Springtime adds a certain amount of magic to travel as warmer temperatures and longer days have a way of breathing new life into a city. I’ve experienced this first hand in Paris (c’est la vie), the Netherlands (all those tulips!) and most recently in Southern California at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. Talk about Mother Nature’s flower power at its finest, the Flower Fields burst with thousands of technicolor ranunculus in bloom from March through mid-May each year. And even though our visit was at the tail end of the season, there definitely was no shortage of flowers to see. Here’s what you need to know so you can start dreaming about a visit next year.
How to Get There
The city of Carlsbad is located about 30 miles north of San Diego on Interstate 5. The drive is under an hour from Downtown so it makes for an easy half-day trip, and there’s ample free parking once you arrive at the Flower Fields. If you’re without a car and have a little more time and patience you can also take various combinations of train and bus (or Uber) to reach the Flower fields in about an hour and a half. The latter seems like a bit of a hassle so if possible, driving on your own is definitely the way to go.
What to Expect
The Flower Fields are the result of nearly 100 years of careful cultivation that dates back to 1920 when the ranunculus seed was first brought to the region. Resembling something between a rose and a poppy, ranunculus are actually a member of the buttercup family and today more than 50 acres explode with shades of pink, red, orange, yellow and white, creating a rainbow-like display of flowers across the hillside. It was love at first sight, which only intensified as we walked from row to row of beautiful blooms. There are even various designated “photo op” spots around the fields for visitors to stop and take pictures and appreciate the colors up close – 13 in all including a mixed-color variety called picotee that anchors the lower part of the fields.
For a few dollars extra you can take a tractor-pulled wagon ride around the fields, which includes an audio narrative about the history of the Flower Fields. You’ll also find a handful of other decorative gardens and greenhouse to walk around, a playground and sweet pea maze for the kids, demonstrations and other special events throughout the season. Additionally, there’s a garden center on site where you can buy ranunculus bulbs to take home and refreshment stands selling everything from fresh-squeezed lemonade to Dole strawberry sundaes, the perfect treat after a warm morning in the sun. Overall this place is gorgeous to say the least and visiting the Flower Fields is a well worthwhile springtime experience.
Also Good to Know
The website for the Flower Fields is a great resource when planning your visit as it includes the current temperature and bloom status so you know exactly what to expect. It’s also important to note that you’ll be walking on dirt paths right alongside the flowers and in open fields without any shade, so dress accordingly with proper footwear (and headwear if necessary). Also, to make the most of your time in the Carlsbad area there are tons of other nearby attractions including the Carlsbad Premium Outlets and LEGOLAND, as well as a handful of small museums, an aquarium, a golf course and the beach.