Legoland (One Legoland Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008) is about 3o minutes away from our house. When Alani was a toddler, we had annual passes and took her there a lot.

Alani (age 3) at Legoland in 2005. All photos @2013 June Bayha

Alani (age 3) at Legoland in 2005. All photos @2013 June Bayha

We haven’t been to Legoland in over six years because we shifted to having other amusement park annual passes. On May 11, 2013, we ventured back to Carlsbad to check out the new Legoland Hotel. For this visit, our hotel package included one night in a premium room, breakfast for four at Bricks Family Restaurant, and four 2-day tickets with access to all three parks: Legoland, Legoland Water Park, and Sea Life Aquarium.

Legoland Hotel is located right next to Legoland.

Legoland Hotel is located right next to Legoland.

With three different themed-sleeping rooms to choose from–Pirate, Adventure, and Kingdom, we chose the Pirate premium room. The “premium” room included extra theming and LEGO features in our room.

The door of our premium room included this extra theming.

The door of our premium room included this extra theming.

The kids sleeping area had a bunk bed with pull out trundle bed to accommodate three kids.

Kids' area with bunk and trundle beds

Kids’ area with bunk and trundle beds

The kids’ area was in a separate area from our queen bed.

Yo ho, yo ho...the pirates' life for me...

Yo ho, yo ho…the pirates’ life for me…

The theming in the room included artifacts made of LEGO, of course.

LEGO treasures, matey!

LEGO treasures, matey!

We ate dinner and breakfast at Bricks Family Restaurant inside the hotel. It’s a buffet open for breakfast and dinner, which makes it easier to satisfy hungry kids and parents. After a day at Legoland, it was convenient to eat without having to drive.

Brick's Restaurant inside Legoland Hotel is fun and easily accessible.

Bricks Family Restaurant inside Legoland Hotel is fun and easily accessible.

The food options are kid-friendly with offerings of pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, among other selections.

Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries, stir fry at the buffet

Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries, stir fry at the buffet

Our kids enjoyed their dinners. Rigel liked getting his own hot dog, pizza, and even the veggies.

Rigel's dinner of hot dog, pizza, and a few veggies

Rigel’s dinner of hot dog, pizza, and a few veggies

Alani ate pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs, one of her favorite dishes.

Alani's dinner of pasta and meatballs

Alani’s dinner of pasta and meatballs

However, the selections for adults are not so great, especially for someone trying to eat lots of vegetables and minimal gluten or starchy foods. The greens at the Caesar salad bar were the only green leafy vegetables I could find.

Got creative with taking leafy greens and combining it with turkey and gravy and baked chicken.

Got creative with taking leafy greens and combining it with turkey and gravy and baked chicken.

The desserts included cookies, strawberry shortcake, pudding, fruit cups, fresh fruit, and a frozen yogurt bar.

Desserts!

Desserts!

Both kids gave the Bricks Family Restaurant and Legoland Hotel two thumbs up.

Two thumbs up from Alani and Rigel

Two thumbs up from Alani and Rigel

One of our family’s favorites at Legoland was Miniland, especially the area with the Star Wars scenes. It is so cool that people get paid to build awesome LEGO structures, like those found in Miniland.

Miniland Star Wars

Miniland Star Wars

It is heartening to know that maybe someday, Rigel can take his love for building with LEGOs and perhaps get a job doing it. Well, a mother can dream.

Rigel and R2D2

Rigel and R2D2

For Star Wars fans, the Star Wars Days at Legoland are June 15 and 16, 2013. This year, a life-size, 5 million-piece X-Wing Fighter will be landing at Legoland starting on June 13th. TheĀ San Diego Union Tribune reports it took 32 “master model builders” a combined 17,336 hours over four months to build the X-Wing, which weighs more than 45,000 pounds, is 11-feet tall and 43 feet long with a 44-foot wingspan. I want to go back just to see this masterpiece!

And for something completely different…the restroom review:

The Legoland Hotel just opened a couple of months ago and the bathroom inside our room was pristine.

Super clean bathroom inside our hotel room

Super clean bathroom inside our hotel room

Check out the fun LEGO decorations by the mirror

Check out the fun LEGO decorations by the mirror

The bathrooms inside Legoland are clean as well. I believe there are diaper changing stations available.

Legoland bathroom is clean.

Legoland bathroom is clean.

Cucina Urbana – San Diego

September 29, 2012

Cucina Urbana (505 Laurel St. in San Diego) is my go-to restaurant with local friends, out-of-town guests, and anyone who wants to go with me. But during these visits, I did not have the kids with me.

At a recent dinner with a friend from New York, I discovered even more to love about Cucina Urbana. They offer kids a ‘build-your-own-pizza pie’ menu option. It’s a personal size, half-baked pizza crust that kids can add tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.

Building their own pizza keeps my kids entertained. And they end up eating their whole dinner with delight because they had a hand in preparing the food. Genius!

Rigel prefers his pizza with no tomato sauce, just cheese and pepperoni. And he’s thrilled to be able to make his pizza the way he likes it.

Rigel’s pizza pie.

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Warning: No kids participated in this dining experience. While I love my children, I was not ready to take a 6- and 8-year old to a 5-hour meal. Good choice for all involved. However, the experience was too extraordinary and I had to share. Enjoy!

The French Laundry located at 6640 Washington St., Yountville, CA

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FoodGPS introduced me to the Carnitas Snack Shack (2632 University Avenue, North Park, San Diego, CA 92104) when they first opened. This place is now one of my favorite eateries in San Diego. The menu changes daily to include seasonal vegetables like roasted brussel sprouts or green beans and other specialty items like lamb tacos or short rib stuffed potato pancakes. I like being surprised by what new items are on the menu each time.

My go to always-on-the-menu items are the Shack Pork Sandwich and Panzanella Salad.

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Shack Pork Sandwich – breaded pork schnitzel, pulled pork, bacon, peppercini-pickle relish, shack aioli

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After going on a 14-day Transatlantic Disney cruise in 2010, we were hooked. For our second Disney cruise, we chose the 3-night Bahamian cruise (from February 2-5, 2012) with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) on the Disney Dream just so we could try out the “new” ship. Our cruise left from Port Canaveral, Florida, which meant we flew from San Diego to Orlando on February 1st, spent the night, and then the next day took a 45-minute shuttle from our hotel to the port.

When we arrived at the port, the check-in process was so smooth. Porters greeted our shuttle and took our luggage. We went through security with only a minimal wait. Then to get our cruise cards, we were directed to the Silver Castaway line (for those who are repeat Disney cruisers) and went right up to the counter, no wait. After we got all of our cruise cards, we walked onto the ship, got changed into swimsuits and off to ride the AquaDuck!!

Disney Dream boasts 14 towering decks, a ship length of 1,115 feet and a maximum width of 125 feet, the 130,000-ton vessel includes 1,250 staterooms and has the capacity to comfortably accommodate 4,000 passengersā€”along with the over 1,458 Crew Members.

The AquaDuck, water coaster, circles the entire Deck 12 of the ship. This photo shows where you get in line to ride the AquaDuck.

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Though we live two hours away, we had to partake in dineLA Restaurant Week (happening now through Friday, 2/3, in the Los Angeles area) and score our 3-course meal for $44 at LAWRY’S The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills. Alani and Rigel were willing to embark on the long car ride because we were meeting up with Auntie Stacey and Josh for dinner.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib located at: 100 N. La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Alani and Auntie Stacey – both so excited for the prime rib

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To celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve on 1/22, we chose KENSINGTON GRILL (which Harlen and I had visited for the first time a few weeks ago) in San Diego. It was the first time eating at this restaurant for our kids and my mom.

When we arrived, we discovered San Diego Restaurant Week was extended another week (Jan 21 – 27) and we could get a three-course meal for $30. Awesome!

Kensington Grill – 4055 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA

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