My husband, Eddie, and I traveled to Carlsbad, California, for a business convention and what a terrific little jewel it was! In case Carlsbad is off your radar, it is located 30 miles north of San Diego and 90 miles south of Los Angeles. Carlsbad is a very picturesque village with interesting restaurants, hotels and seaside activities. There were plenty of things to keep us occupied as well as many family activities for those traveling with children.
Our stay began at the Onmi La Costa Resort & Spa- 2700 Costa del Mar Road. The resort is lovely and pristine with perfect relaxation energy. It has been renovated in the recent past to an upscale family resort with tons of teen/kid activities. La Costa is also the site of many PGA events and features 3 pools and water slides. Upon check-in, the 6 people in our party were upgraded to suites at no additional cost. Our rooms were spacious and featured separate living room quarters, full balconies, and even a separate dressing area. We were impressed with the quick checkin/out procedure as well as the bellmen and valet services.
Bluefire Grill, their top billed restaurant, was ritzy and had a cool atmosphere. I recommend their steaks and seafood. La Costa features a 27 hole golf course with the Del Mar course being the group pick. My favorite part of the resort was the Chopra Center, and its offering of many specialized holistic services. Deepak Chopra, the world renowned holistic physician, visits there monthly and for a hefty fee, you can schedule appointments with him. I opted for the mango-ginger scrub and body wrap. The staff was friendly and knowledgable without being pushy.
A few days later, we packed up and headed to our meeting convention which was at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara- 7210 Blue Heron Place. The hotel and grounds were immaculate and chic. Our room was nice, but much smaller than La Costa. If service is important to you, this is the place for you. The Four Seasons has a family pool as well as an adult-only tranquility pool overlooking the lush valley. Cabanas and umbrellas were first come, first serve, and healthy lunch options were available. Fresh and fragrant flowers seemed to be everywhere you looked and the arrangements, just breathtaking. Restaurants were plentiful and amenities just grand. The golf course was the Arnold Palmer signature course in all of San Diego. The only thing disappointing was that the spa was small and way too expensive for just mediocre.
My group enjoyed sightseeing from Oceanside down the highway to Carlsbad, Encinitas (one of the best surfing spots in California), Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Del Mar, La Jolla, and down to Coronoado. You may want to visit or golf at Torrey Pines State Reserve along the way. In Coronado, we had lunch al fresco at Sheerwater, restaurant within the Hotel Del Coronado, complete with beach and ocean views. Their signature baked goat cheese and the monte cristo sandwich were mouthwatering. Nicknamed “Hotel Del’, and built in 1888, the property and its famous history make that alone worth the trip, plus the beach town still has the quaintness of years gone by. “Some Like It Hot” was filmed there as well as many US Presidents and top billed celebrities making it their choice of Southern Cal hotels. “Wizard of Oz” author, Frank L. Baum, traveled to the Hotel Del often and wrote of it, “And every day, her loveliness, shines pure, without a flaw; new charms entrance our every glance, and fill our souls with awe”.
By sheer luck and timing, we were able to visit The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, featuring 50 acres of stunning color, which is open from March-mid May each year. Bring your camera and view the most eye-popping display of flowers, while the workers buzz around keeping things in total perfection. Take a ride on antique tractor wagons around the grounds. The American flag of flowers is quite impressive with its red, white, and blue petunias. For children, Field of Flowers features activities such as arts & crafts, a playground, and a Sweet Pea maze.
We concluded our day by going to La Jolla for pictures and had lunch at the most recommended restaurant in the San Diego area, according to our concierge, George’s at the Cove. You must enjoy their ocean terrace dining and 360 degree views, which include the mountains and sparkling blue waters. George’s claims to have invented fish tacos and after tasting them, I can believe it. They were fabulous! We tried the ancho chili shrimp tacos and for dessert, the huckleberry bread pudding. La Jolla is a surfer, snorkeler, scuba diver, and swimmers paradise. Little did I know of this because I had only heard it mentioned in my Hit Parader magazines as a kid, as home to many famous rock stars. Too bad we didn’t witness any of those. It was also the home to the author Theodore “Dr Seuss” Geisel.
Last, but not least, we did the VIP tour of the San Diego zoo. Not only do you get your own personal guide, but they take you behind the scenes so you can see many animals up close and personal. We learned many jobs that the zookeepers do and how they care for the animals. The tour also included a bus ride through the entire park so you do not miss a thing. It was amazing for me, an animal lover, to learn the top notch care the animals receive and hear how much time is spent in simple things such as figuring out how much and what types of eucalyptus koalas can have and what bedding materials will not irritate their skin. We got to feed the camels and see a few of the 70 koala’s that the zoo owns, that were not currently on display. My favorite was the 1900 pound camel, “Mongo”, who was so friendly and loved showing off for us.
I truly love Southern California and am glad to have added some new areas to my travels. The diversity of all the different cities in California never ceases to astound me.
Bonus: There is great upscale shopping in the area including: Carlsbad Premium Outlets (Le Creuset, Lacoste, Banana Republic, etc.), Fashion Valley Mall (Sak’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus), UTC- University Towne Center (Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, See’s candies, Williams Sonoma Grande Cuisine).
Tip: Take alternate routes rather than Route 5. It is congested most of the time and the traffic is miserable.
Tip: Have dinner at one the Vigilucci restaurants around the Carlsbad area. There are 6 or 7 to choose from. I recommend Vigilucci’s Steak & Seafood as my favorite. Try the asparagus & salmon pappardelle. YUM! They also have a Sunday brunch.
FYI: If you have been to other aquariums, skip the very small Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla. We found it quite boring.
Check out my other California destination posts: