Holy trip recaps lately! In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been all over the place during the past month and a half. New York Fashion Week, Nashville and now Southern California for fall break with the family. While we didn’t have time to really explore, we did as much as we could possibly could do in the 48 hours we were in town. That included the beach, checking out downtown Carlsbad and a trip to Legoland California.
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One of my favorite things about living in Arizona is the ability to take some pretty cool road trips. Our family has never hesitated to jump in the car and head somewhere fun, even if it is just for a weekend. That’s why I was so excited to partner with Mazda during our fall break trip to California and check out the 2019 CX-5.
My first thought when I saw the Mazda CX-5 was that it looked a lot like the smaller Lexus SUV. And then I got inside and holy cow! The technology inside is top notch and a major upgrade from my 5 year old car that my kids have beat to death. Things like adaptive cruise control (this was amazing on our way to California) and seat belt monitors for the front and back so I can tell if the kids are truly buckled in the back seat. If you would have told me it cost 65K based on features alone, I would have believed you. If you are in the market for a smaller SUV, definitely go check out the CX-5. You can get a fully loaded model for under 40K and let’s just say I didn’t want to give it back!
We arrived into town super late on Saturday evening and all went straight to bed. That meant we woke up hungry on Sunday morning and ready to explore. We headed into town in Carlsbad and grabbed brunch at Daily News Cafe. Really cute spot for breakfast and lunch if you are ever in the area. While I would have loved to walk around town more, we spotted the beach and decided that was how we wanted to spend our day.
We headed back to the hotel (we stayed at the Carlsbad Seapointe Resort), changed as quickly as possible and headed to my happy place. The kids splashed in the waves, built sandcastles and we even caught up with an old friend who just moved into the area. Pretty ideal beach day if you ask me!
Following the beach, we washed off the sand and headed back into Carlsbad for dinner. I honestly don’t remember the name of the Mexican restaurant we ate at (I was too busy stuffing chips and salsa in my mouth), but everything in town is pretty adorable.
The kids woke me up bright and early on Monday morning bursting with excitement because we were taking them to Legoland California! We’ve actually taken the kids to Legoland once before when Carter was 4 and Kenzie was 2. They absolutely loved it then and have been begging us to take them back. I was so happy we were able to squeeze it in this fall break.
One thing to note about Legoland California. It is a full on theme park, which is different than the Legoland Discovery Centers they have opened in some states. We have a Legoland Discovery Center here in AZ and usually spend a couple hours there. Legoland has the big theme parks in California and Florida, which you could easily stay and visit for a couple days there. Just want to be clear on the difference.
The last time we went to Legoland California we stayed at the Legoland hotel, which is located at the entrance of the theme park. The hotel was AMAZING (think Lego everything, rooms with bunk beds, dance parties and more), but we decided to stay off property this trip to save a little money. They even added a second Legoland hotel in 2018 right next door to the first one. However, the biggest perk to staying at the hotel is you get into the park an hour early and can ride all the rides before the lines gets too long. If it is your first trip to Legoland, I truly do recommend the hotel, even if it is just one night.
We arrived at the park a few minutes before they opened to the public at 10am and got in line for them to open the gates. The attendants by the gate suggested heading to the back of the park first and working our way back to the front, which was a great idea. My kids ran to the driving school first because Kenzie wanted to get her “driver’s license” since she was too young the last time around. The funny things kids remember!
We then tried to hit up a few of the rides where we thought the lines might get longer later in the day. Legoland California does have a Reserve ‘N’ Ride option, which is similar to Fast Pass. We considered purchasing it, but we went on a Monday in the fall and even the girl selling the pass said she didn’t think it was necessary on that particular day. We decided to skip it and again save some money. I’m glad we did since we never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride all day long.
Our entire family agreed our favorite ride was the Technic, which is roller coaster with four seats in these little cars. The kids also loved Ninjago, the driving school and the other smaller roller coasters. Really, there was nothing they disliked and there are also shows, playground, factory tours, games and more. When we were there three years ago we also hit up the water park and Sealife aquarium. The water park was closed this late in the season and we skipped the aquarium this time around since we have a Sealife back in AZ.
I had a ton of people ask me how Legoland California compared to Disneyland. We went to Disneyland last summer and we found the crowds and lines overwhelming. The kids didn’t know some of the older Disney characters (looking back, that might have been my fault for not letting them watch enough movies, ha) and Kenzie cried through a number of the rides. Not because the actual ride was scary, but because she was afraid of the characters. They were both asking to leave Disneyland before noon – let’s just say that experience didn’t go so well.
I was honestly sad about the whole Disney experience because I wanted them to have the same magical memory I had as a kid, but it didn’t work out that way. Both times at Legoland, my kids were as happy as can be all day long. Not one complaint, whine or cry and they seriously couldn’t have been happier. I think it depends on the age of your kids and their interests, but being 100% honest, our family has enjoyed Legoland more than Disneyland.
Since Legoland closes at 5pm during the week in October, we hopped in the car and drove a long, 6 hour drive back home to Arizona. The drive was agressive after a long day at the park, but we seriously had such a fun 48 hours.
Has your family ever been to Legoland California? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!