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.
This lagoon sits right along the coast highway, and you can walk across the street to dip your feet into the sand at one of Carlsbads wonderful beaches.
Under the 5 Interstate you will find the other part of this lagoon and where you can use motorized boats. The lagoon is split off into a few sections with one area for fast speed boards, another for slower vehicles like kayaks and SUP’s. The quaint little Snug Harbor is where you launch your boats and a place where you can rent Sea-Doo’s. and other water toys. In the summer and on weekends you will see many a watercraft speeding by while playing on its calm waters.
At the far east end of this lagoon sits a little beach where you can also launch your kayaks and SUP’S.
The speed boats are cut off from coming in this area, so the water is more placid for these slower activities.
Beyond this area you can see the unspoiled marsh and wetlands that make this city even more unique. The lush green area makes the city very scenic and no shopping malls in sight!!!
We saw some houses on the hill and what we thought was small park so we drove up there to check it out. There actually was a little park nestled in between the beautiful homes so, we got out to see the perspective that they get to see each day.
How lucky they are as it was an awesome view and directly below you can see the offshoot of the lagoon called Bristol Cove.
Surrounded by condominium complexes, this small water inlet has docks for the residents to moor their boats. At Christmas time, all the houses decorate and fill the waterway with bright sparkling colors. it is quite a sight to see.
As we headed back to the car, we noticed a walking trail that spanned all around this neighborhood.
This was yet another pathway with scenic views that went on for miles, against more open space.
So here is a town that managed to fit in an amusement park, a mall, and the Army Navy Academy, while leaving enough space for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers.
As a surfer girl, I loved living there as I was a block from the beach, but I can visit any time and, often do.
Be sure and add Carlsbad to your places to see list, you won’t be sorry.