The Big Exchange: San Diego Museums

Image courtesy of San Diego Museum Council

Are you a current member to a San Diego Museum? If so this month you could benefit from the amazing Big Exchange! Over 30 museums around San Diego will be taking part of this program and what this means is that if you are a current member to a San Diego museum then your membership will let you into any of the other participating museums. Basically you have a membership to all the museums!

The Big Exchange is going on all May from the 1st to the 31st, which is an extension from last years program which only ran for two weeks. This is a whole month to museum hop and explore. The Big Exchange is a wonderful program and the perfect time to check out a new museum or visit an old favorite.

Participating Museums

      • Barona Museum & Cultural Center
      • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
      • Bonita Museum
      • California Surf Museum
      • Coronado Museum of History & Art
      • Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
      • Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
      • Heritage of the Americas Museum
      • Japanese Friendship Garden
      • Living Coast Discovery Center
      • Maritime Museum of San Diego
      • Mingei International Museum
      • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
      • Museum of Making Music
      • Museum of Photographic Arts
      • New Americans Museum
      • Oceanside Museum of Art Women’s Museum of California
      • San Diego Archaeological Center
      • San Diego Art Institute
      • San Diego Automotive Museum
      • San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
      • San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
      • San Diego History Center
      • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
      • San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
      • The New Children’s Museum
      • The San Diego Museum of Art
      • The Water Conservation Garden
      • Timken Museum of Art
      • USS Midway Museum
      • Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
      • Visions Art Museum
      • Warner-Carrillo Ranch House Museum
      • Whaley House Museum

 

Visit sandiegomuseumcouncil.org for more information on the Big Exchange and San Diego’s museums.

Have a fun time exploring with the Big Exchange!

Cruzin Mama

Hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau

Spring time is here and it’s one of the best times to get out for a hike. The much needed rains have let up here in So Cal and that not only means we will see a lot of green but also the vernal pools at the Santa Rosa Plateau have been filled! So it’s no secret that one of my go to hiking spots for my family is the Santa Rosa Plateau, the ecological reserve is located in Murrieta about 4 miles off of the Clinton Keith exit. The Plateau hosts plenty of trail options, a nature center, historic adobes, and of course the vernal pools.

The vernal pools are only really visible after the rainy season. So this year is one of the best times to visit them since California experienced so much rain to help get us out of the long drought we have been under. The vernal pools are a great way to see a lot of the wildlife that the Plateau houses. Just on our visit alone we saw tadpoles, dragonflies, butterflies, ducks, a few different types of birds, grasshoppers, a snake (more about this later!) and the teeny hard to spot fairy shrimp. Plus the rains have brought about a Super Bloom so along the trails you are sure to see beautiful wildflowers.

*A fun game for my kids was to see how many different colors of flowers we could spot.*

For our visit to the Plateau I parked at the trail entrance for the vernal pools which is the last entrance to the Santa Rosa Plateau trails off of Via Volcano Rd. As were not planning on spending the day hiking the trails since we had come off of a little morning adventure I opted on this closer parking location. When you park at this location there is a trail that leads straight to the large vernal pool. You are also able to pay the visit fee at the drop box at the entrance of the trail. If you are up for it from this trail you can head to the historic adobe buildings as well. It all just depends on how much time you want to spend exploring. The trails at the Santa Rosa Plateau are great for beginners in my opinion. My kids have been on several hikes here and have done great. We have hiked just around the nature center, we have taken this trail to the vernal pools (during an off season) and continued down to the adobes. My kids and I on the way back from the pools ventured down a little on the hidden valley trail this visit. I would like to go back and check this trail out a little more.

So a little confession, before I headed down to the Plateau I did a little snooping on Instagram under the Places tab to see if there was any water still at the pools. Since the heavy rain I have been wanting to take the kids to see the vernal pools, but I didn’t want to make the trip only to be disappointed. The last time we hiked this trail was during the off season so while it wasn’t entirely empty it just wasn’t what I was expecting to see. So some of the most recent “posts” were up to days before and I was a little apprehensive that they would still look as full since the weather has begun to heat up. But it was still a chance to see them with water so we loaded up some hiking supplies and made for the pools. I was so glad we went, they were still full and the weather was warm so the muddy trails were dry. The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived and we passed quite a few people on the trails but it was surprisingly not crowded.

There was quite a while that we had the vernal pool all to ourselves. It was so nice to just sit and enjoy the view. Of course the highlight for the kids was seeing all the inhabitants. I mentioned much of what we saw above but the most exciting one we saw was a snake. It wasn’t a very large snake but it was a snake and that was enough to make my kid’s day. We watched the little snake swim around the pool a bit and a fellow hiker informed us about how it was most likely hunting tadpoles. This went along well with what my daughter has been learning in school about food chains.

Our little friend may be hard to spot but he is located in the center of this photo. He wasn’t a very big snake so he camouflaged well amoung the vegetation.

Another great time exploring the Santa Rosa Plateau. I was almost tempting to go hiking further because of how picturesque the landscape was. In the distance we could even see a little snow caped mountain, this year the rain really brought it.

We only went a little ways down the trail to the Hidden Valley. I would like to go back and explore this area more. What was nice was once we got into a shaded area there was a bench to sit on and just gaze out through a window in the trees to the valley.

Hiking Tips

*Always pack plenty of water
*Bring some snacks
*Wear good comfortable shoes
*Take plenty of breaks
*Use Sunscreen and Wear a Hat

And remember to just enjoy your time outside!

Cruzin Mama

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve
39400 Clinton Keith Rd
Murrieta Ca 92562
Hours
Sunrise – Sunset
Nature Center • Tuesday-Sunday 9am to 5pm
Closed Mondays and all major holidays
Fees
Adults $4 Children 3-12 $3

National Parks FREE Entrance Days 2017


National Parks Free Days 2016

The National Park Service is back with its FREE entrance days for 2017! This year the National Park Service is offer 9 fee free days which are great opportunities to get out and explore. There are 409 parks in the U.S. , 127 of those normally charge an entrance fee ranging from $3-$30. So fee free days are a great way to explore on a budget. Also be sure to visit Find Your Park to see all the events happening in parks nearby.

*Fee free days waive entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation fees. Fees for reservations, camping, tours, and fees collected by third parties are not included unless otherwise stated.*

2017 FREE Entrance Days

  • February 20th  Presidents  Day
  • April 15-16th and 22nd-23rd National Parks Week (Weekends)
  • August 25th National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30th National Public Lands Day
  • November 11th-12th Veterans Day Weekend

Image courtesy of National Park Foundation

Park Passes

Can’t make any of the fee free day but are planning on visiting multiple parks, then an Annual Pass is what you need. There are actually quite a few different pass options for our National Parks.

  • Annual Pass   The cost is $80 for this pass. It is available to everyone and can be purchased at a federal recreation site, over the phone (1-888-275-8747 ext. 3) or online.
  • Military Annual Pass  This pass is FREE to all current members of the United States Military, Reserves and Guards. This pass can only be picked up in person at a Federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID (Form 1173).
  • 4th Grade Pass   Through Every Kid in a Park program all 4th graders are eligible to obtain a FREE Annual Pass. This pass provides free entrance to national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges for the 4th grader as well as all children under 16 years of age in the party and up to three adults. Paper passes accepted only no electronic passes will be honored. Pass is only valid during the school year (September 2015 – August 31st, 2016). For more information and to get the pass visit everykidinapark.gov

For full information on passes and to see all pass options visit nps.gov

California National Parks

Have fun exploring!

Cruzin Mama

Click here to find National Parks outside of California.

Green Friday at California State Parks

National Parks Free Days 2016

Go Green this Black Friday!

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is here and a day of fresh air could ease the stress of this time of year. California State Parks along with REI are offering just that a day outside away from the shopping crowds with FREE admission to State Parks.

You are being asked to Go Green this Black Friday and Opt Outside and enjoy one of California’s beautiful State Parks. Have you ever visited a State Park before? Well if you haven’t this is a great chance to! Or if you are a regular State Park explorer this is a wonderful opportunity to venture out to a new park. Honestly a great deal on a T.V. is nice or being able to do all your holiday shopping at a discount but with Black Friday now starting earlier and earlier it’s great to see a push for more quality time. Getting out and really seeing the beauty that California has to offer is priceless.

To Go Green is easy just visit greenfriday.org Pick a park you would like to visit and get your ticket for your free entrance. Be sure to hurry as there is a limited number of passes to each park and some a very popular.

Have a great time going green!

Cruzin Mama

San Diego Museum Month

Macy's Museum Month

It’s already February can you believe it! It’s crazy how keeping extremely busy makes the time fly. With going to free events (like the ones posted on here ;) ) and play dates, story times and doing Girl Scout cookie sales I feel like there is hardly enough time in the day!

February is San Diego’s Museum Month! This is an wonderful opportunity to get the half off admission price to San Diego’s amazing museums. To receive the discounted admission is simple, just go to any San Diego Macy’s register and pick up your free Museum Month Pass. And the best part is even if you are not a San Diego resident you are still able to take advantage of the deal! The Macy’s in Temecula will also be carrying the Museum Pass. The pass lists all participating museums and their locations in San Diego county. You will receive half off one visit to each participating museum when you present your Museum Month Pass at the entrance/ticket windows. Museums are listed below along with links to their web pages so you can plan out your visit! Be sure to check out my posts of the museum’s that my family has visited, and you can also follow my Instagram and Twitter for live posts during my family’s trips.

Participating Museums

Have a great museum month!

Cruzin Mama

Museums FREE-For-All Day 2016

Image courtesy of socalmuseums.org

Image courtesy of socalmuseums.org

Free Museum Entrance Day January 30th

As a part of the “Museums Free-For-All” program over 20 Southern California Museums will be offering free entrance on January 30th. The is the 11th annual “FREE-For-All” day and is an amazing way to visit great So-Cal museums. The free entrance does not included admission to specialty exhibits that require tickets. Standard parking rates still apply. Provided below is the full list of participating museums and links to their sites. Some of the featured museums are actually FREE on a daily basis! For more information visit socalmuseums.org

*The Museum of Tolerance, The Riverside Art Museum and Zimmer Children’s Museum are all closed on Saturdays, so they will be offering their free entrance on Sunday January 31st.*

Particpating Museums

Have a great museum day!

Cruzin Mama

National Parks FREE Entrance Days 2016

National Parks Free Days 2016

The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th Birthday this year. So to celebrate NPS is offering 16 FREE entrance days in 2016! This 16 opportunities to get out and explore. 16 times to take in some of Americas natural wonders. There are 409 parks in the U.S. , 127 of those normally charge an entrance fee ranging from $3-$30. So feel free days are a great way to explore on a budget. Also be sure to visit Find Your Park to see all the events happening in parks nearby.

*Fee free days waive entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation fees. Fees for reservations, camping, tours, and fees collected by third parties are not included unless otherwise stated.*

2016 FREE Entrance Days

  • January 18th Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • April 16-24th National Parks Week
  • August 25-28th National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24th National Public Lands Day
  • November 11th Veterans Day

Park Passes

Can’t make any of the fee free day but are planning on visiting multiple parks, then an Annual Pass is what you need. There are actually quite a few different pass options for our National Parks.

  • Annual Pass

    The cost is $80 for this pass. It is available to everyone and can be purchased at a federal recreation site, over the phone (1-888-275-8747 ext. 3) or online.

  • Military Annual Pass

    This pass is FREE to all current members of the United States Military, Reserves and Guards. This pass can only be picked up in person at a Federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID (Form 1173).

  • 4th Grade Pass

    Through Every Kid in a Park program all 4th graders are eligible to obtain a FREE Annual Pass. This pass provides free entrance to national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges for the 4th grader as well as all children under 16 years of age in the party and up to three adults. Paper passes accepted only no electronic passes will be honored. Pass is only valid during the school year (September 2015 – August 31st, 2016). For more information and to get the pass visit everykidinapark.gov

For full information on passes and to see all pass options visit nps.gov

California National Parks

Have fun exploring!

Cruzin Mama

Click here to find National Parks outside of California.

Kids Takeover Buena Park!

Image courtesy of visitbuenapark.com

Image courtesy of visitbuenapark.com

It’s a Kidvasion this January!

All January long take advantage of some amazing deals on entertainment, dinning and stays in Buena Park through Kids Takeover Buena Park. (This is similar to Kidvasion that happens in San Diego every October) Kids can go FREE to amazing places like Pirates Dinner Adventure or even the Aquarium of the Pacific! Check out the deals below.

Kids Take Over Deals

Entertainment

  • Pirate’s Dinner Adventure – FREE Kids Admission with the Purchase of an Adult Admission
  • South Coast Plaza – Complimentary Carousel Ride (Pick up Coupon at California Wecome Center)
  • Big Air Trampoline Park – One FREE Hour of JumpTime with Purchase

Theme Parks & Museums

  • Knott’s Berry Farm – $7 Off Kids Admission and $32 Off Adult Admission
  • Aquarium of the Pacific – FREE Kids Admission with Purchase of Adult Ticket
  • Discovery Cube – FREE Admission with Purchase of Adult Ticket
  • Pretend City Children’s Museum – Buy One Ticket Get One 50% Off
  • The Children’s Museum of La Habra – $1 Off Admission

Dinning

  • Fuddruckers – $0.99 Kid’s Meal with Purchase of Adult Meal

There are so many great deals to take advantage of but hurry they will only be available in January.

Cruzin Mama

A Day Out With Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends

Day out with Thomas (image from www.oerm.org)

Image courtesy of the Orange Empire Railway Museum

Thomas and his Friends are coming back to the Orange Empire Railway Museum this November! And tickets are on sale now.

Spend a day out with Thomas and his friends this November at the Orange Empire Railway Museum. Thomas will be making his appearance starting November 7th and will be there until on select dates until November 15th. Day Out With Thomas gives little engineers a chance to take a 25 minute ride with Thomas and then also a 15 minute ride with his pal Percy. Sir Topham Hatt, the Superintendent of the Railroad on the Island of Sodor, will also be there to greet and take photos with attendees.

Day Out will feature great activities, entertainment and games. Children will also enjoy bounce houses, a petting zoo, and a gift shop full of Thomas supplies and goodies.

Day Out Details

A Day Out With Thomas & Friends tickets start at $25 for anyone ages 2 and up, but there are several dates that do offer a discounted price. Day Outs will be on November 7th, 8th, 11th, 14th and 15th. Your tickets will be for a specific boarding time, times options start at 9am and conclude at 4pm. Be sure to arrive about an hour before your departure time. Purchase your tickets now at thomasperrisca.oerm.org

Don’t forget to check out the rest of th Railway Museum during your visit. The Museum has street cars, trolleys and much more to explore.

Have fun riding the rails!

Cruzin Mama

Orange Empire Railway Museum
2201 S. A Street
Perris, CA 92592
951-943-3020

Discover Upper Newport Bay

Newport Bay Conservancy

Hiking around Newport Bay Conservancy and the Muth Interperitive Center

Saturday was National Trails Day and I attempted to take my family on a hike on the new trail here in Temecula. Unfortunately it was a completely unsuccessful, the trail is a new initiative to create a connection between Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar and Lake Elsinore. The Temecula trail is not very family friend from its intended starting point and after trying for about an hour we never reached the unpaved path. So instead of sharing all about that trail I decided to share about a great family hiking spot in Newport. Many times it is just myself and my two kids hiking so finding a kid friendly trail is a must. I especially like to find ones that have a nature center or learning centers so I can involve so education into our adventure.

The Newport Bay Conservancy fits just that, with its beautiful trails surronding the bay and two vistor centers. The first of which is the Muth Interpretive Center on the Upper Newport Bay side of the Conservancy. The second is the Back Bay Science Center. My family has yet to visit the Back Bay Science Center, but I know a trip is in the works to visit it this summer.

Upper Newport Bay

Upper Newport Bay Trails

Hiking Upper Newport Bay

When we arrived at the Conservancy we went up to the observatory deck to just take in all the views. The kids had fun looking through the view finder trying to find any animals out on the bay. We only hiked around a short trail as we ended up spending much of our visit at the Interperitive Center. On our next visit we will definitely get more exploring in.

Muth Interpertive Center

Muth Center Newport Bay

Newport Bay Turtle

Newport Bay Interpretive Center

*Coming Soon* Tide Pool Exhibit

Muth Interpertive Center

Newport Bay Muth Center

So we spent a lot of our visit at the Muth Interpertive Center. The kids had fun in the activity room playing with puppets, puzzles and coloring. The activity room also is home to an assortment of animals that are native to the bay, such as turtles, snakes and tarantulas. While in the activity room my daughter and I took the time to work on a free learning activity book. The book led us to the other half of the Center to answer questions in it. The other side of the Center features interactive exhibits with artifacts found in the area. This is the more educational side of the Muth building. There is also a movie room, but we did not happen to visit it during our trip. During our visit one of the exhibits was under construction, soon it will be a wave pool complete with Sting Rays.

Newport Bay Junior Ranger Program

Junior Ranger

The activity book that we completed at the Muth Center was apart of the Junior Ranger Program. This is a program to get kids involved with National Parks and in conservation. It’s a wonderful free program. When your child completes the program at a participating park or reserve, they are sworn in by a Park Ranger and given a Junior Ranger badge.

So the next time you’re out in the Newport Bay area take a hike and check out the Newport Bay Conservancy.

Cruzin Mama

Newport Bay Muth Interpretive Center
2301 University Drive,
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Hours and Cost
Open Tuesdays – Sundays 10am to 4pm
Parking and Entrance are FREE