Why You Want to Go on an Apple Vacation!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Apple Vacations and Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa. All opinions are 100% mine.

Now that summer is officially over, I bet we’re all ready for a vacation! After all that back-to-school shopping, getting back into the school time routine and going to back-to-school nights, I could totally use one asap. My destination of choice includes white sand beaches and turquoise waters.

{Psst…make sure to read to the end of this post for a big giveaway!}

Have you ever heard of Apple Vacations? Apple Vacations is one of the nation’s largest and most respected vacation companies. They offer you piece of mind knowing that you will be taken care of during your vacation – from the transportation to the accommodations. Your Unlimited-Luxury® vacation with Dreams Resort & Spa through Apple Vacations always includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, in-resort round-trip airport transfers, and the services of an in-resort Apple Representative.

While on any trip booked by Apple Vacations, a friendly and professional Apple Vacations Resort Representatives will be there for you. They have scheduled desk hours at most resorts and welcome briefings in all of their most popular destinations. Plus, they guarantee the best prices. Although they do work hard to try and make sure fares are the lowest around, if you do find a lower price from a competitor prior to booking, they’ll gladly match it will an Instant Price Match!

Doesn’t this sound like something we all need when booking a vacation?!!! I could have totally used that on our last vacation. With a family and a full itinerary, I would have welcomed all the help in getting the details worked out regarding transportation and the logistics of getting around our destination.

Now’s your chance to get rid of the end-of-summer blues and head to blue skies and sparkling water. You can enter to win an Unlimited-Luxury® Dream Escape with Apple Vacations!

Apple Vacations is hosting the Unlimited-Luxury® Dream Escape Sweepstakes, an amazing sweepstakes with a chance to win a five-night trip for 2 adults to Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa.

How to enter the Unlimited-Luxury® Dream Escape Sweepstakes

From September 17, 2019 through October 17, 2019, you can enter to win online. The vacation will be valued through December 1, 2020 and the winner must book by October 17, 2020.

About Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa

Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa is located on the sparkling Sea of Cortez within the luxurious Los Cabos corridor, 15 minutes from Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. It is a AAA Four Diamond award-winning resort since 2011, and is surrounded by eight golf championship golf courses

While vacationing at this luxurious property in Los Cabos, you can enjoy whale watching, turtle release program, golfing, water sports, sandy beaches and so much more. All over-sized luxury suites feature ocean views and private furnished balconies. Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa also offers family suites and one-bedroom suites that can accommodate up to six people.

It makes a great family destination with a heated infinity pool with a waterslide and children’s area. When the adults need some tranquil relaxation, they can head over to the adults-only pool offering personalized concierge service or their world-class spa spanning nearly 3,000 square feet. It offers oceanfront palapas, couple’s treatment rooms and Pevonia® products. Kids can go to the fun and exciting Explorers Club. This fully supervised children’s program offers activities including climbing wall, playground, indoor game room and giant TV.

If you are part of the Preferred Club – perks include a newly-enhanced lounge, private beach area, and complimentary hydrotherapy access.

Just writing this post about the Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa makes me want to pack my bags right now and get on a plane. And after checking out all the other destination packages that Apple Vacations has to offer, it looks like there are a lot of amazing places a family could visit affordably. So head over to enter the Unlimited-Luxury® Dream Escape Sweepstakes and check out the other packages Apple Vacations has to offer. Where do you want to go?

Ventura Ranch KOA in San Paula California

I constantly get asked where the best family-friendly campgrounds in Southern California are. If I had to make a list, then Ventura Ranch KOA in San Paula, California would be at the top. Located just north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, is has all the amenities to make camping enjoyable for all different levels of campers. From areas to tent camp, to RV spots, and even clamping cabins and teepees, you are sure to find the perfect camp spot for your family. I love that it is not too far of a drive from Orange County, but enough of a drive where you feel like you are going on vacation.

Ventura Ranch KOA is a Holiday KOA, meaning there are extra amenities on the property to make your stay more of a fun vacation! One thing I love about staying at KOA’s is that you always know that you are going to get a nice clean campground with KOA standards. You will most always find a camp general store and laundry facilities. I’ve stayed at dozens and dozens of KOA’s with no surprises of below standard amenities.

The Ventura Ranch KOA is a 76-acre campground nestled at the foot of Ventura County’s highest mountain, Topa Topa. It’s just off the scenic highway, 7 miles between Santa Paula and Ojai. The views are really amazing. Here are some of the views I caught while taking a morning walk.

Ventura Ranch KOA is Family Friendly

Ventura Ranch KOA is so fun for families because of all the amenities it has. Kids can not only playing free range in nature, there are unique experiences not available at most campgrounds.

First of all, they have a Jumping Pillow! This was definitely a favorite of my kids and all the other kids at the campground. The Jumping Pillow is huge and big enough for lots of kids to enjoy. During the daytime hours, it is pumped with air and everyone can run and jump on it while enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of nature.

The Ventura Ranch KOA also has a pool…as does most KOA’s. I must say that the Ventura Ranch KOA’s pool is exceptionally nice, and has nice bathrooms located on deck.

For a small fee, you can enjoy to climbing wall. You can go as many times as you want during designated climbing times. And there are camp counselors there to help you along the way!

Almost every KOA has at least a small playground. The Ventura Ranch KOA happened to have a pretty large one with lots of play equipment for the kids to enjoy. I recommend reserving a camp spot near the playground so it’s easy to keep an eye on the kids. Or pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon playing on the swings or jumping on the Jumping Pillow.

I would have to say one of my kids most favorite activities was mining for gems and minerals. At a designated time each day, you can head over to the mining area and enjoy mining. The mining kits are available for purchase at the KOA general store in a variety of prices depending on what you want to mine for. The camp provides you with the tools to mine with.

Later on in our stay we wondered down to the stream that flows along the campground. We really enjoyed that family time together exploring the waters and nature, and also took some of the mining kits and did them in the stream. It really was fun. I would say this was one of my personal favorite activities on the trip. There are also plenty of areas to hike and explore.

And check out this little frog meadow we saw along our walk. It’s the little things like this that made our stay so memorable.

And did I mention that there are wild peacocks everywhere! They are so pretty.

Finally, I know I have talked a lot about the fun activities and amenities that the Ventura Ranch KOA has to offer. But I know that you are probably really want to know more about the different camping accommodations available.

Ventura Ranch KOA Camping Accommodations

The Ventura Ranch KOA offer five types of accommodations, from the very rustic to deluxe, so you are sure to find one that fits your camping style. You can choose from tent sites with no electricity, RV sites with full and partial hook ups, Teepee’s with no electricity, Safari Tents or Cabins. Ventura Ranch KOA is a very large campground with sections of different accommodations.

Our family normally choose to camp with our travel trailer. We like to stay where they have full hook-ups and electricity. Ventura Ranch KOA has some great rv/trailer spots that have a grassy area and picnic tables.

This time we didn’t bring our travel trailer, we stayed in the Safari Tents! If you are looking to camp…but not totally rough it, then I recommend the Safari Tents. They have electricity, a small refrigerator, futons, beds, and plenty of room to enjoy your stay. They are also decorated really cute. We were totally spoiled and really enjoyed our stay. You can sleep 4 in each Safari Tent.

The bathrooms are located near the Safari Tents….and the aren’t gross!! Nothing like what you would imagine a camp bathroom to look like. So when I said glamping, I really meant it. Here are some pictures of the bathrooms. Actually, these are what all the bathrooms at the Ventura Ranch KOA look like, so you don’t have to worry at all that you will be using a port-a-potty or showering outside.

I also wanted to mention that each of the Safari Tents has it’s own outdoor picnic table, grill and fire pit. You will want to bring all your own food as there aren’t any stores within walking distance of camp. The refridgerator is small, but big enough to hold milk, eggs and necessities. Make sure to bring coal for the grill, or wood for the fire pit. The camp store has wood for purchase and small food items like s’more kits and convenience store type foods.

If you want to get even more fancy with your glamping, Ventura Ranch KOA has some cabins available and even some cottages that are professionally decorated. Pricing varies between all the different types, and there are many options available. Check out a few of the ones I toured.

Finally, if my kids had their way, we would be staying in a teepee! They looked so cute along the trails. I would consider them glamping tents as they don’t have electricity, but don’t have to set up a tent, so that’s a win. They have wood floors and do have beds inside…you bring your own bedding for them. And they also have a grill and campfire pit outside.

As you can see, the Ventura Ranch KOA is a great place for families to enjoy camping and still stay close to the OC. There are lots of fun things to do in the campgrounds, but if you choose to venture out, you can easily get to the Ventura Coast and enjoy a lot of the fun things to do in Oxnard, Ventura, and Carpinteria. Hope this helps you decided whether or not this camp group is right for you family. Feel free to comment if you have any questions, I am happy to help!

{ Disclosure: We were invited guests of the Ventura Ranch KOA. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!}

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

Fall in Orange County means apple picking time. heading into apple country is one of the rare times us Orange County folks can get a slight glimpse on one of the four seasons. for our family, we have always gone apple picking in Oak Glen…and now we take our kids. it holds a lot of memories for me when i was a child, and i hope it will for my children as well.

(get ready for a super long post. i get asked so many questions about apple picking in Southern California that i wanted to include everything i know about Oak Glen.)

Oak Glen is a five mile loop of apple orchards and family owned restaurants and shops, nestled one-mile above the city of Yucaipa in Southern California. it hosts scenery like that of New England. it’s just over an hour drive from Orange County without traffic. the mile-high climate of Oak Glen provides a beautiful change of season, unsurpassed in Southern California – where its usually 10-15 degrees cooler than it is in the valleys. although Oak Glen is open all year round, the main Apple Harvest takes place Labor Day Weekend through Thanksgiving Weekend. the sooner in the season you go the better!

Oak Glen Apple Orchards

there are some main apple orchards that are family friendly and offer fun fall activities in Oak Glen. you can check out all the information for all of the apple orchards and businesses in Oak Glen here. people tend to find their favorites and go to the same ones year after year. there are unique things about all of them, but lots of similarities. i have found prices for apples, ciders and food are comparable at all of them. you can get apples, cider, baked goods, and food at all of them.

here is a list of some of the main apple orchards:

Snowline Orchard has a variety of fun & exciting activities, including raspberry picking, wine tasting and more. there’s a beautiful picnic area with historical buildings, the oldest Italian chestnut tree and mini apple cider donuts which a must when you visit Oak Glen. they don’t offer apple picking, but you can get plenty of fresh apples and cider. they also have a really neat farm store with artisan balsamics and oils, local honey, unique gifts, and farm made wine and hard cider.

Riley’s Los Rios Rancho is a favorite of our family’s. it offers cider pressing, live music, a country kitchen with fresh bbq and picnic foods including corn, cider floats and apple pie. in the market store you can taste apple cider, hard cider and apples. there are also beautiful nature trails, a petting zoo and miniature farm, wagon rides, tractor rides, and horse back rides.  on the North Side of the farm (closest to Wilshire’s peak) you’ll find…a corn maze, u-pick fruits, popcorn and vintage soda cart and tractor drawn hayrides.

Riley’s Apple Farm offers heirloom apple picking, blackberry picking, corn picking, pumpkin picking, cider pressing, and kids activities on the weekends. activities include archery, tomahawk and knife throwing. on weekends during apple season, Sharon’s Country Store has barbecued chicken apple sausage, hot dogssub sandwiches, cider floats, fresh raspberry shakes, ice cream, and high-top apple pie.  Also sub sandwiches, cider floats, fresh raspberry shakes, ice cream, and lots more!  and don’t forget to get a fresh hoecake (a tasty, historical treat – a cornmeal pancake with a topping) cooked fresh over the fire on the lawn!

Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard offers heirloom apple picking, cider pressing, gemstone panning and kids activities at their kid’s craft station on the weekends. activities may include rag dolls, candle dipping, and birdhouse decorating. the have a snack bar, farm stand and marketplace.

Rileys Colonial Farm is a living history farm and offers history education and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. you will find people dressed up in period clothing and sharing historical demonstrations. you can pick-your-own fruit including apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, Ollalieberries, pumpkins and a small crop of peaches. make sure to check their website for availability. visit the dinner theatre, and enjoy a historically-themed overnight stay.

Law’s Cider Mill & Ranch is a smaller stand that offers fresh cider, apple butter & preserves, Oak Glen grown apples, ornamental corn, squash & gourds. they have a historical coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch daily. there you will find a year-round Christmas room, gift shop and collectables.

Moms Country Orchard offers pesticide-free apples and other produce in the area. they also offer a great selection of jams, jellies, honey, preserves, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Moms will ship items to you or for you, just go online!

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

there is something exciting about walking into and apple orchard and picking your own apple of the tree. for some reason, kids enjoy food that they harvest themselves better than if you give it to them. there are a few orchards left in Oak Glen that offer U-pick apples. the different orchards offer different varieties of apples, so if you are wanting a certain kind of apple, check out their websites first to see what they have available. the orchards in Oak Glen that offer apple picking are – Riley’s Apple Farm, Riley’s Los Rios RanchoRileys Colonial Farm and Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard.

when you get to the orchards, you check into the farm stand and get a bag for your apples. the apples are sold by the pound, so you need to purchase what you pick. prices vary according to market price. we ended up paying between $3.00 – $3.50 per pound. most orchards will have a guide run you through the process of how to pick apples without damaging the trees, and then let you into designated areasvto pick the apples.

Apple Cider Donuts at Snow-line Orchard

if you like hot, fresh apple cider donuts, you need to make a stop at Snow-line Orchard. you get 12 mini donuts per pack and they are so yummy! even if you go to the other orchards to pick apples and such, stop at Snow-line to get the donuts. they run just under $5 for 12 mini donuts.

Press Your Own Apple Cider

one of our favorite activities to do when we go apple picking is pressing our own apple cider. although it costs slightly more than the pre-made gallons of apple cider, the experience is really fun for the kids.

first, they get to fill up a 5 gallon bucket with apples and then wash them. once they are clean, the apples get fed into the apple cider press. once they are all crushed, it’s time to press the cider. the crank gets tightened and rotated until all the juice is pressed out of the apple chunks. then the juice is strained and poured into a gallon jug…READY TO DRINK! an boy is it good. the apple cider will last up to two weeks…but if your family is anything like mine, it will be gone much faster than that.

here are some pictures of our family pressing apple cider in Oak Glen.

U-Pick Berries in Oak Glen

if you want to pick berries, peaches, corn, or flowers in Oak Glen, i highly suggest going earlier in the season. in fact, the berry picking begins closer to July. check the websites of the different orchards to see what is still available and how the harvest is looking. Riley’s Apple Farm, Riley’s Los Rios Rancho and Rileys Colonial Farm’s offer berry picking.

this year we decided to pick raspberries and had a fun time. though, we were surprised at how much work it was to fill a little basket. it made us appreciate being able to have them already picked for us. it definitely was a great experience for the whole family and the berries were really yummy.

Food and Activities in Oak Glen

you go to Oak Glen for the apple food and apple picking, but there are also lots of fall activities happening from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. if you go to each of the websites listed above, you can decide which activities you would like to do, and find out which orchards offer them. also be sure to check out the special events happening on the different weekends.

hayrides, horseback riding, corn mazes, sunflower fields, kids crafts and more are offered at different orchards throughout Oak Glen.

and don’t forget about the food!

most of the orchards have farm stands and stores that have tons of baked goods and apple goodies, some have their big bbq’s going with tri-tip and pulled pork cooking. you can also taste jams and jellies and buy different varieties of apples.

Oak Tree Village

Oak Tree Village is a little village at the top of the Oak Glen loop that has shops, museums, restaurants, a petting zoo, carnival booths, and more.

we continue to make a stop here year after year because of the memories i have of going when i was a child. however, i feel the need to say that it is very over-priced nowadays. i don’t recommend buying your food here, as the prices are much better at the individual orchards. it’s fun to walk through, but we usually skip the attractions. i remember when the petting zoo was a $1.00, now it costs $6 per person. however…it is a fun little zoo. and i have to admit, the animal museum is pretty cheesy…but go if you like taxidermy. we passed.

i do recommend getting a pie or a bakery item at the village. they have some yummy mile-high pies and apple turnovers. i have found that the pies at all the orchards run around $16.00, so it almost doesn’t matter where to buy them. but i like the pies here the best. the candy store is also fun to check out. so many apple choices.

finally, if you are wondering about the cost involved with visiting Oak Glen, i am here to tell you that almost everything costs money. the activities, apple picking, and of course the food. if you are wanting to visit on a budget, i highly suggest bringing a picnic and just buying a few apple goodies to enjoy. bring plenty of water, as it tends to get hot. you can visit all the orchards for free and enjoy the beautiful scenery, you can also taste test apples and apple cider for no charge.

my must-dos for Oak Glen are: Pick a bag of apples, press a gallon of apple cider, get a bag of apple cider donuts, take a nature hike at Riley’s Los Rios Rancho and buy an apple pie. if i get to do that each year at Oak Glen i am happy. all else is just icing on the cake….and apple cake that is!

hopefully with these tips, you can enjoy your own stay at Oak Glen. what i love most about Oak Glen is that you will find so many different activities and varieties of food in the one 5-mile stretch that there is bound to be something that you enjoy. its family fun for the entire family with lots of memories to be had!

 

Dinner with Elmo and the Sesame Street Parade at Seaworld and GIVEAWAY!

(Make sure to read to the bottom for an awesome giveaway!)

a few weeks ago, we headed down to San Diego to check out the debut of the all new Sesame Street Party Parade at Seaworld. we also had dinner reservations at the new Dinner with Elmo and Friends, so we were really excited. our family was most excited to introduce Dani, our littlest to Sesame Street. it would be her first time meeting all the characters.

we love a lot of things about Seaworld, they do so much good for our oceans and environment. we visited last year and got to witness first hand some of they great things they do. we especially love that Seaworld has included Sesame Street more and more into the park. they already have the Sesame Street Bay of Play, which is filled with family-friendly fun and rides like Elmo’s Flying Fish, Oscar’s Rocking Eel and Abby’s Sea Star Spin. so adding the Sesame Street Parade and Dinner with Elmo and Friends was a perfect addition!

Sesame Street Party Parade

first up, we found some seating along the Sesame Street Party Parade route. everyone was excited to see it for the first time…and let me tell you, it was a hit! the kids loved seeing their favorite Sesame Street pals sing and dance down the street.

fun highlights of the parade included audience participation – where the kids got to run out onto the parade route and dance and play games with the Sesame Street friends, getting to wave to all our favorite characters, and a giant Elmo float at the end of the parade.

Dinner with Elmo and Friends

after the parade, it was perfect timing to head over and have a special Dinner with Elmo and Friends. did you know that you can make reservations far an additional cost and enjoy dinner and photo opps with your favorite Sesame Street Pals? neither did we. but it was so much fun and a very special experience.

Dinner with Elmo and Friends is and exclusive dinner for guests in the park to have a dinner buffet and also meet the Sesame Street characters up close and personal. there is a whole lot of giggles, hugs and dancing. the dinner buffet features a fresh salad bar, pasta, Fajitas, sides, desserts and more. there is something for everyone to enjoy – from adults to kids to babies.

everyone can find a seat in the banquet seating area and enjoy the food and coloring activities provided on the table. the kids loved the dinner buffet because they could get whatever they wanted. so that means unlimited dinner rolls and breadsticks LOL.

did i mention that there is a dessert station where you can make your own cookie ice cream sandwiches! it’s a Cookie Monster’s dream, with giant cookies of all varieties and ice cream that can be used to make a cookie ice cream sandwich.

once everyone has been seated and are eating, the Sesame Street characters begin to arrive. they come to the tables and say hi to the families and dance in the aisles. i suggest getting the kids to eat as soon as possible, because once the characters start to arrive, all the kids want to do is play with them. there is no getting them to eat after that!

we had so much fun with the Sesame Street gang…it really was a special experience. the parade was fun and really well done, i highly recommend if you have a Sesame Street fan in your home.

GIVEAWAY!!!!

here is your chance to win a family 4-Pack of Tickets to SeaWorld San Diego!!! just enter via Rafflecopter below or on Facebook. contest ends June 1, 2018 at midnight. winner will be chosen randomly and must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States. Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Disclosure: We were invited guests of SeaWorld. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

The Legoland Castle Hotel is Coming to Southern California

earlier this month, i had the chance to check out the construction progress of the new Legoland Castle Hotel that will soon be opening at Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad. i have a bunch of boys who can not wait for it to open this April 27th…the are VERY EXCITED! let me tell you, it’s going to be amazing. if your kids love Legos, they will be in Lego Heaven. and i wanted to share with you some photos of the hard hat tour i took to give you an idea what to expect.

if you have ever stayed at the current Legoland Hotel, then you have some experience of what it will be like to stay at the Legoland Castle Hotel. although it is similar, there are also many unique features and cool improvements that you will only experience at the Castle.

here is a sneak peek of the lobby. it will be set up separately from the rest of the hotel and will of course have Legos and fun things for the kids to do while the parents are checking in.

here is what it looks like right now…but don’t worry, it will be complete very soon. use your imagination to envision the Lego slide that will be built next to these stairs. fun!!!!

next up, we headed over to where the new restaurant will be located in the hotel. the Dragon’s Den, is a first at LEGOLAND California Resort. it will be the resort’s first full-service sit down restaurant. the head chef explained how the restaurant would be set up and how the food will be locally-sourced, creating a unique dining experience.

it will include an open kitchen for guests to watch chefs preparing their food. plus, it will be decorated with amazing LEGO models, and LEGOLAND entertainers will interact with guests. breakfast will be included with each guest’s stay and includes made-to-order items along with a buffet. here is what is will look like…

located next to Dragon’s Den restaurant, there will be a play area for kids and also Jester’s Bar. i am sure this will be a favorite area for adults and kids alike.

then we headed over to where the The Royal Courtyard will be locate. this is where hotel guests will be able to sit and relax, children will be in a fairy tale of their own creation with a DUPLO play area for the younger kids, larger play structures for the older kids, giant movie screen for nighttime movies, and a stage for live plays and shows.

there will also of course be a pool area! it will host a gradual incline pool and hot tub, plus a pool bar and grill that will offer smoothies, sandwiches and salads prepared fresh to order.

oh!!!! if you have been to the LEGOLAND Hotel, then you totally know what i am talking about when i tell you my kids favorite thing to do is ride the elevator. as with all things Lego, there are surprises at every turn. that goes for the elevators as well. when i say the construction of the elevators, i wanted to hop in a see what cool thing happened inside, but i guess i will have to wait. they did tell me that is will be a wizard theme. how exciting!

finally, we were able to check out the rooms!  there will be 250 premium LEGO Castle themed rooms with your choice of Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess or Magic Wizard. i personally can’t wait for a princess room. after years of all boys, i want to share this room with my little girl. my boys are hoping to stay in a Magic Wizard room. and unlike the current LEGOLAND Hotel that offers standard and premium rooms, ALL of the rooms at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will be premium. they will be fully decked out with Lego sculptures and themed deco, a separate kids’ area with LEGO building tables and scavenger hunt in every room, and bathrooms with a tub, shower and toddler toilet seats.

doesn’t this all look like an amazing family-friendly hotel!!! i can definitely tell you it is 100% family-friendly. they have thought of everything.

it was a fun checking out the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel construction, it only made me more excited and i can’t wait to experience it in its finished form with my kids…they are going to love it. just a few more months and we can!!!!!

and guess what?!!!!  you can already book your stay. the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will be ready before you know it. Southern California is so excited for April 27th.

{ This is not a sponsored post. I was an invited guest to check out the contruction. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}