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Conservation, Cuisine and Coastline in Carlsbad

Photos By : Dustin Klemann
Adventures aplenty in this southern California town, where food and experiences come without the crowds.

The city of Carlsbad is built on water – not simply the Pacific Ocean that rushes up to shore just feet away from the city center, but on drinking water. That fresh, rejuvenating mineral water was discovered here in 1882 is just one of the many ways the city is defined as a place of respite.


On a walk through the small town, Carlsbad Food Tours Guide David Jenson identifies the place where a man named John Frazier first found drinking water over 140 years ago. “The water is naturally alkaline,” he says. “There are no additives to it. The water originates from the Cleveland National Forest and flows naturally into the well from the deep aquifer.”


Health and wellness are prized in Carlsbad, where even the strawberry shortcake vendor keeps things as natural as possible. “The owner of Strawberry Shack tests the sugar levels of each batch of strawberries so he knows exactly how much sweetness to add,” says David.


With the beach framing this southern California town, many locals and tourists alike spend their mornings surfing or walking on the sand. Just steps from the water is the Beach Terrace inn, which recently underwent a $5.5 million reservation that includes revamped rooms and an enhanced pool. Each of the 48 rooms in the hotel includes a spa style bathroom with rainfall showers and abundant natural lighting, as well as a complimentary beach valet service complete with chairs, towels and umbrellas. Despite its budget friendly rate, other amenities include a complimentary beach valet service that provides umbrellas, beach chairs, towels, boogie boards and beach toys, a bike rental service, in-room yoga mats, and an enhanced brunch menu with in-room delivery.

The sunset glow at Beach Terrace.

After a day of boogie boarding at the beach, one works up quite an appetite. The downtown area, located just a block or two from Beach Terrace, offers a taste of everything from Himalayan cuisine to sushi, tacos and vegan fare. David prefers the bruschetta and house-made gnocchi from Ciccotti’s or the al pastor tacos from Señor Grubby’s. “The fresh salsa bar [at Senor Grubby’s] is my favorite,” he shares.


Another popular dinner location in town is 246 Fresco, which offers rooftop seating with a view of the ocean. “Seafood is what we’re known for,” says Manager Michael Frisono. “Our cocktail menu is seasonal, like the white margarita with cranberries we offered for Christmas. We are a family restaurant and many people come for our family style lasagna with locally made pasta.” Sweet tooths can be satisfied by the freshly made dairy dessert at Gelato Love or a crepe from Froglanders.

Carlsbad, a town with a diversity score of 88 out of 100 according to, offers a plethora of unique food and drink options thanks to the ethnic influences of its residents.

The mild weather of this coastal town allows for year-round golfing at The Crossings at Carlsbad, which boasts a 6,835-yard public golf course designed by Greg Nash, a nationally recognized course designer and architect. Set among natural habit and wildlife with a view of the ocean, the 400 acres of this green play host to numerous notable tournaments throughout the year. After 18 holes, golfers are invited to enjoy a drink or order from the full dining menu at the onsite clubhouse.

Year-round golfing is one of the many draws of Carlsbad.

Those who prefer to experience nature without breaking a sweat can tour the aquafarm at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation Discovery Center. The 400-acre Agua Hedionda Lagoon is one of the threatened coastal wetlands on the Southern California coastline and is home to fish, crabs, hundreds of species of marine life and waterfowl, including an array of threatened and endangered species. As Development Manager Haile Brant explains, the center’s raptor program helps injured or deformed birds rehabilitate and live a full life. “Tecalote is our western screech owl,” says Haile. “All of our animals here have some kind of disability. Tecalote has limited vision – his pupil is permanently enlarged, so he wouldn’t survive in the wild.”

In an enclosure located out front, a great horn owl with a damaged eye neighbors a peregrine falcon with an injured wing. “The birds were originally with the Raptor Institute in La Mesa, but they lost funding so Agua Dulce decided to give them a permanent home and use them as educational tools,” says Haile, who explains the center’s many educational programs. “We go to schools and libraries and camps with them to educate children and adults.”


Open space is plentiful in Carlsbad, where visitors can explore nature on a hike through the forest or a sandier option close to the beach. At the end of a long day, complete with spectacular dining, live music and seasonal art installations like the Pop Up Art Colors of the Season, guests can fold into the comfort of a cozy bed at Beach Terrace where the sound of crashing waves create a soundtrack for sleep before another day of fun.

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