Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is a great place to exploring the pier, where you can spend a whole day.

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While your kids are still little and amazed by the world, while your underwater explorer still loves the mystery of the deep dark blue and its inhabitants, while your Earth-lover still wants to preserve our environment and learn about local plant and animal species, take them to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium for a fun family day out. I visited recently as a guest of Mommy Poppins for their Best of LA awards event. (I didn’t win, but it was an honor just to be nominated. For real!)

santa monica pier aquarium snacks

Want some wolf eel with your coffee?

Yes, there is a bigger aquarium in greater Los Angeles, but this one is so close! And with the California Incline now open again, traffic isn’t as bad it has been the last year and a half. Take the 101 East to Las Virgenes, then turn right and head out to PCH. Take PCH to Ocean Ave, turn right and head down to Pico. Turn right there, and right on Appian Way. Park on the street or in the lot – either way you’ll pay about $12 for the whole day.

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From there you’ll walk along the boardwalk, past the lemonade stand, and to Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which is under the pier. It’s a small space and won’t take you long to walk through and explore, but if you have pre-schoolers they will likely spend plenty of time watching the sharks in the waist-high tank. No touching them!

Luckily, right across the room is a touch tank where curious kids can handle anemones, starfish, and more. There are displays of sea life everywhere—there are 100 species of plants and animals right there in the facility!

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There’s a different focus or special event each day of the week. Children can help feed the sea stars Tuesdays and Fridays and 2:30PM, and watch staff feed the sharks on Sundays at 3:30. Older children can volunteer at the aquarium starting at age 15.

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While you’re at the pier, head up the stairs or ramp to check out Pacific Park with its games and amusement park rides. Stop to watch trapeze artists in training at trapeze school. Enjoy local musicians performing right there on the pier. Grab a meal or a snack at the food court or one of the restaurants at either end.

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And of course, remember to pack your beach stuff. A blanket, an umbrella, some sunscreen, and extra clothes for the kids who will run into the water no matter how many times they whine “But I hate the beach!” (Just my kids?)

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Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
1600 Ocean Front Walk (under the pier)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tue-Fri 2pm – 5pm
Sat-Sun 12:30 – 5pm
Admission is free for kids 12 and under
Adults and kids 13 and up $5

Looking Forward to Summer 2015 at Knott’s Berry Farm

In a few weekends I’ll be heading down to Knott’s Berry Farm to check out the new ride, Voyage to the Iron Reef!

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Surfacing May 2015, Voyage to the Iron Reef™ is a spectacular new interactive 4-D ride for the entire family. Riders aim their freeze rays at menacing sea creatures while competing against each other to blast the highest score and save Knott’s from a watery doom.

Good enough for me. I have two young boys – one is a daredevil and one doesn’t like thrill rides. But he does like video games. I’m thinking this new ride will get him to try out a new experience and maybe enjoy a day at an amusement park like he did when he was only 5.
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Last time I came to Knott’s with my younger son, who loved not only the roller coasters but also the amazing variety of live entertainment at the park. Basically we went from one live show to another, fitting a ride in between. I’m hoping the other kid enjoys the shows too because another new feature this summer at Knott’s will be Vertical Impact, Geared Up, a high energy show combing acrobatics and extreme sports along with current music and an after-party. Show runs June 13 – August 23 (no shows on Mondays & Tuesdays)
I will be a guest of Knott’s Berry Farm and Giga Savvy. The opinions in this post are my own.

2015 Conejo Valley Days May 7-10: Ticket Giveaway

Our version of a mini-state fair, Conejo Valley Days returns to Conejo Creek Park for its 59th year, May 7-10. It’s a huge carnival with epic rides, decadent food, live music, and more!

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Celebrating the area’s western roots and community spirit, CVD features entertainment for kids, teens and the whole family including carnival rides, games, live entertainment, a western saloon and a food court. Our family has been there twice, and we had a great time at both festivals. There is one big piece of advice I will share: bring plenty of cash.

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Even though Conejo Valley Days is pricey (food, experiences, shopping, and rides all cost extra on top of the $5 – $10 admission price and $5 per vehicle parking fee), for people who love fairs and thrill rides, it’s worth it. It’s close, it’s spacious even when a lot of people are there, and the live entertainment and demonstrations are fun to watch.

We went last year on Mother’s Day and bought a wristband for rides because really the whole point for us was for my younger son to ride as many as he could. Luckily, he wasn’t yet tall enough for the scariest (to me) ones, but he still got plenty of use out of it!

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These rides are amazing – my younger son, who is very adventurous, loved them! But if you go when wristbands are not available, they can be fairly expensive as rides go. Tickets cost 50 cents each, and the rides require up to 16 of them. The CVD has published a list of rides and their ticket numbers so you can be prepared.

Kids can earn 3 free rides with the CVD’s special new “Read and Ride Program.” Wristbands for unlimited rides are $40 and will only be available on Thursday, May 7 Family Night and Sunday, May 10.

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There are also plenty of opportunities to spend more money, at vendor booths that sell items or experiences, like rock climbing or the zany bubble rides.

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Entry: $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6 through 12 and free for kids 5 and under.

59th Annual Conejo Valley Days
May 7 – 10, 2015
Conejo Creek Park South
1300 E Janss Rd  Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(Janss Rd./23 Freeway)

Agoura Hills Mom is giving away two family 4-packs of tickets! That will save you up to $40 right there. Just leave a comment here and tell us what your favorite thing about Conejo Valley Days is, or what you can’t wait to experience for the first time. One comment entry per person. Make sure your email address is entered (will not be published). For an extra entry, follow @agourahillsmom on Instagram and leave your handle in your comment. Winner will be drawn at random from all qualifying entries received by 11:59 PM, Sunday May 3. Tickets will be mailed to the winners.