funfair

Magic Sunday visiting Santa Cruz

After driving up from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz on Saturday evening, we woke on Sunday morning ready for some fun at the beautifully set Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

We spent a morning enjoying the sunshine, rides and thrills of the fun-fair.

Couldn’t believe Miss 4 wanted to go on the Haunted House ride! She spotted it as we rode the ‘Sky Ride’ over the boardwalk and insisted we go on it. She really surprises me sometimes. Her older sisters joined us and it was actually quite entertaining, rather than frightening – though I had my hand ready to hide her eyes if anything was too much!

Santa Cruz boardwalk

The funnest children’s ride was ‘The Speedway’. It didn’t look much at first, but once the engines roared it sped off, slow and gentle on the straight, but taking the corners at a great pace. Great entertainment and amusement for the parents watching on!

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

After a couple of hours well spent we hit the road again, heading up to San Francisco. We made a pit-stop at a place called ‘Dave & Busters‘ in Milpitas, to rendezvous with a friend of our older daughters – a friend they’d met online via Minecraft!

Dave and Busters

It was a fun meet-up and her parents were so lovely. We ended up heading to their place afterwards for a quick splash in the pool, where all the children had such a great time together – as us ‘old folk’ enjoyed a good chatter.

IMG_7527

We arrived in San Francisco as the sunset, looking forward to Monday being a holiday, thanks to Memorial Weekend here in the USA and not having to bid farewell to the man of the house.

Arriving in SF at sunset

Great to have a change of scene from Santa Barbara – as lovely as it is there – it’s a little ‘quiet’ for us and we do love a bit of action!

Weekending It! All action!

Having the man of the house home at the weekend gives us family time to get out and really explore this place – and we certainly had an action packed weekend of it!

The man of the house

Whilst the rest of us were barely awake he headed off for an early morning paddle board, returning back mid-morning for a quick appointment with a lady from a tutoring business, as we’re organising tutors for our older girls in some key subjects, to compliment their ‘natural learning’.

Then we all headed out for a family time of biking along the beautiful Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, to the marina area for lunch.

We found a great cafe called, ‘Endless Summer’, right next to the Maritime Museum. It was the most relaxed, family lunch we’ve enjoyed in a while. A perfect setting, beautiful scenery and a fantastic, affordable, children’s menu (win, win!).

View over marina from Endless Summer Cafe

After lunch, and cycling back towards the central town of Santa Barbara, we enjoyed a little browse in the ‘Funk Zone’, where we found a gorgeous antique shop, jam packed, from floor to ceiling, with treasures, as well as a cute little surf museum.

Funk Zone Santa Barbara

After a busy morning, we went home for an afternoon rest before visiting friends in the evening.

Sunday was another action packed day.

We decided to head south to Santa Monica Pier and the fairground there.

Santa Monica Pier

We all had a fabulous time, with lots of rides to keep our youngest child amused, as well as the older ones.

Fun at the Fair

 

Santa Monica Pier

Just as we were heading back to the car, for drive home to Santa Barbara, we saw a man with two snakes! Our Miss 10 would so love a pet snake, but our rental agreement wouldn’t allow it – not to mention we wouldn’t be able to take a snake back to New Zealand with us! It was a dream come true for her to hold the snakes. She did so well holding the weight of two rather large snakes – combined weight of 60 pounds!

Miss 10 and 2 snakes!

On the drive back, as the sun began to sink low in the sky over the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at a huge sand dune, over looking a beautiful bay.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Of course sand and children are always a fun mix – especially when sand is banked up very high for climbing up and running (or rolling) down.

Sand dune fun California

Next time we pass we’ll have to make sure we have a boogie board in the back, or a piece of cardboard… it reminded me of an adventure Dan and I enjoyed on Fraser Island years ago – boogie boarding down a dune into a lake!

Sand dune fun

We got home just after sunset and whilst unpacking the car (looked more like we’d been away for a week!), the man of the house got in the pool with the children. Just when I thought we were done for the day, and steering towards bedtime, a Suzy Cato DVD inspired an experiment with purple cabbage on the different between acid and alkaline (fact sheet, thanks to Suzy, here). Being in a natural learning way, we embraced the moment and did a science experiment before bedtime (as you do!).

We all finally got to sleep – close to 11pm!

Fun at the Fair in the sunshine of Santa Cruz

“It’s ‘Blackpool Pleasure Beach’ in the sun!” we both said in unison as the children ran around us in excited circles waiting for their tickets.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Old-fashioned rides blended with fair-ground games, candy floss and hot dog stalls were on every corner and the sound of screams, mixed with shrill laughter, filled the air. The only thing missing were trams and donkeys. On the expansive beach there were people in a lot less clothing than on your average day at Blackpool too, but then this was Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park in sunny California.

Swings

The symphony swings flew out in an arc over the beach, as the sun beat down on the beach below. Our seven year old daughter rode on the swings over and over again, whilst her oldest sister rode on the boardwalk’s landmark ride – ‘The Giant Dipper‘ – with her Daddy.

The Giant Dipper

Whilst the screams of excitement, intermingled with music and laughter, rang out from every direction of the boardwalk, our youngest, Miss 3, took a nap in her buggy. Her dreams filled with riding a friendly dragon, as her Mummy and Daddy smiled on with delight; as she pulled back on a lever to fly her dragon into a cloudless, blue sky.

Alice on the dragon ride

And whilst she continued to dream, I watched the smile on the face of one of my daughters. She was having the time of her life, riding on a car waltzer, making me reminisce on days when the fun-fair would visit the town where I grew up, in Hampshire, England.

Miss 7 having a blast!

There were some rides that filled my husband and I with less than pleasant memories from our younger years, but filled our two older girls with rapturous glee, calling out to go, ‘Again! Again!’.

Let's get dizzy!

The first time they rode the spinning machine of stomach churning madness I thought they’d come off green, with tears streaming down their faces! But their stomachs are obviously made of something stronger (that perhaps age makes worse!).

Happy to be spinning around and around!

They delighted in getting their Mummy and Daddy to go on the ‘scary’ rides with them – taking huge pleasure in seeing us cope less ably than them.

Crazy Surf

Thankfully we had the excuse of young Miss 3 to ‘cop’ out of too much stomach churning. As much as we still love a good thrill, we got equal pleasure from watching our youngest child’s face light up riding independently on boats, whales and ‘Pepsi’ delivery vehicles!

Alice on the whale

She rode a little boat with such concentration, truly believing her actions on the steering wheel would make a difference as to how the boat moved.

Boat riding concentrationAll the while the sun continued to beat down on the beach and fun on the boardwalk.

Santa Cruz beach

Whilst cuddly toys called out to be won…

Catching a prize

And ghosts were preparing to meet with their demise as our older two ‘ghost busters’ powered up for action.

Ghost busting

This was definitely one family adventure not to be forgotten. We’ll be talking about this for a very long time!