When it’s cold outside and the rains are hitting us it makes me long for the outdoors, smelling the fresh air and taking in all the beautiful colors nature provides. It makes it even worse since planning for camping trips in the summer is something you have to do this time of the year. I’m thankful that snow is something we drive to the mountains for and the winters here are typically mild so we can enjoy nature year round. In Los Angeles you can hop in your car for a short drive and find many places to enjoy nature for the day… I have to do this every so often or I will go a little bit crazy.

I love walking the trails at the El Dorado Park Nature Center in Long Beach, CA. There are 1 and 2 mile trails as well as a 1/4 mile wheelchair accessible trail. There are ponds, streams and native plants that make you feel like you drove hours to escape the city. We regularly spot turtles, lizards, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, hawks and snowy egrets. The whole family can enjoy their programs and they even have Spring and Summer camps. The education center and park staff provide a wealth of information about the native plants and wild life.

My favorite time to go the El Dorado Nature Center? After the rain… to see the mushrooms! Mushrooms need a lot of moisture to thrive. They grow quickly so they pop up after a heavy rainfall. The kids and I go “mushroom hunting” (we just look for them no harming of mushrooms involved) everywhere we walk after the rain and try to count as many as we can. The kids also believe that mushrooms are a sign that gnomes and fairies visited our garden and waking up to them popped up in our garden is very exciting. This becomes even more magical at the Nature Center or any favorite hiking spot.

El Dorado Park Nature Center and Mushrooms

Even if you don’t find mushrooms there is a lot of beauty to take in.

El Dorado Park Nature Center

El Dorado Park Nature Center

And Remember… Don’t Feed the Squirrels (this sign always cracks me up!)

The El Dorado Park Nature Center

There is no fee to enter the Nature Center but you do have to pay for parking since it’s nestled in El Dorado Regional Park. The large El Dorado Regional Park has a lot to offer for a day of family fun. There is an archery range, stocked fishing lakes, rentable paddle boats, train rides and lots of playgrounds. The paved walkway and bike trails are great and go around the entire park. It’s a great park for birthday parties too! They even have a field for remote controlled airplanes which the kids love watching. Oh and if you are looking for a new furbaby to add to your family the SPCLA is located on the grounds. You don’t have to pay the parking fee to go to the SPCLA.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and was not asked to by the El Dorado Park Nature Center. I just love this spot and hope more people will enjoy it! All opinions are my own.


Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

by Leila on January 30, 2012

Post image for Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

Even though I love nature, traveling and adventures I had never been to or thought about visiting Joshua Tree National Park until last March when my friend Sam came to visit from Staten Island. When I started planing another trip out there I realized I never blogged about our first trip!

BTW… I felt the need to mention my friend Sam is from Staten Island so you can all follow along with the Staten Island accent… she is going to be really happy I just said that.

Anyway, every time she visits it’s a whirlwind of exhausting awesome. She is as insane as I, if not more, when it comes to overbooking a schedule. We both love taking pictures, capturing silly moments and blasting them online for all our friends to enjoy (or be exhausted by). One of the main places she wanted to check out last year was Joshua Tree…

My Kids Often Prefer Auntie Sam Over Me

Okay at first I was thinking to Mrs. Nature Lover and Animal Freak… you want to go out to the freaking desert? It’s all just sand right? Nothing to see? Maybe some creepy bugs? How exciting CAN that possibly be? Even with all my preconceived notions about the desert I was down to check it out and have an adventure. All of my assumptions were way off base and I’m so glad we went.

The first thing that really moved me was how loud the silence was out there. That is truly hard to explain. It’s so silent that you hear humming in your ears that is peaceful. It made me realize how many sounds surround us in the city and how we rarely have the opportunity to stop and listen to life around us.

It's a Cloud! It's a UFO! It's Our Minds Going Crazy!

Or I am going crazy by thinking I heard humming noises when it was really silent. Either way… it was rad.

Hey Kids.. Do Not Copy Mommy!

There is so much to cover at Joshua Tree that a day trip isn’t nearly enough. It was on my todo list to make it back again before the year was over. Now I’m planning on getting out there as an annual trip. I’ll have to bring a cardboard cutout of Sam so she can pose with us.

Next Time She Will Be Made of Cardboard

She Likes to Pose

There are places to camp, hike, rock climb and a weird animals to see for all ages. The Ranger Program is always a must for kids when visiting a National Park. My kids learned more through their ranger booklets than we could have explained and they got a rad badge for completing their age appropriate assignments. My kids had a blast here and have been asking frequently when we will return.

Barker Dam is a truly peaceful place. A beautiful man made desert oasis. It’s a 1.5 mile hike that is supposed to be accessible for all. It can dry up during the hot season so seeing this in the Winter and Spring is ideal.



There is also a cave with Native American hieroglyphics. From what I’ve read there are many Native American Hieroglyphics throughout the park.

The pictures just don’t do it justice… it’s one of those places you have to experience. I want to camp here and spend a whole weekend exploring the marvels of Joshua Tree National Park. This is a place for exploring, adventure and lots of great memories. Remember to stop by the visitor center for maps, tips and safety information. Everyone there is very friendly and helpful! If you end up visiting Joshua Tree National Park stop by here again and tell me about it!

Happy travels!

I Pose with Trees

Yes. I'm Much Taller Than Her (Had to Mention it!)