Written by Kate @follow.the.wildflowers
Before having kids my husband and I loved to travel, so when we found out we were pregnant with our daughter Jude we made a vow to each other that we would still make time to explore even with a little one. Now let’s just say that flying with a baby is almost always challenging, but once you reach your destination (and unpack the never ending amount a gear you brought) it is so worth it to watch your little one experience new surroundings. We found flights longer than 4 hours with any significant time change, to be a little tricky so we wanted to pick a destination that was warm, only a short flight from Calgary and somewhere we could convince my mom to join us! We’ve never travelled with anyone to help before and I can assure you it’s a game changer. With all that said, we chose Carlsbad, CA a little beach town just 40 minutes up the coast from San Diego. The flight time from Calgary to San Diego was just over 3 hours which was perfect. We decided to go in April during California’s shoulder season, which made for perfect weather for a little one. The mornings were sunny, still a bit cool and the afternoons averaged around 23 – 24 degrees. So, not too hot, not too cold. We decided to rent a car at the airport, which I would highly recommend. Having a car allowed us the freedom to explore the area, check out fun activities, and make a big trip to my favourite grocery store, Trader Joes.
Since having Jude, we’ve found that booking accommodation through Air bnb or VRBO has been the best option, giving us all the space we need. In Carlsbad we found a cute townhouse that was affordable, directly across the street from the beach and walking distance to the centre of town. Our rental home had 3 bedrooms, a garage for parking stocked with bikes, beach toys and sun canopy, coolers, beach chairs and a roof top patio. Having a large kitchen also made it easy for us to make a quick, and worthwhile trip to Traders Joe’s in order to make most meals at home. Watching the surfers in the morning and the beautiful sunset in the evenings was such a treat.
I love California! The weather is so beautiful and there is no shortage of things to do outdoors. We set an entire morning aside to visit the San Diego Zoo which was about 45 minutes from our air bnb. One thing to note is that traffic on any major highway in CA can get out of hand, so check with Google maps and plan your trip accordingly. One of the benefits of visiting early April, was getting to see the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch which hosts 50 acres of beautiful ranunculus flowers. The best time to visit the fields is mid-March – April to capture these beauties in full bloom. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. One of Jude’s favourite morning routines was to go out and walk the expansive boardwalk along the beach. Here she got to say hello to all of the smiling people, and puppies passing by which just made her day. My husband and I also snuck out a few mornings and went for bike rides along the boardwalk, stopping for a cup of coffee along the way. This was a luxury we experienced, by having Jude’s Grandma join us on the trip.
And of course, the beach! I cannot forget about the beautiful beach!. Being outside of San Diego and visiting during shoulder season, the beach was pretty quiet most days giving us tons of space to set up shop for the day. At that time of year the ocean was pretty cold, although my husband was in swimming several times a day, it may be a little chilly for young kids. So, if you’re hoping to watch your little ones swim, I’d recommend finding accommodation with an outdoor/indoor pool or visiting during the peak season. That being said, Jude loved dipping her toes in and building sandcastles on the beach.
If you’re travelling with kids a little older, the nearby Lego Land would be a great all day activity.
While we enjoyed a lot of our meals from the comfort of our roof top patio, we did still venture out to try some of the local food this cute little town had to offer. We loved walking to this funkie little café called, Baba for morning coffees, or stopping in at Succulent’s amazing outdoor eating space for a smoothie. If you’re feeling indulgent, a quick stop in at Super Donut will not disappoint. For lunch, Casero Taqueria had really yummy tacos.
For dinner, there are so many choices, but we personally enjoyed a dinner for 4 at 264 Fresco. Equipped with a wood burning oven, beautiful patio and delicious, fresh Italian fare, it was definitely a place we’ll hit again next time we’re in town.
If you have the luxury of traveling with a grandparent, or an extra set of hands for your little ones, stepping away for an afternoon to check out all the local breweries is a great way to sneak in a little date night.
Writing this post was a fun way for me to reminisce about the wonderful memories we made in Carlsbad, CA. Of course travelling with little ones is usually not without its hiccups, looking back on all of the amazing moments makes the travel so worth it! From the expensive beach and surf, to the endless sun and happy people, this is definitely a town we will be visiting again!