We're two moms, traveling with three kids under 7, on a pilgrimage to the mecca for the preschool crowd-Legoland California Resort. Needless to say, there are a few stumbling blocks along the way-missed exits on the Los Angeles freeways, tantrums, skinned knees, potty accidents. Yet overall, our Legoland California adventure is stacked with good times and great memories.
In this digital age, there's something truly charming about an amusement park based on the simple, yet imaginative, Lego brick. Synonymous with creative play, these colorful toys harken back to a simpler time.
The Lego bricks are everywhere-on the kid-friendly roller coasters, the life-size lineup of Star Wars characters, and the Lego cities modeled after Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and New York. Kids under 6 even get to drive cars made of Lego bricks or hop on a Lego-themed horse and ride through a Medieval town. A charming river ride meanders through classic fairy tales, with all the characters made of Legos.
The new Legoland California Hotel builds on this beloved toy's legacy. The first Legoland hotel in the United States, it features more than 3,500 Lego models, made from three million Lego bricks. No, the hotel isn't made of Legos (darn those building codes!) but the exterior is colorfully painted to look like it. Everywhere you turn, master model Lego builders have worked their magic-from the Lego flower bouquets in the lobby to the whimsical Lego-linked sausages decorating the cafeteria-style restaurant.
A giant fire-breathing dragon guards the hotel's front entrance. While you're waiting at the check-in area, you'll be mesmerized by a wall display made of 6,000 mini Lego figures. You'll also be relieved to find they've set up a giant Lego pit directly next to check-in. A giant Lego castle play structure is located right next to a bar and cafe. Yep, they have us pegged!
The rooms are decorated around three themes-kingdom, pirate and adventure. The premium theme rooms cost about $80 extra, but the over-the-top decor is worth the money.
While visiting Legoland California, we took the time to explore the town of Carlsbad. It has a charming oceanfront area and a good selection of restaurants and family activities. We visited in the spring, so were able to take a field trip to the unique Flower Fields, where you can ride a tractor through 50 acres of flowers. Other natural forms of amusement include the nearby u-pick strawberry fields, open April-July.
Surf's up in downtown Carlsbad where there's ample beach parking along with cute cafes and surf shops. The wildly popular Pizza Port is budget-friendly, as well as kid-friendly. They brew their own beer and have a nice bar, as well as an arcade area for kids. Want to drink in a stunning sunset ocean view? Head for Chandler's Restaurant and Lounge. They have a heated outdoor patio and the food is fantastic. Bistro West is another terrific restaurant, blending high-style decor with exceptional farm-to-table cuisine.