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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: ABCs of the SCV: ‘O’ is for Out of Town | 05-04-2013
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1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]


The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, May 4, 2013

JenniferFischerOK, you are probably thinking it is a total cheat to feature places outside of the Santa Clarita Valley as part of the ABCs of the Santa Clarita Valley. But it would be unrealistic to think we never leave the valley, or that sharing ideas for some family- (and budget-) friendly weekend getaways would not be appreciated. So I am doing it – cheat or not.

I am sharing my favorite “Out of Town Adventures for the Family” this week – all of them are between one and four hours away, so some could even work for a day trip. All were a huge hit for our family, and we have visited many of these places more than once. We prefer to do weekend getaways throughout the year rather than a longer vacation all at once, but to each his own. Hope you find a new idea or get reminded of a fun escape waiting nearby.

We start with my favorites that are up and off of Highway 126 (or off the 101 via the 126, to be exact). I actually have several, so I will go in geographic order starting with the nearest first.

Fillmore is a tiny town just about 30 minutes outside of Santa Clarita (or less, if you live in Val Verde like we do). It is a town that is easy to overlook, but if you have children who love trains, it is a wonderful and easy day trip that will make your little one very happy.

jfischer4We often head up there to explore the old trains that are always on the tracks in the heart of the old downtown of Fillmore. My boys love to walk beside the tracks and look at the trains – no ride necessary.

Another fun day trip is Underwood Family Farms, which can also be combined with Fillmore if your kids have the energy for both. At Underwood’s, children can pick through own food, pet and feed farm animals, and play in sandboxes and on playground equipment. Plus, there are train rides and other activities for additional fees.

Further up the 126 you have Ventura, Carpinteria and Santa Barbara – all of which offer great beachfront fun and good food.

We love the oceanside playgrounds of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. Carpinteria, in particular, has a unique and cool playground (Tomol Park) right near Carpinteria State Beach. Our boys love to go play at the beach, then at the park and then get ice cream just up the street at the end of the day.

Sometimes we wrap up our day at Padaro Beach Grill in Carpinteria (3765 Santa Claus Lane), where you can get good food – burgers, fish tacos, salads – that you eat seaside at picnic tables scattered around a giant sandbox for the kids to play in.

jfischer3The farthest we get up Highway 101 with our young boys is San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Morro Bay is beautiful, with nice seaside walks and a small but fun aquarium where little ones can feed the rescued seals.

We also have some favorite getaways to the South: San Diego, Irvine (yep, Irvine – you will see why), and Newport Beach.

In San Diego, our favorite free (or nearly free) fun is Balboa Park (free) and Coronado Island, which does have amusement activities, but which we love for the ferry ride over and the beach play.

Our big splurge is the San Diego Zoo, but we pack our own food since park food prices are really steep. We also like Belmont Park, which has free parking and is a seaside amusement park. Our boys love everything there is to see as well as do, particularly watching the wave pool where people take a try at surfing.

jfischer1Newport Beach is another beach getaway. Newport Beach and Balboa Island always feel relaxing and low-key to me, so it is an easy and enjoyable time. We often spend one day there and the next day head to Irvine before we go home because our boys are train lovers. We go to Irvine Park Railroad. It is $5 to get in the park and there are train rides, farm animals, bike rentals and the small OC Zoo, which features rescued animals native to Southern California and a petting zoo. The train is $4 per ride and the zoo is $2.

We are always looking for new, not-too-far-away places to explore, so pop over to The Good Long Road on Facebook and share your favorite places, too.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

jfischer2

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