SeaWorld has become a summer tradition for our family. We have gone every year since moving out here to Southern California four years ago. My kiddos love seeing the sea life up close and I love that it sparks a love for learning more about the animals in the ocean, how they live, and how we as humans can help them to thrive in the wild. Every single time we’ve visited SeaWorld San Diego my kids leave having learned something new. And so do I!
We make the drive to Sea World from our desert oases here in the High Desert and this year, we did it in true comfort and luxury in a Kia Sedona SX-L. It was fully loaded and provided us with plenty of room to drive comfortably from Lucerne Valley to San Diego with four kids in tow (and a dog for part of the way!). We had bootie warmers and even better were the booty coolers & steering wheel cooling feature. We desert folk love anything that keeps us cool! The kids got to watch DVDs with headphones already included with the vehicle and their seats even reclined. Ya’ll, they were so spoiled in this car. And my husband and I were loving that we didn’t feel all squished together and on top of each other.
Totally normal. Riding deep with my four kids and remote control! I’m a mom, you guys. I’m less impressed RPMs and engine sizes than I am with features that keep my family comfortable and the whining to a minimum, ya feel me? My husband really enjoyed the navigation system that helped us to avoid heavy traffic more than once during our travel down to the coast. And one of our favorite features was the parking spot locator. There is an app we downloaded and synced with the Kia Sedona that helped us to locate our vehicle after a long day at the park.
We had some friends over the night before we had to return our fancy Kia Sedona and I overheard my husband say to them, “This is going to be our next vehicle. It’s such a great car.” And I have to agree. After a week with this spacious beauty, how can we turn back? A big family like ours fills up most other vehicles to the brim, but we all had our personal space and felt a little less stressed thanks to the room and features offered in the Kia Sedona SX-L.
As for the parks, despite all of us needing to use the restroom, as soon as we entered the Sea World gates, the kids made a beeline for the cleaner fish. They look forward to these little guys every year. And my husband, with his callouses work hands, always attracts the most fish, which makes the kids scream and giggle.
We were blessed that my sister, niece, and nephew were able to tag along with us this year thanks to the Veterans program. Anyone who has served in the US military can get a ticket for themselves and three guests to enjoy the park. There was so much cousin love and playing that filled my heart. Here is a gaggle of cousins watching dolphins swim by.
The older kids got to jump on a ride while Aunt Cort and I hung back with the little ones and explored the tide pool exhibit.
Collin, whose favorite show ever is Catching Monsters, made a beeline for a freshwater aquarium exhibit and I was surprised to hear him spouting off names of each of the fish. “Mom! That’s an alligator gar! Do you think any bull sharks are in here? Sometimes they go into freshwaters!”
The older kids and dad on their water ride. They came off totally soaked.
We strolled by a turtle exhibit and one of the turtles made her way right out of the water towards our squealing kiddos. We all felt personally bonded to this particular turtle, of course, ha!
Next we fed the bat rays, which is always the coolest! Evelyn, my youngest, is never afraid of getting right up close with any animal and she loves feeding these guys every time we visit.
The crowing jewel of the trip was when I won wife and stepmom of the year. Jacob, MJ, and Andie got to participate in the Dolphin Interaction Program and actually get in and swim with the dolphins. We’ve been home for three days now and MJ is still clinging to her DIP towel she received after the swim.
Lunch is always here. Buffet style. Something for everyone. And beer too.
After we filled our bellies, we headed off to visit the beluga whales at the Wild Arctic exhibit.
And the three brave girls explored a polar bear cave. Collin was a little too scared.
We spent some more time exploring the park and learning more about animals. Penguins, flamingos, and otters. We also let each of the kids choose a souvenir. MJ chose a shark tooth necklace, Andie found a pretty starfish necklace, Evelyn chose a mermaid doll, and Collin chose a shark tooth necklace too. This year was supposed to be just for the older girls and Evelyn, but on a fluke we ended up having Collin on board. Sweet Aiden was having surgery to remove something he stuck in his ear (!!!) and his mommy was taking care of him so he couldn’t come, but we did get him some special souvenirs. One of which was a shark tooth necklace similar to Collin’s that he refuses to take off, ha!
Then we went to go pet some sharks.
Our final stop was one more visit to the cleaner fish. I finally gathered enough courage to let one touch me. And that was plenty adventure for me.
We finished our evening at Aunt Cort’s house and rested our heads before heading off to Aquatica the next morning.
We knew that we needed to get there early if we wanted any shot at grabbing a couple chairs in the shade. And our mission was a success once we landed a few chairs right under a shady umbrella.
We grabbed lifejackets for the smaller kiddos and headed off right away to get wet! The Lazy River was a great family activity that we all could play in together. There is a small waterfall you can float under and Evelyn was pumped about it. I know it doesn’t look like it here, but she was loving it.
One of my favorite things about the Aquatica San Diego waterpark is that they have several small areas for different age groups. Evelyn played in the toddler area, which is only about a foot of water, and went down slides in this area without being disturbed or overrun by bigger kids. There were several lifeguards manning the area with measuring sticks to ensure no bigger kids spoiled the fun for the smaller, less agile children.
For the older kiddos, there was this massive water playground that had a few bigger slides, lots of water machines, and plenty of places to explore. Here is where my big kid prefers to pick his wedgie.
Poor little Evelyn couldn’t hang. She slowly fell asleep after being wrapped up in her mermaid towel.
Both parks were such great places for our family to learn and explore together. We have memories from each and every time we visit that will last a lifetime. Growing up, my family had vacation traditions that I still look back on with fondess today. It makes me happy to know that SeaWorld San Diego and Aquatica will be a place for my kiddos to do the same.
For more information, maps, prices, and to purchase tickets for your own SeaWorld adventure, be sure to visit them on Facebook and the SeaWorld and Aquatica websites.