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Crystal Cove Tide Pools

A couple months back we experienced amazing Orange County tide pools down at Crystal Cove. It is a fabulous place to take your kids tidepooling (is that a word?!) in OC.

During our tidepooling adventure we spotted THIRTEEN starfish! My 6-year-old daughter was so fired up she exclaimed, “The is the best day of my life!” No joke.

Gotta love the enthusiasm something as simple as a visit to tide pools can evoke.

I highly recommend taking your kids down to visit the Crystal Cove tide pools and here are some tidepooling tips if you go!

Getting There

Crystal Cove State Park can be reached by parking in the public lot off Los Trancos and Pacific Coast Highway.  Be prepared, it is pricey, like $15 to park for the day when attendants are present.  If you happen to eat at the Beachcomber restaurant while visiting, they will validate your parking with a purchase of $15 or more.

Here are great directions on how to get to Crystal Cove Beach.

Check the Tides Before You Go

Most important thing to do when taking your kids to Orange County tide pools is to check the time of low tide.

This is a great Orange County tide chart I searched for Crystal Cove high and low tides.

Remember Your Shoes

The best places we found to spot starfish were out towards the water where there were large rocks, which entailed walking over bumpy surfaces to get there.  They were mostly tucked on the underside of  large rocks. Not good for barefeet!  I suggest a good shoe that can get wet. Flip flops are OK for adults, just be careful, but for kids, shoes like a Crocs would be ideal.

Check Out What You Can See First

When we were there volunteers were passing out brochures on the type of sealife we could spot in the tide pools.  It might be fun to check out this gallery on what you can see at the Crystal Cove tide pools before you go so you know what to keep your eye out for.

Have fun and happy tide pooling! Do you have any tips to share?

Beach Day Essentials For Moms

The calendar still says May, but we’ve had some beautiful, beach-worthy days here in Southern California. It’s got me thinking of restocking my beach day essentials and heading to the ocean with my kids. So, today I’m highlighting just a few of my favorite things to pack for a (stress free!) beach day with kids.

Beach Day Essentials for Moms

Brush on Block
I love this sunscreen for both my kids and myself. It’s easy to apply and not greasy and doesn’t get in anyone’s eyes. I usually do apply SPF before we leave the house and then take the brush on sunscreen for an easy, no hassle reapply when we’re out.

Melissa and Doug Sand Toys
We received this cupcake sand toy set a few years ago and it is such a hit with kids of all ages. The hardest thing is remembering to pick up all the pieces when I leave.

Are you guys familiar with this great line of bags? They’re perfect to have in the car for running errands, and I always take some to the beach to wrap up our wet, sandy items. The bags are machine washable too so they’re easy to clean!

Turkish Towels
My dear friend was born and raised in Turkey and introduced me to these amazing, lightweight Turkish towels. They absorb water surprising fast and dry quickly, while taking up MUCH less space than traditional beach towels. I found these on Etsy, but Bed Bath and Beyond carry a similar style.

Cozy Kids’ Cover-up
J.Crew carries great beach cover-ups for kids and this one happens to be on sale right now. No matter how hot it seems when we leave the house I’m always disappointed if I forget to bring something cozy to wrap around my kids at the end of the day.

Folding Utility Wagon
My husband purchased this wagon two summers ago and we always get asked where we got it when we’re out on the beach. It’s very sturdy and we can put both kids and supplies in it for easy transportation on and off the beach. PS. Pulling it with two kids and supplies is also a great workout!

What are your favorite items for a day at the beach with your kids? Do you have any tips on how to make a beach outing stress free? I’d also love to hear your favorite local beach for kids, I’m always on the hunt for new places.


Fun Family Date Ideas for Summer

I love family date nights…but when all of our schedules are so crazy busy during the school year, we typically have to end up bonding in the car on the way to soccer or talking about our day over dinner dishes.

But summer…ahhhh summer.  Summer means longer days, (more) relaxed mornings, play time at the pool and sandcastles at the beach. It also means more time to plan fun family dates.

Here are a few family date ideas for summer. Do you have some favorites? Please share below!

Beach Picnics

Pack up some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit…or get as fancy as you want…bring a blanket, juice boxes, napkins, and a handful of cookies for a treat. Then, head on down to your favorite beach and enjoy a simple picnic with a beautiful view. My favorite beach we frequent is Aliso Creek in South Laguna Beach.  It has a fun playground that is manageable with little ones and is rarely overcrowded…plus a small grassy area if you prefer to eat on the grass versus the sand. (Note…the playground will be under renovations the next couple of weeks…right in time to be ready for summer!)

The Irvine Spectrum

There are SO many places to eat that are kid friendly at the Irvine Spectrum. Plus, let your kiddos take a spin on the carousel, ride the Giant Wheel for a great view of Orange County, or play at the splash pad. Lots to see, shop, wander, people watch and sometimes even listen to live music.  A fun way to enjoy the last hours of daylight with your family…because there’s something for everyone!

Pajama Day!

Snuggle up and wear your jammies ALL day for a day date!  Let your kiddos pick a favorite movie, spread a big blanket on the floor and have a lunch “picnic” inside, set up a make-your-own-popcorn bar for snack time (pop a bowl and everyone can mix in their favorite flavors and treats!), have a book reading party, a teddy bear picnic, tea parties, a family dance off…for a comfy day together!

Homemade Pizza Party

Put a spin on typical pizza Fridays, and instead of dialing your favorite pizza delivery joint, go to the store for some fresh pizza dough (Trader Joe’s has one I love) and some fresh sauce. Let your kids wear their dress-up aprons and chef hats, roll up your sleeves and roll out the pizza dough. Let the kids make shapes, pick their favorite toppings and then watch the pizza cook through the oven window.  Maybe throw in some homemade cookies to sweeten the deal…

Camp Out

Organize a family camp out – inside or outside – at home!  Camping is always so fun, but it can be hard to sneak away for an entire weekend as a family.  Break out the tents, the sleeping bags, extra sheets, flashlights, smores fixings, and settle in (or out!) for a technology-free evening together.  Tell stories, make-up silly games, make sticky smores, sing songs, and have some old-fashioned fun!

What is your favorite family date?
Share your ideas in the comments below so we can all enjoy some great family date ideas for this summer!

Labor Day Weekend in Orange County

The last official summer weekend is here so I wanted to share some fun things you can do with the family this Labor Day weekend in Orange County!

What better way to send off summer than by spending it at one of OC’s best kid-friendly beaches?

Here are our readers’ favorites.

The Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center Pool is open to both residents & non. Took my girls there last week and they loved it! Great facility for all ages, including a splash pad and baby pool.

San Clemente Aquatics Center is also supposed to be fabulous; open 1pm – 5pm.

My girlfriend raves about Buccaneer Bay Water Park in La Mirada.  Meant to make it there this summer and never got around to it, but she said it is a ton of fun.

Here is a great list of OC Splash Parks by Just Spotted.  The post is over a year old, so make sure to check to make sure it is operational before you pack up the kids to go!

Here are 29 of my favorite things to do with my kids in OC!

Check out Plan a Day Out to seek and find fun activities for kids and families in Orange County. One of the best resources for fun outing ideas EVER. Gazillion ideas.

In the mood for a picnic?  Here are my family’s five favorite OC parks.

Ever been to the Orange International Street Fair?  It’s an OC tradition for over 30 years and SO much fun. But it will be toasty, dress cool and hydrate!

What’s a summer holiday weekend without a GREAT BBQ?

Kick yours off with a fun summer cocktail, Ranch Water. Yee haw!

Throw another shrimp on the bar-bee with these yummy sweet and smokey shrimp skewers.

Going to a neighborhood party? Bring this healthy, patriotic fruit flag, sure to be a hit with both the kids!

Chill out with this special homemade popsicle treat for the kiddos.

Have the best weekend everyone!  And make sure to check out the blue moon tonight – the next one won’t be until July 2015!

See you back next week!

xoxo Jen

Best Beaches for Kids in Orange County

Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Since we are officially entering beach season, I wanted to do a post on the beach beaches for kids in Orange County. Awhile back I asked my Facebook fans for their favorite kid-friendly OC beaches. Just one more reason to “like” us on Facebook. I have the most amazingly resourceful mamas on there. Here are all the great recommendations…

Sunset Beach

“Parking at Sunset Beach is FREE which is an added plus!” ~ Lisa

Seal Beach

Super cute playground, and lots of lovely shops & food places.” ~ Amber

“Great bathrooms, playground, shops, places to eat and parking all close by.” ~ Andi

Playground at Balboa Pier

“Playgrounds, restrooms & close parking. Just have to go early!” ~ Lisa

Ruby Beach Balboa Island

Great beach for little ones, it’s on the bay, so no waves. Biggest downside is no restrooms, but great for a couple hour beach visit. It’s located at the end of Ruby Avenue at North Bay Front.” ~ Jen (me!)

Corona del Mar

“No playground but not a lot of sand walking needed to get to the bathrooms and a tame crowd.” ~ Jennifer

El Moro Beach (Crystal Cove State Park)

“This is a beach that is accessible from the Moro Canyon Camping entrance by El Moro school. I believe it’s $15 to park for the day. If you go early, you can park very close to the beach at the bottom of the hill and and take path under the freeway. Nice, clean new restrooms, hardly any sand walking.” ~ Jen (me!)

Crystal Cove Beach by Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

“Tidepools are wonderful, and they have The Beachcomber restaurant.” ~ Amber

“We LOVE Crystal Cove but it can be a trek down to the beach with younger kids and parking is expensive.” ~ Katie

“I also love to check out the historic Crystal Cove Beach Cottages. If you don’t want a sit down restaurant, you can also head up the hill for a hot dog from Ruby’s Shake Shack.”  ~ Jen (me!)

Aliso Beach

“Close parking, good bathrooms and a playground.” ~ Aracely

“Nice and easy to lug stuff to and from the car!” ~ Vanessa

Salt Creek Beach

“Bathrooms are close to beach and there are lots of walking paths and parking is inexpensive.” ~ Katie

Treasure Island Beach in Laguna Beach by the Montage

“Stunningly gorgeous.”  ~ Jen (me!)

Mother’s Beach at Dana Point

“Nice as they have a barrier so there are no waves close to the shoreline, good for the little kiddos!” ~ Nicola

Capistrano Beach

“Easy Parking and beach access…my son loves it because of the train that passes by often. I am not sure about their bathrooms…” ~ Melissa

Did we miss any? Please comment below on your faves! And have a beachy keen day! xo