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Traveling to San Diego With Kids (Or Without) On a Budget!

Last year I went to San Diego  a few times. I went once with just my husband and I for his birthday-then on my birthday we went back with the whole family.

I live in Northern California and Southwest had a $29 flight sale for Wednesday and Thursday flights and my birthday just happened to be on a Wednesday-so we flew out Wednesday morning on the earliest flight-and headed back on the next to the latest flight home!

When I went with just my husband we were there longer than just one day, so we took some time to explore and try out lots of food and tourist spots. Then, when we came back with the kids-and we were only there for 1 day- we knew how to make the most of it. My parents, brother and his family all live in So Cal, so they met us in San Diego when we got there and it was just one of the best days of my life. We had so much fun.

I know some people who are headed to San Diego this Summer so I am really writing this post for you guys because there is SO MUCH you can do in San Diego without spending very much money.

If you are flying-wait for a deal-you should be able to get $49 and $59 flights.  If you are driving-which is cheaper if you can avoid stopping for food several times along the way- Pack food, snacks, and drinks with you! The more you stop-the more you spend!
Each time someone had to go to the bathroom on my last trip-someone wanted to buy food, snacks, coffee or something and I know that could have been eliminated because on the way there I spend $0-on the way home $60!


Once we got to San Diego it was still pretty early in the morning so business areas were not open.

We headed to Coronado. Driving  over the SUPER TALL bridge is an event in itself!!  It is so high!




Once over, park along the beach-as close to Hotel del Coronado as you can! My husband and I actually stayed at this hotel for his birthday and it is absolutely gorgeous! It is a Hilton hotel if you are an Honors Member or have points for your stay- HIGHLY recommend.
Even though we did not stay there with the kids, we went there so I could show them how beautiful it was!
It is on the beach and you can walk through the hotel and the property and it’s shops which is just agreat sight to see. Also along the streets there are lots of shops you can look through as well. It is just very pretty.



After Coronado we went over to Old San Diego at 10 am.

Lots to look at there. A favorite of mine-and the kids was Candle Making! You just buy a plain wax candle and you can dip it in to the colors and make your own design. They had candle sticks 4 for $5 for basic ones, we got some that were $2 each. This was a very cheap and fun souvenir!

Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop
2645 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110




We walked through the shops and tried on wrestling masks, ponchos, and found some sweatshirts etc.

Another CHEAP Souvenir Idea-PRESSED PENNIES!

EVERY part of San Diego has pressed penny machines. You put in 2 quarters and a penny-turn the crank and a pressed penny with a picture of your spot you are at comes out. Each machine has a few options to choose from.
My boys got so into this that $1-$2 per machine was entertainment and souvenir enough for them that was all they asked for!

I bought an empty book they sell for $5 there and they started collecting them! This has paid off on later vacations as well. Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, etc all had machines like this so they just needed a couple bucks for souvenirs! Just save your quarters and SHINY pennies!



In Old San Diego we ate at the Mexican Restaurant-
2754 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110

There were 13 of us and we had the whole outside patio area for our group which made it very special-and we did not have to wait. PLUS-the food was very good!




After Old San Diego and Lunch we went to Seaport Villiage

There are LOTS of shops to look through and we even saw a performer that was breathing fire (strange to me, but kids were entertained FREE!) We walked through the shops-some had cupcakes, some had dessert there too. It was nice. Make sure you pay for parking- we forgot and received a parking ticket on that stop. The newer area had neat shops, boutiques, Starbucks and a jail you can get some fun pics and read some history in (FREE)

After that we headed to the USS MIDWAY Aircraft Carrier
We parked in the parking lot by the Kissing Statue and took pictures. We took pictures of the carrier too, but did not tour it. We did walk along it and down along the outside of it.

The “Kissing Statue” is  at the Port of San Diego. The 25-foot installation — officially known as “Unconditional Surrender” — recreates the famous embrace between a sailor and a nurse celebrating the end of World War II in New York’s Times Square in 1945




We did not take tour the USS MIDWAY aircraft because of time, but hung out by the statue and took some pictures recreating it, walked past the carrier looked at the “Pirate ship” took some pictures all around this area.







This is the area my husband and I had l lunch at the Carnitas Shack-DEFINITELY worth going. These were our tacos and they were so big! I didn’t eat the shell of my tacos and they were very filling! And the GUACAMOLE WAS INCLUDED!








We walked through the Gaslamp district and that is where my husband had Burger Lounge for the first time (since then we have fortunately got one in Saceramento!)


We also had the BEST Gelato that I have ever had at… (this was before my keto diet!)

509 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
b/t Island Ave & Market St



For dinner we went to HODAD’s
945 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

Let me tell you-if you only go to ONE place with your family-GO HERE

First of all-it is very cool looking with all of the surf memorabilia 
-2nd super affordable.
Tell them you want fries and onion rings for the group and they bring out just the right amount of baskets for everyone-then order your burgers. If you are contemplating bacon-GET IT- they are very generous with it and somehow it was the best bacon on a burger I have ever had. For 13 of us the bill was less than $100 and we were very full. They let us take pictures, took pictures for us, photo bombed them all– very fun and GREAT food.



There is a big shopping area with stores and all that-which is fun to walk through if you have time- there are some murals and fountains..but I would pick this last since many of the stores you may have on your own city.

It is just fun walking through places you have never been-and then taking cool pictures there!

If you have Snapchat- use it!! The filters are VERY FUN- and then you will remember where you took your pictures at when you look at them later!



We ended our day at Mission Beach. It was a beautiful sunset tehre. The kids enjoyed the roller coaster, rides and carnival games. They have an Escape Room, Laser Maze (waste of Money don’t fall for it!!!) Zip lining, gift shops and some nice surf stores. If it isn’t in your budget, skip this area. It was nice for the beach and to walk through-but it is really hard to tell your kids “No” to thinks that look SUPER FUN! I spend more in this area than I planned to, but the kids loved it-except for the Laser Maze-lasted 30 seconds.






There are many other places you can go too- SEAL BEACH is awesome if you make it to La Jolla . 
I really love just taking great pictures and having fun! Playing at the beach is free and that is my favorite too! Leave a comment if you have another attraction is San Diego you enjoy!!! 

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Summer Vacation Time! Top Tips to Save on Family Vacations!

Here is a CBS 13 Sacramento news segment I was featured in with a couple other bloggers with Vacation Savings Tips! There are SO MANY ways to save money!

Planning a vacation this Summer? Traveling with kids? As a mom of 7 I am going to share with you some tips that have helped me through the years -and some things I  wish I knew before! 


1. If you use a credit card, do you have one where you earn rewards or points? We have a Hilton American Express where we accumulate points for hotel rooms. We also have a Southwest VISA where we accumulate points for flights.  We don’t always have enough for our whole trip-but many times it has helped cut the expense! 
WARNING: If you are not disciplined in paying your credit cards off, these can be very high interest and you may end up paying more in interest than what a hotel would actually cost. I have fallen into bad habits and realized that the hard way-so this tip is for the disciplined! FYI- HIlton Embassy Suites is our family favorite for their full breakfast buffet (included)!

2. Depending on the attraction you are visiting-neighboring hotels may have tickets and events included as part of a package which may save you even more. I have seen this at Great America, Magic Mountain-and even the Disney Hotels have packages that include the hotels and passes. This may also give you additional benefits!

3. I have a larger family and as they are getting older-hotels can seem a little cramped-or expensive getting multiple rooms. You can check out vacation rental homes or Air BNB for local houses to rent. This can help your food expenses as well because you can go to the grocery store and stock up and eat before and after for less!

4. Find out if your hotel has a shuttle to and from where you are going if it is not within walking distance. If they have a shuttle you may be able to avoid paying for parking! Sometimes even an Uber or Lyft to your location may be cheaper than the parking fee. 

1.  Check if the attraction or park you are attending will allow outside food and drinks. Bringing bottled water and snacks with you can save a great deal of money (and time standing in line). If not-plan your meals and snacks BEFORE you enter! 

2. If you are staying in a hotel-make sure it includes breakfast! With a big family we save lots of money just for breakfast alone! I tell the kids to eat up because we are only eating once in the park. Then we will eat dinner after we are done (if it closes early) If the park is open until Midnight then you may have to plan for a 2nd meal in the park. 

3. Kids meals- many times the kids meals are close to the same size as the adult meals-but cheaper! Often they come with a drink too! My teen girls never eat all of their food anyways. Also, you can split meals too.  You aren’t going to be able to bring leftovers home so you can maybe have the smaller kids split something and then they can have a snack if they are still hungry.  Also a huge pretzel could be quite filling to hold you until dinner-and cheaper than a meal!

4. Buy the refillable cups, popcorn, anything. If you have the refillable items buy them right away. Then you will avoid buying extra snacks-and avoid the constant asking if they can have something else. Plus-they can share!

1. Look for packages when you book a hotel and see if the tickets are included!

2. Look for discount coupons and promotions at fast food restaurants, grocery stores, etc. I saw $8  off Raging Waters coupons at the check stand at Smart & Final. May seem small, but if you start looking you will start noticing the offers around you.

3. Check the Season Pass prices! You may have to spend a little bit extra at the beginning-but it could provide you with multiple trips and family time without spending extra money later! You also won’t have to keep buying souvenirs, or staying as long for visits when you know you can come back at anytime! And-if they have parking passes- buy one!  Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Season Passes are on sale this Memorial Day Weekend and it includes a free parking pass! GO HERE for details!

1. Ok- this one only works for little kids. This is an example from what I did. Before we went to Legoland I went to Target and bought T-shirts with Lego guys on them for $8 and a small lego set. When we got to the hotel I gave them to my boys! They got to wear their Lego shirts IN Legoland, and they knew that when we got back to the room they got to build a Lego set! They didn’t ask for souvenirs because they already had them! I spent less than $20 per kid that trip on souvenirs! I miss them being little…

2. Older kids- If they are going to want souvenirs and it is in your budget-give them a set amount of money. Say “Here is $30 for souvenirs”. Then they get to decide without asking you for random stuff throughout the day or being mad that you said no because it was too expensive. 

Extra Tips!

Whatever your budget, if you plan ahead you will spend less. If you do have a budget-try to communicate that to everyone so the arguments may not come up. I have had to tell my kids ” We can go- but this is what we actually have the  money for” and then if they agree to it and know ahead of time-they are totally fine. 

Many times we just go to a beach. I can bring all my own food and the sand and waves are FREE! But-for those times you want to go BIG- spend time planning and saving. My kids know that we are going to go to Disneyland in September and we have a plan of what we want to do there. So, we needed a few extra months to prepare and save. Since they know that-they will easily support me when I say-let’s just go to the beach a few times in the summer so we can save our money for Disneyland! Then it is a family project too!

Feel free to add to the list in the comments-or email me if you have any feedback or questions!!!


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How to Enjoy Sacramento on a Budget..Part 1?


Spend the day in Sacramento for $40 Family Challenge!
That was my “Great Idea” for our family to spend the afternoon in Sacramento and enjoy spending quality family time together-without going over our budget. There were 7 of us, so I said “Let’s eat lunch at home, and then with $40 (approx $5 each) let’s see what fun we can have without driving too far, and let’s see how we can try some new things in our own city. Plus-let’s take some fun pictures around our city and then we can go home when it is dinner time! Sound’s fun right?????” 
Everyone was like  “OK Mom! -then they said they wanted to get gelato, coffee, buy a souvenir, candy, comic books.-see the rainbow crosswalk..” so we ate lunch and left home…. This was going to be such a FUN day and I was so excited!!! 

Driving there (literally a 12 minute drive) My daughter remembers that she forgot her camera-she was taking the big deal we have iphones keep going. Then my 13 year old son says-can I spend my $5 at KFC, I am hungry. I was like “Is KFC Downtown?? Is it new and exciting-and I told you to eat lunch-his response “Oh, I didn’t hear that” It’s OK, deep breath, let it go-this is going to be a FUN family day.

That did not last long AT ALL- when you see blog posts about families having fun and are all happy and loving each other..#1 It isn’t my family, #2 It takes like a million tries to get each picture right..and in most cases #3 Everyone hates you by the time the picture is taken-and you may have had to promise, candy, money, or a prize to get them to smile ONE more time. If that hasn’t happened to you-I am jealous. 


My husband wanted to try a new place to get coffee. He said ” I want to go to Insight Coffee”. First of all, this was not the area I wanted to go to, but whatever. Let’s go there first and then get to where we can walk around. He swore he knew where it was.. Then I had to use Waze to get there, then he was mad at the Waze app because he wasn’t following it, which made him mad at me…but we eventually got there..


My 9 year old son LOVED the sign that said “Hella Open” He thought it was so funny and wanted his picture taken with it. OK! FREE fun, funny picture, this is going to be a great day!!! Oh- and if you send your kids to the men’s bathroom-the sign that says you must wash your hands has been changed to the word “anus” and that made for another funny picture… 

My husband got his cold brew and we were on our way to our next adventure!

Insight Coffee 1901 8th Street. Sacramento. 


Next we went to HR Sports Cards and Collectibles
2231 10th Street

My boys like to look through the trading cards and find their favorite players or a special card. 
They also have a great selection of comic books. 

They went through the boxes of $.50 Comic Books and found some-CHEAP FUN- spent about 30 minutes in there and spend like $2!! So far so good…


After that I decided I wanted coffee too. We parked by Pachamama Coffee, and since I have never been there before, I got a cold brew coffee there-AND LOVED IT!!! Then we headed out walking!

As we were walking we passed by-

Pizzeria Urbano
1050 20th St, Sacramento, CA 95811

Thank God, they had HUGE pizza slices for $5! My son got a pizza slice, and 2 other kids split one and they were going to split a dessert later when they found a good place. So far so good..staying in the budget getting good pictures…


After the pizza these boys found a cornhole set to play with while the others ate-free entertainment, in the shade-I finished my coffee here. So nice…

My daughter went into “nektar” the juice place next to this, and it was $8.40 for a juice or a bowl-not in the budget… I may have gotten some attitude about this one, but I knew gelato was coming up and everyone would like that better…


This is where my dreams were dashed… all the fun I imagined started to disappear..

We walked on and saw FREETYLE Clothing Store- I have driven by here many times, and have always wanted to check it out. So we went in, the girls were looking through the clothes ad accessories and were really enjoying themselves. 
The boys..well-this is where it just started to go bad.. 
My 2 youngest boys 9 and 10, decided to get into a fight in the store and were running through and one of them decided to punch the other one and ended up punching me ( I still have no idea how this happened) He punched me in the hand, and all the bones made a loud popping noise and it hurt so BAD-so I went outside.
So- the picture that should be inserted next would be me outside sitting on the sidewalk, holding my hand and crying!!! Nobody took that picture though, they were all scared I was going to yell. I was trying really hard not to be mad and ruin the day. So I was like “I am just going to suck it up and keep going” 

Next stop-GELATO!! 

Gran Cafe Milan
1801 L St, Sacramento, CA 95811

Their gelato is wonderful and my son was VERY happy to get gelato!

After this I wanted to go around the Capitol, Downtown Commons and then end the day in Old Sac getting candy and just taking the most wonderful family/kid pictures EVER…..

It didn’t happen. My hand was swollen, my kids were complaining, and it seemed like I was torturing them by buying them gelato, pizza, and candy-so THEY WON. We got in the car after this and my husband started driving to the next spot as a few of the kids starting hitting and yelling at each other in the car..he said “Where to next??” I said “HOME” 

So, I really tried, had good intentions and this fantasy of how I thought the day was going to go….

Now YOU can maybe continue to enjoy Sacramento. There really are many ways to enjoy the city on a budget-bring your own food! Have a picnic, bring snacks to eat while you walk around.  Downtown is really shaded, so it isn’t as hot when you are walking around.

I know it is fun to have unlimited money to just do whatever, but you really can find different ways to enjoy the city you live in, or around you. There are MANY murals around the town that you can take great pictures in front of too! Pretend you are a tourist! My kids are all different ages, and although I have been to all these places SO many times, there are some that some kids have missed out on or do not remember and they actually enjoyed some of the places. 

Although this is not a complete post of “How to Enjoy Sacramento on a Budget” which was my original intention-I am sharing it anyways. Why? Because people need to know that real things happen to bloggers too! I am not perfect, my kids are not perfect, and not every idea is a great one. However, maybe this will inspire you to spend time with your family doing something on a budget, or enjoying your city-or realize you aren’t the only one that can never get your kids to stop fighting long enough to have a nice time.. 

I can say this- SACRAMENTO, although it isn’t San Francisco or a big tourist area, still has plenty to do-you may just have to be a little more creative if you have seen it all so many times!

So this could be my Part 1-and if I can get inspired again or decide that I am crazy enough to try again-I will continue this series!

Leave a comment if you have any favorite Sacramento spots, or if you have ever had a horrible time with your family!




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$ 5 Friday at Safeway June 29!

It’s $5 Friday at Safeway!!!

These deals are for 6/29 ONLY

This deal is awesome-

Signature Select Salsa 5 for $5!
Long Grain Rice 32 oz. 5 for $5
Beans 16 oz. 5 for $5
**Great items to stock the pantry!

This is a family favorite on $5 Fridays! These sandwiches are VERY big, and for $5 makes it easy to grab and go! We love grabbing these when we are headed to the beach or a day trip. Way easier than making individual sandwiches for everyone. One of these feeds like 4-5 people!

Chips Ahoy Cookies 3 for $5
Use $.75 off 2 from 6/24 SS
=$1.29 each

Keebler Crackers 3 for $5
Bounty Napkins 2 for $5
Dawn Dish Soap 2 for $5 

Strawberries 2 lbs. $5
Watermelon $5
Potatoes 20 lb. Bag $5

Oscar Mayer Mega Pack Bacon $5
Hormel Bacon $5
Foster Farms Corn Dogs $5
Gallo Salame $5

New York Strip Steaks $5 lb.
Salmon Kabobs $5
Wild Caught Lobster Tails $5

Lucerne Cream Cheese 3 for $5
Lucerne Yogurt 3 for $5
Frito Lay Variety Pack Chips $5
Pringles Variety Pack $5
Goldfish Crackers $5
Heinz Picnic 3 pack $5
C & H Sugar 5 lb. $5

Dial Liquid Hand Soap 5 for $5
Dennison’s Chili 15 oz. 5 for $5
Tree Top Apple Juice 64 oz. 3 for $5
Country Time Lemonade Mix 20 oz. 3 for $5

Not only are there some GREAT deals FRIDAY only, but go HERE to check out the best deals through Wednesday 7/4!

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