Friday, January 30, 2015

California State Parks Passes Year 2015: Reduced admission to State Parks and Beaches...

Raising a family in the Bay Area provides many opportunities for day visits to California State Parks. With regular parking at $10.00+ per day, it was a better value to purchase a California State Parks Annual Pass in advance. Six weekends, and it pays for itself. (You can even share this with a friend or family member.)

Or, if you only visit a State Park or State Beach a few times a year, you can save a bit on admission fees by becoming a "Parks Sampler" member of the California State Parks Foundation. For only $25.00 basic membership fee, first-time members receive 4 - Single Day Use Passes for FREE and a subscription to Sunset Magazine. Not bad! Seniors 62+ can pay less than that. These prices simply can't be matched any other way. It's like getting a free day+ and a free magazine subscription for joining.

If you live locally and have never visited Mt. Diablo State Park's Rock City, you're missing out! Most Santa Cruz, San Mateo County and Half Moon Bay beaches charge a $10.00 fee. I hear Southern California beaches even charge $15.00 per day. $25.00 for four days of parking and exploring is worth every penny.

For an index by Region of State Parks, CLICK HERE.

A few of the California State Parks our family has visited:

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Seacliff State Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

Mt. Diablo State Park

Half Moon Bay State Beach

Pescadero State Beach

Carmel River State Beach

Join the California State Parks Foundation to help protect, enhance and support California’s 280 state parks. Plus, you'll receive exclusive member benefits to help you visit and enjoy state parks. All membership levels include a one-year subscription (12 issues) to Sunset magazine. View a complete list of membership benefits and park passes. Benefits subject to change.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden - FREE Admission, First Wednesday of the Month: February 4, 2015 . . .

Photos by Anna Chan

CLICK HERE for mobile version of this blog.

This rare Botanical Garden is a paradise on earth. Easy location just by the Caldecott tunnel. If you've never been, you'll be in awe of the beautiful scenery, rare flowers, edibles, ornamental, carnivorous and more than 12,000 fascinating plants! Just GO. It is perfect for an afternoon walk in the forest, stroll along a babbling brook, meandering through a Japanese garden, seeing a real cacao tree or cinnamon bark in the tropical greenhouse...chasing butterflies and finding ladybugs. An amazing place - a true local gem, sure to be a delightful family day.

This is a field trip walking into another world...even some prehistoric plants are on display! Vanilla orchids, Cacao Trees, Coconut Palms. So beautiful and educational.

Garden closes at 5pm. With a little planning, a weekday after school trip is still possible.

Regular Adult Admission is only $10.00, Children Admission $2.00 (Ages 5-12.)

FIRST WEDNESDAY of each month is
FREE admission day at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. Enjoy.

From: The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden website:

WEDNESDAY, February 4, 2015 - FREE Admission.

CLICK HERE for UC Botanical Garden website.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
200 Centennial Drive
Berkeley, CA 94720-5045
P: 510-643-2755

CLICK HERE for Yelp Reviews.

CLICK HERE for 228 more photos on Yelp.

Almost all 5 stars, not surprising at all for such a paradise!

Raising our child and introducing her to all things possible. Life is a field trip!
An August visit to UC Botanical Garden a few years ago.

Photos by Anna Chan
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. FREE Admission FIRST WEDNESDAY of each month in 2015.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oakland Zoomobile (FREE EVENT) at the Lafayette, CA Public Library, Monday, January 26, 2015 at 12:00pm . . .

FREE EVENT: MONDAY, January 26, 2015 at 12:00pm. Oakland Zoomobile at the LAFAYETTE Branch of the Contra Costa County Library. Visit: and search EVENTS. Program Presenter:

Event Type: Education
Age Group(s): Young Children (0-5), Kids (5-11)
Date: 1/26/2015
Start Time: 12:00 PM
End Time: 1:00 PM
An Oakland Zoo Education Specialist will bring small live animals to the Lafayette Library! Join us for a wild afternoon!
Library: Lafayette Library and Learning Center
Location: Community Hall
Presenter: Oakland Zoo

Insect Discovery Lab (FREE EVENT) at the Martinez, CA Public Library on Monday, January 26, 2015 . . .

FREE EVENT: MONDAY, January 26, 2014 at 6pm. Insect Discovery Lab Presentation at the MARTINEZ Branch of the Contra Costa County Library. Visit: and search EVENTS. Program Presenter:

Event Type: Special Events

Age Group(s): Kids (5-11), Teens (12-17)
Date: 1/26/2015
Start Time: 6:00 PM
End Time: 7:00 PM
Join us for a special presentation from the Insect Discovery Lab! Discover the diversity and wonders of one-of-a-kind arthropods from around the globe. See, touch and hold millipedes, beetles, and more while becoming immersed in the lives of these incredible creatures! Registration is required. 
Library: Martinez Library
Registration Ends: 1/26/2015 at 8:00 PM
Contact: Amy Pipkin
Contact Number: 925-646-9900
Status: Openings

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Aquarium of the Bay Tickets - Discount Admission, Free Parking, and other Pier 39 coupons January 2015...

Family Memberships at Aquarium of the Bay are on sale until January 31, 2015. With this special offer, 50% off an entire year of membership, for a family of four, less than a single visit to the Aquarium. You must visit the museum before January 31st and purchase membership in person.

CLICK HERE: for information about the Discounted Membership offer and FREE Parking Coupons.

CLICK HERE: for Aquarium of the Bay website.

The best part of actually becoming a member are the reciprocal privileges through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums available at Museums and Zoos nationwide. Most are at least 50% off to members. Some favorite destinations are Oakland Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose.

CLICK HERE:  to see the reciprocal list of Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Free Boat Rental at Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Byron, CA - A Little Incentive For a Little Adventure...

Photo credit:

Have you ever considered an afternoon boat ride at Los Vaqueros Reservoir or a day trip fishing to bring adventure to your routine? We have! To my surprise, I found Contra Costa Water District is sponsoring a FREE boat rental to their district rate paying customers. 

I telephoned the reservoir to check on program guidelines. Turns out, they are more flexible than I expected. The Ranger was very helpful, offering all sorts of excellent tips and suggestions about visiting the Reservoir. Even town home and multi-unit water bill customers can bring proof of address, join the Ratepayer club, and the LV Reservoir will honor the free boat rental. Sometimes town home residents don't have an individual water bill to "bring." When in doubt, phone the Reservoir and discuss the details before heading out there.

There are many other things to do at the LV Reservoir, such as hiking trails, tarantula run, fantastic opportunities for children to learn about the local environment and wildlife that depend on the watershed for survival.

Call ahead (925) 371-2628 to reserve one free boat rental (not sure of promotion end date.)

CLICK HERE: To learn about Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

CLICK HERE: For Free Boat Rental Information.

CLICK HERE: For Directions to Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

How do I join the Ratepayer Club?

1. You must be a Contra Costa Water District customer. You pay your water bill to one of the following:
City of Pittsburg
City of Martinez
City of Antioch
Diablo Water District
Golden State Water
City of Brentwood

2. Bring your water bill & your photo ID to the LV Marina, and get a Ratepayer Club card.

3. Use the card immediately for $10 off a half-day boat rental or $15 off a full-day boat rental. (This discount is not available for rentals on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays when boats are already half-price). 

4. Call ahead (925) 371-2628 to reserve one free boat rental and confirm promotion end date.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Best Lemon Tart Recipe...

Click image to view scanned pages in larger format.
Cooks Illustrated January & February 2000, The Best Lemon Tart Recipe.

I've always enjoyed Cooks Illustrated Magazines and cookbooks. Just dusted off a joyful surprise old box from a life once lived. Found a ten year old gem in mint condition.

Baking sweet lemon treats to share with a friend gives a little more incentive to urban fruit foraging. Here's a great idea: make friends with a neighbor with a lemon tree and share a lemon tart for two. Happy Harvesting! Happy Baking!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lindsay Wildlife Museum Open This Holiday Monday, January 19, 2015 . . .

If you're looking for a fun indoor activity, a visit to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum is always a hoot! They even have live owls perched atop the display cases.

The museum IS OPEN this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, January 19, 2015 - (normally closed on Mondays.)

My daughter, Ava and friends have grown up at this darling local museum. We've enjoyed membership for years. We always feel good to support the local museums. Ava has attended classes and summer camps since she was about 3 years old.

Many Mommies I know are unaware that Lindsay Wildlife Museum offers such a wonderful selection of preschool classes for their little ones. Fantastic opportunity for early learning science instruction. We've always loved the teachers and the fun classes.

CLICK HERE: Lindsay Wildlife Museum for EDUCATION and CLASS information.

CLICK HERE: Museum Hours, Lindsay Wildlife Museum for out of the ordinary fun. Then run around in the adjacent Larkey Park of Walnut Creek, CA.

CLICK HERE: For many other posts about Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

Enjoy the Moment. Love science! Help the animals. Have Fun!

Lindsay Wildlife Museum
1931 First Avenue
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
(925) 935-1978

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Concord and Clayton, CA After School Enrichment Classes Online Registration Now Open for 2015 Semesters!

CLICK HERE: After School Enrichment Classes for Mt. Diablo Elementary, Ayers, Highlands, Monte Gardens, Westwood, and other local schools. Online Registration OPENS, 11/24/2014 for the 2015 Semesters! Worth signing up before class is full. Mt. Diablo Elementary School, After school Piano is only 6 students per class and almost sold out, with one spot remaining.

Especially convenient about these classes is they are held on the campus of the child's school. No need for parents to endure traffic rush of after school pickup. Children walk to their after school class and have fun learning for an extra hour!

There are fantastic opportunities to choose from:

Chess Wizards
Animal Drawing Workshop
Mad Science - Eureke: Inventor's Academy!
Peer Piano
West African Drumming & Dance
Chess Wizards
NEW: Anime and Manga Drawing Workshop
After School Flag Football
Mad Science - Wacky Wonders

CLICK HERE for Online Course Schedule and Availability on the City of Concord Parks and Recreation Website. Or, telephone Concord, CA Parks and Recreation directly at: (925) 671-3404

From the City of Concord Parks and Recreation website:

The City of Concord Parks & Recreation Department in cooperation with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is offering After School Enrichment classes at select elementary schools in Concord. A wide variety of fun and exciting recreation classes are offered for children in grades 1st-5th. Benefits include increased self-esteem, new skills and abilities, improved social skills, higher school performance, and encouraging life long learning. Thank you for choosing Concord Parks & Recreation Department and the After School Enrichment Program