New York New York Casino in Las Vegas.
Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad is a one-stop shop for imaginative and energetic little ones. There's also some added splash now that the resort opened its Legoland Water Park this summer.
From Lego-constructed replicas of Manhattan, Hollywood, San Francisco and Las Vegas in Miniland USA to the expansive play area for tykes in Duplo Village to the driving track at Volvo Driving School and Volvo Junior Driving School (where CC got her first Driver's License!), Legoland is a sprawling adventure park that offers lots of entertainment while still being a manageable experience.
When CC and I arrived after a 2-hour drive from L.A., she was eager to ride the first attraction she spotted -- the Safari Trek (left) near The Beginning of the park. With mini Jeeps outfitted in zebra or leopard prints, this ride takes kids and parents on a small animal-friendly adventure that offers panda bears, lions and giraffes all made out of Legos.
The line was a little daunting at 30 minutes, but it turned out to be the longest wait of the day. Most of the lines for rides when we were there (on a Thursday) averaged about 10-15 minutes. What was helpful, though, was a little play area within the line, where kids could play with (you guessed it!) Legos.
After CC climbed, played and slid at Duplo Village and marveled at the mini cities made of the tiny blocks, we headed over to the adjacent water park.
While smaller than most full-sized water parks, this Legoland incarnation is just as fun for the kiddos. There are water slides for little kids (a definite plus for children who usually get the shaft due to height requirements), a lazy river with Lego-inspired inner tubes -- and the best lockers I've ever seen.
CC was an instant fan of the smaller water slides. (She wanted to go on the bigger ones, of course, but no dice for a 39-inch child. There was usually a minimum of 42" or 48" for the taller adventures.) Once she splashed down into the heated and shallow water, she was ready to slide down the red tube or wide yellow slide again and again.
Oh, and the lockers! No more jangly keys necessary. For $7 (the rental fee for a medium-sized locker), one person in your party gets a wristband programmed to open your locker when you wave it in front of a sensor. So cool!
After arriving in the morning, both CC and I were beat by mid-afternoon. And we still hadn't seen everything. Legoland encompasses not only the amusement park and water park but also the Sea Life Aquarium, which we didn't even get to explore.
And for moms of really little ones, there's the Baby Care Center, which offers a changing area with diapers, refrigerator, microwave and rocking chairs for those who are nursing. A nice touch.
It was an amazing time, and we'll have to go back -- if anything, to see the rest of the park.
Legoland California Resort
1 Legoland Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Tickets: Adults 13-59 ($87); Children 3-12 ($77); Seniors 60+ ($77); Toddlers ages 1-2 ($3) (These prices include admission to Legoland, Legoland Water Park and Sea Life Aquarium. Check online for additional admission offerings.)
Parking: $12 for cars
Note: Media tickets provided.