mcfam's Passport


Member since:
27 May 2010

Icon_superoo_orangeSuperoo '12, '13, '14

Icon_pictureBeen to 758 Attractions
Icon_star675 Reviews
Icon_star1410 First to Review
Icon_camera23318 Photos
Icon_thumbsup282 Helpful Votes
About Me & My Family

My husband and I have 4 kids... 3 boys and then our girl. We homeschool them all and travel when possible. We just started letterboxing and are finding ourselves a little obsessed with it.
Our Family's Travel Personality
adventurous, curious, structured, relaxed, simple, independent, spontaneous, easy_going
We Just Got Back From
Point Magu State Beach
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Camping in Kings Canyon or Yosemite
A Place We'd Love To Visit
The Redwoods in Northern California
Favorite Vacation Memory
Walking the meadows of Yosemite with my family. The quiet, the sparkling water, the rustling grasses, and a dip in the river made for an amazing day.
Worst Travel Moment With My Kids:
Anytime throw up is involved. Especially when one kid triggers another. And when we are in the car. And when they choose to use the box that is holding all their library books and toys.
Websites I Like:

Reviews & Photos

675 Reviews

September 25 2015
0 families found this helpful
Lodgepole Campground | kids travel, kids activities
Lodgepole Campground
Generals Highway,
Sequoia National Park, California
"Beautiful campground"
This is the biggest campground in Sequoia and it is in a beautiful location. Lots of very tall pine trees, a flowing creek/river, large rocks to climb on, lots of space to explore, and wildlife.

There are quite a variety of campsites, and the differences will suit different families personalities. We picked a Walk In campsite in the 100s. It was a hill down to the campsite, but then we had a TON of space for the kids to play and explore. We loved it. On the downside, it was quite a long walk to the bathrooms. But we really liked being in an open space to see the stars, close to the creek for the kids to play in, and plenty of rocks to climb. The campsites near ours only had enough space to pitch a tent, have a bear box, picnic table, and firepit. Not a problem if you aren't going to be in camp all day.

About the dishwashing near the restrooms - some reviewers mention that you have to wash dishes at the bathroom - which would have been an impossible hike for us. So we had meals that didn't need much dishes (hot dogs, soup in disposable bowls, cheese and crackers, etc.) And when we did have dishes and some dirty water, we dug a hole in the fire pit and the ashes soaked up all the dirty water. I am thinking that it's not a problem, as long as there isn't any food crumbs that tempt bears.

We did see a bear on our last night wander through our campsite. We were HYPER about keeping all our food put away and not leaving any trash out. So when we saw him, we yelled at him to go away and he lumbered off. Bears don't need to be a problem if there is no food out and available. But we did feel more scared that night. Just the thought of being surprised by one of those silent shadows had us on the look out.

Overall, I highly recommend this campground! Look at the map to pick your spot- do you prefer being close to the restroom? One with lots of space? Near the visitor center/market? Near the bridge/creek where kids can play in the water? So many options and a great selection!

By the way- we camped in late September during the week and it was very quiet. Other campers were mostly couples, international people, and only one other family. It was seriously quiet and only half full. Quite warm during the day (80) but got pretty cold at night (40?). Lovely.
kids travel, kids activities
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July 31 2015
0 families found this helpful
A&W | kids travel, kids activities
1930 Mentone Blvd,
"Best rootbeer ever"
The draft root beer- crafted on the premises - is some of the best I have ever had. This little fast food shop looks just like it did when I was in high school and on my way to summer camp at Forest Home. And 20+ years later - taking my son home from that same camp - it was just as memorable. All 4 teens in my car LOVED the root beer. I even tried some fried cheese curds and the boys braved them - and decided they were pretty good too.

The inside is like something out of the 80s. Low ceilings, old a/c vents, and old tables. But it lends to the nostalgia of the place. If only there were clean restrooms inside - rather than having to borrow a key to go to the outside one.

It's a great stop on the way to Big Bear, Forest Home, and the beautiful mountains. Don't miss this root beer!
kids travel, kids activities
kids travel, kids activities
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July 30 2015
0 families found this helpful
ClueHoo - Urban Scavenger Hunt - Laguna Beach | kids travel, kids activities
ClueHoo - Urban Scavenger Hunt - Laguna Beach
381 Forest Ave,
Laguna Beach,
"Scavenger Hunt at it's best"
Does your family love solving clues and getting led on a scavenger hunt? Mine sure does! When I heard about ClueHoo in Laguna Beach - I had a strong feeling we would love it - and we did!

What we loved:
* Fairly easy to follow clues that were on my iPhone and my husbands - we could log in together on the app.
* Unique interactive elements at each destination that helped us solve the clues
* Information about things we were seeing so we learned about the city more.
* Speed challenges at each clue that gave us more to solve

What we didn’t love:
* We were directed to park in all day parking ($10) which was more expensive than metered on the street. We only needed a couple of hours - but it was nice not to worry about it.
* After the first speed round (optional) we got confused on the next directions. We weren’t sure if we should go back to the spot we started from - or go on from there. It wasn’t totally clear. But we did figure it out.

ClueHoo is a very professionally set up scavenger hunt that has 1 location (as of July 2015) in Laguna Beach. San Francisco and San Diego are coming soon! There were 3 options of different sets of clues and destinations that we could choose from. We played the “Laguna Citta” challenge and spent about 2 ½ hours doing it. My 14 and 12 year olds loved solving the clues - such as comparing a postcard version with an original painting we found on a wall to find 5 differences. They also loved the speed challenge where they literally ran to find the item they were prompted to find. My 8 and 6 year olds had no problem keeping up physically - but they didn’t get to solve many of the clues because their older brothers were too fast. But once or twice, my younger ones spied the item we were all looking for first because they were shorter and slower and we had passed it up.

You must have a smart phone to play - and we made sure we downloaded the app and charged our phones before we started. Then we used the code given in our email (because we were registered) in the kiosk to get all our tools. A small box came out with lanyards, a few “tools”, a yellow wristband (for one person to use), and a hanging wallet to hold all of our stuff. We followed the directions on our phone to the next location and used one of the tools when prompted to solve the clues. If we ever couldn’t solve a clue or got lost, there was a phone number we could call.

During the experience we got a couple of rewards - ice cream - and a cold soda at the end. Plus the rewards of having fun together, seeing the beautiful views of Laguna Beach, and solving clues together. It was a ton of fun.

Bottomline: The price for playing ClueHoo is rather high in our opinion. Which is the reason I couldn’t give it 5 stars. Starting at just over $35 per adult and $22.50 for kids 8-15, this makes it an expensive family outing for about 3 hours. I would suggest playing this game as a birthday present, maybe with just a couple of kids (group them by age), or look for a Groupon. Many businesses also play this game as a corporate team for team building - great idea!

Age appropriateness: This is perfect for a variety of ages. My teen felt like it was a bit easy - and my younger ones found it hard to solve things fast enough with their brothers. I would suggest taking kids of similar ages together - or having it be a parent/kid date for some one on one clue-solving fun.

To Note:
* All ages can play. You play as a group and solve challenges together. There is a cost for each person - kids are cheaper - and under 3 is free.
* Some challenges do not go up and down hills or stairs - but it is best to research them online to find out the details. “Laguna Citta” went up about 3 flights of stairs - so be aware that some would be difficult with a stroller.
* Dogs are welcomed. You walk with them on a leash among the streets of Laguna Beach. A couple locations may not allow pets inside so you may need to take turns with the pet outside.
* You can take the challenge on your own time and speed. If your family needs a potty stop - or to play at the beach - there is no problem. However, you want to go during business hours so you don’t miss out on the treats (like ice cream) because the business is closed.
* There were only 4 lanyards and ID tags - plus one lanyard wallet. The company makes it clear that you don’t have to have a lanyard to play. But knowing some kids- this could be a major disappointment. Consider the number in your group and decide how big you want it to be. I would recommend 4 or 5 kids max.

Disclosure: We received free passes to play ClueHoo and were hosted by Visit Laguna Beach. We were not asked to present a particular point of view and all opinions are our own.
kids travel, kids activities
kids travel, kids activities
kids travel, kids activities
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July 23 2015
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Devils Postpile National Monument | kids travel, kids activities
Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Postpile,
Mammoth Lakes,
California 93546
"Don't miss this"
I've seen pictures of Devils Postpile many times- but I had never seen it in person. And as usual - it was totally different and more interesting than I thought it would be! The hike from the ranger station was rather flat and easy and we soon came to the base of the postpile.

Tip: Stop at the ranger station first to pick up jr. ranger books for kids. There are lots of activities and interesting things for the kids to learn by working through the book as they hike and visit Devils Postpile.

Side hike: When we came to the first little bridge - we crossed the river to the right and found several interesting things. First, on the left side of the trail before the bridge, there are more basalt columns, just like in Devils Postpile. They are hanging over the river and you can get close to them. Second - go down to the creek right after crossing the bridge to see Soda Springs. Small springs are constantly bubbling with aerated water from way below the earth's surface. The water is not at all warmer - but the minerals/arsenic? in the water encourage algae growth so the water has yellow/orange/green growth that is clearly different than the rest of the river.

We took the trail to the top of the postpile which was steep and a tough climb, but it was worth it to see the smoothed columns. It's clear that they were polished by glaciers and are very interesting to see. There are some drop offs here so be careful with kids.

We didn't hike to Rainbow Falls from Devils Postpile because we saved that for a separate day - and went to the closer trailhead. Don't miss seeing this amazing nature in person!
July 22 2015
0 families found this helpful
Gelato Paradiso | kids travel, kids activities
Gelato Paradiso
Peppertree Lane,
Laguna Beach,
"Yummy gelato"
It's really fun to find this little pedestrian street between the busy PCH of Laguna and the back alley next to the small parking garage. When we step "inside" - it feels like we are in a little alley in some European city. The street is cobblestone and the archways are draped with vines.

But the gelato - that's what this review is about! The gelato store is right at the end of this "Rue de Chocolate" and the smell of fresh baked waffle cones is intoxicating. The gelato place is small - just large enough to allow a line of guests to stare through the glass case at the fresh made gelato. The portion sizes are good and the taste is delicious. There can be long lines on a busy summer day so be prepared. There isn't much space for kids to be crazy or run around - but the gelato is worth the wait!
kids travel, kids activities
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