Cool on the Coast: Focus on family fun this August

Michele Leivas

2016_COLUMN_LEIVASJust as quickly as it began, summer is slowly drawing to a close and the countdown to a new school year has officially begun. Don’t go trading in your beach bag for a backpack just yet, though, as there is still plenty of summer fun to be had in the month of August in North County.


The San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas has more than 25 gardens for guests to explore and enjoy, but families will particularly enjoy its two gardens designed with children in mind. In the Hamilton Children’s Garden, children can make music with instruments built from natural materials, journey through a grass maze, observe butterflies and hummingbirds, build their own fort out of giant wood blocks or splash around in a mountain stream — to name just a few activities. The Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden allows preschool age children to play in a dinosaur garden, explore the playhouse and enjoy a miniature garden railroad.

Families can also enjoy Thursday Family Fun Nights these last two weeks in August. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. with family-friendly activities; live entertainment begins at 6 p.m. Family Fun nights are included with general admission to the gardens and are located at the Hamilton’s Children’s Garden. Admission is $14 for adults; $10 for seniors, students or active-duty military; and $8 for children ages 3 and up (children ages 2 and below are free). Parking is $2. Military families enjoy free admission through Labor Day (parking fees still apply). Visit the website for more information:

  • Thursday, Aug. 18 — The Boo Hoo Crew: Come laugh, dance and sing along with one of the “hardest rocking kids bands on the planet.”
  • Thursday, Aug. 25 — Hullabaloo: This folk band is a “foot-stomping, wing-flapping celebration of song that honors and entertains kids and families.”

The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido is a great destination for families with children ages 10 and under. Interactive exhibits at this museum are divided into four separate focus areas: “Experimentation (science, math, engineering), Exploration (world cultures, history), Imagination (theater arts, visual arts, music), and Discovery (outdoor space featuring gardens, environmental science, world cultures, arts).”

These exhibits are all hands-on and encourage children to touch, play, build, learn and — above all — have fun. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum has a rotating calendar of activities for children (included with admission), from storytimes to craft projects. The museum also celebrates cultural diversity by highlighting a different country with its “Escondido Roots” series. Admission to the museum is comfortably affordable ($6 for adults and children; $3 per person for military with valid ID). An added bonus for active-duty military, veterans, National Guard and Reserve and their families: Admission to the museum is free now until Labor Day. Visit the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum website for more information and a full list of weekly activities:

  • Monday, Aug. 15, 9:30 a.m. — Parrots over Puerto Rico Storytime & Activity: Learn about the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program and its work to save these colorful birds — and then make your own parrot.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m.: Summer Workshop — Birds & Bugs: Get up close and personal with (family-friendly) bird ambassadors and insects from Zovargo, a nonprofit conservation educator.
  • Saturday, Aug. 20, 2-4 p.m. — Escondido Roots Series presents Puerto Rico: Learn all about Puerto Rico, its culture and traditions. Guests will enjoy a dance performance by Angie Freeman’s “Reinitas Borincanas” from the House of Puerto Rico and musical performances by Walter Rivera El Jibarito, among other fun and interactive activities. Special bonus: SDCDM offers free admission to the museum for all guests as part of this event (free admission begins at 1:45 p.m.).
  • Thursday, Aug. 25, 2: p.m. — Golden Flower Storytime & Craft Time: Learn about one of the many myths of how Puerto Rico came to be during this storytime. Following storytime, children can participate in a themed craft project. Storytime is a daily event at SDCDM, held at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; the themes change monthly.


Community events

Friday, Aug. 19, 6 p.m. — Carlsbad TGIF Concert in the Park: Come check out the final TGIF concert of the summer. Pack a picnic for some early dining and get ready to dance the rest of the evening away. Families are welcome and kids can enjoy art activities during the event. Shuttle buses are available for parking — and best of all, the entire evening is free! The concert is located at 3420 Camino de los Coches in Carlsbad. For more information on the music lineup and general event information, visit the website at

Saturday, Aug. 20, 1-6 p.m. — Del Mar Pizza and Beer Festival: Come hungry and thirsty. This event is free with general track admission of $6 at the Del Mar racetrack. Guests can choose from more than 100 craft brews and pair their selections with gourmet pizzas from mobile pizzerias. Full-size beers are available for purchase or buy a package of five seven-ounce tastings for $20. Music and other activities will be onsite as well. For more information, visit

Friday-Sunday, Aug. 19-21 — Beauty and the Beast (stage production): Come experience the magic of this stage production based on the timeless Disney classic. Held at the Kit Carson Park Amphitheatre (3333 Bear Valley Parkway) and hosted by Escondido’s Patio Playhouse, the show will run Aug. 19-21 and 25-27; curtains up at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults; $20 for seniors, military and students; and $15 for children ages 16 and below. For more information, visit

Michele Leivas is a San Diego freelance writer