And the rain stayed…
Since our recent blog post about our favorite places in Palm Desert was so popular we thought now was a good time (since the rain is not likely to stop anytime soon) to list some great things to do in Carlsbad, California. Last year we spent a week at a resort right in Carlsbad across the street from the beach and another week in Escondido, California. We traveled the month of January and while the weather was not hot enough for the beach the temperature was 18 to 20 degrees each day, good enough for being outside. This time it was a family trip, not just the two of us, so our choices of accommodation and restaurants were a bit different than usual.

Location
In Carlsbad, location is key. The Carlsbad City Beach has a 4 mile long paved walking path that runs between the beach and the main roadway (Carlsbad Blvd.) It is great for those days when the weather may not be ‘beach worthy’ but you can still get in a walk almost along the water. The views are terrific and it is a great place to watch the sunset as well. Across the roadway from the beach sit a multitude of hotels, timeshares, motels, inns and B&B’s dispersed among the private homes, condos and beach rentals.  Even in the neighborhoods that are mostly private residences there is beach access by walkway or stairs every few blocks. The website www.visitcarlsbad.com has a huge list of possible choices.

Accommodation
We chose the Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort. Because this was a family vacation (mom, sis, niece) we needed a little something for everyone. The resort offers both hotel accommodation and vacation rentals. We had two suites (a one bedroom and a two bedroom) with full kitchens that were both very spacious. The resort has daily activities for both adults and kids, an average sized pool area with hot tub, an adults only hot tub (yeah), BBQ’s and bike rentals. Beach access is across the street or down the street a block to the start to the paved walkway. It provided a central location to all of the theme parks – Lego Land (10 minutes), Sea World (30 minutes), Wild Animal Park (40 minutes), Disneyland (60 minutes), and Universal Studios (90 minutes). It was a great spot for a family trip without having to change hotels to visit various parks. And who doesn’t love seeing the ocean everyday (as opposed to being in Anaheim).

Food
The food options around the resort are great for families as well.  The Norte Mexican Restaurant is attached to the facility as is the Daily News Café. The Mexican food was great and the service pretty good but plan to wait to get in unless you get their early. The Café specialized in big breakfasts that were too large to finish but also quite good. We also found an Italian restaurant on the next block which was also very good  – Fresco Tratorria – very authentic, very Italian and a good wine list with $US prices. But our best dining adventure was hopping in the car and driving the 20 minutes to Oceanside, California and Joe’s Crab Shack. Yes it is a chain which we often try to avoid but this chain experience was so good we managed to get there twice in our two week trip. The atmosphere was great for a family or group, the service was good and the crab was outstanding. If you are going to go to the Crab Shack please order the crab. If you sit by the window you might even see a boat full of crab nets and traps come in to the dock. You can read the full post from the Crab Shack here.

Great Idea
After driving the 90 minutes to Universal Studios and back (a very long day trip) we had the great idea of taking the train to Disneyland.  The Amtrak station is located in Oceanside, CA about 20 minutes north of Carlsbad and parking at the station is free. Yes FREE. The train to Anaheim Stadium departed about once an hour starting at 7am and a roundtrip ticket was $26 for adults and $13 for kids under 12. It might seem like an extra expense for a family but the lack of traffic in the am and the bar car in the pm on the way back were worth the price. Once at the Anaheim Stadium the cab ride to the park gate is less than $10. You could walk across the two massive parking lots (Stadium and Disneyland) but it would not be recommended.

Carlsbad Beach is one of Tara’s favorite places that we have been in the US so far.