Carlsbad, CA - Repost from Forbes.com with Comments from a Local
According to Forbes.com and Larry Olmsted Senior Contributor and award winning travel journalist & bestselling author Carlsbad is an wonderful place!
Carlsbad sits between San Diego and Los Angeles in the great weather epicenter of coastal Southern California. In the golf industry it’s known as the Silicon Valley of the sport, because so many of the big golf club manufactures are based here. For the traveling golf public it is home to two acclaimed destination resorts, the luxury Park Hyatt Aviara and the historic Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, host to many high-profile PGA tour events and other championships. There is also other great golf in the area.
Carlsbad is home to Legoland, perhaps its biggest attraction, and one of the first things you will see as you are headed to the tee.
Legoland has been a huge hit in the region for almost a quarter of a century and sprawls over more than 125 acres. The complex includes its namesake park, the Sea Life Aquarium, a water park, and two hotels. There are more than 60 rides, shows and attractions, many of them highly interactive. The facility is aimed at families with children between 2 and 12. My kids LOVED Legoland when they were little and it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year in addition to being a local mom's "something to do" with the kids.
The entrance to Legoland sits almost immediately outside the Crossings at Carlsbad, the city’s surprisingly high quality municipal golf course. On a rolling piece of land with sweeping views, the Crossings takes full advantage of its setting from the dramatic first tee onward, and is both better and more affordable than most daily fee courses I have played in Southern California. The course enjoys an extremely generous 400-acre site, twice the typical land, and includes the five bridges that give it the distinctive name. Designed to connect the topography with minimal environmental impact, these made it one of the more expensive municipal courses ever built, but that’s not reflected in the green fees, which currently begin at $45 - when you cannot even play in much of the country. It’s the town’s hidden gem as far as golf since most visitors come for the famous resorts.
While it is not associated with either the theme park or golf course, the Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa is a located within walking distance of Legoland and just across the street for the entry drive to the Crossings, making it a great under the radar option for golfers not staying at one of the marquee golf resorts, especially for members of Bonvoy, the world’s largest frequent hotel program (Marriott).
But the main event for golf lovers is the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, a classic that is laid out like a village with extensive facilities: a whopping eight swimming pools, world-class tennis center with 17 courts, seven restaurants and bars and more than 600 guest rooms, suites and villas spread out in low rise fashion. For golf it is both a Golf Magazine Top 100 resort and a Golf Digest Editors Choice. The two 18-hole courses include the historic Champions, which is currently closed for an extensive enhancement by one of the world’s most acclaimed and sought after architects, Gil Hanse, who won the heated competition to design the Olympic Course for the Rio Games.
As a local, you can become a member at the La Costa Resort. Many Carlsbad moms join the resort to socialize with other moms while having a stunning pool for the kids to play in. There is a gym, sauna, family activities, restaurants, and of course stellar golf.
But what Larry, and myself love most about Carlsbad is the town itself, the beach, the whole vibe of the place. The nearby areas of southern California are the kinds of places where older homes are torn down to make room for McMansions. Carlsbad has seven miles of almost uninterrupted stunning Pacific Ocean coastline, most of it lined with wide sandy beaches open to the public. Along this strip there is an Old School beach town feel, with people riding bikes equipped to carry surfboards, families walking to the beach with kids, chairs and dogs in tow, just a laid-back authenticity that is increasingly hard to come by. Vintage beachfront homes are well preserved, adding to the frozen in time Americana atmosphere, and coastal downtown Carlsbad has a kind of state fair feel with lots of local bars, restaurants and shops. It attracts tourists but maintains the sense of the people who actually live here, and that’s a good thing in my book.
Inland from the beach, Carlsbad has modern open air shopping centers with tons more dining options, including more chain eateries, so there is something for every taste and budget - sort of like the golf. For golfers it’s also close enough to easily play additional exceptional courses like the 36-hole Torrey Pines, a Major venue and host of last weekend’s PGA Tour event, and for lovers of classic racetracks, it’s just up the road from fabled Del Mar. The entire area is dotted with enough hiking trails, beaches and attractions, plus tons of watersports such as surfing lessons, to keep even the most avid golfer entertained off the course.