It's been awhile since we've talked about life here in SoCal. Time for a San Diego playdate!

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

Sidekick is at the most fun age right now. Independent but oh-so-loving. It's incredible to watch him breaking out of his shell and coming into his own. He sees other people – really sees them – and bursts with underlying emotion. Usually he's chipper and optimistic, clowning around for the good of a group and playing things off with a finesse known only to second children. When he does demand attention, though, you'd BEST perk up and take note.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

He learns so much from his big brother, who cautiously and selflessly guides him through each day.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

Two peas in a pod, they share childhood secrets and wisdom.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

Some Boy is the serious one, contemplative and determined with a goofball side that's only revealed to those he trusts most. A loyalist like his dad, this one's affection doesn't come easy. On our San Diego playdates, he complements his hesitation with a certain admiration for outgoing kids who welcome him into their fold. It warms my heart to see his shy face peeking out playfully from around my legs, confidence growing with every new experience.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

The two balance each other, with Sidekick wandering off on his own as a group gets settled. It's as if he feels comfortable when other people are taken care of, free to step away and find a rare moment of solitude.

Sunset Park San Diego Playdate

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

Gymboree has a new campaign going on in which they're working with parents to create a family-led “Playdate Guide,” pinning favorite spots from moms and dads all over the nation. We've worked with the company on an ongoing basis and love that they provide resources like this for families. Anytime readers write in to ask what adorable outfits our boys are wearing on our various San Diego playdates, it's invariably Gymboree. Nearly every holiday outfit, every intentional photo shoot is in their clothes because I love their durability and fashion-forward not-too-cutesy style.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

When Gymboree asked us to share a favorite San Diego playdate spot or two, we immediately thought of Sunset Park over in the north county San Marcos community where we used to live. We're about twenty minutes out, now, but the boys still spend time at this place every month or two.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

They love the play area with an array of activities for every age, covered to keep it protected from the blazing San Diego sun and the (very) occasional rainstorm. This is one destination we can show up to anytime and know that there will be a place for an impromptu San Diego playdate. They have gently sloping walking paths around the perimeter and even separate spaces to run both big and small dogs. And when we aren't all bundled in winter wear, we can take advantage of a squishy-footed water play area where the kids squirt each other with button-operated pipes.

A San Diego playdate at Sunset Park

Of course, when they're not doing that, they're pretending to be a pirate. Ahoy!

Check out some more local favorites on the Gymboree Playdate Guide, and share your secret spots on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using hashtag #playdate.

What are your favorite places for a San Diego playdate?