Get Out and Grow: Balboa Park (Sponsored)

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. Spring marks the start of the Blue Diamond Almond growing season. Get Out and Grow and experience something good this spring! Head over to the Blue Diamond Almonds Facebook Page and tell them how you would use $1,000 to enjoy the good life this spring for a chance to win! 
We had planned to go to the San Diego Zoo. Besides Archer, the kids had never been and I felt like it was probably time. Because every kid loves the zoo, you know? Because, as a child, the zoo was my absolute favorite place to go. I went to zoo camp in the summers so I could be close to the animals and begged my parents every chance we got to go. And yet. The older I get the more uncomfortable I am with zoos, even San Diego's Zoo, which is one of the greatest zoos in the world and does tremendous good, actually. Still, I can't help but feel wildly uncomfortable pointing out wildlife behind glass and bars and cages, even humongous cages.

Anyway. All of these thoughts while trying to plan our zoo trip and Hal being like, "Bec, you're crazy" and me being like, "Of course I'm crazy, what's up"  but the thing about feelings is that they're all we really have so when my parents and I showed up to a full parking lot at the zoo last week, I felt kind of relieved.

"No more room!" the parking attendant told us as I rolled down my window.

It was a sign. (Or not.) But it was a sign to me.

"Change of plans, everyone!"

I expected groans from the back seat but nobody seemed to mind. That's the one great thing about large family life. Nothing EVER works out according to plan and everyone has no choice but to roll with it. For better, for worse, for as long as we all have different wants and needs and Fable has to try on seventeen outfits before we leave the house and poop explosion in the carseat, we have to go home and etc etc etc.

If it doesn't work out, there is something else. 

That's what I tell them and that is what I tell me and, last week, that is what we all decided when we pulled out of the zoo parking lot and hung a righty toward Balboa Park.

"Plan B in the house!"
We were hoping to stop by the Model Railroad Museum on our way home from the zoo because it's one of Archer's favorite places on this planet. SO. We decided trains would be our first stop on the Plan B express.
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To be honest, the Train Museum isn't really... my favorite. It's windowless and full of tiny worlds that kind of creep me out and I spent the entire time sweating through my clothes c/o claustrophobia (and also because I sweat profusely always).  HOWEVER. I am so completely blown away by the passion of the people who volunteer their time and energy to curate, build and provide a space for children of all ages to enjoy. I see SO MUCH of Archer when I look into the eyes of the suspender clad model railroad men and I'm not just saying that because Archer is usually standing in the window behind them. 
These trains mean everything to these guys. They do to Archer as well. They are beautiful and interesting and inspiring and as I type this, Archer is in his room building his own railways and cities, creating his own storied worlds. 
Bo was definitely on board. Or should I say, "ALLL ABOAAARD!" and kept getting busted for leaning on the protective plastic freaking out at all the "babies" which is what she calls everything she loves. Aw. 
Fable and Revi were more interested in pressing all of the buttons...
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Balboa Park is one of San Diego's finest places. I grew up attending their theatre camp and spent many a summer with my brother and sister running around through the gardens, attending the Air & Space museum and, of course, my childhood fave, The Natural History Museum.

But the kids were more interested in just being. Exploring and dipping their hands in fountains and chasing birds... 
So that's pretty much what we did. 
Whenever we go anywhere as a family we pack our own food and snacks. Food is overpriced and kind of the worst pretty much everywhere families are welcome which is a real shame. Also, I was raised with packed lunches for every kind of day trip, amusement park, et al, so it feels like home to bust out the cooler and hand everyone their sandwiches and snacks.
Flower sandwiches 4 lyf
The deal has always been: a healthy home-packed lunch = a treat of their choice from wherever it is we're visiting. (Archer and Fable chose Dip N' Dots on this trip.)

Yes, this is a sponsored post for almonds but almonds are my #1 snack of choice since forever (Blue Diamond being my favorite, hands down), especially as most of us are vegetarians. (My parents, included.)

Other healthy snacks my kids love:

Persian Cucumbers
Any/all berries
Organic string cheese
Sugar Snap Peas
Garbanzo Beans
Dried Seaweed
Rice cakes
After lunch, the kids ran laps around everything, chased birds and stuck their hands in filthy water, which Revi later stood in with her shoes on because that is what she does. 
But not before she found a keyboard player and busted out dancing:
photo-1 photo-24 Meanwhile, Bo found some people to photo(bo)mb:
photo-13 Archer watched some mean dance move action:
photo-11 Fable and Archer made twenty-three wishes:
We ate six entire packs of almonds.
We also had balloon animals made, popped them within five minutes and then went back for round two because of course. 
It was a truly amazing day.
 Here's to Plan Bs.
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For more on Balboa Park go here. For more cool lesser-known things to do in San Diego, go here. Happy adventuring, everyone!