By Cindy Craig
If you’re looking for a vacation that will satisfy your desires for peace and beauty and your child’s needs for entertainment and fun…then you’ve arrived at the right place in Carlsbad, California. Nestled along the PacificCoast just north of San Diego, this picturesque coastal community is the perfect family vacation destination.
1. La Costa Resort and Spa
Our first stop was the beautiful La Costa Resort and Spa where I was greeted by a warm and friendly staff. The rooms were elegant and peaceful with granite counter tops and an oversized bathtub to accommodate several kids or a romantic evening with your husband. French doors opened out onto the grounds that are nothing but spectacular. The resort recently completed a $50 million dollar renovation that updated the guest rooms and added new amenities and facilities, such as the Diversions Sports Lounge. It’s no wonder families and golf enthusiasts have been coming to this California landmark for nearly half a century.
2. The Naked Cafe
After checking in, my 5-year old son, Ben, and I went out to lunch at The Naked Cafe, a five-minute drive from the resort. Don’t let the plain décor fool you… the food here is fabulous and super healthy. I ordered the soft chicken taco that came with coconut rice and black beans, along with a fruit juice smoothie. My son ordered scrambled eggs and vegetarian sausage. They were both delicious!
3. Splash Landing
In the afternoon, my husband joined us at the La Costa Resort for swimming at Splash Landing. The toddler pool was perfect for our son, Ben. My husband and I ordered poolside drinks while we watched Ben play in the sandy beach area and kiddie hot tub. He also loved the water play area that included a giant mushroom–like waterfall, dancing fountains and water squirters. Ben was a bit too young for the large water slides but they looked like a blast.
4. Spa at La Costa
Later, while my husband and Ben enjoyed Kidtopia a wall-to-wall padded playroom with a beautiful aquarium and Arts and Crafts room, I made my way to the Spa at La Costa, a beautiful Spanish-colonial style haven. I opted for the “Indulge Package”: a custom Swedish style massage and beauty pedicure. Romantic side-by-side massages with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries are also available in the VIP suites for couples. This is pure heaven on earth!
5. Batiquitos Lagoon
To end our day, we drove to the nearby Batiquitos Lagoon. What a beautiful natural setting, perfect for a relaxing 3-mile stroll. The Lagoon offers a peaceful, shaded trail with remarkable views of nature. Native plants, dozens of bird species, not to mention jumping fish and the occasional lizard. We enjoyed stopping to read the markers and learn about this rare tidal wetlands ecosystem. And for families on vacation with their pets, the lagoon is dog-friendly.
6. Bluefire Grill
At night we dined at the Bluefire Grill. This is a gourmet outdoor dinning experience that both parents and children will enjoy. I ordered an amazing vegetarian bean dish (Tropical Heirloom Shelling Bean), my husband had a mouth-watering seafood dish (Cioppino) and our son had a hot dog and fruit salad. We ate outside on the patio overlooking the beautiful and romantic plaza. The restaurant was pricy but worth it. At 7 pm, the hotel runs an open fire pit for all the kids to roast S’mores… my son was in heaven! When we returned to our room, we discovered a plate full of chocolate- dipped strawberries, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and milk. What a great way to end our wonderful day.
7. Legoland Hotel
The next morning, we checked into the newly opened Legoland Hotel. There was a WOW surprise at every turn, which made for an incredibly fun adventure. I marveled at the artistry throughout the hotel; a giant two-story ship made out of Legos, a discothèque elevator (be prepared to dance!) Lego-themed carpeting, and my son’s favorite… a whoopee cushion station. The bedrooms were intelligently designed, fun-themed rooms. The kids’ bunk beds are separated by the bathroom- allowing the parents a bit of very appreciated privacy. Our room had the Adventure theme with lots of Egyptian-style decorations, jeweled carpets, a Lego hat and monkey and a treasure hunt for my son. Other themes throughout the hotel are Pirate and Kingdom. At Brick’s Family Restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised at how delicious the food was. The buffet dinner featured scrumptious mango salmon, couscous, grilled vegetables, and a strawberry fruit tart. But there were plenty of other choices too, including Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines.
Legoland is just steps away from the hotel. The entrance to the park is spectacular… a beautiful lake surrounded by animals and a rainbow all made out of Legos! Our highlights of the park included the super funny Fireman Show, the Adventure City ride through ancient Egyptian ruins, and the remarkable cityscapes built entirely of Legos, including Las Vegas, Washington D.C., San Francisco and New York. We also enjoyed the delightful pleasures of the Sea Life Aquarium. The exhibits are set up for a young person’s point of view and we especially enjoyed the highly entertaining and educational live underwater show.
9. Museum of Making Music
Later that afternoon, we stopped in at the nearby Museum of Making Music where we delighted in creating our own music on a variety of hands-on instruments. The museum showcases the evolution of musical instruments from the late 19th century to present day, featuring more than 450 vintage instruments and artifacts.
10. Downtown Carlsbad Village
We completed our whirlwind vacation in Carlsbad with an exciting visit to Downtown Carlsbad Village. The village is filled with sidewalk cafes, boutiques and one-of-a-kind dining options. The area has a wonderful small town charm, and the tree-lined streets and sidewalks make it ideal for walking and people watching. As we packed our bags at the end of our trip, our son exclaimed “I don’t ever want to leave this place!” That about sums up the entire experience for the rest of us, as well.
Note: Part of this trip was sponsored by Carlsbad, California.