Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad and you won’t need any other spring adventures… So we went there. After a few unsuccessful trips to other flower fields, the astounding ranch in San Diego County looked absolutely divine.
Set approximately 30 minutes from San Diego, The Flower Fields in Carlsbad come to life every spring. Pleasing to the eye, bewildering with its aroma, and inspiring with its colors – the place is the epitome of beauty and abundance. Come spring, and a visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad is not an option, but a mandatory pursuit for every respectful flower enthusiast.
Transforming the sweeping hills of North San Diego County into endless “seas” brimming with orange, yellow, pink, and red colors, the flower farm is considered one of the most aesthetically pleasing fields in the world. Nearly 50 acres of Giant Tecolote ranunculus has been amusing the visitors from all corners of the world for more than 60 years. Deliberately coordinating its blooms by colors, the farm proves that a visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad is worth your time and money.
Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad: History in a Nutshell
The history of The Flower Fields in Carlsbad dated back to the early 1920s. Yet its legacy and fame started not with the current owners of the ranch. It all began with Luther Gage, an early settler that brought ranunculus seed to the area. The new resident was adept at growing flowers and continued his farming practices in San Diego County. Gage’s endeavors, however, never bred the popular flower fields that entice thousands of people to visit Carlsbad today.
Yet Luther’s flowery decor didn’t escape attention of Frank Frazee, Gage’s neighbor who used this plot to grow vegetables. Intrigued by the new plants, Frazee switched from growing the produce to planting the flowers in 1933. The new venture, though, made the biggest impact on Frank’s son, Edwin Frazee. The boy saw something in the blooming flower fields that no one else could recognize. Eventually, he quit high school to work on this father’s fields.
When Gage brought the ranunculus to the Carlsbad area, only single petal plants of red and yellow shades adorned the original flower fields. Edwin changed it for good.
Fired by his passion, the young man selected the seeds of the flowers with the most unusual colors and structures. The following spring, these gorgeous “outcasts” would produce their offspring, adding new shades and forms to enjoy during a spring visit to the flower fields in Carlsbad. Soon, the original colors expanded to impressive thirteen shades that festoon the farm each season now.
New Endeavors for The Flower Fields in Carlsbad: Visit Modern Farm
In 1965, Edwin moved this ranunculus to the current location, owned by the Ecke family. Paul Ecke Jr., a farmer himself, found the idea of growing the flower fields in the Carlsbad area irresistible. The two men became lifelong friends. When Edwin decided to cease his flower operations in 1993, it was Paul who persuaded him to continue on as a consultant to a new farmer who would take care of the flower fields.
Eventually, Paul brought in Mellano & Company, people who remain in charge of all the splendor you can see during your visit to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad up to this day. Although Paul and Edwin are not with us any longer, their legacy and passion for growing the flowers has penetrated every inch of the farm.
In 1999, The Flower Fields added Armstrong Garden Centers to manage a retail store. Today, the farm also offers a large parking lot as well as pavilions for special events and weddings.
Location and how to Get to The Flower Fields
Address: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
The Flower Fields in Carlsbad ensure a pleasant visit whether you drive here from San Diego, located less than an hour away, or from farther destinations such as Los Angeles.
For the visitors from LA, head south via Interstate 5 and take exit to Palomar Airport Road. Turn left on Palomar Airpot Road to Paseo Del Norte. One more turn to the left here before taking a right turn into the parking lot. It takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad from Los Angeles.
The distance to the flower ranch is significantly shorter when driving from San Diego. Head north on Interstate 5 until you reach exit to Palomar Airpot Road and follow the same route as it outlined above.
The Best Time to Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad
You can’t wait long to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. The Giant Tecolote ranunculus are in bloom for approximately six to eight weeks. Keeping its doors close for the public most of the year, the ranch invites its first guests on March 1. The flower season lasts until early May. Mother’s Day is usually the last day to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. The peak bloom often happens in April although it may vary depending on the weather.
Once The Flower Fields in Carlsbad open for the season, they stay busy the entire time. Fewer visitors enjoy the ranch in the mornings, enabling the early birds to take plenty of pictures before the crowds arrive. This rather quiet time doesn’t last long and by 10 am The Flower Fields are packed like a beehive.
Weekends are the busiest time to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. The majority of the locals as well as the visitors from other locations strive to see the bloom before it ends.
What to See at The Flower Fields
Apart from their signature ranunculus’ plantation, The Flower Fields in Carlsbad offer a few small gardens, a store, a playground, and a Sweet Pea Maze. While the variety of the gardens might sound confusing at first, the territory of the farm is technically divided into two large sections. The first one, located near the entrance, includes all facilities, themed gardens, and other attractions. The second, the largest of them, consists of the endless flower fields you’re eager to visit when in Carlsbad.
Gardens at The Flower Fields
The small gardens take just a few minutes of your time. In fact, you can’t miss them even if you want as they sit right in front of or near the main entrance to the flower plantation. Here are the gardens you ought to see during your visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.
American Flag of Flowers. The most anticipated attraction after the fields themselves is America Flag of Flowers. Sitting to the left of the flower plantation, the small garden amuses with red, white, and blue petunias arranged to resemble the signature stripes and stars of the American flag.
The Artist Gardens. The vibrant spring colors are on display at the Artist Gardens near the main entrance to the flower fields. The goal of this section of the farm is to teach the flower enthusiasts how to coordinate colorful plants in their own gardens.
Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse. While the vibrant ranunculus inspire you to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad in the first place, mesmerizing cymbidium orchids make sure you don’t leave empty-handed. You can purchase these locally-grown belles in the Armstrong Garden Center Gift Shop. Be sure to visit the main flower fields of Carlsbad Ranch first, though. Walking around the plantation with the orchid pots doesn’t seem like a good idea.
Historic Poinsettia Display. You can’t visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad without paying tribute to world-famous Ecke poinsettias. Nestled in a small greenhouse, the potted plants offer over twenty rare varieties.
Demonstration Garden. Finally, the Demonstration Garden presents edible and decorative plants grown by the Master Gardeners of San Diego.
What to Do in The Flower Fields in Carlsbad
A visit to The Flower Fields can last the whole day. From enjoying the impeccable plant collections in the small gardens near the entrance to chasing the colors in the main fields, the ranch ensures oozing opulence and the abundance of natural shades. The farm arranges all of its displays by colors, allowing you to move easily from one section to the other without feeling like you’re missing out on something. For those who prefer to have a detail itinerary, here are the best things to do during a visit The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.
Enjoy Flowers in Main Fields
The main fields of the ranch consist of nearly 50 acres of the vibrant Giant Tecolote ranunculus. The large plantation includes dozens of smaller fields strategically divided by colors. A wide road encircles the whole area, allowing to see all flower fields.
Narrow paths in the main fields further divide the area into the smaller gardens, ensuring plenty of photo opportunities. Walking off the designated paths is not allowed. Ranch’s employees constantly monitor the fields and remind the visitors to stay on the special routes to prevent harm to the flowers.
Antique Tractor Wagon Tours
Exploring the entire flower fields on foot is not an activity for everybody, especially the visitors with kids. Luckily, Antique Tractor Wagon tours make it possible. Pulled by an antique tractor, the wagon tour is a passenger wagon that takes its guest out to the farthest blooming areas of the ranch. Audio recording of The Flower Fields’ history included in the tours ensures that no one leaves the ranch without knowing the names of its pioneers.
The antique tractor wagon accommodates wheelchairs as well as the visitors with the small children. The latter might find it the most appropriate option to visit the entire Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch as walking such a long distance might be challenging for the kids.
Plants Shopping in Armstrong Garden Center Gift Shop
From the graceful orchids to historic poinsettias, fresh flowers, and bulbs, the Armstrong Garden Center Gift Shop ensures that you take home a piece of The Flower Fields. The retail store is located near the main entrance to the flower plantation. You can visit one of the most popular flower centers in Carlsbad before or after admiring The Flower Fields. I’d suggest that you check out the shop on your way to the plantation and come back on your way out to buy everything that pleases your eyes.
Pick Blueberries During a Visit to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
The newest addition to visit at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad is blueberries patch. Occupying two acres of land, the parcel adds deep blue colors to the vibrant idyll of the farm. The blueberry plot comes to life in late March and lasts though April.
Apart from admiring the views of the fresh berries in the flower fields, you can buy and taste them on the site. A one-pint basket costs $5. You can enjoy the blueberries all season long or until they are available. Those who don’t want to visit The Flower Fields but would like to taste the freshest blueberries in Carlsbad can pick up the delicious berries at the farm’s parking lot located off Cannon Road.
Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad with Kids
The colorful brilliance of The Flower Fields astounds the adults and children alike. For the latter, the vibrant yellow, red, and pink fields are nothing short of gigantic fairy meadows. The large flowers fluttering in the wind temp the kids to jump into this floral “ocean” and feel every “flower-wave” on their skin…
Walking, moreover, diving into the flower plantation is not allowed. Fear not, your little ones will have ample other things to do during their visit to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. Read on how you can entertain your youngsters without harming any flowers.
Educate Kids on Different Species of Flowers
Before you show your kids places where they can jump and exert all their energy, use a visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad as an entertaining field trip. Show the children how the flowers differ in colors and structures. Let them count the petals (buy a few fresh cut flowers for this reason) and visually gauge the size of the plants. Shine some light on how these massive beauties grow from tiny seeds.
In other words, take that biology lesson from a classroom into the natural environment. Your kids will thank you later. For those parents who homeschool, a visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad saves time and plenty of energy otherwise exhaused on “dissecting” the flower parts at home.
Sweet Pea Maze
Your kids will love their visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, no doubt about it. Yet being energetic bundles of joys, they’ll soon long for more active pastimes. It’s time to amaze them with the Sweet Pea Maze. Located near the themed gardens, this small parcel of land takes your “biology lesson” to the next level, allowing to touch, smell, and inspect the plants.
The colorful sweet pea blossoms intermixed with the green shades look as enticing as the blooming fields themself. Yet unlike the flower plantation, they force your youngsters concentrate and pay attention to their surrounding, otherwise they risk to be trapped in the plant labyrinth forever (or at least until you decide it’s time to go home).
Spring might be not the best time to think of Christmas. At Santa’s Playground, however, the festive season lasts as long as The Flower Fields in Carlsbad are in bloom. Packed with gigantic mushrooms and a waggish playhouse, Santa’s Playground at The Flower Fields is one of the distant relatives of Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead. In fact, Carlsbad Ranch’s playful structures once adorned Santa’s place in the quintessential village in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Your kids will certainly find this place amusing and won’t have enough of the “Guard Shack”, “Crooked Treehouse”, and “Doll House”. You can join them as well or use this quiet time to relax after an eventful visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.
Don’t feel like you’re qualified to lecture your kids on what it takes to grow the flowers? Enroll them in education programs at the Fields and let the knowledgeable staff spill the beans. The courses range from Composting Program where your children learn the principles of recycling to Art and Music Programs that both entertain as well as educate your kids.
Tips for Visiting The Flower Fields in Carlsbad with Kids
Pack Light Jackets
Although The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are located in sunny Southern California, the weather might be deceptive, especially in the mornings. Thus, for an early visit to the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch be sure to pack light jackets for yourself and your kids.
If you visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad with a baby or a toddler, a stroller is one of the must-have things. The plantation is big to the say least. If you plan to explore it beyond the popular areas near the main entrance, consider “giving a ride” for your children. The kids usually adore the fields and run along the designated paths unstoppably, but don’t expect their tiny legs to cross the entire farm.
Give your children as well as yourself a break. Put your bundles of joy in their strollers and enjoy the fields as long as you wish. By the time you’re done with your visit to Carlsbad Ranch’s Flower Fields, your little ones might be peacefully sleeping in their always-useful “vehicles”.
Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Your visit to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch can last from 30 minutes to a day. The mornings may still be chilly. By noon, though, the sun scorches the fields. While the farm keep its precious flowers alive by regularly watering them, keep your skin protected by slathering sunscreen on it. The sun in Southern California can be merciless. Don’t let it ruin your visit to The Flower Fields, especially if you plan to spend the whole afternoon at this vibrant ranch in Carlsbad.
Keep Water and Snacks Handy
For a longer visit to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, make sure to bring enough water and snacks. The farm has some vending machines on the site. I wouldn’t recommend to rely on them, though. Junk food from the vending machines is certainly not the best food for the growing kids.
Pack some light snacks such as fresh fruits or sandwiches. Your kids will have more energy to keep up with you during a day-visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. Furthermore, to comply with COVID-19 regulations, the farm doesn’t stock its vending machines in spring of 2021.
Wear Caps and Hats
Similar to the sunscreen, the hats protect you and your children from the sun. The farm sits on the hills with practically no shade. A few massive trees grow at the farthest section of the ranch, providing your with a temporary shelter. Yet only a few visitors of The Flower Fields make to this place. If you’re one of these determined nature lovers, use this shaded spot to snack (or wait until you get to the picnic area) and give yourself a break before heading back into The Fields.
The caps and hats with wide brims will keep you protected outside of this “safe haven”. These accessories work better for an afternoon visit to The Flower Fields, but I’d suggest that you have them at all times when in the hills of Carlsbad.
Don’t Let Your Children Pick Flowers
The colorful plants entice the young explorers who absolutely must touch and examine everything. Have a talk with with your kids before you visit Carlsbad Ranch and explain why they should enjoy but never pick the plants from The Flower Fields. You can even bargain with them and promise to get a big flower bouquet if they behave.
Other Helpful Tips for Visiting The Flower Fields in Carlsbad
Fewer people visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad in the morning. Don’t expect to find the ranch completely empty, though. You will have a company for sure, but it’s nowhere as close to the amount of people that visit The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch in the afternoon. Furthermore, the sun is more gentle in the morning, allowing you to explore the fields before the scorching heat kicks in. And since you plan to walk a lot, be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Avoid Weekends if Possible
Weekends is by far the worse time to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. More people flock to the ranch at this time, eager to see the bloom before it’s gone. If you can visit The Flower Fields and other places in Carlsbad during the week, please do it. Otherwise, make sure to be first in line for entering the farm when it opens its doors in the morning.
Are The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch Wheelchair Accessible?
Yes. The wide road around the plantation enables all visitors, including people with disabilities, to visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad. Although the wheelchairs can be used everywhere at the farm, it’s recommended to stay on a hard-packed dirt pathway along the bottom of the fields. The guests will still be able to enjoy the incredible views of the bloom above as well as have easy access to the themed gardens, gift shop, and restrooms.
Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad: Photography Tips
Your camera is another must-have item during a visit to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. The colorful hills are just too irresistible to not snap a pic. Your phone will work, too. Now, let’s capture this spring magic. But before we go, here’s a few tips to help you with your Flower Fields’ photography.
Shoot from Different Angles
Walking off the designated paths during a visit to The Flower Fields is prohibited. There’s no exception! Yet it’s quite easy to achieve that “immersed in the flower fields” image by shooting from different angles. Aware of the demand, the farm provides special photo areas. (If you visit The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch in the afternoon, expect to wait in line for your turn to use these spots.)
Make the most of these mini platforms. For example, you can ask your friend or family member to photograph from the distance while you wait on one of these small “islands”. Although you know it better, in the picture you will look standing in the middle of the flower fields. Furthermore, ask your photographer to kneel down and snap a few pictures from this position. The effect will amuse even you.
To sum it all up, use your creative and shoot from different perspectives to achieve your goals. Who said you need to walk behind green barriers to get a great shot?
Photograph at the Farthest Areas of the Ranch
As you know it already, only a few guests visit the farthest corners of The Flower Fields when in Carlsbad. Use it to your advantage to photograph the flowers with practically no disturbances. Again, play with your angles to achieve that dreamy look without trespassing on the fields.
Photograph at Golden Hour
Photographing at the golden hour is ideal whether you visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad or wildflowers in the Greater Los Angeles Area. While it’s easy to get to your destination before dawn in the latter case, Carlsbad Ranch opens only when the sun is already high in the sky. Yet the soft morning light still works magic for your flower photography, giving you another reason to visit the fields in Carlsbad as early as possible.
You can have similar results when photographing at the farm in the evening. The light is beautiful. The amount of the visitors, however, exceeds the number of the guests strolling around the fields in the morning.
Afternoon light makes it rather difficult to capture the beauty of The Flower Fields. Harsh glares settles on the flowers, accentuating their shadows. You can still get pretty good images, but expect to spend more time at editing them.
Here’s a trick. You can visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad on a cloudy day to get away from the flares and long shadows, afternoon enemies of your perfect pictures.
Bring Extra Battery and Memory Card
You will want to take plenty of pictures. It’s an almost proven fact. The colorful idyll of The Flower Fields in Carlsbad it too good to just snap a pic and be done. From shooting your family to capturing the beauty of a single flower or field, you won’t even notice how thousands of digital images pile up on your camera.
Giving that you have an extra memory card, your battery might need a replacement sooner than you expect. To avoid any inconveniences, bring an extra camera battery along with additional memory card when visiting The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.
Get Permit for Professional Photography
While the amateurs can photograph the flowers all day long, professional photoshoots must be arrange at least 10 days prior to your visit to The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. The farm prohibits using excessive camera and video equipment without a permit. Moreover, a written approval is required to use the photos for commercial purposes, including selling prints.
Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad: Etiquette
We briefly touched on Flower Fields’ etiquette earlier. Here is a quick summery of what is allowed and not allowed at the ranch.
- No walking behind the barriers. Sneaking behind the green barriers into the fields is not allowed even for a quick picture. Stay only on the designated paths during your visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.
- No picking flowers. Don’t worry, you can still leave the ranch with a large bouquet of fresh cut Giant Tecolote ranunculus. Instead of messing up with the flowers in the fields, stop by the Armstrong Garden Center Gift Shop and buy your flowers along with potted plants, bulbs, and other gifts here.
- No dogs allowed. For the safety of all visitors, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch don’t allow to bring along the pets. Only assistance dogs can accompany their owners at the farm.
Visit The Flower Fields in Carlsbad: Time and Admission
You can visit The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch daily from March 1st through Mother’s Day from 9 am until 6 pm. Due to Covid-19, all tickets must be pre-purchased online. The visitors should arrive at their designated date and time. Free parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Adult: $20
- Senior and military: $16
- Children (3-10): $10
- Adults: $6
- Children: $3
- Adults: $48
- Senior: $43
- Children: $25
How to Keep Your Fresh Cut Flowers Alive Longer
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch add one more surprise to your visit. Before you leave, the farm makes sure you know how to keep your fresh cut flowers alive longer. First of all, cut the stems and prune the blooms. Moreover, don’t forget to change the water regularly and avoid displaying the flowers in direct sunlight. This tips help extend the beauty of your blooms. Additionally, add one of the following items to prolong the life your belles. Measurements are given for a medium-sized vase.
- Teaspoon of sugar
- Commercial flower food
- 1/2 cannot lemon-lime soda
- Aspirin (one tablet)
- Coins (one penny should work)
What to Do after a Visit to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad
After the visit to The Flower Fields, you can call it a day or spend a few more hours in Carlsbad, exploring what this small city has to offer. Here are some of the favorite places to enjoy in the area.
- LEGOLAND California. Home to more than 60 themed rides, children shows, and interactive attractions, the LEGOLAND is one of the most popular places (after The Flower Fields) to visit in Carlsbad with the kids.
- SEA LIFE Aquarium at LEGOLAND. Enjoy a large family of more than 5,000 sea creatures at SEA LIFE Aquarium. Here you will find clownfish, octopus, sea horse, baby sharks, and rays to name a few.
- Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park. Known as a former working ranch owned by actor Leo Carrillo, the park opened only in 2003 and quickly became one of the highlights of Carlsbad. Today, the place entices with its old windmills, historic buildings, and free-roaming peacocks.
- South Carlsbad State Beach. If The Flower Fields tired you, visit South Carlsbad State Beach to have a picnic and walk or sit on white sand. The most active guests are welcome to swim, surf, or scuba dive here.
- Carlsbad Village. Carlsbad Village in the heart of Carlsbad invites you to explore its ample shops and restaurants after the visit to The Flower Fields. Located in the downtown commercial area, the place is best to explore on foot. Once again, wearing comfortable shoes is recommended.
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