Posts by this author:

Pottery Classes for Kids in Orange County

If your child has been born in the last decade, he or she definitely has a vivid imagination and can work with their hands, thanks to all the small electronics. If you want to channel that inner creative genius and talent, pull your child away from the smart phone or tablet, and bring him to one of creative classes that Orange County has to offer. Take a look at our list and find a private pottery studio, instructional painting party, or ceramics classes close to home.

Muddy’s Studio in Santa Ana

The studio specializes in creative ceramics. Your child will not only have fun, but will also learn some fundamental basics about the creative process. He or she will learn design, throwing, shaping and glazing secrets and techniques. All the teachers are talented artists and invest their time shaping the young generation of artists.

The studio offers Thursday and Friday after school classes and Saturday sessions. The classes are wonderful and very popular, so call or log in online to preregister in advance. You can always stop for a look at this 5,400-square-foot facility to meet the teachers and learn more about what they do.

The Ceramics Studio in San Juan Capistrano 

The studio invites you to come and play with clay. The classes feel more like a playtime, and kids love that. You and your kids will work together and create one of a-kind masterpieces by throwing, sculpting, and painting. Families with toddlers are also welcome as the studio has some activities designed specifically for the smallest hands. The teacher reads popular stories for the class and then works with you to recreate popular characters. At the end you get to glaze your own creation and take it home with you.

Color Me Mine in Brea

Visitors can select one of about 400 different ceramics items and create their own version of it. The choices are very wide, from plates, picture frames, and piggy banks to cookie jars. Once you pick the item, you will be given supplies to color it the way you want it. You can choose to work with friends or on your own.

The classes are tailored to your or your little one’s needs. You can paint a unique masterpiece or just put some dots, do whatever you like. The classes range from very simple to complicated projects, so the choice is yours.

Hidden Talents Ceramic Studio in Huntington Beach

All ages are welcome to this studio. You can come in with a party or stop by yourself – everything works. All you need to do is come in; leave the rest to the Hidden Talents. They will provide all the needed materials, paints, firing, advice, and studio time.

Are you are an educator and would like to host a ceramics making party in your classroom? Home? Park? No worries, Hidden Talent will travel to you and bring everything that’s needed to your location. Ceramics camps are available all summer, but sign up in advance, because they fill up pretty quickly.

The staff is available to answer any questions and can help you host a private party or a fundraiser.

Irvine Fine Arts Center 

If your child shows interest in art, consider bringing him here. He will not only learn how to glaze the pot and understand the artistic process, but will also learn a bit about himself. The Center is staffed with professionals who understand the importance of art and creativity for the young minds. Children of all ages are welcome to a great variety of studio class media.

Young children, school aged artists, teenagers and the entire family will enjoy not just coloring a few vases, but will get a sense of community that exists in this wholly creative environment.

Best Hockey Classes in Southern California

Dreaming about playing some hockey on a frozen pond? That is not happening in California until the next Ice Age, but there are places around this great city where you can do just that – play some hockey. LA area is known to supply the U.S. with some of the greatest figure skaters and ice hockey players in the country all thanks to our state-of-the-art skating rinks. Here is a list of some great places to get on the ice and train for the next Olympics:

Toyota Sports Center (El Segundo)

This central facility houses 3 rinks under one roof – one Olympic size, one NHL-size, and one for general training. This center is home to Los Angeles Kings and the place to be for all ice-related sports and dreams. Local kids can participate in free Kids First program to get familiar with ice and decide if future ice sports are in the cards. Pre-registration is required for this program.

There are many programs, classes, leagues, and camps for kids and adults. Birthday celebrations are, of course, encouraged. Some other amenities include hockey shop, a nice café, and a bar with views to two rinks.

The Skating Edge (Harbor City)

This skating rink is between Harbor City and Torrance and is home to The Bay Harbor Red Wings youth hockey club. Beginners can take hockey classes there in addition to stick time, clinic, private lessons, scrimmage, and broomball. Parents can enjoy free Wi-Fi or browse in Vic’s Pro Shop. The so called café is just a counter with a coffee machine and a microwave, but your child can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate – the best treat after the ice.

Lakewood Ice – The Rinks (Lakewood)

The rink is more like a rink complex devoted to hockey. Kids and youth can join various classes based on their skating skills, from beginners to semi-professional. Anaheim Ducks are classes for beginners with Learn to Play Hockey program. Homeschooled kids have their own Hockey Initiation course to learn and to make connections. Hockey camps are available for all who dream about AAA teams or just want to spend some time on the ice. Lady Ducks are geared towards girls who prefer to train without boys.

Paramount Iceland (Paramount)

This rink is part of Paramount history and has been owned by Zamboni family for generations. Hockey here is not professional, but includes the beginners program as well as twice a week meets of a club for kids ages 14 and younger. Don’t miss the original Zamboni model in the corner, because, yes, it’s that Zamboni family’s rink.

Iceland Ice Skating Center (Van Nuys)

This facility is rather small and cozy, so you have to know where it is if you want to find it. And find it you should because your family can enjoy ice bumper cars on the weekends and who would want to miss that? Kids’ hockey clinics are quite affordable in this Iceland. Adults can sign up for stick time, pick-up hockey options, and even broomball.

Pickwick Ice (Burbank)

The facility belongs to Pickwick Gardens Complex and offers a great rink complete with top quality coaching. California Golden Bears Youth hockey club is at home here. Various classes range from basics to power play. Adults and youth have many options for leagues and classes, including scrimmage, private lessons, clinics, and pick-up time. On-site pro shop is stocked with necessities for figure skaters and hockey players. The café serves usual ice rink/bowling alley goods for waiting parents and resting kids.

LA Kings Valley Ice Center (Panorama City)

It used to be called Ice-o-plex and serves as another LA Kings training facility. There are two different rinks there and a great spirit in both. Kids can try their hand and leg in hockey with the Kids First program for $15 per session with all the equipment included. Youth hockey league has meets every week January to April for kids between 6-14 years of age. Summer hockey camps are also available. Adults can sign up for hockey leagues. There is a café on the premises, but it’s nothing more than a hole in the wall. Pro Shop is great for all hockey needs.

Pasadena Ice Skating Center (Pasadena)

This center is home to Pasadena Maple Leafs youth hockey club and offers classes for all levels. Beginners are welcome and so are highly skilled adults. Ice sports enthusiasts can also participate in pick-up hockey, stick time, summer clinics, and even broomball.

Iceoplex (Simi Valley)

California Dreamin’ Hockey School is located here and features two ice surfaces, one of them being Olympic size. You will also find hockey changing rooms with showers and a well-stocked pro shop. Coaches are former professionals, so both kids and adults can really benefit from their experience. Adult and kids leagues are offered in the rink and so are broomball and pick-up hockey.


Best Ice Skating Rinks in California

California is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about ice and wintery conditions, but make no mistake, the state has quite a few state-of-the-art ice skating rinks. Some of them are seasonal and open only around holidays, while others are inviting professionals and amateurs year-round. Read on to find 10 best places to lace up your skates and test your skills:

  • Half Dome Village, Yosemite, CA

This wonderful skating rink is a beloved seasonal tradition all the way back from 1928. Rumor has it that it started as a flooded and then frozen parking lot, but has later developed into one of the best things to do in the national park in winter. Families here can enjoy getting s’mores after a session on the ice.

  • Aliso Viejo Ice Palace, Aliso Viejo, CA

This ice skating arena is located in Orange County and offers lessons, hockey leagues, public skating hours, and plenty more. Birthdays on the ice are very popular and so are other sports and fun events.

  • Adventist Health Ice Center of Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA

This ice center is quite new and invites kids to learn ice skating with various events, lessons, and hockey leagues. There are time slots for public skating and ways to celebrate your birthday there.

  • Pickwick Ice, Burbank, CA

The skating rink here is an impressive NHL-size, but you don’t have to be professional to come and enjoy the pleasures of ice. There is a lounge for some rest of-ice and plenty of activities on-ice: skating lessons, birthday parties, hockey games and programs, music skate sessions, and much more. The place even has a clever seal device to help beginners stay on their feet.

  • Center Ice Arena, Ontario, CA

This arena has been known and popular since its opening in 2001. It is NHL-size and offers many various programs and activities. It is strategically located and easily accessible from all area’s highways. You can bring your own skates or rent them there and enjoy ice with kids and friends. Classes and leagues are also available.

  • Oakland Ice Center, Oakland, CA

This center has a huge variety of ice activities and programs for all ages and skill levels. Public skating time slots are available and you can even sign up for adult only skating with coffee and pastries. Events are often held in the rink. Kids can be signed up for hockey or figure skating classes.

  • Iceoplex, Simi Valley, CA

Families know this ice palace in the Conejo Valley for many years. The public skating passes are not expensive and that encourages teen groups and families to come and have some fun. Lessons are available for various ages and skating levels. Leagues and professional classes are also offered.

  • Tahoe Arena, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Tahoe Lake is a perfect place to have many seasonal outdoor ice skating rinks, but this is the only one that is indoors and open year-round. You can find great deals and specials for public skate lessons. During school year, locals are invited to free morning skating sessions. Just like all others, this rink offers various ice-related activities, events, classes, and leagues.

  • Iceland, Van Nuys, CA

This legendary rink is located in the very hot San Fernando Valley, but manages to stay cool amid all the heat and heat-related attractions. The rink has unmatched retro spirit and has been featured in various films. Iceland is an active part of community and holds various fundraisers, special events, offers classes, and supplies good times for generations – think bumper cars on ice birthday parties.

  • Yorba Linda Ice, Yorba Linda, CA

Yorba Linda location is one of the most popular ice skating rink in Orange County and invites local community for public skating and skating lessons. Kids and adults can join hockey and figure skating programs. The rink is a popular place for birthday celebrations.

Top Things to Do in Vancouver with Kids

Vancouver is place to be if you are interested in the great outdoors. The city is amazing to raise kids in and experience all that the beautiful Canada has to offer. That includes liberal views and breast-feeding tolerance.

Let’s take a look at 10 activities and things to do with kids in tow:

The Roundhouse

If you have a need for a cheap way to burn your children’s energy on a rainy day, stop at the Roundhouse in Yaletown for a couple of hours. There is a community center and train museum together. All days except for Fridays and Sundays, there are 2 hour windows for gym play for just $2. Kids love a bouncy castle and other fun equipment. All participants between 6 months and 7 years are welcome. Once the energy is burned you should check out plentiful coffee shops around the downtown.

If one gym is not enough, check out the nearby Coal Harbor Community Center with a huge gym, which is not as busy and is open every day, except Sunday.

Sea Wall

Coal Harbor has a nice Sea Wall, on which you can spend some time relaxing and watching sea planes taking off and landing. There isn’t another city that would have sea airport right in the downtown. Local families love to have a picnic and play in the green field while keeping an eye on the planes.

Vancouver Public Library

The library is located in downtown and is great draw for little ones. Rainy days are awesome here. The children’s section is huge and separate from the rest of library. Kids will always find crayons, play places, and daily story times. Chinese, French, English, and Spanish language stories are read every day. The librarians can give you great tips about what else is happening in the city if you need ideas. The library is totally free and kids love it, so what can be better?

The Vancouver Aquarium

This fun is not free, but totally worth it. It is located right in the downtown and very family-friendly. Interactive exhibits are fun for kids and adults, so you can spend the entire day here.

Stanley Park

The park is right by the aquarium and offers some entertainment on its own. Definitely take a Miniature Train ride. It’s always so busy that you should consider reserving this fun in advance. It is especially spectacular during Christmas season.

Granville Island

Most people love this place for food, but locals don’t recommend it. The main reason to go there is so that you could get on the Aquabus. This is a network of small boats that will take you all over the falsecreak area. On the island kids have a huge area inside and outside dedicated to them. Children’s theater is there too, so you can take your rowdy 2 year old and let him have fun.

Don’t eat in local restaurants, but grab some amazing fish tacos from GoFish, known and loved by every local resident – fish is fresh catch and the place is open until everything is sold out. The best parts – your wait is likely to be no more than 20 minutes in the morning and you will have to pick a place to picnic as the shack does not have many tables.


If you are staying in the Yaletown area, you will have an abundance of great coffee places and bakeries to visit. Stop by Scieu Italian for wonderful treats and amazing staff. There are high chairs and kid-friendly snacks for the youngest visitors, which is hard to come by. Weekend brunches and coffee are spectacular.

The Yaletown Brewery

It might not sound so based on the name, but this is one of the most relaxed restaurants around. Service is great; they have high chairs, kids menu, play kits, and some tasty options for adults. There is even a magician that visits kids on the weekends, so stop by for a wonderful pint, but avoid hockey games, as the place becomes packed to the brim.

Science World

Not every museum is as inclusive as this one. They made sure to have something interactive for all ages. The Sea Wall is close by and so is the entire downtown, so you can easily incorporate this museum in your day. The establishment is very inviting even for the smallest visitors – they have music, mirrors, and crew members who actually play with kids. Baby area is very convenient for families with little kids.

Grouse Mountain

Last, but not least, you have Grouse Mountain fun to experience winter, summer, spring or fall. It is very famous for Grouse Grind – an up the mountain stair master. But besides that you can enjoy skiing and ice skating in the winter and hikes or zip lines in summer. It is very accessible via public transportation. There are food options on top, but picnicking is very much advised too. It gets pretty busy on the weekends, so go in the mornings in the middle of the week if you can.

Saving Money With Orbitz Coupons

Online travel agencies promise huge savings if you choose a vacation package, like booking a flight + hotel together. Expedia promises savings of $450, Orbitz – up to $465, while Travelocity raises the bar even higher and advertises $525 off separate purchases.

Many customers are weary of such deals because they have been burned before with red eye flights, multiple connections, or seedy hotels, and think that such trade-offs are part of the deal. What online travel agencies have to prove now is that such vacation packages exist, are great, and you actually want to take their offers.

Travelocity is luring customers in with redesigned package searches, better site navigation, and options to choose different flights if the bare bones flights don’t make you fully happy.

Orbitz started showing real-life savings that customers were able to get by choosing packages. You will find flight prices and a quick story about Alice, who saved $375 on a similar flight.

Expedia wants to deviate from packages all together and is looking for a different name for combination deal vacations. You can join the naming contest on Facebook and win $10,000 vacation if your offered name wins. Packages sound very non-flexible and might suggest that you have to live with whatever deals the company has to offer. People lack trust in such deals where the airline and the hotel can offer lower prices, but don’t have to show it.

The desire to change customer perception about packages comes at a time when many airlines are trying to find ways to encourage customers to buy directly from them. They offer lowest price guarantees and stop listing their prices on online travel agencies websites. American Airlines and South West are good examples as you won’t find them on Orbitz or Expedia. Airlines are also starting to offer their own packages, like JetBlue’s best price guarantee and extra frequent flier points on packages in 36 destinations.

As fall and winter holidays are approaching, we looked at packages from Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia. We looked for packages for two people for 3 different vacation destinations, leaving from New York with nonstop convenient flights:

  • A long weekend in Washington, D.C.
  • A week long getaway to Cancun resort
  • A week at upscale resort in Scottsdale, AZ

To compare the rates we shopped for hotels and flights on the suppliers’ own websites and then compared prices with the travel agencies’ offerings. No site consistently beat others, but some were better than others. This kind of comparison offered some great tips for vacation shopping online.

Price is not everything

Let’s take a look to see why price is not everything. When booking a trip to Washington, D.C., this is what came up:

  • Expedia offered the best price, $400 for round-trip flights and the Garden Inn in Laurel, Md., about 22 miles from Washington
  • Travelocity offered flights and the Travelodge Fredericksburg, which is about 50 miles from Washington for $414
  • Orbitz had the best option with stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Dunn Loring Fairfax in Vienna, Va., a 40-min Metro ride to Washington, D.C for $527.

None of these options were the desired upscale hotel in the city. To find that we did not filter by price, but instead relayed on default choices, called Expedia Picks on Expedia site. The options were more pricy, but more convenient.

  • Travelocity offered a stay at the luxurious Palomar Washington, a Kimpton hotel in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, with non-stop JetBlue flight at 7:30 am from NY and back at 9:50 am. The price was $711, but that is $380 savings form what it would be if booked separately.
  • Orbitz gave the same package, but with a JetBlue flight leaving NY in the evening and for $72 more
  • Expedia had the same flights, but a different hotel – Washington Plaza for $810. This is still lower than if booking the flight and the hotel separately.

Peak season

Even during holidays, the travel agencies hold prices that are pre-negotiated with airlines and hotels, so you will get better deals than buying everything separately on your own.

We searched hotels and airlines separately for all-inclusive resort in Cancun for week-long vacation. The best deal was a week before Easter – $5,297 ($3,102 for hotel and $2,195 for the flight). All three websites had a better price and savings of at least $1,000 if booked together. Travelocity came out a winner with $3,212 total for flight and hotel.

Despite the usual success with online travel agencies, you should still check the separate deals. For example, none of the agencies beat the $3,070 price for a week-long stay in Scottsdale, Arizona. The price includes a stay at Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria hotel a week before Easter. The closest was Orbitz with $3,232 for the same trip.


Travelocity had the best price twice and also offered the best search options with intuitive tabs for packages, where you can select one based on three options: cheapest package, closest match of flight times, and shortest flights. Another great feature is a “change flight” button. There were options to search by hotel amenities, like swimming pool and star rating. You could also select a particular hotel by name.

Expedia offered the cheapest option to Washington, D.C., but the hotel was too far from the city. They advertise 75,000 hotels and plenty of convenient options. The site is a bit outdated and not very appealing. There is an option to search hotels by amenities, but the button is easy to miss.

Orbitz displays the deals in an easy-to-read matrix, so you can get an idea really fast, but it does not show the total price right away. You have to multiply the price in your head if you have more than one traveler or click on the package to see the total. You can’t choose hotels by amenities.

Overall, our best advice would be to use Travelocity to look for packages and then see if buying from the sources directly can give you a better price.