53°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Carlsbad offers wealth of outdoor activities

Carlsbad, Calif., is a destination in itself, especially for those who love the ocean. Yet the area offers other outdoor activities. If you stay several days, you can do something different each day, making this a great place for a well-rounded getaway.

Approximately a five-hour drive from Las Vegas, it’s in north coastal San Diego County. The town’s most obvious attraction is a 7-mile stretch of ocean ideal for surfing, body surfing, paddle boarding or relaxing on the beach. (Of course, if you have children, their priority may be Legoland.) Besides those, there are opportunities for hiking, birding and one of the best spring flower displays in America.

The ideal time to visit is March through May when temperatures are mild with an abundance of sunny days. The celebrated flowers put on their best show during this time, and the beaches aren’t yet overrun with the summer crowds.

For getting close to nature, one of my favorite places in Carlsbad is one of the three lagoons tha encompass more than 1,000 acres. The Agua Hedionda Lagoon, also known as the Carlsbad Lagoon, offers year-round recreation such as birding, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and motor boating. This lagoon is made up of 400 acres of mud flats, salt, freshwater marshes and deep water. It offers a perfectly relaxing day on the water without having to deal with the heavy Pacific surf. There is an excellent place to rent equipment: California Watersports, located on the lagoon, www.carlsbadlagoon.com or 760-434-3089.

Birders will especially like Batiquitos Lagoon, a 610-acre salt marsh with mud flats. There are 185 species documented here, and you can take a docent-led nature tour or a self-guided walk along the 2-mile trail. For further information, visit www.batiquitosfoundation.org or call 760-931-0800.

Unique to this area is the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. In springtime, for more than 60 years, visitors have been enchanted by a solid carpet of real flowers stretching as far as the eye can see. The gardens encompass more than 50 acres overlooking the Pacific, an area so large you can take a tractor ride through the fields.

The featured flower is the Tecolote giant ranunculus, a member of the buttercup family. Its annual bloom lasts six to eight weeks, peaking in mid-March to mid-April. Other acres are devoted to specialty flowers. The Flower Fields are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through May 11. For further information, visit www.theflowerfields.com or call 760-431-0352.

When in Southern California, children dream about visiting a theme park, and one of the most popular is Legoland. Your children might not only build with Legos but build their imagination and creativity through educational elements and enjoy amusements that the entire family will appreciate. This is a full-service park that offers roller coasters, a water park (open during spring break), Sea Life Aquarium and a vast exhibit that features miniature landmarks from around the globe created out of Legos. Those with a lot of energy can spend an entire day, or longer, at the park. The park has a variety of restaurants with food to please all ages and diets.

Legoland has a hotel that’s totally kid-friendly with a pool, restaurant and café and play areas. For reservations, visit www.california.legoland.com or call 760-918-5346.

For those who prefer more grown-up accommodations, Carlsbad offers something to fit just about every budget. In the middle, pricewise, I would recommend the Hilton Garden Inn, Carlsbad. It is only steps from the ocean yet has an excellent pool, upscale yet reasonably priced restaurant, and other amenities.

Good discount package deals are available on its website and it offers discounted tickets to area attractions. The bonus is free shuttle service to and from anywhere in the area. Contact www.gardeninn.hilton.com/carlsbad or 855-261-1567.

But if you’re one of those rugged individuals who prefer pitching a tent: South Carlsbad State Beach has a campground with more than 200 sites on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For more information and reservations, contact 760-438-3143, or www.parks.ca.gov.

Deborah Wall is the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Canyon home to many petroglyphs

Grapevine Canyon is one of the finest petroglyph sites in Southern Nevada. It is also one of the easiest to visit on a day trip, located in the southern part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, near Laughlin, and approachable by roads fit for passenger cars. The short hike to the rock art itself is easy.

City Recreation, Nov. 25

Spragno volleyball team nets title

Landscape marked by giant designs

You might have seen aerial photos of geoglyphs in Peru and Chili or even those located in Great Britain and Australia, but here in the United States we also have equivalent cultural treasures.

Varied geology, history evident throughout Death Valley

You could spend months or even years exploring Death Valley National Park in California and never see it all, but for first-time visitors even a day trip can be more than satisfying, and now is a good time to do it.

Picturesque canyons draw visitors, photographers

There are thousands of colorful sandstone slot canyons in the Southwest and because no two are the same, exploring each is a unique experience. Some of the most picturesque canyons are found deep in the wilderness and only seen by those who hike many hours, even days, over rough terrain.

Pioneer spirit lingers in Grafton, Utah

Although Grafton, Utah, is just a few miles off the main road to Zion National Park, it seems worlds removed from the park’s bustle. It’s quite possible you’ll be the only visitor as you stroll among Grafton’s historic buildings, mature deciduous trees and open meadows with views of Zion.

Trip to Banshee Canyon short but adventurous

The Rings Trail to Banshee Canyon is a short but adventurous outing in California’s Mojave National Preserve. It offers the unique challenge of navigating a narrow slot canyon using ring bolts to aid you, on both the descent and the return.

Leaf-peeping opportunities plateau in Utah

A chill is in the air in the Southwest’s high elevations, and fall foliage season is upon us. One of the best ways for Southern Nevadans to enjoy it this month is to head up to the Markagunt Plateau, just east of Cedar City, Utah.

Slot canyons, rock formations highlight visit to Grand Staircase Escalante

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, located in south central Utah, was established in 1996 and currently encompasses about 1 million acres. It boasts some of the Southwest’s most impressive scenery, accessible not only by traveling its scenic byways and backways but also by setting out on foot. Besides its waterways, arches and other fabulous rock formations it is also home to spectacular canyons, including hundreds of slot canyons.

Navajo park provides monumental sights

One of the most picturesque places in the world is practically at our doorstep: the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Located on the border of Utah and Arizona, the park boasts buttes, mesas, spires, pinnacles and arches, arranged in some of the finest panoramic views on Earth.