Adventures with children at San Diego’s Balboa Park and Coronado Island

On Sunday, rather than risking the weather for a beach day for the second straight day, we chose to go to Balboa Park. On the way, Laura and I stopped in Hillcrest to pick up some lunch. There wasn’t a whole lot of parking.

Fortunately, we drive this and can fit into a motorcycle spot.

The outdoor section of Starbucks in San Diego is much nicer than in Richmond.

Although after Mark found black widows under two out of four patio chairs at his house, these outdoor seats seemed less attractive.

We got lunch at a great sandwich place called T-Deli, which is one of those places where the employees are so nice that they give you free drinks for having to wait for them to make your fresh sandwich.

And they provided Mckenna's favorite - free ice.

We took our sandwiches to Balboa Park, one of my favorite places in San Diego. It includes some amazing natural areas as well as most of the city’s museums.
Although the park has lots of places for kids to run around safely, there were some mishaps.

Laura unleashed the horrified mother look on several occasions.

And while experiencing the fountains and plant life in the park, the kids naturally found all of the places to run around that were not safe.

While this entertained 2/3 cousins, clearly the chance of death was not high enough for Miles.

Obviously, there was only one thing for us to do with all of these rowdy kids.

Use their energy to shatter the serenity of the Japanese Friendship Garden.

At first, the garden seemed to calm the children. There were fish to see…

While this entertained 2/3 cousins, clearly the chance of death was not high enough for Miles.

…and baby toes to nibble.
Eventually, though, our tour through the garden became more of a race.

Here, Drew is racing to either beat his brother and cousin through the garden or to find a bathroom to use for the third time in twenty minutes.

Drew did have to make an emergency pee stop in the middle of the garden, which was better than McKenna’s choice to urinate in the kiddie stream at the Botanic Garden. And I’m sure that the plants Drew peed on are resilient…

Or maybe not.

Just when it seemed like the kids might have run themselves out, bad Aunt Laura found a new use for some tree trimmings.

Hey! We can use the plants in this garden as weapons!!!

Remember when this was a friendship garden?

Mark’s request for family pictures restored the peace because it was hard for the kids to fight and run while posing for a picture. When Mark and Margo’s family posed for a picture, McKenna siezed the opportunity to secede from our family.
We were able to end the secession crisis with a bribe of a balloon animal and face paint.
While acquiring the balloon/face paint bribe, we encountered insane balloon animal guy. Finding out that one of the parents in line was an Israeli, ballroom animal guy began discussing the current crisis with the Palestinians in Gaza. This produced one of those tense interactions in which everyone was aware of the tension except for balloon guy, who was creating the tension. Without directly telling balloon guy to shut up, the Israeli threw every social cue at him, to no effect.
  • Israeli stares forward stonily: Balloon guy moves to catch his eye.
  • Israeli turns away from balloon guy to talk to his daughter: Balloon guy conscientiously waits for him to stop talking and then wonders aloud about whether there are any differences between Palestinians and Arabs.
  • Israeli studies the sky: Balloon guy plows on with his narrative about the crisis.

Fortunately for the man from Israel, balloon guy had to man his balloon-animal post, so when the Israeli’s daughter finished having her face painted and they walked away, the balloon guy couldn’t follow him around the entire park. As he almost certainly would have done.


After McKenna had her face painted and got her Hello Kitty balloon, we went to the rose garden at Balboa, which is very nice, and the cactus garden, which is incredible.

And Laura finally got McKenna to smile for a picture by threatening to impale Hello Kitty on a cactus spike. Laura and I are “ends justifies the means” type people, so the fact that McKenna smiled for the subsequent pictures meant that this approach was good parenting.

The smile that saved Hello Kitty.

The next day we went to Coronado Island to meet Laura’s cousin Yvette and her family and to get in some beach time.

Coronado beach is a great beach, especially for kids. It is nice and flat, with a large shallow area, and, at least on this day, no real rip tide. My dad would approve because the flatness of Coronado would make it “really hard for the kids to drown.”

And if McKenna did run into any difficulties with the surf, she could latch onto the readily-available seaweed.

After a quick jaunt back to the condo to use the pool to wash off all the sand on McKenna, we went to Old Town San Diego to meet Mark and Margo for dinner.

Old Town, which is a re-creation of sorts of the original European settlement in California, has many shops and restaurants, just like in 19th century California, and McKenna enjoyed going into all of the shops at least as much as she enjoyed the beach.

These flip flops make me feel like I've been transported back to 1850's San Diego!

When Mark and Margo got there, we had dinner at Casa de Reyes, including an order of fried ice cream that caused Mark to be swarmed over by children looking for an ice cream fix.

This one's free; come back and see me when you need the next one.

We finished dinner in time to go to Sunset Cliffs and see the sun setting over the Pacific.





























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