5 Unique Places to Visit in San Diego {Part II}



Moon Monster2

If you enjoyed my most recent post about 5 Unique Places to Visit in San Diego (Part I), then you will enjoy this next post too.

Several of the places on these lists have either been referred to me by fellow field trip loving friends or places I have visited with my own family.

In August, my family and I plan to take a mini-vacation down to San Diego.  After the trip, I hope to share with you even more great locations to visit in this beautiful part of the country.

For now, check out my next list of 5 More Unique Places to Visit in San Diego {Part II} with your family.  There might just be a new adventure in store for you all!

TanzanitaThe Gemological Institute in Carlsbad

“Established in 1931, GIA is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls.  A public benefit, nonprofit institute, GIA is the leading source of knowledge, standards, and education in gems and jewelry.”  GIA offers field trips for students in 4th grade and up at their location in Carlsbad.

They also have a museum featuring gems from all over the world that is available to be seen by appointment only.  To schedule an individual or group tour of the museum, please email guestservices@gia.edu or call 1-800-421- 7250, ext. 4116.

Check out GIA’s fun new educational website for kids called GemKids!


Queen Califa’s Magical Garden in Escondido

Queen Califa’s Magical Garden is an unusual sculpture garden created by the late famous artist Niki de Saint Phalle.  There are only four of these gardens in the world and only one located in the United States.  Lucky for us it is in Escondido.

Currently, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is under renovation and is closed to the public.  However, mark your calendars!  The city of Escondido anticipates the garden to reopen in Fall 2014.

Mt. Woodson Castle in Ramona

“In 1909, Amy Strong, a famous San Diego dress designer, hired architects to build her dream home on the Ranch.  They pitched tents on the site for their own accommodations, drew renderings and blueprints. The home was completed by 1921.  The Strong home in Ramona is the vision of this artistic woman, the talents of her architects, and the philosophy of the Craftsman Movement.”

The Castle has twenty-seven rooms and is made of eucalyptus, oak, and redwood, rocks and flagstone, adobe, bricks and tiles, plaster, concrete and stucco.  Tours are available daily.

Walnuts to crack

 Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center

Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center provides families the opportunity to spend time on a working farm.  While there you will learn how the farm transformed itself from a groove of walnut trees to a full fledge retail business today.

Take a tour and discover how nuts get from the tree to your table.  Tours are available for groups of 15 or more and is $5.50 per person.  Call 760-749-3333 for reservations.


Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona

“An unusual family; Gil, Nancy, a small handful of very dedicated animal caretakers and a huge family of camels, birds and other farm animals call the Oasis Camel Dairy home.  Located on thirty-four rolling acres, this unique “farmily” supports the efforts of furthering the education of the public world wide about the amazing nature of camels and their milk.” 

They also offer camel rides! 

Public tours are available once a month and school field trips are offered throughout the year.  Please send an email to contactus@cameldairy.com for details. 

SoCal Field Trips will be visiting the Oasis Camel Dairy in October and looks forward to sharing with you our thoughts afterwards.

Happy Field Tripping,


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.  All points of view are our own.  All images used by permission from Wikimedia commons.  Please click on the individual images above for complete copyright information.

Get $12.25 tickets to CHILL 2014 in Long Beach







Last Christmas, my family and I attended CHILL 2013, a spectacular frozen holiday adventure at The Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Today, I received an email from The Queen Mary letting me know that discounts tickets for CHILL 2014 are now on sale.  Already, I thought?  Yes, it is true.

CHILL returns to The Queen Mary Nov. 21 – Nov. 30, Dec. 2-7, Dec. 9 – Jan. 4 & Jan. 8-11.

You can purchase an all-inclusive general admission ticket to CHILL 2014 which includes the Ice Kingdom, Ice Tubing, Ice Skating and access to The Queen Mary) for only $12.25!

FYI, the $12.25 offer is only valid for the first two weeks in December (Dec. 2-5 Tuesday-Friday & Dec. 8-12 Monday-Friday).

To learn more, enjoy my previous post about CHILL 2013 and use promo code XMAS7 to save on tickets for CHILL 2014!

CHILL 2013 at The Queen Mary in Long Beach


A few days ago my family and I visited CHILL, a spectacular frozen holiday adventure, at The Queen Mary in Long Beach.  It runs from November 22, 2013 – January 5, 2014.

We originally purchased our tickets through a special offer on The Queen Mary’s Facebook page and decided to go on a Saturday night to take in all the festivities.  And boy, were there many!

First, we toured the Ice Kingdom where the theme this year was The Nutcracker.  Inside they had a beautiful array of different ice sculptures.  It was breath-taking!  Here are just a few of the many ice sculptures that we saw.  My favorite sculpture was the chandelier.



IMG_2663[1]IMG_2666[1]You can see how they designed and built the ice sculptures in this video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQRZCMEUvvo

While inside the kingdom, we also went on the ice slide.  My 4-year-old daughter enjoyed it the most after overcoming her initial fear of sitting on the cold floor!



Furthermore, there are several other activities you can do while visiting CHILL including ice skating, snow sledding, taking a picture with Santa Claus, listening to holiday music or taking a ride on the mechanical reindeer!  They also offer a variety of food and beverages.

IMG_2646[1]After about three hours, half of my family was ready to head home, while the other half headed over to The Queen Mary for a second tour.  The great thing about purchasing a ticket for CHILL is that they also give you a return ticket to visit The Queen Mary at a later date.  Or in the case of my family, on the same day as CHILL!

Here’s a few pointers when visiting CHILL:

1. Bring extra layers of clothes.  It is very cold inside.  Even though they give you a jacket to wear, it is not enough.  I promise you won’t regret it!

2. The weekends tend to be crowded.  So if you go during the week your wait time may be shorter.

3. They have different pricing packages depending upon what your family wants to see and do.

4. Parking is $12.

Happy Field Tripping,


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.  All points of view are our own.  All images used by permission.

5 Unique Places to Visit in San Diego (Part I)



** PART I **

San Diego is a beautiful city.  It is home to numerous picturesque beaches and alluring coastal landscapes.

Crystal peer san diego

If you are a fan of the city, then you will definitely want to check out the surrounding county as well.

The smaller towns throughout San Diego County offer visitors a unique opportunity to see and explore several hidden locations off the beaten path.  These locations may not necessarily be hidden from the road, but what you find inside are hidden gems.

Just take a peak…

TGFT38 ready to be painted - Taylor Guitar Factory

Taylor Guitars in El Cajon

Taylor Guitars is one the country’s most well-known guitar makers.  Did you know that they also offer FREE guided tours of their factory ever Monday – Friday at 1 p.m.  The maximum group size is 10 people.  Reservations are not required.  You just show up and go!

Banker's Hill Spruce St bridge San Diego

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge – San Diego

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge was originally designed to provide pedestrian passage across a deep canyon, which isolated developing neighborhoods from the newly built trolley lines on Fourth and Fifth avenues.  Located just west of First Avenue, it is the only one of its kind in San Diego.

The beautiful 375 feet walkway floats among treetops and sways with the way of the wind.  The bridge is attached to steel suspension cables which are then anchored to massive concrete piers hidden beneath the soil at both ends.  From the center of the bridge you can see San Diego’s downtown skyline.  It is FREE to walk across the bridge anytime except when it is closed between 10 pm – 6 am.


Petco Park in San Diego

Petco Park is not necessarily a hidden gem in San Diego.  But the arena’s walking tour is new to some.  When you take a behind-the-scenes guided tour of Petco Park, you will have the opportunity to visit the press box, learn about the historic Western Metal Supply Co. Building and explore the Padres dugout.  Tours are available seven days a week for individuals, families or groups smaller than 25.  Tickets are available online.

Female African Lion (Panthera leo) (0347) - Relic38

Lions, Tigers and Bears Sanctuary in Alpine

The Lions, Tigers & Bears Sanctuary in Alpine is home to 17 species of animals located on a ranch with a rich history to explore, including a historical adobe.  All visits to the sanctuary are by appointment only.  You can choose from being a member-for-a-day, feed a big cat or bear of your choice or plan a school field trip.  They also offer patrons the option to stay the night at their exclusive White Oaks private retreat.  Advance reservations are required.  Check out Groupon from time to time for discounts for this location.


Deering Banjo Company in Spring Valley

All banjos made by the Derring Banjo Company are exclusively hand-built by the owners, Janet and Greg Deering, and their team of 48 dedicated banjo specialists.  Over the last 39 years they have made more than 100,000 banjos.  They love visitors and welcome folks to take a tour of their factory anytime by calling (800) 845-7791.

Stay tuned for our next installment of 5 Unique Places to Visit in San Diego Part II coming soon!

Happy Field Tripping,


Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are our own.  Images used by permission.

Ice Sculpture Field Trip to Carving Ice in Anaheim



Last summer, when the heat was raging in Southern California, we escaped to Carving Ice in Anaheim for an amazing field trip to learn about how ice sculptures were made.  It was literally a cool field trip!

A few weeks prior, my son had asked me if he could learn how make an ice sculpture.  “Yes,” I said.  However, I did not know at the time how hard it would be to find a facility to host us.  After many non productive phone calls to ice carving companies in Orange County, I reached out to my friends on Facebook.  A friend of mine from college replied back and said that she knew a guy from church that owned Carving Ice.  A few days later I got in touch with the owner and set up a date for our field trip.

Carving Ice specializes in creating beautiful, crystal-clear ice sculptures for weddings, parties, corporate functions and any other special event.

slideshow image

The company has worked on special events for clients such as Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Sony, Paramount, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers to create unforgettable ice masterpieces.

The first activity that the Carving Ice staff set up for us to see was an AquaSermo show.  AquaSermo is millions of tiny illuminated droplets cascading to the ground forming an image in mid-air – a name, a logo, a message, even a picture.  It is truly amazing to watch.  Here is a sample of what we saw,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTKriLsM8Wc

Next our families got to make their own ice sculptures!  Their staff had personally carved out each child’s name in ice before we had arrived. First, the children decorated the letters in their name with glitter.

Field Trip Participant Making His Ice Sculpture

Field Trip Boy Filling His Name In Ice With Glitter

Secondly, they packed their glittered filled names with snow and smoothed it off.

Field Trip Participant Packing His Name With Snow

Field Trip Participants Packing Their Names With Snow

The final product was a uniquely personalized ice sculpture that each child got to take home with them.  I made sure to tell the families ahead of time to bring ice coolers with them for the trip.

Field Trip Girl’s Ice Sculpture

Field Trip Boy’s Ice Sculpture

After making our ice sculptures our group got to watch a dry ice science experiment.

Dry Ice Science Experiment

Field Trip Girl In Awe As She Watches A Dry Ice Experiment

Designing an ice sculpture is a true art form.  Carving Ice’s staff showed us how they program their ice carving machine to make various ice sculptures for clients.

Carving Ice’s Staff Showing Us How They Program Their Ice Carving Machine

The Automatic Ice Craving Machine Carving Our Names Out Of Ice

Next the kids got to have a real snow ball fight.  With living in Southern California, they don’t get this opportunity very often!  The staff also made two ice targets for them to practice on.

Field Trip Participant Making A Snow Ball For Target Practice

Field Trip Girl Playing With The Snow

Field Trip Boy Practicing His Aim

For our last activity of the day, we watched the owner of Carving Ice make a dolphin ice sculpture from start to finish.  It was a fascinating process to watch.  Afterwards, the kids took a lot of pictures with the dolphin.

If you are interested in setting up a field trip of your own to Carving Ice please contact them at info@carvingice.com.

Happy Field Tripping,


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are our own.  All images used by permission.


How to talk to your children about Internet Safety and Cyberbullying



Kids with Education Tablet Computers

When I was a child, I remember playing freely in our neighborhood roaming from house to house.  My friends and I would spend hours outside riding our bikes, playing on the swing set and simply doing what children were meant to do – be children!

Back then, my parents did not have much to worry about.  They simply opened up the door and out I went.  We knew our neighbors well and watched out for one another.

Today’s society is very different.  Parents have to worry, not just about what’s happening outside their homes, but also what’s streaming inside their homes.  We need to be just as savvy on the internet as our kids are.  But some days it simply feels like this!

U.S. Air Force Airman Jessica Lawson, a graphics specialist from the 51st Communication Squadron, works on a computer during training during the Wing Safety Day at Osan Air Force, Korea 041117-F-VS677-004

With the invention of the internet comes both the good and the bad.  Personally, the internet has helped me reach thousands of fellow field trip fans and families throughout Southern California.

Websites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have also changed the way I connect with my family and friends.  For example, my parents signed up for Facebook just to see new pictures of their grandchildren.

Girl with computer

As Field Trip Boy and Field Trip Girl get older, they are spending more time on the internet for school and personal use.  My son enjoys watching how-to-draw videos on YouTube, designing roller coasters on the iPad and playing Minecraft.  Field Trip Girl likes to play games on the iPad and watch the movie “Frozen” over and over again.

Teaching our children about internet safety and cyberbullying has to be on the top of our lists. 

Here’s how:


Purchase or subscribe to an online security software program.  My husband and I are currently looking into getting a software program for all of our gadgets.  It is important that we protect our little ones’ eyes for as long as possible.


Teach your children about internet safety.  With the help of AVG Technologies, my husband and I are on step two.

AVG Technologies, an online security company with over 187 million customers worldwide, has partnered with non-profit Childnet International to publish Magda & Mo, a new children’s e-book series on internet safety topics such as cyberbullying and safe searching.

Starring Magda & Mo, two curious kids who want to play online, the interactive books are designed for teachers, parents and kids to read together and learn about making good choices online.

By following Magda and Mo’s adventures and helping them make decisions along the way, children can earn “donuts” for making the right choices when it comes to using the Internet.

The first story is called Animishmash and the Cyber Bullfrog (for ages 7+).  This click-or-tell story looks at how to deal with cyber-bullying and how to be a good friend online.


Magda and Mo are playing a cool new game called Animishmash.  But Bill the Bullfrog keeps sending them mean messages online.  What should the two friends do about it?

The second story is called The Pirate’s Donut (ages 3+).  In this click-or-tell story you can help Magda and Mo safely search the internet, learn new things and avoid scary stuff online.


Mo’s tummy is rumbling and he wants some donuts.  But why do donuts have holes?  Maybe Magda and Mo will find the answer on their parents’ computer?

Childnet International also provides great online resources for parents and children.  They offer a variety of games, activities and e-books to go along with the topic.

5 – 10 Year Olds: http://www.childnet.com/young-people/primary

11 – 18 Year Olds: http://www.childnet.com/young-people/secondary


Have a conversation with your children about cyberbullying.


1.  Do not talk to the cyber bully after the bullying incident has occurred.  By not talking to the bully, your child has already taken away a good portion of the bully’s power.

2. Un-friend and block the cyber bully from ALL of your child’s online accounts.

3. Report the cyber bully to all the websites where they have been harassing your child such as Facebook and Twitter.

4. If the harassment continues, report the cyber bully to your local authorities.  There are several states with anti-bullying laws now on the books.

As Magna and Mo always says “ask before you click!”

To learn more about how to prevent cyberbullying, please visit http://www.pinterest.com/socalfieldtrips/how-to-prevent-cyber-bullying/

Be safe my friends!


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are our own.  Images used by permission.

The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure review & coupon code


The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park

Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park

Two weeks ago, my family and I had the pleasure of attending The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, CA.  It was the first time our family had attended the action packed show.

When we arrived, we were treated to complimentary appetizers in the lounge area.


The Pirates’ Map


The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Pre-Show Appetizers

We perused the gift shop a bit and found some fun trinkets and drank a tasty peach smoothie compliments of the bar.


The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Gift Store


Field Trip Boy & Girl Enjoying A Tasty Drink

Once inside, we sat in the front row and had a spectacular view of the stage.  Every seat in the theater is designed so that everyone can interact with the live show.

The stage itself is “set aboard an authentically replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon measuring 46 feet long, 18 feet wide with 40-foot masts, the ship is anchored in a 300,000-gallon indoor lagoon with night sky lighting.”


The Pirate Ship

There were also several pre-show activities to take advantage of as well.

For example, we were a part of the orange pirate team.  We competed against the blue, purple and red teams to see who could cheer the loudest.  It wasn’t us!

However, the leader of our team was a brave and handsome pirate named Andre.  He was definitely true to character!


Pirate Andre and Field Trip Boy Braving The High Seas Together!

During the show, we were served a delicious four course meal.  I chose to eat fresh garden salad, roasted chicken and Caribbean rice.


The Four Course Meal

Mr. SoCal Field Trips and Field Trip Boy selected the vegetable soup, barbecue beef kabobs and buttery mashed potatoes.  To top it off, they served us a warm fudge brownie a la mode for dessert.

Lights, Camera, Action!

The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Show is a top-notch Hollywood like production.  It was intense and action packed!


The Pirate Queen Sings A Song

The production team uses a variety of polytechnics, lights and sounds to set the ambience of the show.


The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Show


The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Show

At the end of the performance, I decided to snap this cute selfie to remember the occasion…pirate and all!


Pirate Selfie!

For my readers, Save $25 off Adult and $15 off Child Admissions to The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure by calling 1-866-439-AHOY and mentioning code USFAM at time of purchase.

Happy Field Tripping,


Disclosure: We received complimentary passes for sharing this discount with our readers.  All opinions and points of view are our own.  Images used by permission.

The Grand Re-Opening of Camp Snoopy at Knott’s Berry Farm!







Camp Snoopy, the beloved children’s area at Knott’s Berry Farm, turned 30 years old in 2014.

To celebrate the occasion, the entire land has gone through a complete transformation, including the addition of three brand new rides – Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer, Pig Pen’s Mud Buddies and Linus Lancher.

All three rides were designed by theme park architectural firm Zamperla.  Zamperla designs a variety of theme park rides from roller coasters to aqua rides and everything in between.

Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer allows campers to soar above the land’s winding paths and babbling streams – but watch out for the kite-eating tree!  As the tree rises, good ol’ Charlie Brown is revealed upside down and all tied up in kite string!


I was very proud of Field Trip Girl giving Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer a try.  She is very fearful of heights.  However, as mommy as her copilot, she flew like a wiz on the ride.


Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies lets tykes climb aboard their very own all-terrain vehicle for an adventurous ride around the High Sierras.


Six four-seater ATVs will spin, bounce, and bump up to 24 guests at a time, while Pig Pen looks on from his center perch.


Linus Launcher allows riders to relive a classic Peanut’s moment as Snoopy grabs the blanket and launches guests up to 10 feet in the air.


Enjoy a Woodstock’s-eye view of Huff ‘n Puff, The Grizzly Creek Lodge, and all of Camp Snoopy below!

IMG_4059[1] While visiting Camp Snoopy, we also rode several of the camp’s original rides including:

Huff and Puff IMG_4062[1]

This was Field Trip Girl’s favorite ride at the park.  She went on it over and over again, because it was quiet and stayed close to the ground.


The carousel.  Who doesn’t love the carousel!


The Grand Sierra Train


Another great aspect of the new Camp Snoopy is their redesigned theater.   They added new stage props and made a large covered seating area for families.



The entire ambiance of Camp Snoopy has improved for the better.  Even though the park is located right in the middle of Southern California, I felt like I was in our local mountains.  Knott’s Berry Farm has done an amazing job with the new landscape.


While at Knott’s Berry Farm our family also checked out the newly renovated Calico Mine Ride.

IMG_4086[1]This is by far my favorite ride at Knott’s Berry Farm!

“In January 2014 the attraction closed for a comprehensive five month restoration by Knott’s Berry Farm’s design and production team.

The renovation of the iconic attraction includes the addition of over 50 new state-of-the-art animatronic figures, all new audio and theme lighting system, and special effects that will capture the imagination of would-be miners as they journey deep into the winding caverns of the attraction.”


To see pictures from inside the new Calico Mine ride, visit https://www.knotts.com/rides/Family-Rides-1-5-12-50/Calico-Mine-Ride

By the end of the day, my little family was very happy AND very tired after checking out all the new rides and great features at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Our day was jam packed and we would not have had it any other way!


Knott’s Berry Farm is located at 8039 Beach Boulevard in Buena Park, CA. 

Ticket prices vary, however Knott’s provides a list of complete discounts on their website.  

Happy Field Tripping,


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We received complimentary admission to Knott’s Berry Farm in exchange for providing a review.  All opinions and points of review are our own.  All images are used by permission.