03/01/2012 03:42 pm ET Updated Apr 28, 2012

How to Have the Best Weekend Ever!

My kids looked at me funny when I announced we would be having "the best weekend ever." I could practically see visions of Disneyland in their nine and 11-year-old minds.

"But we won't be traveling," I said. "We're gonna do activities nearby (in the San Francisco Bay Area). Saturday will be things you have done already at some point and enjoy already, and Sunday will be completely new experiences."

Their curiosity piqued, but still skeptical, they asked, "so what will we be doing?" "I can't tell you," I responded. "You will be given a series of clues, each leading to an activity. If you guess correctly off we'll go. "

So with more excitement than I expected we began the mystery weekend. On the first clue they guessed correctly and we piled into the car -- off to see the latest family movie. After another successful guess we ended up at a local amusement center. With each new clue the excitement was building.

Next we headed to the kid's favorite restaurant and we topped it off with a night of bowling. We ended the day exhausted and clued out.

Before bed that night I informed everyone we needed to be out the door no later than 9:00 am the next morning. Our oldest daughter - the late sleeper - was not at all happy.

Yet on Sunday morning she was up first. "When do we get our first clue?" she asked eagerly.

With the first clue solved we headed to a brunch place we had never been to before.

Next I surprised them with a trip to a park with the longest slide in the region. I lost track how many times they went up and down, smiling and laughing the whole way.

After that we headed to the horse races. Yup, a horse track, and it was a blast!

Finally, I prepared a dinner which we ate on the roof of our house with a full moon rising in the distance. (note: this is not recommended for steep roof houses. Fortunately ours is pretty flat).

Was it the best weekend ever? I can't say for sure, but I think they'll remember it more than a weekend with Mickey Mouse.

Yes we spent a little money, and more than we could afford, but my kids got back $4.60 from a $2.00 long shot bet at the track. Judging from their tired but satisfied faces, my own long shot bet paid back much, much more.