Gaston Morineau with Benito Bunny
“We’re going to have 15 kids here for Easter?” asked Patrick, alarmed.
“Yup. Between your family and mine, it’ll be like our own little litter of bunnies.”
“We’ve got to get them out of the house,” he begged. I took pity on him.
For starters, there’s a Bunny Hunt on March 26 at the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas (760-426-3036). “The Spring Party with Bunny is geared toward pre-school-age children,” said Suzanne Brueckner, senior youth manager at the Garden. “There will be two parties back-to-back: from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with bunnies and chicks to pat. Also crafts, such as decorating your own wearable bunny ears, potting a flowering spring plant, painting a ceramic bug, and making a mixed-media bunny collage. And if a young child’s attention span proves too short to finish all the activities, you can take the crafts home in a reusable shopping bag that we provide and finish them later.” Whiskers-and-pink-nose face-painting will also be available to go with those bunny ears. Pre-registration is required: $15 for members, $18 for non-members.
Easter Bunny at the San Diego Botanical Garden
The Bunny Hunt is named for the bunny-hop music parade through the Native Plant People Trail, across from the Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden. “It lasts about ten minutes, and at the end, each child will find a lightly hidden stuffed bunny to take home. And our big, gentle bunny will provide a great photo op and hand out small bubble bottles. Other features that are always available in Seeds of Wonder are a play house, a small secret walled garden, a water-play area, a sand-play area, a tree trunk tunnel, a model train with Thomas character engine, and bubble play.”
Over at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater in Balboa Park, puppeteer Gaston Morineau will give life to a bunny of his own in Benito Bunny’s Great Easter Egg Hunt. “It’s performed Muppet-style, with hand-and-rod puppets that are all made by me. The show tells a story about a bunny whose eggs get stolen by a sneaky fox. It’s about 25 minutes long and there’s live background music.” The show runs from March 23–27; cost is $5 general admission, $4 for seniors or military. Multiple showtimes.
If you’d prefer riding to hopping or watching at Eastertime, consider the March 26 Bunny Train at the Pacific Railway Museum in Campo. The Easter Bunny will board with you at the Campo depot and visit with passengers during the 72-minute ride through the mountains of East County. “It’s a diesel locomotive from 1943, pulling commuter rail cars from 1930 at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour,” said Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association VP Martin Caestecker. “Right now, the lilacs are in bloom. The train crews are knowledgeable, and they will sometimes provide some history of the area and point out some of the main geological and historical features of the line.” The ride concludes at the museum’s display building, where two egg-hunts await: one for the younger kids with eggs in plain sight, and another for those who like a challenge. Kids can turn in the plastic eggs in exchange for sweets and other prizes. Tickets are $14 for children, $15 for seniors, and $18 for adults. The train departs at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. on March 26.
Last, we could try hunting Easter eggs by the sea at Belmont Park’s Easter Bash in Mission Beach (858-228-9283) on March 27. There are two hunts: one on the beach in front of the park’s Wave House running from 9 a.m. until noon ($5 per child; register and pay online), and another in the park itself, starting at 12:30 p.m. (free, no registration required). A Belmont Park employee explained that “some of the 10,000 eggs distributed throughout the beach and park are filled with candy, but 400–500 are filled with coupons for various activities throughout the park, things like single rides or treats. There will also be 25 special edition golden eggs. Inside those are coupons good for an entire day at Belmont Park: a combo wristband good for rides and attractions, ice cream, cotton candy, and a $20 gift card to spend at the Wave House.” Finally, there will be free photo ops with the Easter Bunny from 2–4 p.m. in front of the food court.