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Escape the summer heat at Pretend City’s newest exhibit

Summer has definitely arrived in Orange County! And warmer temperatures have prompted my family and I to seek out fun ways to stay cool. One of these summertime solutions is also a favorite of ours year-round — Pretend City

The Irvine-based children’s museum is currently featuring an ocean-themed exhibit called “Adventure Under the Sea.”

During the exhibit, guests can explore super-fun themed days, such as Mermaid Mondays, Tide Pool Tuesdays, Water Safety Wednesdays, Think Tank Thursdays and Fish Fridays! Check them out here:

  • Mermaid Mondays – (11am-12:30pm) Story time, meet and greet and photos with mermaids. (No mermaids July 10 or 31)
  • Tide Pool Tuesdays – (10am-1pm) Featuring real and pretend mobile touch tanks for kids to explore.
  • Water Safety Wednesdays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Valuable summertime water safety tips from local water safety experts and swim schools.
  • Think Tank Thursdays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Explore science, technology, engineering and math skills while learning about our oceans, water cycles and more.
  • Fish Fridays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Learn how to keep our oceans and beaches clean to protect our fishy friends. (No activity on July 14 or 21)


Once you enter the museum, you can find this exhibit in the back left corner. Once inside, you can’t miss the main attraction, the HUGE whale-shaped bounce house! Parents need to accompany little ones inside the bounce house, which proved tricky for me, since my daughter really wanted to go in and my son most definitely did NOT. My whole crew ultimately gave it a shot, but we only lasted a matter of seconds before they all wanted to get out. I think it was just a bit too loud/dark inside for my youngsters, but I think older children would get a kick out of it! 


My crew did, however, enjoy some of the other interactive parts of the exhibit, such as the photo booth dress-up area, and even a section where they could help build and decorate a ship.

Beat the heat and enjoy this splashy exhibit all summer long, through September 7!

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The LEGOLAND Play Pass is back!

One of our favorite deals is back — the LEGOLAND Play Pass! It’s usually available sometime in June, and must be activated by July 31, 2017. So here’s the scoop — purchase it now for $97, and enjoy unlimited admission through December 31, 2017! Plus, as a bonus, you’ll receive a one-day LEGOLAND Water Part ticket, too! 

This is a great deal for families with school-age children who can take advantage of the pass all summer long. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay parking ($17) upon entering.

Get ready for some summer fun now with the Play Pass

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Toddler Tuesdays are coming to Irvine Spectrum Center in May

I’ve been going to Irvine Spectrum Center since I was in high school, back when there was no Target or Nordstrom. (I’m dating myself!) But even back then, it was one of my favorite outdoor malls. Now, as a parent, I think I love it even more! Not only is it practical for families (thanks to retailers like Target, Old Navy, and various other children’s shops) but it’s also a ton of fun! 

Have you heard about Toddler Tuesdays? It’s a new series of fun themed events starting next week, on May 2. During the first four Tuesdays of May, families can enjoy live entertainment, crafts and activities for little ones from 10am-12pm in Giant Wheel Court.

Here are the themes for each week:

Week 1: May 2, Fiesta

Week 2: May 9, Spring Gardens

Week 3: May 16, Safari

Week 4: May 23, Camping + Adventure 

As an added perk, the Carousel, Kiddie Train and Giant Wheel will be free during event hours… which is awesome!

For more information, click here

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Celebrate Carlsbad Day with $30 tickets to LEGOLAND on 4/29


We love LEGOLAND. We also love good deals. Combining LEGOLAND and good deals? Priceless! Check out this awesome deal for cheap tickets to LEGOLAND, California. It’s part of an annual event called Carlsbad Day, when tickets are discounted to $30, to be enjoyed on April 29, 2017 from 12pm to 8pm. 

Click here to purchase tickets online through the Carlsbad Educational Foundation. Tickets to SEA LIFE Aquarium can be purchased for an additional $9. 

What’s your favorite ride or activity at LEGOLAND?

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OC Easter wrap-up

Spring has sprung in Orange County, and we have the beautiful weather to prove it! Kids are enjoying spring break, flowers are in full bloom and Easter is just around the corner. If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate Easter with little ones, I highly recommend visiting Irvine Park Railroad through April 15 for the “Easter Eggstravaganza.” My family and I look forward to this event each and every year. Not only can your family meet and take pictures with the Easter Bunny, but you can also choose from an assortment of Easter-related activities, from an Easter egg hunt to carnival-style games, cookie decorating, face painting, bounce houses, a coloring station, and of course, a train ride.

Upon arrival, I recommend purchasing a book of tickets. You can purchase activity tickets for $5 each, but they go very quickly here, so I recommend the book of 15 tickets for $60 (a $15 savings) — whichever tickets are left over can be used at any other events at the park, such as Halloween or Christmas. Next, I suggest heading over to the egg hunt booth to get a wristband for an egg hunt. Hunts are divided by age categories, such as 2-4, 2-7 and 2-12. Once you have your wristband, you can relax and enjoy the activities while waiting for your designated egg hunt time. The egg hunts cost two tickets per child.

A visit to Irvine Park Railroad isn’t complete without meeting the Easter Bunny, too! For $10, your family can meet the bunny and have one picture printed. (Sign up for the park’s email list and you can receive coupons, such as an additional free picture from your session!).

Keep in mind that weekends at the park can be extremely busy, so if at all possible, I recommend planning your visit on a weekday. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekends. For additional information, click here.

If you’re simply looking for an Easter Bunny photo experience, you may want to check out The Shops at Mission Viejo for a hassle-free visit. We all know how hard it can be to wait in a long line with wiggly toddlers in tow, so that’s why I love the online appointment option offered here — sign up for a reserved time slot ahead of time to skip the line! Online scheduling requires a $10 deposit, which will be applied toward your purchase of a bunny photo package.

Have fun, and Happy Easter!

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Festival family fun at Kidchella!

Get ready to move and groove at Pretend City’s Kidchella Festival this week! The festival runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Saturday, April 8. They’ve got live music from local talent and even a real car kids can paint on! For all your little artists, there are plenty of festival arts and crafts, plus music to dance to. For more information, check out the Pretend City website. I’ll post an update soon after my crew checks it out soon!

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Trader Joe’s moves in to Pretend City!

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My kids and I recently visited Pretend City to celebrate “Noon-Year’s Eve,” a family-friendly New Year’s Eve event offering countdowns and plenty of confetti. As soon as we walked inside the City, my son immediately noticed that the grocery store was closed for renovation. He was disappointed since this is his favorite part of the Pretend City experience.

So, you can imagine my excitement when we were invited to preview the new-and-improved grocery store experience at Pretend City, courtesy of Trader Joe’s! My kids were ecstatic as they raced inside to check it out. They’re already huge fans of Trader Joe’s, so combining TJ’s with one of their favorite kid’s museums is just icing on the cake.

I was amazed at the transformation of the generic grocery store into a mini Trader Joe’s — complete with pint-size carts and baskets, fruits and veggies, bouquets of flowers and even cash registers complete with the infamous Trader Joe’s bells. You’ll also find a “demo” area, Trader Joe’s Crew Member Hawaiian shirts and TJ’s branded products.

My kids both give the renovation two enthusiastic thumbs up! Their favorite part? The interactive cash registers! They loved ringing the bell and checking out “customers” as they came through their aisle. Even re-stocking the items afterward became a fun game.

The small baby-friendly corner that was previously included in the store has been removed to create more space for the produce section of the new Trader Joe’s.

Don’t miss the Grand Opening celebration on Monday, January 16 at 10:15 a.m. The celebration will include a lei-cutting ceremony, free giveaways and more! Plus, kids can observe live demos all day, just like the ones we see at our own neighborhood stores.

For more information about the grocery store and Pretend City, click here.

Address: 29 Hubble, Irvine, California, 92618
Cost: Children over 12 months and adults — $12.50 each