Formally and historically known as Carlsbad by the Sea, the shorter moniker of just Carlsbad, is what most people use.

About 114, 000 residents live in this coastal town located just about 30 minutes north of San Diego.

When I moved there many years ago, Carlsbad was the prettier big sister to its neighbor, Oceanside.

Not so much in recent years as Oceanside has cleaned up its image and I am happy it did, since I live there now.

It was hard to write about Carlsbad because I resided there so long and couldn’t conjure up anything fresh, it was like, “been there, done that.”

So I drove around Carlsbad over a few days and realized just how interesting and beautiful it really is!!

It is a contradiction in space, it is a town of opposites, it is everything and more. OK, enough of the riddles. What I mean is that this city has so much open space even though they have built, a huge amusement park, an Army Navy Academy, a giant mall, an airport, and much more.

Yet, if you look hard enough you will discover tons of open space with walking trails, lagoons, marshland, and beaches.

Maybe I am describing any city, but for Carlsbad the open spaces are amazing, while the built upon is just as awesome!

As an example, it is one of a few towns in San Diego County that has a giant mall, yet nearby by is a peaceful lagoon where you can stroll around and feed the ducks. Frenetic activity versus tranquility, that is… Carlsbad.

As travelers from all over the world visit the amusement park Legoland, nearby the local growers are tending to hills and hills of strawberry fields, bringing an agricultural feel to the city. Roller coasters versus farmland, that is…Carlsbad.

Another feature that brings on the crowds to the area is the blooming of the colorful Renunculas.

Ablaze with colors of orange, pink, yellow, and red, the hills come alive with these flowers every year while just a few traffic lights away is yet another shopping center and a Costco. Flower fields, versus flat screen televisions, that is… Carlsbad.

The 39.11 square miles of Carlsbad are filled with so much to see and to do.

Besides Legoland there is the Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad Village, and the La Costa Resort where many a professional golf or tennis tournament has been held. Tiger Woods and Serena Williams have been here!

Driving through Carlsbad and checking out every nook and cranny is where the magic really is. It is what I like to call ‘Off the Beaten Path’

So here we go. First, off we checked out the heart of Carlsbad at what they call the village, which isn’t too much off the beaten path but a place you have to go.

This is the main downtown commercial area and the hub for restaurants, shopping, hotels, plus resorts.

Every type of food imaginable is here as well as surf shops, clothing stores, and wine tasting.

Visit the courtyard of the quaint Village Faire. where live music can be heard from the ever-popular Coyote Bar, while more unique shops and restaurants can be found.

We window shopped for a bit while listening to the tunes flowing from the bar, then headed to one of three lagoons encompassing the city.

So, our second stop was the Agua Hedionda Lagoon which is connected to the Pacific Ocean and then flows easily under the 5 Interstate Freeway.

The coast portion does not allow boating of any kind, no kayaks, SUP’S or any kind of watercraft. You can fish from the shore and that’s it. There are trails around for biking or hiking and impressive views of the ocean. They also have a new attraction where you can learn about oysters, including shucking them, and then eating all if you care to. For those of us that would rather have a root canal than to eat an oyster, they will pack them up for you to take home.

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