Carlsbad Travel Guide
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Beat the Superbloom Crowds at This Under-the-Radar Flower Town

PHOTO: Rebecca Horikawa

You don't have to travel to Amsterdam or Japan to get your flower fix. There are 60 acres of blooming ranunculus in Southern California, but get there fast, as the blooms only last until early May.

Much has been said (and posted) about the amazing Super Bloom that’s currently spreading joy in Southern California. While we too enjoy a good super bloom, the traffic and havoc being brought upon the Anza-Borrego State Park have made us pause and look elsewhere for spring inspiration. As luck would have it, we found our joy just 30 minutes north of San Diego at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. And you can visit the fields now through Mother’s Day.

Flower Fields 2017 aerial footage 1
PHOTO: The Flower Fields
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Southern California’s Largest Bulb Farm

Started in the late 1920s as a poinsettia farm, Carlsbad Ranch has become Southern California’s largest bulb farm. Each year, 74 million Giant Tecolote Ranunculus burst into 60 acres of glorious color—everywhere you look there are joyous blooms of reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges. Currently there are 13 varieties of the magnificent flowers with fantastic names like picot, merlot, and coffee, along with the more traditional red, pink, and orange; there’s promise of more varieties to come. Many of these blooms (well, the pre-blooming of course) find their way onto shelves in California, and even New York and New Jersey. We hear Trader Joe’s is a big fan.

Antique Tractor Wagon Marcie Gonzalez 1
PHOTO: Marcie Gonzalez
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The More the Merrier

Not a fan of ranunculus (are you not able to feel joy?!)? There’s more than just those pretty petals to enjoy at the Flower Fields. Flower fans can also stop to smell the rose garden, visit the Cymbidium (orchid) greenhouse, get lost in the sweet pea maze, or learn the legend of the poinsettia at the 1,500-square-foot greenhouse that’s filled with more than 20 poinsettia varieties.

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PHOTO: The Flower Fields
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Flowers Meet the Ocean

On a good day, the brilliant blue of the Pacific Ocean becomes the backdrop for this amazing sea of happy colors. Get your cameras (or phones) ready.

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PHOTO: The Flower Fields
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So, What's There to Do Beyond Looking at Flowers?

Guests can enjoy an open-air wagon ride through the 50 acres. The wagons are pulled by antique tractors on loan from the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum in Vista. The 30-minute ride includes an audio commentary of the history of The Flower Fields, and proceeds from ticket sales go toward the museum and upkeep of the antique vehicles. There are also numerous flower-focused events, including fitness classes like Flower Flow Yoga and Barre & Bloom—yup, it’s an hour and a half of exercise outside surrounded by the blooming giant ranunculus. We’re pretty sure you’ll find your zen moment. There’s also hands-on workshops like Quick & Easy Flower Arranging and the Flower Puppy Workshop, which has you creating a puppy out of carnations. There’s lots of live music and every weekend in April there’s an Arts & Crafts Celebration that features local artists.

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Dine Among the Blooms

Wine, food, and live music among millions of flowers smells—er, sounds–heavenly. Stop by on Fridays in April for the Sunset Wine Tasting event, or plan to attend Tea in the Garden—Lady Grantham would definitely approve. There’s also a variety of food trucks and accompanying wine and beer trucks on the weekends to make your visit a full-day affair.

Chandler’s From The Field To Fork Board 2
PHOTO: Alexis Kelly
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The Village by the Sea

The entire town of Carlsbad has taken inspiration from the area’s iconic flower fields and joined the petal party with it’s annual Petal to Plate event. Now in its third year, the 10-day culinary and wellness celebration takes place every April with participating restaurants, breweries, and spas creating edible flower masterpieces that include everything from lavender-infused simple syrup and honeycomb to orchids and nasturtiums.

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Petal to Plate’s culinary and cocktail offerings can be found at 13 properties throughout Carlsbad—a true bouquet if you will. The list includes Campfire, Park Hyatt Aviara, the Spa at Omni La Costa, Chandler’s at Cape Rey Carlsbad, and Park 101. The deliciously inventive offerings include Chandler’s From The Field To Fork Board  that is overflowing with local cheeses, wildflower honeycomb, hibiscus stone mustard, toasted sunflower bread, and whipped orange blossom butter. The ocean views aren’t too shabby either.

The views of the 18th hole at Park Hyatt Aviara’s Argyle Steakhouse aren’t bad either. When dining there, save room for the Carlsbad Strawberry Jasmine Pavlova with crunchy honey meringue, strawberry jam, vanilla whipped cream, and jasmine strawberry sorbet. The cocktails are just as beautiful like Campfire’s Astoria in Jersey cocktail with Apple Brandy, Nasturtium Petal-infused Lillet Rouge, Roasted Walnut Orgeat, Lemon, and Fermented Celery—yes, please.

Aviara _ Spa Pampered with Petals Massage
PHOTO: Petal to Plate
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The Power of Flowers

If you’re interested in soothing your soul as well as your stomach with some flower power, there are also blossom-inspired spa treatments at some of Carlsbad’s amazing spas. The Spa at La Costa has been attracting the rich and powerful since it opened in 1965. But don’t let that intimidate you as this relaxing oasis offers Roman showers, specialty mineral pools, and a list of treatments that will have you coming back for more. Their Petal to Plate offerings include the 50-minute 1,000 Roses Facial—which includes the oils from 1,000 hand-pressed Bulgarian Roses—and the 50-minute Jasmine Blossom Massage. The indoor solarium lounge area at the Aviara Spa at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa, will have you dreaming you’ve died and gone to Europe, and that’s before you experience their treatments: The Aviara Flower Fields Facial, which includes red rose petals and vibrant wildflowers, or the Pampered with Petals massage that “nourishes your skin with rose petals.” The glass of prosecco (and shot of green juice) will entice you to stay as long as possible