Children tucked inside giant plastic hamster balls giggle as they roll across the water. Meanwhile, a quartet bounds and flips in near-unison on their own personal trampolines. Though these acts would fit right into an avant garde circus, you'll also find them at the sprawling San Diego Kids Expo & Fair on the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In keeping with the event's mission to highlight local kid-friendly businesses, many of these activities are organized by area merchants. Military-grade laser tag games and a rock-climbing wall, among other attractions, beckon visitors of all ages to lose themselves in child-like wonder and the hope that maybe the lawn will eventually just mow itself.
Besides activities, the expo hall houses more than 150 exhibitors. In rows of booths, dance teachers, soccer coaches, and local chefs from Cooking 4 Life each discuss their craft. The focus on childhood health and education also extends to four performance stages, which become stomping grounds for martial-arts demonstrations and kid-friendly musical acts. Through this yearly celebration, the Expo aims to raise awareness (and funds) for local music and arts programs.
Although the course itself is reason enough to strap on running shoes, at Cooking Light & Health's Fit Foodie 5K, racers are motivated by finish-line prizes that make medals pale in comparison. The race is kicked off by award-winning actress, author, and host Alison Sweeney, who will also sign copies of her new book Scared Scriptless. The route weaves through picturesque Austin, Texas, where sterling views reward stretched muscles as runners charge across 5-kilometer course. Upon reaching the finishing line, racers head to the Finisher's Village. Here, they can indulge in food tastings, a beer sample, and cooking and fitness demonstrations courtesy of the Love TX Chefs Experience.
The ROC Race is a 5K fun run with a catch?a dozen of them, to be exact. Twelve giant obstacles stand in the way of victory, including a wrecking ball that threatens to knock runners off their path. The various challenges draw their inspiration from the world's most extreme game shows, where contestants have to run through tires, swing on ropes, and swoosh down giant slides. To make things even more exciting, ROC's organizers encourage participants to dress up in wacky costumes like tutus or outfits inspired by superheroes such as the Fantastic 5K Finisher.
This epic event descends on cities across the U.S., welcoming runners ages 13 and up to fend off water and foam before greeting crowds of spectators at the finish line. A post-race experience keeps things going with even more foam and festivities.
Since the age of 7, Dr. Robert Stonebreaker shared a special affinity with all birds. Wanting to bring people closer to his feathered friends, he lent his passion to Free Flight in 1989, helping evolve the avian boarding-and-breeding center into a sanctuary where visitors could interact with the exotic creatures. Amid open air and emerald palm fronds, guests can let a yellow, orange, and green sun conure perch on their arm or pet a timneh grey while trading info on which local bird store carries the best sunflower seed. The tropical oasis also teems with koi lagoons, where schools of shimmering carp swim under the flaps of eclectus parrots and fluffy white cockatoos soaring through the aviary.
Dr. Stonebraker tragically passed away in 2010, but the team at Free Flight has upheld his tireless work by fostering human-avian relations and furthering visitors' understanding of parrots. Free Flights also encourages involvement through donation, membership, volunteer opportunities, and most notably, education programs.
Pelly's Mini Golf reels in golfers of all ages with two 18-hole courses designed around tropical ocean and surf themes. Golf groupies can choose to shoot for the perfect score at Surfin' Safari or Ocean Adventure, which bask in a marriage of merriment next to the Del Mar Golf Center. Beach bums trading boards for putters at Surfin' Safari will find 18 challenging holes marking landmarks such as Hole #3 Waikiki, the birthplace of modern surfing, and Hole #14 Bonzai Pipeline, reputed to be the most dangerous wave in the world, compressed in an unassuming 4.25-inch hole.
Pumpkin Stations turn pumpkin shopping and family-park excursions into a one-stop trip. Each of the five Pumpkin Station locations houses a variety of family-fun activities, from giant slides and mini-trains to sky fighter rides and carousels. Mission Valley, for instance, enables visitors to get their sea legs with an on-site boat ride, while the El Cajon game zones gives them a place to rest in between activities. No matter the location, families, friends, and groups can stroll through an asphalt pumpkin patch to seek out a large, plump gourd to take home and carve into a jack-o-lantern.