Holiday TrainFest & Toy Drive at LA Union Station

Celebrate the spirit of the season while also giving back to the community during the Holiday TrainFest and Toy Drive at Los Angeles Union Station!

The free, family-friendly event will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m on Saturday, December 16th on Track 14 at Los Angeles Union Station. Attendees are invited to enjoy highlights such as holiday refreshments, a visit from Santa Claus, vintage rail cars, and an 874,346-pound steam locomotive decked out for the holidays.

During the festivities, staff will be on hand to collect donations of new, unwrapped toys in support of Toys for Tots as well as brand new socks that will be donated to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Last year, at the first Holiday TrainFest more than 1,200 toys were collected during the four-hour event. This year’s event will continue to provide opportunities to brighten spirits and support those in need during the holidays.

This year’s Holiday TrainFest will feature:

  • The historic Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive for attendees to get up close and personal with;
  • Vintage rail cars from the 1940s and 1950s decorated for the holidays for guests to tour;
  • Amtrak® and Metrolink train cars to explore;
  • Holiday refreshments, including hot cocoa and cookies;
  • Local police, and firefighters with a vintage 1930s-era fire engine;
  • Holiday music;
  • And of course, Santa Claus!

Arrive to the event in style by train from points throughout southern California, including Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino and the Antelope Valley using Amtrak Pacific Surfliner or Metrolink service. Visit PacificSurfliner.com or MetrolinkTrains.com for additional information, including schedules and fares.

For more information about the Holiday TrainFest and Toy Drive at Los Angeles Union Station, visit PacificSurfliner.com/TrainFest.

Frozen Themed Holiday Event

On Saturday, December 9th between 12-2pm, little ones (and their parents) are invited to come by Plaza Antonio to do a “meet and greet” with the snow princesses from Frozen and take a printable photo with Santa!

There will be balloon art, face painting, a kid-friendly DJ spinning holiday music, a photo booth, giveaways, and more! Children will be able to take photos with Santa and receive a special treat.

Pure Barre Santa Margarita will hold a magical wand making station, Starbucks will be featuring the “Frozen Frappucino” – an exclusive for the event, Sherwin-Williams will be offering 30% off paints & stains during the event, and  The Lil’ Dickens Carolers will also be roaming the center to spread the sounds of holiday cheer!

For more information and to RSVP, visit the event page.

Santa Gets High-Tech at Santa HQ

In partnership with HGTV, three SoCal shopping centers are hosting an interactive Christmas experience – Santa HQ. We were invited to check out the big guy’s arrival at Lakewood Center and enjoy some fun activities and a free photo package.

Santa HQ adds a special twist to your typical mall Santa. In the digital era we live in, it’s only natural that Santa gets an upgrade too! The interactive experience is fun for the whole family, and keeps the kids engaged and in awe while they wait for their turn with the big guy. [Read more…]

Juice It Up’s Seasonal Favorites Are Back!

Juice It Up! recently announced the return of their all-time seasonal guest favorites, the Merry Mocha Mint Smoothie™, the Pumpkin Pleaser Smoothie™, and its heartier counterpart, the Pumpkin Pleaser Smoothie Bowl™. They sent us a gift card to try out these limited-time flavors, so we popped in for a taste! [Read more…]

Brighten Your Holiday with Magic of Lights in Fontana!

(This post is being shared on behalf of our partnership with US Family Guide.)

During the 2017 holiday season, the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana will transform into a holiday spectacle!

[Read more…]

Have a High-tech Holiday with Santa HQ at Los Cerritos Center

Disclaimer: We were invited to check out the Santa HQ Welcome Party, a free event open to the public. We did receive a complimentary photo with the big guy as a thank you. No other compensation was received, and all thoughts and opinions are the author’s.

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Los Cerritos Center is bringing a special twist to your typical mall Santa. Everything is upgraded these days, why can’t Santa’s HQ be too? [Read more…]

Everything You Need to Know About Winter Fest 2015

(Disclosure: My family was offered free admission to this event to check it out. We were not required to share our thoughts, but I thought it might be helpful to share our experience with those who are on the fence about going.)

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Winter Fest opened last night, Friday December 18th with mixed reviews. I attended with my family and though at first I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the night unfolded we ended up having a really amazing time. If you’re still on the fence about going, here’s everything you need to know before you decide.

Admission

Tickets are priced different. Monday through Friday adults are $20 and children are $10, when bought online. On Saturday and Sunday the tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. At the gate all tickets are $5 more.

Save more money by buying your tickets online in advance and use the promo code “REINDEER” for an extra $5 off each ticket.

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Activities

Here is what you get just for the price of admission:

  • Coupon for 1 free ride and 1 free carnival game
  • Unlimited ice tubing at Snow Summit (must be 42″ or taller)
  • Entry to one of two bounce house for kids
  • Reindeer viewing and feeding
  • Nightly Christmas tree lighting (5:30pm)
  • Intermittent snowfall (Check with a staff member for times)
  • A few simple Christmas themed crafts
  • Model train display
  • Photo opps (walk-through ornament, Christmas tree, cut-out photo stands, great decorations)
  • Daily and nightly entertainment throughout the event

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Here is what you have to pay extra for:

  • Unlimited ride wristband ($20 when purchased online)
  • Ride tickets (if you don’t do the wristband)
  • Carnival Games
  • Pictures with Santa
  • Face Painting
  • Caricatures
  • Ice Skating ($15 per person, plus $5 for skate assistance if needed)
  • Snow Summit fast pass ($10)
  • Food and drink

Food

There are limited food options at the event. I counted eight food (not dessert) stands, five or six dessert/snack places and one sit-down restaurant. I am not sure their stance on bringing in your own food and drink, but it might be worth looking into if you’d like to keep the cost down. You can also show your same-day Winter Fest tickets at The Triangle for some awesome freebies, so you might want to consider eating there. More info on that here.

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The types of food I noticed were pizza, chicken wings, chicken fingers, corn dogs, BBQ, tacos/nachos, and rice bowls.

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The sit-down restaurant is a fun ski lodge theme, and a great choice for a family meal.

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Desserts were ice cream, candied nuts, various cookies, cupcakes and cake pops, cotton candy, kettle corn and more.

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Nightly Snowfall

The nightly snowfall is to the left of The Hangar building as you’re facing it, and to the right of the Rice Bowls stand. The snow comes on intermittently throughout the night, and also during the Christmas Tree lighting. Be sure to stand on that side of the tree during the ceremony to be close to the snow.

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Time and Money Spent

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if it’s “worth it” to go. Here’s my time and money breakdown, and I’ll leave it to you to decide the value of a nice night out. Parking is $7 – cash only. For the average-sized family, I would give yourself around four hours to experience the event. It was not crowded on the night we went, but between the carnival rides and games, Snow Summit, reindeer feeding, bounce houses, model trains, crafts, and eating dinner, it took around that much time to experience everything. We could have kept on riding down Snow Summit, but it was getting late. If you buy the discounted online admission for a weeknight, it’s only $40 for two adults and two children over the age of 4. I recommend the unlimited ride wristbands for the kids ($20 each), and if you have a few snacks and drinks there, expect to pay around $120 total for a fun evening with your family. If you decide to ice skate, have some beers, or get a pic with Santa, you’ll have to add a little more to your budget.

Personally, we had the most fun tubing and riding the carnival rides. It felt like a smaller and more intimate version of the fair to me, and I really liked that it wasn’t crowded. For families with very small children I am not sure it would be the best event for you, but if you have kids between 5 and 10 years old, I think you would really enjoy a night (or day) at Winter Fest OC. The biggest complaint I’ve heard was the cost, but I think it’s possible to enjoy the event without spending too much as long as you’re prepared!

 

Does Winter Fest OC sound like something your family will experience this year? Did you already visit? What did you think?

 

 

Winter Fest Freebies at The Triangle in Costa Mesa!

Are you planning on going to Winter Fest? The Triangle has some fun freebies to make an exciting day out even more fun!

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Before or after your visit to the snowy fun, show your same-day Winter Fest tickets at the following spots in The Triangle for your freebies!

  • Creamistry: ticket holders can receive 10% off an ice cream order, or one free topping.
  • H2O Sushi & Izakaya: one complimentary appetizer per party, with a purchase of $20 or more.
  • La Vida Cantina: enjoy one complimentary appetizer or dessert per table, excluding seafood appetizers.
  • Saddle Ranch Chop House: ticket holders can receive one complimentary Cotton Candy Tower dessert and a complimentary bull ride with any purchase (one each per table)
  • Tavern + Bowl: receive a free shoe rental and/or a complimentary appetizer with the purchase of an entrée when you show same-day Winter Fest tickets

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The Triangle is located in the heart of Costa Mesa, just moments from the OC Fair & Events Center. The 200,000 square foot lifestyle center offers popular dining, entertainment and services, including a convenient car wash on the first level of the parking structure. The Triangle is conveniently located at the end of the 55 Freeway, where Newport Blvd., Harbor Blvd. and 19th Street intersect. The center offers seven levels of free parking, as well as a Valet on the first level near Tavern + Bowl. For more information on The Triangle, follow them on Facebook or visit their website!

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Winter Fest is Coming to the OC Fair & Event Center

Winter is coming to the OC Fair & Event Center! Absolute Event Solutions (AES) is bringing something new and different to the OC with an all-new holiday spectacular, Winter Fest. The inaugural event will be a whimsical winter wonderland for Southern California residents that features unlimited ice tubing, the world’s largest walk-through ornament, festive entertainment, ice skating, VIP rink-side cabanas, live reindeer, a nightly Christmas tree lighting ceremony with snowfall, seasonal-themed eateries, libations, a carnival and much more.

Winter Fest will begin each morning with a snow-capped opening moment led by resident master magician, Jimmy H.  The fun and entertaining Chainsaw Chicks will also be at Winter Fest, carving out fantastic ice sculptures while engaging the crowd with their unbridled charm. Additional live entertainment includes local bands, strolling carolers, and performances by community organizations from around Orange County.

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Worried about the weather? Many of the Winter Fest attractions are inside buildings throughout the fairgrounds, so they can be enjoyed even in the rain!

In the Winter Fest Promenade, enjoy a variety of food and beverage options in a holiday atmosphere. Family-friendly dining will also be available in the Slippery Slope Ski Lodge (known as Baja Blues Restaurant during the OC Fair), featuring a ski-lodge vibe with holiday-themed cuisine and drinks, mountain décor, nightly live entertainment, and staff decked out in ski gear.

At the end of the Winter Fest Promenade stands a 30-foot Christmas tree, where you can gather around sundown at 5:30 p.m. for a heartwarming tree lighting ceremony with snowfall. Near the beautiful Christmas tree will be two of Santa’s reindeer, available for viewing and feeding!

Adults will love the Mistletoe Lounge, which will be offering holiday-themed cocktails, international craft beers, and comfortable seating amid the holiday décor and entertainment of the Winter Fest Promenade.

Tickets for Winter Fest for Monday through Friday start at only $10 online, $15 onsite for children age 4 – 11, and $20 online, $25 onsite for adults. Ticket Prices Saturday and Sunday are $15 online, $20 onsite for children age 4 – 11, and $25 online, $30 onsite for adults.  Children 3 and under are free.  Purchasing tickets online is highly encouraged to not only save money but also ensure the desired event date is not sold out.

Ticket prices include admission to event, plus the following activities:

  • Unlimited ice tubing down Snowflake Summit
  • One complimentary carnival ride
  • One complimentary carnival game
  • Entry to bounce houses for kids
  • Reindeer viewing and feeding
  • Access to the world’s largest walk-through ornament
  • Nightly Christmas tree lighting ceremony with snowfall
  • Craft making and games for kids
  • Daily & nightly entertainment

Not included in admission, but available to purchase onsite for $15 per person, is access to the 6,000 square foot ice skating rink inside the Hangar building! Beloved holiday films will be projected onto a theater-sized screen in the background of the rink for skaters to enjoy as they glide across the ice. Santa has even transported several sleighs from his collection to the Hangar building, and they will be on display for the first time ever at Winter Fest.

Elegant rink-side VIP cabanas will also be available for only $99 per session while they last, and accommodate 2 – 10 people but can adapt to fit parties of up to 100. The VIP cabanas offer exclusive menus with seasonally inspired food, cocktails, a private ice rink entrance and private servers. VIP cabanas are perfect for groups, parties, or a date with a loved one.

Can’t get enough winter fun? Adult season passes for unlimited admission into to all 17 days and nights of Winter Fest are available for $45 advance and online (limited supply); children’s season passes (ages 4-11) are available for $25 advance and online (limited supply).

For more information on Winter Fest and to purchase tickets, visit www.WinterFestOC.com.

 

Holidays are Jolly at Aquarium of the Pacific Holiday Treats Festival

The Aquarium of the Pacific has another great event coming up this weekend! The animals at the aquarium get to celebrate Christmas early as Santa dons a SCUBA suit to drop off treats for everyone! Santa will be visiting penguins, sea otters, seals, sea lions, birds, fish, and even swimming with sharks this weekend, December 5th and 6th at the Holiday Treats festival!

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The animals are not the only ones celebrating, though! Families in attendance can meet and greet penguins up close, see Santa Diver in action, and take photos with Santa in his traditional attire as well as with some holiday costumed characters.

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The festival will also feature Hanukkah storytelling and dreidel activities, holiday music, crafts, shopping, gingerbread house displays and more! To top it all off, snow will fall in the Aquarium’s Great Hall and guests can enjoy a snow play area on the front lawn (weather dependent).

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The Aquarium Holidays celebration will continue through December 24 with snow falls in the Great Hall, Santa Diver, and character appearances daily and music, penguin walks, visits from Santa, and the snow play area on weekends

For program times, head over to the Aquarium Holidays website.

The Holiday Treats Festival is open Saturday through Sunday, December 5th and 6th, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and is included in regular admission prices. Admission is $28.95 for adults (12+), $25.95 for seniors (62+), and $14.95 for children (3-11). Admission is free for children under 3 and aquarium members.

Don’t forget to show THIS FLYER for a free child admission with a paid adult!

For more information, directions, and tickets, visit the Aquarium of the Pacific website.

(All photos courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific)