I told the kids we were heading to Carlsbad for the weekend, and they immediately asked if LEGOLAND California had reopened. Like many families, “the village by the sea” is often synonymous with the first LEGO-inspired park outside of Europe. But there is so much to do in Carlsbad with kids, and with the park closed due to COVID-19, I thought a weekend away would be ideal for experiencing this charming town.
Post in partnership with Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad.
Located in between San Diego and Orange County/Los Angeles, Carlsbad is the perfect weekend getaway. The weather is temperate and there are plenty of outdoor activities, including 7 miles of coastline. While some indoor spaces are temporarily closed due to the current pandemic, we found that exploring the city’s gardens, beaches, and downtown area left us wanting to return.
8 Things You Didn’t Know About Carlsbad
Thanks to Visit Carlsbad, we’re sharing some little know facts about Carlsbad to help you plan your next vacation.
- Carlsbad is home to the first skateboard park in the world.
- Carlsbad is also home to athletes Tony Hawk (pro skateboarder) and Shaun White (professional snowboarder).
- The Carlsbad Flower Fields feature over 50 acres of flowers.
- The Carlsbad Triathlon is one of the world’s 5 longest running triathlons.
- LEGOLAND California is the first LEGOLAND Park Outside of Europe.
- “Mount” Calavera is an extinct volcano that you can now hike around.
- Carlsbad is referred to as the “Village by the Sea”.
- Carlsbad got its name because the fresh water is chemically similar to that of a famous spa in the Bohemian town of Karlsbad.
Where to Stay
My kids are at an age where travel is easy. I don’t have to pack the baby and toddler necessities of yesteryear and they are helpful, flexible, and adaptable. Family-friendly is still a key factor that I look for when booking a place to stay. Thanks to our partners at Ayres Hotel Vista Carlsbad, we enjoyed a blissful weekend…one that felt like an actual vacation.
Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad
The Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad is the newest addition to the Ayres Hotel collection, which includes 24 European-inspired boutique hotels in Southern California, each of which is unique and thoughtfully designed.
Located in North County San Diego, Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad is ideally situated near the area’s most popular attractions including LEGOLAND California, Carlsbad State Beach, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad, Carlsbad Premium Outlets, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We found that the hotel was a great base for exploring Carlsbad, Vista, and Oceanside.
Walking into the lobby of the Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad is pure luxury. The design is open and spacious, and the cool colors and contemporary decor evoke serenity. We were warmly greeted upon arrival by the staff before heading up to our room. While we aren’t unfamiliar with the area, it was very helpful for the staff to suggest some places we might never have discovered like the Vista Farmers Market (which is fantastic) and the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens.
My kids’ first question was whether or not the pool would be open. The answer is yes! The pool and spa, located outside near the fitness room, are heated and open, with expanded hours into the evening. Towels are provided, a small but notable convenience which meant we could leave our towels in our room.
The rooms, like the hotel, are gorgeous and spacious with an air towards the modern. Everything is new and that excitement is felt both throughout the hotel and from the staff. The beds are comfy with lots of pillows (one of my “niceties” and the bathtub is huge! I had planned each night to go to the hot tub, but after a day out in the sun, it was actually idyllic to be able to do the same thing without having to leave my room. Some of our favorite in-room amenities include a microwave, a refrigerator, a Keurig coffee/tea maker, a flatscreen TV, a desk, and free WiFi.
If you have kids, then you understand the value in on-site breakfast, particularly when it is included with your stay. Every morning, guests are served a selection of cereals, bagels, yogurt, fruit, and coffee/tea. Due to COVID-19, this buffet-style breakfast is packaged in a to-go box and guests can eat outside in the courtyard.
- Complimentary full American breakfast
- Complimentary parking
- Complimentary Wi-Fi and wired internet
- Onsite restaurant and bar
- Heated pool and jacuzzi
- Modern fitness center
Do you have a pet? Bring him/her with you to the Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad! Pet-friendly amenities include Deluxe accommodations on the 1st floor, pet bowls, dog/cat treats, a pet relief area, and pet paw wipes. If you would like to bring your pet with you to the hotel, you’ll need to pay a $25 reservation fee. The hotel allows a maximum of two pets and pets are welcome on the dining patio and the northwest corner of the hotel.
Per the Governor’s order, certain restrictions and orders are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We were content with the hotel’s compliance with the orders which include masks in common areas, available hand sanitizer, and social distancing markers. We never felt like our vacation was hindered because of those policies and we really appreciated that the pool/spa and fitness center were open.
Right now, rates are excellent with stays starting at just $95 per night. For more information, visit AyresHotels.com.
Carlsbad With Kids
While most families will head to Carlsbad to visit LEGOLAND California, there are so many other things to do, particularly right now while the park is closed! Here are 10 things to do in (and around) Carlsbad with kids:
Vista Farmers Market: The Vista Farmers Market is my new favorite! It is open every Saturday from 8 am to noon and features 53 farmers selling local, certified, and organic seasonal produce. Additionally, 34 food makers serve up fresh bread and baked goods, sauces, dips, and salsas. You can also grab a meal from one of the hot food vendors serving breakfast and lunch. Lastly, 18 artisans sell everything from pottery and clothing to jewelry and masks.
Alta Vista Botanical Gardens: Don’t miss this hidden gem when visiting the Carlsbad area! The gardens bring people, nature, and art together. The purpose was to provide students with an interactive living classroom. The gardens are designated ecological landscapes containing collections of plants native to areas around the globe.
Carlsbad Flower Fields: Fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers that make up The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. The result is sheer beauty. These flowers only bloom for six to eight weeks each year (March through May), so be sure to plan your visit accordingly. Be sure to check their website as the new season approaches for information on virtual and in-person experiences.
Museum of Making Music: Located at the National Association of Music Merchants headquarters, the museum shares the accomplishments and impact of the people who make, sell, and use musical instruments and products through unique exhibitions, varied live music performances, and innovative educational programs.
Carlsbad State Beach: While Carlsbad is home to a number of beautiful beaches, this particular beach is popular due to the campground with steps that lead down to the beach.
Carlsbad Village: One of our favorite things to do in Carlsbad was simply walk through the village to peruse the local shops and restaurants. If you happen to visit on Wednesdays, check out the State Street Farmers Market.
Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park: Leo Carrillo Ranch is a 27-acre historical park and was once part of the original working rancho and vacation retreat of actor Leo Carrillo. Historic structures at Rancho Carrillo Carlsbad include a visitors center, hand-crafted adobe buildings, hacienda, reflecting pool, cabana, cantina, carriage house tack shed, stable, barn and foundry and equipment shed. You can choose from self-guided or guided walking tours.
Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Nature Center: This 561 acre lagoon is home to a variety of wildlife including plants, fish, and birds (including endangered species). Run, walk, fish, or simply enjoy the beauty of this natural habitat.
Safari Park: The park is home to more than 2600 animals including giraffes, buffalo, rhinoceros, and endangered animals from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. Take the Africa Tram to explore the spacious African exhibits. While some experiences may be changed due to the pandemic, the expansive size of the park makes it easy to social distance.
Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum: This living history museum collects, preserves, and displays examples of mechanical ingenuity and crafts associated with the early days of the American farm and rural community. Visitors can experience exhibits, demonstrations, activities, and programs which display the art of invention. The collection focuses on exhibits from 1849 through the early 1960’s era which demonstrate early American life and technology.
We had a wonderful, relaxing staycation in Carlsbad and we cannot wait to visit the area again soon. For more information on our partner, Ayres Hotel Vista/Carlsbad, visit their website or follow along on Instagram. Right now they are hosting a giveaway for a 2-night stay at the resort. The deadline to enter is October 1, 2020.