Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Buena Park

Medieval-Times.jpg

Medieval Times is a family-friendly dinner attraction inspired by an 11th century feast and tournament. Guests are served a four-course banquet meal (without utensils, of course) and then cheer for one of six knights competing in the joust and other tests of skill.

You may feel like this is goofy and you're only going for the kids.....but try it out, it's actually a lot of fun and some great entertainment! The tickets aren't "cheap" but when you factor in both the dinner and the great entertainment, it is definitely worth it. We also upgraded our tickets to the VIP/Kings Feast section to get front row seating and it was great!

My 6 year old and I loved the food. Pretty basic but quite tasty menu included tomato bisque, foccacia bread, massive quantity of roasted chicken and ribs that were also quite good, potato, apple strudel and a drink. Really was good. And they do have vegetarian options too.

Gotta love this place. And both the animals and the actors did an amazing job! I captured some scenes from our 2012 visit below.

The Buena Park location is located at 7662 Beach Boulevard, about 60 miles from the Conejo Valley, a mile from Knotts Berry Farm and 5 miles from Disneyland. Visit http://medievaltimes.com/buenapark for more information.

We are lucky to have one of only 9 Medieval Times locations in North America, with others located in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Baltimore, Lyndhurst, NJ and Toronto, Canada.

MedTimes1.JPG
MedTimes2.JPG
MedTimes3.JPG

Lake Shrine Meditation Gardens in Pacific Palisades

LakeShrine_sign.jpg

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine was dedicated by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1950. This is a 10 acre spiritual sanctuary located at 17190 Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, about 25 miles from the Conejo Valley.

LakeShrine2.jpg

The beautiful site hosts a natural spring-fed lake along with gardens, swans, ducks, koi and trees and flowers from around the world.

The grounds include a Court of Religions honoring the five principal religions of the world, the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial where a portion of Gandhi's ashes is enshrined, a museum with exhibits on Paramahansa Yogananda's work, and a gift shop with arts and crafts from India.

The temple itself is on a hilltop overlooking the lake. A beautiful and peaceful place indeed.

The Gardens and Lake are open Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday: 12:00 noon to 4:30 pm (closed on Monday)

The Visitors' Center is open Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday: 12:00 noon to 4:30 pm

Learn more at www.lakeshrine.org.

LakeShrine4.jpg

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

The Griffith Observatory opened to the public in 1935 and is a Los Angeles icon. After 67 years of operation, it was closed for renovation in 2002 and reopened in Fall 2006. The original art deco 27,000 sq ft building built during the Great Depression was expanded by an additional 40,000 sq ft of public space. 

GriffithObservatory.jpg

The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, 1,134 feet above sea level, with expansive views of the surrounding city, mountains and Hollywood sign. Other than the spectacular views outside, the inside of the Observatory features the 300 seat Samuel Oschlin Planetarium, 200 seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon, public telescopes, dozens of exhibits and a cafe/gift shop.

HollywoodSign.jpg

Parking and entrance into the Observatory are FREE! Even if you're not into astronomy, you'll love the scenic views up there. It is located at 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles. More information at www.griffithobservatory.org or call 213.473.0800.

The Observatory is owned and staffed by the City of Los Angeles Dept of Recreation and Parks. As of May 2015, hours are noon to 10pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 10pm Saturday/Sunday. Closed Mondays. Free public telescopes are available each evening the Observatory is open and skies are clear.

Universal Citywalk

Universal Citywalk is a 23 acre entertainment and retail area adjacent to Universal Studios. It is a popular destination for entertainment, dining, shopping and getting out and about. Always lively, festive and colorful, and easy to get to, to me, Citywalk is a no-brainer destination when you have out of town guests or just want to get out and about from Ventura County.


Other than walking around and gazing at the people and interesting sites, there are plenty of things to do at Citywalk, including movie theaters, IMAX theater, a comedy club, the Gibson Amphitheatre, Jillian's (which has food, billiards and a large arcade), iFly Hollywood indoor skydiving and much more.

My kids absolutely love the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co so we usually eat there when we go. But there's a lot of other choices, like Buca di Beppo, Karl Strauss Brewery, Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Hard Rock Cafe, Saddle Ranch Chop House among others.

We also usually stop by Sparky's for a little sugar fix after our meal. They have chocolate covered Twinkies, s'mores, Rice Krispie treats, pretzels, bacon, jalapeno, you name it. Their candied apples look mouth watering too.

I've barely scratched the surface in this post, so visit www.citywalkhollywood.com to learn more. Click here for directions.

Oh, there's another thing. As of January 2015, general parking is $17 before 3pm ($10 after). While I kind of expect that when I visit an amusement park, it is harder for me to part with that kind of cash if I'm going mainly to have a meal and walk around for an hour.  So let me impart some wisdom on you:

If you are planning on going to the movies, the box office will give you a rebate of $11 if you park before 3pm and $5 if you park after 3pm. That reduces your parking cost quite a bit.

Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park

Knott's Berry Farm is a 160 acre amusement park in Buena Park that originally opened in 1940, 15 years prior to the grand opening of Disneyland (the parks are about 7 miles apart). I like Knott's because it is low key and has a fun combination of old time Western motif with modern amusement park rides. This overview of Knott's is current as of March 2012 and of course subject to change.

The areas of the park include, Ghost Town, with over 50 themed shops, eateries and attractions, Indian Trails, Camp Snoopy, Fiesta Village and Boardwalk.

Knott's Resort Hotel is a 320 room hotel with 16 Snoopy-themed rooms adjacent to the park and California Marketplace, just outside of the park entrance, has over a dozen shops and restaurants outside of the main park that include Pink's Famous Hot Dogs, TGI Friday's and other businesses.

Higher intensity roller coasters at Knotts include Boomerang, GhostRider, Jaguar, Montezooma's Revenge, Pony Express, Sierra Sidewinder, Silver Bullet, Timberline Twister and Xcelerator.

Thrill rides include La Revolucion, Rip Tide, Screamin' Swing, Supreme Scream and WindSeeker.

Family rides include Butterfield Stagecoach, Calico Mine Ride, Calico Railroad, Dragon Swing, Hat Dance, High Sierra Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round, Sky Cabin, Waveswinger, Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars and Wipeout.

Camp Snoopy has about a dozen rides geared towards kids.

Water rides include Bigfoot Rapids, Perilous Plunge and Timber Mountain Log Ride.

Live shows and entertainment include a Wild West Stunt Show, Mystery Lodge, Calico Saloon Show, Native American Dancers, Peanuts Character Show and Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang.

Visit www.knotts.com or call 714.220.5200 to learn more. Knotts is located at 8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park.

The New Children's Museum in San Diego

We visited The New Children's Museum in downtown San Diego (200 West Island Avenue at the corner Island Avenue and Front Street) the day after Thankgiving with our young boys.  We have taken our kids to a lot of different places and have to say that this place is very unique.  I've never seen anything like this museum.

The NCM opened in May 2008.  It is a very modern, open, airy building with lots and lots of windows.  The museum offers all sorts of sensory exhibits and activities that encourage kids of all ages to experience creativity and the arts.

In the 2 hours that we were there our kids painted, worked with clay, painted (both with paintbrushes and hands) a VW Bug that was completely slathered with paint (quite unusual...and messy...though the paint was washable and they provided washing stations in close proximity of the exhibit).  The kids crawled through tunnels, climbed climbing walls, ran around in an oversized playhouse and an igloo, frolicked in beanbags and couches, and much much more.

We were told that all of the materials used in the exhibits of this 50,000 square foot, 3 story building were made out of recycled materials.  That made for some quite unusual and unconventional looking exhibits.  The building is one of the first completely "green" museums in California.

Across the street from the museum is a new park with plenty of room to run, play, swing, teeter-totter and spin. 

So if you are looking to do something completely different and unique with your kids, check it out!  The cost was $10 per person and nearby parking will run you another $10 or so.  For more information, visit www.thinkplaycreate.org or call 619.233.8792.

Go Kart World - Carson

On the way to Long Beach we saw the Go Kart World sign to the left of the 405 freeway.  So on the way back to Thousand Oaks I impulsively took the Carson Street offramp to check it out.  With me were several 14 year olds and a 5 year old.  It had been 30 years since I tried a go kart.

Access was very quick and easy and there was plenty of parking on this Saturday afternoon in July.  So within minutes we had to decide which ticket package to purchase.  Wristbands offer as many rides as you can do in a given time period.  Or purchase a discount pack of tickets, with each ticket purchasing a 3 1/2 minute ride on one of 6 tracks.  We opted to purchase a pack of 17 tickets for $60.

I had a blast!  Each track was unique.  There are 3 "speed" tracks for kids/adults, the Super Track, Turbo Road Course and Slick Track.  I tried the Super Track (the longest and newest track at one third of a mile long).  My 5 year old sat beside me.  We had a blast.  Kind of intense and loud, but a lot of fun!  The Slick Track was even more fun as it is a highly polished sprint car oval configuration.  I wasn't able to try the eighth-mile Turbo Road Course but it also looked fun!

There is also a bumper car area, a Kiddy Track and Mini Indy course for kids.  There is a snack bar (the hot dog and lemonade was good), Chuck E Cheese style arcade (with game tickets, prizes, etc.), banquet room and picnic tables.  This would be a great place place for a birthday party!

Go Kart World is an hour away from the Conejo Valley but if you want some cheap thrills and fun, stop by if you're driving the 405 in the vicinity of Carson.  In fact, next time I may just leave the kids at home!

Visit www.gokartworld.com or call 310.834.3800 for more information.  Go Kart World is located at 21830 Recreation Road in Carson.