Perfect Getaway: Carlsbad

The city offers refreshed and refined options.
Photograph by Josh Yee

Tourists first came to Carlsbad in the 1930s for the mineral springs, but now there’s plenty more to draw visitors looking for a refreshing getaway. The 7-mile coastline and three lagoons offer everything from surfing to boating. Charming Carlsbad Village is home to a lively dining and craft beer scene, plus an array of shops selling French soaps and Spanish olive oils, vintage clothing and contemporary ceramics. The north San Diego County locale means relaxation is a short drive away. 

Rooms With a View

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa’s $50 million renovation showcases the hilltop hotel’s commanding views of the ocean and Batiquitos Lagoon. The fresh, coastal-inspired look extends to the property’s 327 guestrooms ($695 and up) and three new restaurants, including Ember & Rye from “Top Chef” winner Richard Blais. For sports and leisure, there are adult and family pools, a 15,000-square-foot spa, six tennis courts, a golf course, and a lagoon trail sprouting with spring wildflowers.  

Beach Beauty

Stroll the 4-mile Carlsbad Seawall to admire the splendor of the city’s coast. Start a morning walk in the Village with a double chocolate croissant ($5) from gourmet doughnut shop The Goods or the Truly Madly Green drink ($11) from Choice Juicery, then head south along the seawall path from Carlsbad Boulevard. Along the way, stop and dip your toes in the water at Tamarack Beach or watch the surfers at Terramar. Feel the need for speed? Rent an e-bike or golf cart at Beach Vibes to cruise the coast. 

Fine French Food

A Michelin star is just the latest accolade for Jeune et Jolie. This jewel box of a fine French restaurant on State Street was an instant hit when it debuted in 2018. Reserve a table indoors or out (both spaces are equally chic) and savor the $95 four-course tasting menu (add $70 for wine pairings). All the dishes, from the crudo to the canard, shine with sublime technique that showcases seasonal flavors. Talented executive chef Eric Bost also oversees the menu at sister restaurant Campfire down the street.  

Heart of Glass

Carlsbad Village’s eclectic cultural scene includes the New Village Arts theater and 30-plus murals—including the Carlsbad Art Wall featuring the work of new artists every other month. The latest addition is Barrio Glassworks, a family-run studio on Roosevelt Street. Buy a piece in the shop/gallery or watch the glassblowers work their magic in the hot shop. You can even schedule a session to make your own glass paperweight. 

Strawberry Fields

Bring home a sweet reminder of your getaway with a visit to the Carlsbad Strawberry Co. The 40 acres of strawberry fields off Cannon Road and the 5 Freeway have a “U-Pick” patch—buy a bucket and fill it to the brim. April is the heart of strawberry season, so the U-Pick field is open every day, weather permitting. There’s also a farm stand on-site selling locally grown produce. 

No. 1 Buns

Harumama is famous for its bao buns ($7.95 for two pieces) in the shape of cute, cartoon-like animals. They look too adorable to eat, but the tasty fillings inside—spicy chicken and broccoli in the pandas, or pork and caramelized onions in the pig buns—are worth it. The small eatery on Grand Avenue and Madison Street has a large menu that also includes ramen, noodles, poke, and more. 

Coastal Comfort

The only thing separating Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach from the coast is Carlsbad Boulevard, so naturally the ocean is a prime amenity. Cape Rey provides all the gear you need (chairs, umbrellas, towels) for a day at the beach and offers private and group surf lessons. Take in the ocean view from a poolside cabana or one of the fire pits outside Chandler’s Restaurant; the Ocean Crest Spa offers facials and body treatments with seaweed or ocean algae. Rooms in this California Craftsman-style resort start at $294.  

Mark Your Calendar

Through May 8: The Flower Fields: Catch the blossoms in full bloom, with row upon row of vibrantly colored ranunculus. Take a tractor tour of the fields, listen to live music, or try a yoga class or sunset wine tasting. Advanced ticket sales only.

Photo by Renee Fisher

Tips From a Local

“You’ve got to have great Mexican food and craft beer. Order the La Pachanga sampler appetizer at Norte, then go to Barrel Republic and try the Treevana IPA from Carlsbad brewer Burgeon Beer Company.” —Tim Wrisley, editor and publisher of Carlsbad Magazine