rides, face painting, and a balloon artist. Live bands play and the vibe is relaxed and fun. It’s the perfect way to wear out the kids while you sit and eat and relax. We love it! The market is open every Sunday from 9:30 until 1.
Have you been able to enjoy any of these activities? Is there something else you want to suggest?
Photo courtesy of Brian Negin’s Flickr