Family Fun Adventure: Bryce Canyon National Park


Ahhh, Bryce Canyon! TOO beautiful to describe and the photos don’t do it justice. Mostly, I run around trailing kids and reach for the camera for a quick shot, barely looking through the view finder ūüôā

Continuing where my last post left off, the next day brings us to Bryce Canyon National Park. Warning: Lots of pictures ahead, not too many tips though due to the weather

Day #3: We booked two nights in the town of Panguitch, Utah and again, woke up early Saturday for breakfast that was included in the room prices. We headed out at around 7 and made it into the park on a very cold and snowy day. All the hiking trails were closed due to the weather, but the viewpoints were being cleared for the day


We started out parking near Sunrise Point and walked the snowy Rim Trail to Sunset and on to Inspiration Points. The day started nice and sunny. Because of the weather we couldn’t make any trips into the canyons, which I can imagine would be quite incredible. The part of the trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points are a pretty easy walk and the kids had so much fun with the snow




Cole (age 14) following the trail beside the steep drop offs


Daddy keeping the tiniest turkey back from the edge. See that pebbly ridge? Yup, a snow covered slope down from there!

 Not gonna Lie, the trail was scary with little kids. The trail itself was mostly wide, but the steep drop offs coupled with the slippery conditions as well as overly excited children, made for nervous parents. We each stuck close to and mostly held the younger kids hands. Of course, being mom, I constantly reminded the older kids to be extra careful. They were sliding, running, throwing snowballs, and I just wanted them to be safe


 The contrasting colors were vibrant and unbelievably stunning





Winter wonderland definitely added a extra fun element




At the first lookout the kids are relatively happy and wow, they are smiling!


They couldn’t stop themselves the entire time from making snow ‘Angels’


My older boys are very uncooperative for taking pictures most of the time, so they are pretty rare shots



I must say I love hiking in the woods and by rivers. It’s so relaxing to be out in this type of nature. Normally, we hike the dry chaparral of California in the roasting heat, so this is a welcomed change






Proof that there were parents along for the trip. Well a parent and an Eskimo ūüôā


After about 3 pm the kids were cold and tired. We headed back to the hotel for a some vacation snacking, T.V. watching and just chilling


After they warmed up and dried off the little boys, Alvin and Daddy made a snowman behind the hotel

Day #4: Woke up early and loaded the van for making our way home today. For some reason (maybe a religious thing as it was Sunday) even though the hotel  (Days Inn booked on priceline) advertised breakfast at 6:30, as we enjoyed the previous day, they did not have anything out on Sunday. In fact no one was in the lobby and it was all locked up, I tried calling the front desk, waiting etc. Finally, we just had to leave our keys in the rooms and go. That was kind of a bummer as I was counting on that being a big meal to keep the kids happy at the start of a long drive. Thank goodness for back up snacks and a couple hours later we arrived in Vegas in time for another buffet lunch to make up for it. So all was not lost. I will say that room service was very kind the day before in helping us charge our dead battery to get us on our way and the breakfast was one of the nicest we have had at simple lodgings

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One final pic of enjoying the view. I can’t wait to visit again and hike down into the canyon trails.

What are your top favorite National Parks?


Family Fun Adventure: Zion National Park



Hey Lovelies! Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season and making fantastic memories. For once I have pictures a plenty for this post. The scenery was SO stunning and I found myself snapping a photo every couple of steps. Hubbs also took many of the pictures I’ve included in this post on his phone. Everywhere you look is postcard perfect. Come along with us on a picture journey through Zion National Park


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We were kinda of on the fence about taking this trip at Thanksgiving break, because we weren’t sure if the weather would be fun for us Cali natives to hike in. We were extremely lucky in that we lucked out both days with pretty clear weather and views for both days that we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. ¬†Here’s is the itinerary we followed for our 4 day trip to these beautiful Southern Utah parks and a few tips. Enjoy!

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Happy to be outta the van and ready to hike


Day #1: Woke up early and started the day long drive out to the Zion area. We broke up our journey in Vegas for a Thanksgiving buffet lunch, thankfully we made it in before the huge dinner crowds. The meal ended up being about what we would’ve spent on a home cooked special meal, so even though it was not an inexpensive meal, it still worked out ok. We learned that if you sign up for a players card (you don’t need to play) at the casino that the buffet is attached to, you can receive a couple bucks off each meal. After the lunch pit stop headed on out to the town of Springdale, Utah, which is the last town outside of Zion Canyon. Since we weren’t sure we would make it all the way there and not just stay in Vegas, we hadn’t booked rooms. We arrived only to find rooms were going for $175-$200 per room (of the two places we stopped at. The cheaper one was a locally owned type place and the other was a large chain) NOT fun! Since we need two rooms for our crowd of 7, we hopped on the wifi in the parking lot and booked more reasonable rooms at $126 (for two rooms) back the way we came in the town of Hurricane. Since it was a holiday weekend we were very fortunate to not be stranded, everything was pretty packed out. Needless to say we booked the next nights rooms in the next city as soon as we checked in that night


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Day #2: Got up early, packed up, had free breakfast included at the hotel and were on the road at about 7:30. One really great feature about this park is the bus that takes you to a bunch of scenic views and trail heads. We optioned to buy the inter agency pass, which is an annual pass for all the National Parks at $80, instead of the one day pass for $30. Since we were going to visit Bryce Canyon the next day and usually make it to 1-2 other parks during the year, we just went for it. After entering the park, we parked the van and got some warm clothes on. We then boarded the bus and stayed on for the entire loop, to get a feel for the area and sights. The bus driver and recorded information tells a little history of the park and other interesting facts. We spotted lots of mule deer the entire day which was extra fun for the littles

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Back on the bus we headed to the end of the loop to the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava bus stop. This easy 2.2 mile walk (the park website says it takes about 1 1/2 hours) takes you to the entrance of the Narrows hike, which takes you through the canyon walking in the river. How awesome is that! Of course that 8 mile hike is just too long for our littles at this age. But we got to watch lots of waterproof clad folks headed up that way. What we loved about this park was the up close feel. Walking between the canyon cliffs were pretty amazing. Hubbs and I agreed we preferred it to viewing, say the Grand Canyon from the rim


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The Riverside Walk Trail¬†is very easy for all ages, no climbing and its a paved, easy to follow path. Very enjoyable to not have to worry about someone falling off the edge. We were among many visitors to the park that weekend, plenty of people around but it was not too overcrowded. We were very happy to see lots of fellow ‘home grown’ tourists out in nature enjoying our beautiful country



 Azure at the mouth of the Narrows Trail


Silly fun by the Virgin River on the Riverside Walk Trail


Check out all those gorgeous cliffs. The colors were stunning!

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After the this hike we stopped off at the van for lunch and boy was the parking situation crowded! At least 10 people asked us if we were leaving, and lots of other people were circling trying to find parking. Good thing there is a shuttle pick up in the town of Springdale too if you don’t manage to snag a spot in the park.¬†After lunch the buses were so crowded (they are taking all park visitors around as no private vehicles are allowed) we decided to walk from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Zion Human History Museum which was a short mostly flat, paved walk which is part of the¬†Pa‚Äôrus Trail


By the afternoon it was getting a little foggy and we were glad we brought winter jackets. Yeah, I know we are cold sensitive Californians




We were spoiled by the beautiful fall colors and river views

After checking out a bit of the museum and Azure picking up his Junior Ranger booklet, we divided forces. A couple of less than outdoor enthusiastic big boys took littlest brother for a much needed nap and settled in the van with snacks and books

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The smaller troop of Azure (age 7) and our oldest, Alvin (age 16) were still happy to accompany Mom and Dad for another approximately 2 hour hike that was a little more challenging. ¬†First we made the short walk on the Weeping Rock Trail. Nothing too amazing. The whole park for me was all about the views, rather than the ‘sites’ to arrive at



The Kayenta Trail has a great view of the Virgin River from a height


We walked around that huge mountain following the river

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The Lower Emerald Pools Trail leads through a canyon crack. COOL!

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The Kayenta Trail, which starts at The Grotto bus stop is more of a hike. It’s not paved, there are steep drop offs and the trail is a little narrow it places. I was glad that littlest brother (age 4) sat this one out, while he could have made the hike, we would have had to move slower and held his hand to feel comfortable. The trail continues on to the Lower Emerald Pools Trail. Maybe, it was just the time of year (Late November 2015) there wasn’t much water in the pools or coming over the falls, it wasn’t very interesting or too picturesque to me. But the views of the hike were totally amazing and we enjoyed every bit of it


Azure took part of the Junior Ranger program and was sworn in and given a badge by the ranger after completing a Zion National Park booklet. He was real excited to earn another badge after receiving one at the  Grand Canyon National Park earlier this year


At Zion we felt like we got to see a good portion of the park and didn’t feel like we were missing out on most of the sites/things to do. Even though there were plenty of longer and more difficult trails we didn’t get to take,I really liked that this park didn’t seem so huge it was overwhelming. Like, say Yellowstone did to me


I can’t believe we have lived within a day drive of this place and had never been. Get out and explore guys! Our country is SO amazingly beautiful


One final picture I took while driving out in the evening. TOO much gorgeousness.

What did you do for the holidays this year?

Family Fun Adventure: Santa Barbara Natural History Museum


Hey Lovelies, today’s post covers our family outing to the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum in July. We have been wanting/trying to visit this local museum for a couple of years now. They have a free Sunday at the beginning of the month, except four months in the summer. Call ahead to make sure it’s free if you are interested in this option and save yourself a long drive for a picnic ūüôā Yes, we did that…twice! Once cause it was a Sunday, but not the first Sunday of a full weekend or we had gone on the first full weekend (can’t exactly remember) but not the first Sunday of the month and the next time it was September (or May?) and that was considered ‘summer’ and therefore not included in the free day. Point of long story? Call ahead!

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Our son Azure visited this museum on a field trip in 1st grade with his class and the museum gave each child a free family pass to be used within a certain amount of time. Scientist that he is, he made sure we went again. I found this small museum to be really well put together with a surprising amount of exhibits to see

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We brought the whole gang for this outing and we thought spending about 1 1/2 hours would be our max, it was closer to 2 1/2-3 hours. Daddy took Azure and 2 of the more interested older boys to see a 30 minute space show (it was $4.00 a person, since we didn’t pay for admission we were happy to pay for this)

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I thought this museum was perfect for elementary school aged kids and 2-3 hours a good amount of time to wander and discover. Littlest brother at 4 years, just wanted to run around and visit the stream they have as part of an exhibit outside. The only room inside the museum he actually liked was an interactive hands on room and mostly he was interested in building blocks in the play area. Easy to please. Older boys (high school) were fine to wander, but weren’t really interested in anything


Build a Tepee and try not to whack any brothers with a giant pole


This hand pump was an awesome feature that kept our little one very happy

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There is a nice shady Backyard area to walk/run around in, which we enjoyed

Here is the regular pricing: Under 2: Free, 2-7: $7, 8-17 and seniors: $8, Adults 18+: $12 So not the cheapest outing for a large family. I think its certainly worth it if you only brought the ages/kids that would really enjoy it. If were paying full price, we probably would have taken Azure with a parent or made it a special occasion (like a birthday outing) and gone with the parents and 2 littles. If we lived closer an annual membership would be a nice thing to do as well. I certainly would suggest this place to other families and its definitely worth a visit too. I’ll sign off with these gorgeous photos Hubbs snapped in the Gem exhibit



Family Fun Adventure: Casitas Water Adventure (Lake Casitas, CA)


Our Family Fun Adventure today comes from Casitas Water Adventure located inside the Lake Casitas Recreation Area and Park. I apologize in advance for the lack of photos in this post, I went solo with some of the kids to the water park and Brecks smashed up his finger pretty bad while camping earlier that morning, so he needed constant attention and calming


I had planned on a two night camping trip, but when we arrived on a Thursday night, there was only one night available. I made the mistake of not making a reservation, I thought for sure there would be space as its a huge campground. The ranger said we could try asking after check in time to see if there was cancellations or pitch our tent in a giant overflow field for $40. We paid $25 for a basic (no electric or water hook ups) tent site for one night. There are several little playgrounds around the campground and our tent site area (area C) had two flush toilets (no showers, though maybe there are some in other parts?) One bathroom was out of order, there were two porter potties available and there was always a line to use the facilities. All the campsites in this area were nice and shaded by large trees. You can fish and boat on the lake (no swimming though) and we have come to watch the meteor showers and star glaze a few times. Anyhoo, after the littlest monkey somehow smashed his finger while playing with rocks in the dried riverbed by our site, I didn’t feel like staying another night. After packing up in the morning we headed over to the water park. It’s only open during the summer, so check their website before going

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Entrance fee to this park is $12 per person, so not the cheapest thing to do with a big family. I have wanted to bring the little boys here for a few years now and I’m glad I waited until this year. More on that in a minute. One big brother came along ¬†to hang with Azure, which turned out to be super helpful, as Brecks needed my full attention. Parking is $10, or you can park outside the campground and walk in. Though it may be difficult to find parking outside on a busy day. If you stayed at the campground you don’t have to pay for the day use fee. No food or drinks inside the water park but they will stamp your hand so you can go out to use the picnic tables or buy food at the snack booth (expensive though). There are showers/changing rooms, bathrooms, life jackets, some shade, lounge chairs, lockers¬†and water fountains available. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and water shoes if you have them. The pavement is scorching hot and get there early to get a good spot in the shade. There are basically three areas in this small, but fun park; The Lazy River (with tubes available, though you will have to wait quite some time to snag one if its real crowded), a Kiddie Slide/Fountain area and a tiny Kiddie Spray area

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Taking a little rest in the shade

We visited in July and the park was really full, though the crowds thinned a bit an hour before closing. Azure (age 7, loves water) could have gone non-stop the whole day. Cole (age 14, doesn’t like swimming much) was happy for about 3 1/2 hours watching his brother. And Brecks (age 4, loves water) lasted about 3 hours, but I imagine if we hadn’t camped (he woke up extra early)¬†or had another adult to take a turn with him, would have lasted longer. I had to persuade him to take a nap and then Cole sat with him while I took Azure back out


Azure is 7 and swims very well was able to team up with Cole (14 years) and go off on their own. There are tons of life guards to keep everyone in line and safe. Since Brecks doesn’t swim well enough without a floaty and is too small to climb into and hold on to a tube on his own I had to help hold him up. There were a couple other moms with two littles trying to grab tubes, whilst holding small kiddos and trying to get the kids in them. In my opinion, you need one adult/or older kid per little guy. The water is moving current, you have to help a little guy quite a bit. I would have been really stressed if Azure didn’t swim like a fish

Next Brecks wanted to go to the Slides/Fountain area. It’s real fun for kiddies, freezing water for me ūüė¶ Brecks is 4 and isn’t great at following directions yet. He didn’t understand to wait until the lifeguard said he could go (he saw no one on the slide, cause they were waiting for the ok, and just thought he could go down), to clear the bottom of the slide immediately, don’t try to climb back up, don’t walk in front of the slides. Good and bad thing is the lifeguards are hyper paying attention and ready to give the kids instruction. Great for slightly older kids that need a reminder, not so good for little guys that don’t really understand/remember too well. Basically, I had to go to the top and wait with him until it was his turn, then race down the stairs (no adults allowed on the slides) against all the up coming kid traffic to get to him at the bottom. Fast as I was trying to go, the lifeguards were already admonishing him before I could reach him. That part was really stressful, as I didn’t want to be a pain in the behind to the lifeguards. I think in another year he will be fine and it will be much funner for me to stand around just keeping an eye out from the bottom. There are also lots of older/fast moving kids all over, so if your kids are too small it can be a bit scary and you’ll just have to go everywhere with them. I guess with two parents it might be done easier.

In closing I will say that I will definitely bring the little kids again and this park is certainly worth a visit, especially if you are staying at the campground also.

What fun activities did you discover this summer?

Family Fun Adventure: Living Desert Zoo (Palm Desert, CA)


Here are some pictures from our Family Fun Adventure at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, CA last month.

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We visited in June so it was hot, hot, HOT! Really hot! The zoo opens first thing at 8 am to take advantage of the cooler time of day and closes by 1:30


I have been planning a visit to this zoo since Azure’s birthday in February¬†(they give kids free admission for their birthdays you just sign up for it) we finally made it down there and took advantage of the free Bank of American Museum days. See here: We paid about $20.00 for the two little kids and parking was free. Feeding the giraffes was certainly an interesting thing to do. They didn’t seem terribly interested in the¬†tiny handful of¬†cut¬†carrots we paid $5 to feed them, but Azure enjoyed trying

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Model railway scene that Daddy and Brecklin enjoyed

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Viewing the animals. Unfortunately, they don’t offer camel rides in the summer…I guess we’ll have to come back again

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There is a small animal petting area of the usual barnyard friends. Fun for kiddies

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Check out a giant grain storage pot and pretend you are a baby bird

This zoo felt very natural, kinda wilderness-like. I felt like we were hiking along some desert path. Thankfully there are a couple spots to cool down in the Discovery Center and the Wildlife Hospital were two of the places we made it to. We arrived at about 10 am and did not make around to see everything before we got too hot. We enjoyed what we did see and with the free Bank of America Museum days it made a nice activity on day two of our trip down south.  It was pretty perfect for the kids, remember to take cool off breaks, bring lots of water (of course they do sell bottled water too) hats and sunscreen!

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After the zoo we headed out for lunch at a fabulous Mexican restaurant called Las Casuelas Nuevas after it was recommended to us from a cashier at the local Target. Seriously good food here people

Next we¬†met up with friends to cool off at the pool…that was definitely needed after all the heat! It kept the kids in happy spirits then we drove home after they were all tuckered out and the evening cooled off.

I hope you guys are making this a memorable summer with lots of family fun

Family Fun Adventure: Birch Aquarium at Scripps (La Jolla, CA)


Our Family Fun Adventure today is coming to you from La Jolla, CA at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. We have been planning to visit this aquarium for some time and finally fit in a trip down south to see it

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This is a very small aquarium and I would only plan on a couple hours here. We took advantage of Free Museums Bank of America days on this trip. There is free admission for BOA cardholders on the first weekend or first certain weekend days of the month. See their website here for a museum near you: and call ahead to the attraction to find out exactly which day is going to be free. I had to call a couple times over a few days to actually get to talk to a live person…but its definitely worth it knowing in advance, especially if you are planning a trip from afar

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The Aquarium has the usual tanks of fish and sharks and some interactive areas for the kiddies. Lifesaver!

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The outdoor interactive area was awesome fun for our 4 year old and he spent the majority of the time playing at the dam building boat water table. He got soaked (maybe bring a change of clothes) and was weeping when we had to leave. There are also some people powered things to try, like a bicycle fountain and a arm pull wave machine

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Even though there isn’t suppose to be any food inside I did see some folks enjoying snacks in this area. There are covered tables, a cool breeze and gorgeous ocean views

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They had some of the fanciest seahorses I had ever seen!

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The tide pool area was another hit for the little guy. It wasn’t touching the little creatures, rather the simulated wave he called ‘the woosh’ that he was in love with. Since we didn’t have time to apply for cards for our littles we ended up paying about $25.00 for two kids under 13 and since we were only there for 3 hours parking was free. Overall I thought it was a fun small place to visit and taking advantage of the free BOA day made it a worthwhile visit. I was glad we combined this visit with a trip the next day to the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, CA as it would not have filled the day/trip on its own. If you are in the area passing through and need a educational stop for the kiddies, its a fun way to burn a couple hours. Age wise I think 3 or 4 years- to maybe 10-11 years would be the target audience for this place. It was very clean and well maintained and I definitely think its worth a couple of hours exploring

Legoland California Photo Round Up


Since our membership to LEGOLAND California is coming to a close, I thought I ‘d post a bunch of pictures of a few of the many awesome creations at the park for your viewing pleasure. Sit back and imagine planning your future trip. (*Disclaimer: I am not all affiliated with LEGOLAND and have not received any compensation for writing this post. All opinions and pictures are my own)

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L: My handsome family in front of Miniland R: Uhuh, raise your hand if that has ever been you?

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The smallest boy getting his lego play on

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Kids racing their lego creations

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Star Wars display at Miniland

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Lots of life sized creations for posing with

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Each time we visit we try to go on a new ride. The lines can be SO long, its difficult for a five year old to wait for 45-60 minutes at a time.

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They have fun seasonal activities like Trick or Treating at Halloween, Fireworks and a Christmas display and Snow Days

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Super fun play areas for Little people.

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My almost 3 and 5 year old LOVE this place. It is included in the annual pass and is a cute smallish aquarium. I don’t know that I’d pay full price to visit it, but its been a great add on and you can get through the place without the kids getting bored.

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Tide pool and large tanks

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Viewing fish up close

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We have certainly enjoyed all the great visits to this park and would totally suggest it to visitors with children ages 5-10 years that would get the most out of the park in my opinion. There is also a small water park that is included in the annual membership that we only visited once as its not open during the whole year. Keep in mind like most touristy attractions this place can be, ok well, its always crowded! Except the one day where it rained buckets, you have to wait in long lines to ride. Hope you enjoyed seeing a few more pictures of this fun park.

Here is a link to pinterest for saving the pictures