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  • Best of Family Fun 2017 Winners and Top Picks
    Best of Family Fun Awards.The beach of course!Best Place to Get WetThe beachIt’s no secret that San Diegans love the water, and where better to enjoy a whole day in the water for free, than the beach? Whether it’s building sandcastles on Coronado’s iconic white sand beach, boogie boarding with the locals at Pacific Beach, or surfing Del Mar’s scenic coastline, San Diego has no shortage of spectacular coastline to explore. Top PicksAquaticaWaterfront Parkjulian for the love of pie.Best Family Day TripJulianwww.visitjulian.com“An annual drive to Julian is a must. Local small-town charm, apple picking, horse-drawn carriages, shopping in quaint shops and a visit to the general store. Plus, it’s a beautiful drive! Stop at Dudley’s along the way for fresh-baked bread, rolls and pie!” ~Laura of Mira MesaTop PicksDisneylandCoronadoBest Party Venue for Kids (ages 5-11)Funbelievable www.funbelievableplay.comPlanning a birthday party or celebration? At Funbelievable parents relax while the kids run, hop, jump, skip and slide through the indoor play center. Kids can conquer the giant jungle gym with ropes, slides, ladders, ball pits and more. Themed birthday party packages make hosting a “piece of cake.” Top PicksCorvette DinerSkateworldBest Local Donut ShopMary’s DonutsWith locations in Santee and Lakeside, Mary’s Donuts treats residents and visitors to fresh, homemade donuts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customer favorites include the raspberry filled cream puffs, maple bacon bar and blueberry classic donut. “Fresh simple donuts, wonderful customer service,” says Margie of Chula Vista. Top PicksDonut BarNomad DonutsLiberty Station is like the Disneyland of Food malls.Best Spot for Date NightLiberty Stationwww.libertystation.comIndulge in a kid free evening of art, food and entertainment. Have dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants, enjoy drinks and a movie at The Lot luxury theaters, take a stroll through Liberty Public Market’s food and craft stands, or meet local artists in the Arts District at Friday Night Liberty Art Walk. Top PicksThe Prado at Balboa ParkHotel del CoronadoKid Ventures has the best parties for the little guys.Best Party Venue for ToddlersKid Ventureswww.indoorplaysandiego.com“The creative atmosphere is perfect for parties plus the party planners take care of all the details. Toddlers feel like they are walking into a world of their own imagination,” says Chloe of Escondido.Top PicksFunbelievable Chuck E. CheeseBest Kid’s MenuCorvette Dinerwww.cohnrestaurants.com/corvettedinerThe 50’s style diner offers an expansive kid’s menu with classic American diner fare and kid favorites like grilled cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken fingers and corn dogs. All kid’s menu items come with a soft drink and choice of french fries, steamed veggies, apple sauce or carrots and ranch. Top PicksRubio’sHamburger FactoryTeens can volunteer.Best Activity for TeensVolunteeringwww.sandiegofamily.com/for-the-kids/totally-teensVolunteering is a great way for teens to spend free time. After all, there is tremendous satisfaction that comes from making the world a better place. Visit our website to learn about local opportunities, such as helping at Junior Adaptive Sports Camp.Top PicksBelmont ParkK-1 SpeedCorvette diner is tons of fun!Best Restaurant with Kid-Friendly Play Space Corvette DinerCorvette Diner’s Gamers Garage is a great place for kids to let loose after dinner, whether you’re hosting a birthday party or enjoying a family night out. Purchase a Gamers Card for access to over 60 classic arcade games like air hockey, pinball, skee ball and much more.Top PicksNate’s Garden GrillStation TavernHidden gem!San Diego’s Best Hidden GemCity Farmers Nurserywww.cityfarmersnursery.comWhether or not you’re in the market for new plants, City Farmers Nursery is a must see. Kids love visiting with the adorable animal residents and parents love listening to live music on the patio next door or relaxing among the bonsai in the tranquil Buddha Garden. Top PicksJapanese Friendship GardenLa Jolla Sea CavesBest Place to Get CreativeThe New Children’s Museumwww.thinkplaycreate.orgTake part in free entertainment and art making workshops inspired by discovery, diversity and community. Claire of San Diego says, “There are so many creative activities! From clay and painting to inventing and science based workshops. This museum has it all!” Don’t miss the museum’s annual Mass Creativity Day.Top PicksCeramiCafeLittle ArtistsBest App for ParentsNextdoorA great tool to stay informed about what’s going on in your own neighborhood, whether it’s finding a reliable dog walker, learning about an upcoming concert in the park, or hearing about a rash of neighborhood break-ins. Top PicksDr. Seuss Read, Learn & Play appsMomCo, where moms connectBest Free Activity/EventFree Museum Dayswww.balboapark.org/residents-freeResident Free Tuesdays offer free admission to select Balboa Park museums for San Diego County residents, active military personnel and their dependents. Museums offer free admission on rotating Tuesdays, so be sure to check the schedule before you go.     Top PicksSummer Movies in the ParkSummer outdoor concertsBest Live Performance for FamiliesDr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!www.theoldglobe.orgEvery holiday season, the beloved Dr. Seuss children’s book comes to life on stage at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. The Grinch is a family favorite that delights audiences with its whimsical storytelling and holiday carols. Check the schedule for sensory-friendly performances geared to families with special needs. Top PicksSan Diego Junior TheatreDisney on IceMmmmm ... pancakes.Best Local Breakfast SpotThe Original Pancake Housewww.originalpancakehouse.comThe Pancake House offers classic breakfast dishes like eggs benedict, strawberry crepes and mouthwatering potato pancakes that you can’t get anywhere else. Katelyn of Scripps Ranch says, “It’s been our family’s favorite breakfast spot since I was a baby. Both locations serve up the most delicious pancakes you could ever hope for. Get the German Pancake!” Top PicksThe MissionHash HouseSomething tells me it's all happening at the zoo.Best Place for an Animal EncounterSan Diego Zoo and Safari Parkwww.sandiegozoo.org“Each visit is a different experience, as the animals are always up to something new! Keeper Talks let you learn in depth about a specific animal, while Animal Encounters let you get up close,” says Katie of Scripps Ranch.Top PicksSeaWorldLiving Coast Discovery CenterFleet science center is a unique experience.Best Museum for FamiliesFleet Science Centerwww.fleetscience.orgHands-on, educational exhibits teach both kids and adults about science and encourage curiosity about the world. Twelve permanent exhibits like So Watt! An Illuminating Look at Energy and the Tinkering Studio inspire playfulness and discovery in fun and exciting ways.  Top PicksNew Children’s MuseumThe NAT (Natural History Museum)Balboa Park is the gem of downtown San Diego.Best Local Tourist AttractionBalboa Parkwww.balboapark.orgTake a ride on the historic carousel, listen to a live outdoor organ concert, stroll through exotic plants at the Botanical Garden or enjoy a leisurely ride into Balboa Park’s past on an electriquette, a small motorized chair that visitors drove around Balboa Park at the 1915  Panama Exhibition. Top PicksSan Diego ZooSeaport VillageBirch aquarium is like a mini Monterey Bay Aqurium.Best Educational OutingBirch Aquariumwww.aquarium.ucsd.edu“I have a lot of great memories of going to Birch Aquarium as a kid. I learned so much about the marine life in San Diego that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. As an adult I still love to take visitors from out of town.” ~Adrian of Mira MesaTop PicksFleet Science CenterThe NAT (Natural History Museum)Dessert time!Best Frozen TreatThe Baked Bearwww.thebakedbear.comA San Diego original, The Baked Bear serves up delicious customizable ice cream sandwiches. First choose a donut, brownie or cookie in a variety of homemade flavors. Then select from a dozen original ice cream flavors and finally, pick a topping like Heath Bar bits or Oreo crumbles. Make sure to get your sandwich hot pressed!Top PicksYogurtlandRita’s Italian IceBelmont Park is San Diego speak for FUN!Best Amusement CenterBelmont Parkwww.belmontpark.comLisa of Rancho Peñasquitos sums it up best: “In addition to the historic roller coaster and beachfront location, they’ve added lots of fun attractions like laser tag, ropes course, miniature golf, and a zipline for kids. There’s something for everyone! Plus, they have Dole Whip. What’s not to love?” Top PicksDave & BustersBoomersMission Trails  has many places to hike and enjoy nature.Best Place to Connect with NatureMission Trails Regional Parkwww.MTRP.orgBring the kids and explore one of the largest urban parks in the United States and original home to the native Kumeyaay people. Enjoy more than 60 miles of hiking trails, guided Family Nature Walks, horseback riding, animal sightings and more.   Top PicksTorrey Pines Nature ReserveTide poolsA museum for children!Best Place to Play IndoorsThe New Children’s Museum www.thinkplaycreate.orgKids’ imaginations run wild at the dress-up station, sandbox gallery or life-sized sketch aquarium. Let them loose in Wobbleland, a unique play area featuring over-sized climbable fruit sculptures. Maria of Southcrest says, “There are so many interactive things to do, like climbing, painting, drawing, building and playing!” Top PicksFunbelievableKid Ventures Urban JungleBest Activity for Thrill SeekersKayaking La Jolla Sea CavesThrill seekers, adventurers and water enthusiasts love to explore La Jolla’s unique coastline up close and personal on a kayak expedition. Choose from one of several kayak tour companies. Paddle through narrow sea caves or visit with sea lions and otters (from a distance, of course.)    Top PicksHang gliding at Torrey Pines GliderportSix Flags Magic MountainBest Family-Friendly BreweryPizza Portwww.pizzaport.com
A San Diego favorite with four locations, Pizza Port is part pizza parlor, part brewery. Original craft beers and handcrafted pizzas are inspired by California beach culture. The laid-back atmosphere and delicious pizza pies make it a great dinner spot that the whole family will enjoy. Don’t forget to order the Beer Buddies (bite-sized pieces of seasoned pizza crust)—yum! Top PicksStone BrewingBallast PointBest Place to Take a Family PhotoBalboa Parkwww.balboapark.org
Looking for a perfect spot to take a holiday or graduation photo? Make an afternoon of it and head over to San Diego’s beloved Balboa Park. Favorite photo spots include the Lily Pond and Botanical Garden, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Japanese Friendship Garden and Alcazar Garden.Top PicksThe BeachCoronado Best Place for Kids to Break a SweatYMCAwww.ymca.org
The YMCA is a wonderful place for kids to get exercise while having fun. The Y has multiple locations offering a variety of classes and camps for kids such as swimming, martial arts, gymnastics and sports camp. Parents can also partake in family fitness classes.
Top PicksSky ZoneRockin’ JumpBest Party Venue for TeensUltrazone Laser Tagwww.ultrazonesandiego.com
Who doesn’t love a good game of laser tag? Grab your crew and head over to Ultrazone in Point Loma where you’ll wind your way through an expansive maze of lights, tunnels and secret passageways. It’s a great party venue for kids, teens and parents alike. Top PicksMiramar Speed CircuitSky ZoneBest Mom BloggerThe Mom’s Guide to San Diego – Jennifer Humora & Chelsea Maxsonwww.momsguidetosandiego.com
San Diego moms Jennifer Humora and Chelsea Maxson are co-authors and founders of The Mom’s Guide to San Diego, a fun and informative resource for local moms. You’ll find resources on the blog for everything from local events and entertainment to birthing and fertility services.  Top PicksAddison Reads – Sam Munoz100 Days of Real Food ­–­ Lisa LeakeBest Family Resort or GetawayDisneyland Resort www.disneyland.disney.go.com
Less than two hours from San Diego, Disneyland Resort offers a wonderful family getaway adventure. While staying at The Disneyland Hotel, The Grand Californian or Paradise Pier, dine with your Disney friends at a special meet-and-greet character breakfast, indulge in delicious cuisine at Downtown Disney, and enjoy easy access to theme park gates.Top PicksLegoland ResortGreat Wolf LodgeUpdated: July 2017      
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  • Family Things To Do Outside of Comic Con
    Maleficent cosplay.The BasicsComic-Con began as a single day event in 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel with about 100 attendees. Today, it is a four-day event (July 20-23) at the San Diego Convention Center that attracts over 150,000 people from around the world. If you were lucky enough to secure a badge, congratulations! Nearly one million people vie annually for about 55,000 badges. This multi-genre entertainment event covering the latest in movies, television, video games and comics, has outgrown the convention center and spills out into downtown, creating a campus-like atmosphere. Some of the biggest buzz this year will be about Thor: Ragnarok, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Bladerunner 2049, The Defenders and more. Visit www.comic-con.org for programming.kids dress up for comic-conOffsite EventsWith or without a badge, there are plenty of free activities outside of Comic-Con for families to enjoy. Often fans in costume, walking around the downtown are happy to stop for a photo opp which make fun, family memories!We will continue to update this list as we find out about more events!  (Maybe/Maybe Not? "Family" Events - We are on the fence whether or not to call ALL of these entries "Family" events, so we are leaving them to your discretion)Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade style balloons of Cartoon Network characters will be seen anchored near the Children's Museum. Great Photo Opp for Families!A Kong: Skull Island walk through experience will be on the lawn behind the Omni hotel. Marvel at the gigantic bones of Kong’s ancestors, view the Iwi temple, and creep through the jungles of the island. You may even see the mighty Kong himself. Hours: Thur.-Sun, 8:30am-7pm.Amazon hosts a Tick Takeover which will welcome guest "citizens" into themed rooms including an enormous, controllable Tick head room. "Citizens" will help Arthur and The Tick take down a group of evil-doers throughout this multi-room experience. Corner of 1st and J street. Hours: Thur.-Sun. 9am-5pm.NBC is taking over Tin Fish Restaurant(170 6th ave) and turning it into a 4D, supernatural journey into the dark town of Midnight,Texas. Hours: Thurs.-Sun. 11am-6pm.The streets are lined with activities and attractions such as South Park and Game of Thrones. Petco Park hosts the Comic-Con Interactive Zone in the Lexus Premier Lot with food trucks, events, a carnival ride, booths and interactive experiences as well as events in Park at the Park. Sadly, Nerd HQ is not taking place this year, but there’s buzz that some of the components will pop-up so check www.nerdhq.com for the latest news. Video games are a large part of the Fan Fest. In the past there have been showrooms for Lego and Disney Infinity featuring exclusive figures and video game demos, a Call of Duty laser tag attraction, an Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, and a Walking Dead haunted experience. This year Nintendo returns with its Family Gaming Lounge at the Marriott. The best website for all things Comic-Con is www.sdccblog.com.Star Wars is always a good choice for costume at Comic-conThere won’t be a zombie walk this year, but the organizers are promising another “undead” event. If your teens can handle it, visit www.sdzombiewalk.com for the scoop.If the kids are worn out but you still have energy, there are plenty of nighttime events (most require tickets) such as the Game of Thrones Pub Crawl, Funko Fundays, Pirate Con, “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” Live at the Balboa Theatre, Hop-Con 5.0, Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Concert and even an Underground Lightsaber Fighters Tournament. Some events allow kids. Visit www.outsidecomiccon.com for details. costumes at comic-conGiveaways & PromotionsYou can’t walk very far without being handed something—a poster, comic book, party invitation or other promotional pieces. Over the years we’ve collected t-shirts, ball caps, posters, pins, sunglasses, virtual reality viewers, buttons and other trinkets. Street teams run around promoting shows like Outlander, featuring shirtless men wearing kilts and women playing bagpipes.Look for CelebritiesRobert Downey Jr. once donned an Iron Man mask and walked unnoticed through the crowds and Benedict Cumberbatch greeted fans waiting in line for Hall H after midnight. Last year we saw Seth Rogen being interviewed on a balcony at the Hard Rock Hotel and took selfies with the cast from Agents of Shield. You never know who is inside that Spiderman costume or black SUV!Be PreparedComic-Con is an electrifying and amazing experience. It’s also hot and crowded—with lots of waiting and few places to sit and rest. Plan some downtime, such as walking a few blocks away to a less crowded restaurant or heading to Embarcadero Marina Park behind the convention center to sit under a tree. Think twice before taking toddlers or children who don’t do well in large crowds—it’s not for the faint-hearted. For older kids, Comic-Con is something they’ll always remember!Gina Petrone is a local writer with two teenage boys who were dutifully raised on Harry Potter, Star Wars and all things Marvel. Photos used with permission from the author.Read 10 Tips for Tackling Comic-Con with Kids for helpful hints on how to navigate Comic-Con with kids.Twitter is a great way to learn what is happening at Comic-Con in real time. Follow these sources:@SD_Comic_Con@Comic_Con@outsidecomiccon@nerdist@thenerdmachine@sdzombiewalk@sdccnerdsattack@parksandconsPublished June 2017
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  • Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?
    Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | Simplifying The MarketThere is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year: More buyers […]
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  • Access is an Important Factor in Getting Your House SOLD!
    Access is an Important Factor in Getting Your House SOLD! | Simplifying The MarketSo, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers. There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, […]
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  • Homeowners: Your House Must Be Sold TWICE
    Homeowners: Your House Must Be Sold TWICE | Simplifying The MarketIn today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5%+ over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal. If prices are surging, it is difficult for […]
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  • Top 4 Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC]
    Top 4 Home Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The MarketSome Highlights: Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home, or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most “Return On Investment” (ROI). While big projects like adding a bathroom or a complete remodel of a kitchen are popular ways to increase a home’s value, something as simple as updating landscaping and curb appeal can have a quick impact on a home’s value.
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  • Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong If They’re Telling You Not to Buy
    Your Friends Are Crazy Wrong if They're Telling You Not to Buy | Simplifying The MarketThe current narrative is that home prices have risen so much so that it is no longer a smart idea to purchase a home. Your family and friends might suggest that buying a home right now (whether a first-time home or a move-up home) makes absolutely no sense from an affordability standpoint. They are wrong! […]
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  • Feeling ‘Stuck in Place’? You Aren’t Alone… And There’s Hope!
    Feeling ‘Stuck in Place’? You Aren’t Alone… And There’s Hope! | Simplifying The MarketWhether you are a renter who is searching for your dream home or a homeowner who feels like your only option is to renovate, you have at least one thing in common: feeling stuck in place. According to data from the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the average amount of […]
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  • Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy?
    Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | Simplifying The MarketMortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters. This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a […]
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