Southern California Family Vacation Without the Crowds

If you live in Southern California, you know that summer brings out the crowds-visitors from around the country and around the world.. That means it’s hard to go anywhere without running into lots of people and traffic-two main ingredients that makes kids (and parents) cranky.

One place that seems to have held on to its laid-back California charm and has lots of kid-friendly fun is Ventura, particularly the three cities known as VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura). Located up the 101 Freeway north from Los Angeles, VenturaCountyWest features uncrowded beaches (with free parking), ocean adventures and tons of easy-to-get-to kids’ summer activities. Here are some to check out.

Channel Islands National Park

Take a tour boat to the Channel Islands National Park out of either Ventura or Channel Islands (Oxnard) harbors. The islands are only 11 miles off the Ventura County coast. On the way, you can see dolphins, seals, pelicans and other wildlife. Hikes, overnight stays, kayaking are all available once arriving on shore. Tours are booked through Island Packers, http://www.islandpackers.com/.

Ventura Harbor Village

Ventura Harbor Village contains an arcade featuring an old-fashioned indoor carousel, arcade and a candy shop with more than 20 varieties of fudge (made fresh daily). Families can rent paddle and electric boats to tour the quiet harbor channels. Back on shore, plan on eating at one of the casual harbor side restaurants featuring freshly caught seafood. http://www.venturaharborvillage.com.

Ventura County Fairgrounds’ Raceway

“Midget” cars, motorcycles and all sorts of other racing vehicles take to the track almost every weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura. It’s all good fun as you cheer on your favorite driver.

Gull Wings Children’s Museum

This children’s museum in Oxnard is very unassuming from the outside, but once inside, the eight and under set will have so much to do and see that they won’t know where to begin. They can dress up as firefighters, doctors or pretend they are astronauts landing on the moon in an Apollo spacecraft. There are snakes to hold, treasure to find in a geological dig and plenty of Legos to build whatever they wish. Kids can try their hand at rock wall climbing or let their imaginations go while in the driver’s seat of an actual car.

Sky High Sports

You won’t find a big sign announcing Sky High Sports Camarillo from the freeway. It’s in an industrial park-it has to be-the place is huge. It’s filled with trampolines with super padded floors and walls. Kids can play trampoline dodge ball and other organized games or… just jump. All under supervision. Sky High also has laser tag. Kids are sure to come out sweaty and tired-a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

The Staycation – A Vacation You Take Without the Usual Stress and High Costs

The term staycation hasn’t been with us for more than a couple of years and in the current financial crisis people and families are torn between needing to get away for a while and managing their budgets. The objective of a staycation is to take what your immediate area has to offer and do what you want to do. Needing to relax is more important than ever, your decisions are more important and you need to be able to focus and think rationally and that only happens in minds that are not over worked or stressed out.

So you need some time away, but don’t have the cash to go anywhere. Whether its just you or the whole family, start with blocking out some time by scheduling vacation days with work; now you are committed. The next step is to find out what each person you are traveling with would enjoy doing during some of that time. Lastly, research the options in your area and don’t let the word research scare you. This is going to be a fun project and if your kids are old enough they can research the activity that they have chosen. You’ll want to know what the hours of operation are, the cost, supplies needed, any restrictions (like are strollers allowed) and plan each day accordingly.

If the children have drastically different preferences for activities or choose expensive activities, then it may make a lot of sense to divide and conquer. The kids are happy doing what they enjoy, you get to enjoy some “quality time” with one of your children when they are their best. The other idea is to set a limit as to how much a child’s activity can cost. If one child’s activity is cheaper, then their day may get to include dinner at their favorite restaurant, a stop at the ice cream stand on the way home or even a new fishing pole to take to the lake that day.

The cost will be so dramatically less expensive then traveling somewhere, that you can probably have an expensive date night at a nice restaurant, go to a play, stay in a local hotel with a pool for the kids, go to a local amusement park or have one overnight trip with the rest of the time spent locally.

If you are the type of person that never sits still, then you won’t have a problem thinking of things to do and will have a great time. If you are the type that can spend an entire weekend on the couch, then the biggest risk associated with staycations is treating it like it’s a weekend and never getting off the couch or running errands and doing housework, so you end up not doing anything fun. That’s why I think planning a staycation is important for these people, because it’s easier to follow through when you have plans.

One last piece of advise to consider is about those you enjoy spending time with and have fun with them. If that means dinner with the next door neighbors or seeing family, then great; but this isn’t a holiday, so you don’t have to go see family if you don’t want to. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, if I’m around people I enjoy, I’m always having fun.

Learn more about Staycations at Staycations: Vacation without Stress.

Southern California Family Vacation Without the Crowds

If you live in Southern California, you know that summer brings out the crowds-visitors from around the country and around the world.. That means it’s hard to go anywhere without running into lots of people and traffic-two main ingredients that makes kids (and parents) cranky.

One place that seems to have held on to its laid-back California charm and has lots of kid-friendly fun is Ventura, particularly the three cities known as VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura). Located up the 101 Freeway north from Los Angeles, VenturaCountyWest features uncrowded beaches (with free parking), ocean adventures and tons of easy-to-get-to kids’ summer activities. Here are some to check out.

Channel Islands National Park

Take a tour boat to the Channel Islands National Park out of either Ventura or Channel Islands (Oxnard) harbors. The islands are only 11 miles off the Ventura County coast. On the way, you can see dolphins, seals, pelicans and other wildlife. Hikes, overnight stays, kayaking are all available once arriving on shore. Tours are booked through Island Packers, http://www.islandpackers.com/.

Ventura Harbor Village

Ventura Harbor Village contains an arcade featuring an old-fashioned indoor carousel, arcade and a candy shop with more than 20 varieties of fudge (made fresh daily). Families can rent paddle and electric boats to tour the quiet harbor channels. Back on shore, plan on eating at one of the casual harbor side restaurants featuring freshly caught seafood. http://www.venturaharborvillage.com.

Ventura County Fairgrounds’ Raceway

“Midget” cars, motorcycles and all sorts of other racing vehicles take to the track almost every weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura. It’s all good fun as you cheer on your favorite driver.

Gull Wings Children’s Museum

This children’s museum in Oxnard is very unassuming from the outside, but once inside, the eight and under set will have so much to do and see that they won’t know where to begin. They can dress up as firefighters, doctors or pretend they are astronauts landing on the moon in an Apollo spacecraft. There are snakes to hold, treasure to find in a geological dig and plenty of Legos to build whatever they wish. Kids can try their hand at rock wall climbing or let their imaginations go while in the driver’s seat of an actual car.

Sky High Sports

You won’t find a big sign announcing Sky High Sports Camarillo from the freeway. It’s in an industrial park-it has to be-the place is huge. It’s filled with trampolines with super padded floors and walls. Kids can play trampoline dodge ball and other organized games or… just jump. All under supervision. Sky High also has laser tag. Kids are sure to come out sweaty and tired-a perfect way to spend an afternoon.