A Parent’s Guide to LEGOLAND California

A Parent’s Guide to LEGOLAND California

One of the most famous places in Carlsbad has got to be LEGOLAND California! This is one of my kids’ favorite place to go visit and I’ve actually done a lot of staycations at the LEGOLAND hotel. I recently went to LEGOLAND with my son, my niece, and my nephew. We filmed our day so I could give you an inside look at the park! 

My first pro tip is to pick up a LEGOLAND pass if you’re a Costco member. They’re about $100 a year and if you go a lot, it definitely pays for itself. 

My next pro tip is to make sure you go right when you enter the park. You can go either left or right and probably 90% of people go to the left. The best roller coasters are to the right though, so you can beat the crowds and ride them while the lines are still short. My son’s favorite rides are the Technic Coaster and the new ride in the LEGO movie world, Emmett’s Fly Adventure. Another pro tip, the Dragon roller coaster tends to have the shortest line of all the roller coasters.

In addition to roller coasters, there are a number of LEGO statues throughout the park and interactive things to do. There’s a Driving School, where kids can drive their own cars around on a track. It’s pretty cool because they have two different experiences depending on the child’s age. Skipper School is a boat ride, where you get to pilot the boats around the lake. On this trip, we also checked out the 4D theater which was fun because it’s inside and air conditioned. Definitely recommend that on a hot day. 

The LEGO movie land is a newer part of the park that was added after the success of the LEGO movies. Built in the last year, it even has a splash pad right in in the middle – a great thing to take advantage of if you’re visiting in the summer! You can take the kids here instead of to the water park.

Yes, that’s right – LEGOLAND has a water park as well. We didn’t visit it on this trip as it tends to be very crowded in the summer. The water park stays open into the fall, which is when we like to go. Less crowded after most of the tourists go home. There’s also an aquarium here. 

There are a bunch of food places scattered throughout the park. We often go to the BBQ place, but on their trip, we went to Urban Kitchen. They have a lot of different items on the menu including a Philly Cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz. Maybe not super authentic but could be a good item to try if you’re super hungry and looking for something more filling.  

My last pro tip for visiting the park is this: if you can leave without your kids noticing the LEGO store, do it! We can never leave without picking up a new LEGO set. 

If you’re from out of town, I highly recommend staying at the LEGOLAND hotel. It’s super fun for kids. They have rooms with bunk beds and treasure chests that you need to figure out the combination to. Inside the chest are LEGOs the kids can play with. There are two hotels, the original LEGOLAND Hotel and a castle-themed one. Both are great and super close to the park. Really lets you get the full LEGOLAND experience. 

I hope you enjoyed this tour of LEGOLAND California. We’ll be visiting some of the other parks in the San Diego area so leave a comment below with where you’d like to see Courtney and I go next! 

Kid Ventures 4S Ranch: A Place for Kids and Their Families

Kid Ventures 4S Ranch: A Place for Kids and Their Families

Families Off the 56 have been loving Kid Ventures 4S Ranch since 2008. So I decided to stop by to chat with owner, Darren Solomon, to find out what this unique facility is all about!

Darren’s wife, Debbie Solomon, wanted to translate her background in gymnastics and children’s education into a unique center for children to learn, grow, and have fun! So after experiencing much success with her previous business venture in children’s education, Debbie joined forces with Darren, and they now own and operate Kid Ventures in 4S Ranch!

Kid Ventures is an award-winning next generation children’s education, enrichment, and entertainment center that is pushing the limits on early education. Kids play and learn in a fun and stimulating indoor area that is designed with creativity in mind. Their programs and activities are geared towards children between one and six years old, though kids up to eight are welcome at their summer camps.

But Kid Ventures isn’t just for the kids! Darren and Debbie wanted to make sure the space was one where parents wanted to hang out, too. So they added a coffee and snack bar in the facility where adults can sit back and relax while their kids are close by! The Solomons are proud that Kid Ventures has also become a place for families in North County to meet other parents and have the opportunity to socialize while their kids have a great time, too.

With many kids out of school for the summer, this is possibly their busiest time of the year! They offer weekly summer camps with different themes each week to keep your child interested and engaged. Kid Ventures’ summer camps are super flexible. Kids can attend half days, full days, or even full weeks to best accommodate a busy parent’s schedule. Click here for more information on Kid Ventures’ 2019 summer camps.

After hearing that families in the community were looking for childcare alternatives throughout the year, Darren and Debbie Solomon decided to get licensed to operate a preschool program at each of their locations. Their Preschool Academy really focuses on cultivating a love of learning. Yes the kids still get to play and have fun, but at Kid Ventures, they really want the kids to fall in love with learning so that they can carry that love and passion with them during their entire educational journey.

Kid Ventures also offers birthday parties, daytime play, and Kids Night Out on Friday nights where parents can drop their kids off while they enjoy date night! This place really has it all! Click here for a list of current classes and events near you. And don’t forget to take advantage of their “Happy Hour Special” – half price admission during the last hour of the day!

Not in North County San Diego? Kid Ventures has locations in Eastlake and Liberty Station in Point Loma!

Have you and your child checked out Kid Ventures in 4S Ranch? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think of this great Off the 56 business.

Girl Scout Cookie Season Begins in San Diego

Girl Scout Cookie Season Begins in San Diego

It’s that time of year again – Girl Scout Cookie Season. I got the opportunity to sit down with Troop 3161 in Rancho Peñasquitos to talk with these young entrepreneurs as they prepared to run their own cookie businesses. They also told us about some of their favorite things to do as a Girl Scout in San Diego, and camping definitely seemed to be a top activity. And of course, cookies.
The 2019 Girl Scout Cookie Program is Sunday, January 27th to Sunday, March 10. If you are a girl, parent or community member who is interested in becoming involved with Girl Scouts, be sure to visit their website at sdgirlscouts.org
Sprockids San Diego – A Youth Mountain Biking Clinic

Sprockids San Diego – A Youth Mountain Biking Clinic

Sprockids San Diego Off the 56

Since starting Off the 56, I’ve realized that San Diego is a very entrepreneurial city. I love getting to highlight all the small businesses around the 56 and help showcase people who are chasing their dreams.

On this week’s episode of Off the 56, I met up with local resident, Sean Bascom, who runs the youth mountain biking program, Sprockids, in San Diego.

Sprockids is an all inclusive “Nobody Sits on the Bench” sport! Sprockids seeks to foster a lifelong love of the sport of mountain biking. The program teaches off-road skills through drills, games, and fun activities while tracking individual progress. Sprockids also gives kids the skills, values, and strategies they need to ultimately succeed in life.

This is a great program for your kids as mountain biking is something you can enjoy as a family in San Diego. The MTB Project has mapped over 180 miles of trails in San Diego County – and counting! We have tons of great trails and open space parks right here Off the 56.

So if you’re looking to give your kids a solid introduction to the sport of mountain biking and want to get them involved with a fun program that gets them outside, challenges them, and educates them at the same, check out the Sprockids group on Facebook for more information.

Do you know a local business that we can feature on an upcoming episode of Off the 56? Be sure and drop us a line here or on Facebook!

4 Things for Kids to do in Carmel Mountain Ranch

4 Things for Kids to do in Carmel Mountain Ranch


With Spring hot on the heels of summer here in San Diego, it can be a daunting task to figure out what to do with your little ones to pass the time while they’re on break.  Or perhaps you’re a Carmel Mountain resident whose kids are eager to take on a new activity, but you don’t have the time or energy to make the trek to another city for them to do so.  No matter your reasons, there is always something to do with the kiddos when you’re in Carmel Mountain.

1. Carmel Mountain Ranch Library

12095 World Trade Dr.
San Diego, CA 92128

Library Hours
MON, THU, FRI, SAT: 9:30am-6:00pm
TUE-WED: 11:30am-8:00pm

The Carmel Mountain Ranch Library has been a beacon for community education and camaraderie since opening in 1997.  With natural light filling every room and an exterior that features modern exposed steel and sleek architecture, this facility is awe-inspiring for all who set foot within its walls.  The library also includes a children’s computer area, Friends of the Library book store and a 900-square-foot community room.  Plans to expand this branch from 13,102 square feet to approximately 15,000 square feet have been formulated by the City of San Diego but funds have not yet been set aside for the expansion.  This expansion will modernize the facility and bring more improvements to the region in turn.

Check out this schedule of all future events for this branch via this link.

2. Angelika Film Center & Café

11620 Carmel Mountain Rd
San Diego, CA 92128

Theater & Café Hours
Daily: 9:30am-11pm

The Angelika Film Center & Café is an innovative, luxury cinema highlighting the best in quality film and events.  This sophisticated, sleek, and modern facility features an elegant lobby, comfortable mezzanine lounge, and lush outdoor patio.  This venue also features a creative menu of craft beverages and bites making it a unique gathering place for the vibrant Carmel Mountain Ranch community.

Here are a few of the PG-rated movies that will release in 2018 that might be the perfect solution to a lazy afternoon or a rainy day:

Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (PG) – April 13th, 2018
The Son of Bigfoot (PG) – May 4th, 2018
Show Dogs (PG) – May 18th, 2018
The Grinch (PG) – November 9th, 2018

3. Barnes & Noble

11744 Carmel Mountain Rd
San Diego, CA 92128

Store Hours
Daily: 9am-9pm

Whereas some people might opt to buy their books from Amazon or other online retailers for a lower cost and higher convenience, others go to Barnes and Noble for the supreme experience and selection.  The Carmel Mountain Barnes and Noble location entices many locals in with their amazing collection of books from every genre, but what brings in families is the amazing array of children’s books and expansive reading and activities section.  Make sure not to miss Children’s Storytime at 11am every Sunday where children of all ages can partake in a guaranteed good time, good read and good fun!

For a list of in-store events at this location follow this link.

4. Carmel Mountain Ranch/Sabre Springs Recreation Center

10152 Rancho Carmel Drive
San Diego, CA 92128

Center Hours
MON & WED: 10:00am-8:00pm
TUE: 9:00am-9:00pm
THU: 10:00am-9:00pm
FRI: 10:00am-7:00pm
SAT: 9:30am-6:00pm
SUN: Closed

The Carmel Mountain Ranch/Sabre Springs Recreation Center opened in 1997 following years of community meetings to design a facility and park that would effectively utilize limited space in the area.  The space features an indoor gymnasium for basketball and volleyball, outdoor basketball courts, lighted softball fields, a community room, a children’s play area and a large picnic area.  The center also partakes in the BookNook program which is a “take a book, leave a book” gathering place that allows everyone to share their favorite literary stories with others.  This center offers many great activities for kids and families of all ages to participate in:

Name: Toddler Open Play
Age Range: 0-6
Dates: March 1 – May 31 (No Class April 11th)
Day of the Week: Thursday
Time: 10am-12pm
Cost: FREE

Name: Youth Ice Skating
Age Range: 6-12
Dates: March 7-28, April 3-24, May 2-30
Day of the Week: Wednesday
Time: 4:30-5pm
Cost: $50

Name: Yoga
Age Range: 16+
Dates: March 7-May 23 (No Class April 11th)
Day of the Week: Wednesday
Time: 10-11am
Cost: $110

If you’re interested to partake in these activities or reserve facilities that are available for use during open play, you can register for an account via this link.

Football ‘N’ America in Carmel Valley Kicks Off

Football ‘N’ America in Carmel Valley Kicks Off

Football 'N' America

Football ‘N’ America in Carmel Valley Kicks Off

New Orleans Saints Quarterback, Drew Brees has returned to San Diego, setting his sights on Carmel Valley for his co-ed youth flag football league, Football ‘N’ America (FNA).  Brees believes that FNA is the best way for boys and girls in Kindergarten through 8th grade to learn about football in a non-contact, co-ed, family-friendly and community-focused league.  This is the 7th FNA league to have been implemented across the country since its inception with the Carmel Valley/Del Mar league having selected the Challenged Athletes Foundation as the recipient of some of the funds from the league this year.

“I’m very excited to bring it to San Diego,” said Brees, who started his career as a San Diego Charger and still resides in Del Mar in the off-season with his wife, Brittany, three sons Baylen, Bowen, and Callen, and daughter, Rylen.

FNA held its first flag football camp on the San Diego Polo Fields on Feb. 24 with the inaugural spring season beginning on March 11th with games being played on Friday nights.  More than 600 kids have signed up to play already with nearly 30 coaches of varying experience levels in attendance.

Brees’ New Orleans Saints teammate (and Helix High School and USC Trojans alumni) Reggie Bush and retired NFL wide receiver Greg Camarillo (who is also very active in the Scripps Ranch community) take part in teaching the players their vast knowledge of the game.  The coaching staff is also comprised of 14 varsity football players from Torrey Pines High School, members of the Torrey Pines and Santa Fe Christian football staffs, and former college football players.  As a father, Brees feels strongly about making sure coaching in his league is as easy as possible for any parent that has the time and desire to get involved.

Players learn how to hold the ball with three points of pressure, to respect their team as well as their opponents and most importantly, how to have fun.  Through non-contact flag football, FNA offers a safe way for kids to learn and play the game of football.  FNA is a 6 vs. 6 league that does not feature kickoffs and Quarterbacks are not allowed to run with the ball.  Spinning and jumping are permitted for a ball carrier but no diving, blocking tackling, or stripping of the ball is allowed.  All players are required to wear a protective mouthpiece for safety purposes as well.

“This sport teaches so many life lessons. I’ve learned so much from the game of football: about team work, hard work, commitment and overcoming obstacles.” – Drew Brees

Registration for San Diegans is open now by going to the “Football N’America” website.

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