Bike Picnics: 5 Steps to Reviving the Outdoor Family Dinner Tradition

Living in LA, it is second nature, for most, to just jump in the car and be on your merry way, but sometimes shaking up old family traditions make way for new perspectives and awesome adventures. This past summer our five year old took off her training wheels and sped into the world of cycling, so we thought, what better way to honor her new-found freedom than by starting a new family tradition; bike picnicking.

It’s a fairly simple concept. Pack up dinner. Secure it on your bike. Head to your favorite neighborhood park. Eat and be merry. But, we discovered very quickly there are many details that needed to be worked out in order for the whole family to enjoy, so here, in a nutshell are the lessons we’ve learned to get the most out of our new family tradition.

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Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

1. Respect Your Child’s Ability

Don’t choose a park clear across town if your little one’s legs generally only make it once around the block. Take into consideration the entire family’s endurance level and map your course accordingly.

2. Know the Code of the Road

Study up and then impart that adult-sized wisdom to your kids, empowering them with the knowledge to stay safe. Ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as the vehicles. Stay alert at all times, and remember, a bicycle is a vehicle which should obey all traffic signals and signs.

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Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

3. Securely Stow Your Food

The last thing you want, after thoughtfully and carefully preparing and packing a lovely family dinner, is for it all to end up like roadkill, spilled out across the asphalt. Use a big front-wheel basket, or even better, a cool and convenient cargo trailer, like this Burley Nomad. Guaranteed to hold everyone’s eats, with room left over for mom and dad’s beer. I got my hands on one of these sweet Nomads when Burley invited me to be one of their #MothersOfNature Ambassadors and I can’t wait to find more cool uses for this cargo trailer!

4. Be Prepared for Mishaps

Being prepared is rule #1 of parenthood and biking is no exception. Invest in a small bike repair kit and a first aid kit, and make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Of course, chances are your ride will be smooth sailing, but you never know when it may come in handy.

Biking kids
Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

5. Feast Like Royalty

If there’s one thing I know for sure, any outdoor activity is better with a delicious reward. I am known for going a bit overboard, sometimes when it comes to make-ahead meals to enjoy in nature, but here are a few super simple ideas the whole family will devour.

Caprese
1 Heirloom Tomato
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Basil
Red Onion
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Thinly slice the tomatoes, mozzarella and red onions then lay them on a plate, alternating tomato, mozzarella, basil leaf. Once you have used up all of the sliced ingredients, sprinkle red onions on top, lightly salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar!

Roasted Broccoli & Fennel
2 heads of Broccoli
1 Fennel Bulb
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Cut the heads of broccoli into florets and slice the fennel. Toss everything lightly in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Fruit Salad
2 Large Apples
1 small container of Blueberries
3 Persian Cucumbers
1/4 pound of Grapes

Core and slice 2 apples. Remove grapes from stem. Peel and chop cucumbers. Toss everything into a bowl and serve!

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World-Class Waterfront Family Adventure Awaits in Oceanside

Surfers Oceanside Pier

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.” – Wyland

In the middle of what was one of the hottest Southern California summers on record, our dehydrated bodies craved cool breezes and our minds sought sanctuary. We yearned for the steady sounds of the Pacific’s thunderous waves to lull us to sleep and the joy-filled sounds of giggling children frolicking on the shore to ignite our imagination, so we loaded up the car and headed south to Oceanside, California for a quick weekend tryst.

An easy two hour and 30 minute drive from Los Angeles deposits bare toes on powder-white sandy beaches lined with quaint, family friendly spots for refueling, rental shops stocked with any type of water toy you could wish for, and an infectious beachy attitude. At first glance, Oceanside appears to be a sleepy coastal community, but with a population hovering around 170,000 and a California Welcome Center that sees more than 80,000 tourists annually, San Diego County’s 3rd largest city provides family adventure travelers a wide variety of activities and amenities.

We pulled into the SpringHill Suites’ entrance and were immediately greeted with the smell of salt air and an inviting, modern lobby teeming with friendly and knowledgeable Marriott staff. Just steps from the beach, this gorgeous property offers families a whole host of amenities including a rooftop pool, a game room, free breakfast, and panoramic views from your balcony, overlooking the scenic Oceanside Pier.

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Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

Each one of this LEED-certified property’s rooms features a microwave, refrigerator, laptop safe, and separate areas for working and relaxing, which came in handy for those few brief moments when mom had to work. And the thoughtful, kid-friendly touches to the room, like a bathroom sink step stool and welcoming stuffed animals did not go unnoticed by these frequent travelers.

SpringHill Suites Oceanside
Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

Although we could have happily hung out in our comfy room for the rest of the afternoon, the beach was beckoning, so we slid on our flip flops and headed downstairs for some much-needed sun therapy. In exactly 3 minutes our trio of toes were emerged in the salty Pacific, watching surfers skillfully sway and spin the whitewater, while young hands patted down tilting towers of sand to create cafe au lait colored palaces.

After an hour or so of quiet observation, our inner-explorer took over and we made our way over to Wheel Fun Rentals to put our muscles and our minds to work.The Strand beach straddles the pier and its main leisure artery, The Strand is the perfect three-mile bike path for families looking to get a front seat view of Oceanside’s sparking topaz waters, and is just short enough to ensure short legs don’t have monumental meltdowns.

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Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

A day of driving with a kid, mixed with sand, sun and cycling fun finally began to wind down our clocks, so we headed across the street to Hello Betty Fish House, serving up an energetic, casual vibe that is as enticing as their signature Ring of Fire margarita. The sun set on our table crowded with mouth-watering cuisine that affectionately reflected the eclectic personality of this cozy corner of the west coast, and being right next door to our hotel made it convenient to roll our over-stuffed bellies to bed.

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Photos Courtesy Kerem Hanci

Day two of our beach weekend getaway was reserved for one thing, and one thing only – to get on a boat – so we donned our best captain-of-the-ship attire and zipped over to the Oceanside Harbor. Whether you’re looking to rent watercraft for a low-key family kayaking or high-octane power boats, family-owned Boat Rentals of America has got you covered, and Oceanside Harbor Village‘s collection of waterside restaurants and shops makes for the perfect refueling pit stop and unwinding oasis.

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Photo Courtesy Kerem Hanci

As our electric boat glided out of its slip and our daughter’s new best friend Ariel had taken her seat next to the captain of the ship, we immediately felt our bodies melt into relaxed-mode and with it melted away all of the hustle and bustle of LA life. We gazed with admiration as regal California pelicans dove for heaping helpings of halibut, laughed until our eyes watered at the raucous performance of a herd of zany harbor seals and it was then, in those moments that we reconnected with each other and with the wondrous world around us.


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