While I love our Arizona my desert home, I’m attracted to destinations with an ocean ambiance and lush green foliage accented with colorful flowers. Just 35 miles north of San Diego, California, Carlsbad provides a beautiful year-round flower fix.
With sunny days and mild year-round temperatures, climate extremes elude this pretty seaside resort city of 105,000. Making the drive from San Diego, husband Rob and I passed hillsides carpeted in bright pink and yellow wildflowers. Joggers and dog walkers populate parks and sidewalks. Pretty lagoons provide a habitat for seabirds and wildlife.
At The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, Mother Nature transforms rolling hills into 50 acres of color-coordinated blooming beauty from mid-March to early May. The huge hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean is filled with neat rows of pink, orange, red, white and yellow ranunculus blooms. Don’t miss the wagon ride up the hill into the fields for photo ops. In gardens surrounding the entrance, I had a delightful time inhaling the sweet spring scents of roses and a plethora of fragrant annuals.
Carlsbad attractions include LEGOLAND California, a must-do if traveling with kids ages three to 12. The 128-acre park features roller coasters, LEGO-themed rides, interactive shows, hands-on attractions, and, of course, LEGO-building play areas. Like water parks? LEGOLAND now boasts the world’s first LEGOLAND water park.
Carlsbad is home to the Museum of Making Music which features five galleries of musical history and instruments from the late 19th century to the present. Visitors can sample music from around the world and actually play a variety of instruments.
Tucked in an upscale residential area, Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park once was a working ranch and vacation home of Leo Carrillo, who acted in 100 films from 1927-1950 and co-starred in The Cisco Kid TV series. Historic structures are preserved, and peacocks abound in this 27-acre park.
If you’re a shopper, don’t miss Carlsbad Premium Outlet Mall (adjacent to The Flower Fields) where you’ll find a bevy of familiar brand names.
We were the guests of Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort, a family-friendly property within easy walking distance of the ocean, restaurants and shops. Set in a lushly landscaped Carlsbad Village neighborhood, this renovated resort features an outdoor heated pool, family/adult spas, bikes, table tennis, free lobby computers and coffee, as well as lovely flower gardens. After our long drive, it was so refreshing to walk around the tony neighborhood admiring the lush foliage and inhaling the ocean air.
At night, we walked to Vigilucci’s on State Street, a highly recommended family-owned Italian restaurant known for fine dining and impeccable service. Our seafood and pork dinners were our best ever. Our waiter and the manager were friendly and attentive.
If you find the maze of fast-paced California freeways challenging, consider public transit. The North County Coaster line, a sleek and modern train system, links Carlsbad with downtown San Diego, where riders can transfer to light rail or buses. Much of the 30-mile route Carlsbad-San Diego route provides scenic ocean views.
I’m putting the Coaster on my bucket list for a future trip.
When you go:
- Visit Carlsbad 760-434-6093
- Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort 760-434-7020
- Vigiluccis has two Carlsbad locations: State Street 760-434-2500; Carlsbad Blvd. 760-434-2580.
- Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch 760-431-0352
- LEGOLAND California 760-918-5346
- Museum of Making Music (closed June/July 2011 for renovations). 760-438-5996
- Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park 760-476-1042. Wear sturdy shoes–uneven terrain in this historic park.
CruisinGal Pat Woods lives and writes in Sun City West, Arizona.