50-acre hillside transforms to a vibrant floral canvas of rainbow colors
The March through May wonderment that we know as The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch will once again explode with tissue-like petals of Tecolote ranunculus, Mother Nature’s sign that spring is on the way.
Seven million flowers — in hues of red, purple, orange, gold, rose, pink and white — will fill row upon row of the more than 50 acres of hillside that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
On Sunday, The Flower Fields will welcome more than 200,000 visitors for its annual 10-week tourist season. Mid-March through mid-April is the best time to come to the working ranch when much of the crop will be in bloom, a result of the recent winter storms.
“The rain has been great,” said Fred Clarke, general manager of The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch for the past 12 years. “We did have a heavy rain in December which washed out some of the seed and ruined a portion of the fields. Thanks to our team’s speedy reaction time and assessment, we were able to replant.
“The growth of the flowers are better now than ever.”
One of San Diego County’s most visible attractions — or “theme parks,” as Clarke has termed it — Carlsbad’s Flower Fields was ranked sixth out of a list of 18 top flower fields in the world in 2014, according to the World Top Top travel website.
“People from all over ... come to enjoy the color,” Clarke said. “All nationalities, all walks of life, all (come) to see the beautiful, jaw-dropping color and take pictures. We use the term in a way that is different than other ‘theme parks’ Of course, it is a theme park: the ‘theme’ is the beauty of nature.”
Clarke said that immersing yourself in the floral landscape is almost like a spiritual experience. You’re awash in a volume of color all in one place.
“Power of the color has a huge effect on mood and human reaction,” he said. “Can’t imagine how impressive the color is until you see it.”
New this year: The Flower Fields will offer a U-Pick berry patch in late March and April. The Carlsbad Ranch blueberry patch spans more than 1.5 acres, planted with 2,300 blueberry bushes.
“The fruit is at first tart, but full of sweetness that pops on your palate,” he said. “We have been selling blueberries commercially for a year, but we decided to switch the model to benefit our visitors making this a unique experience for our guests.”
Flower Fields highlights
Stay for lunch: On the weekends, visitors can purchase gourmet fare from local vendors, including gourmet food trucks Dang Brother’s Pizza, serving authentic, wood-fired pizza and Corbin’s Q with Santa Maria-style barbecue ribs, pulled pork, chicken, tri-tip and homey sides. Quench your thirst with wine or craft beer from Tap Truck. There are plenty of benches, tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your food amid the floral backdrop.
Snack on sweet treats: A little-known secret to many: guests can satisfy their sugar fix with delights like Dole Whips (a soft serve dairy-free frozen dessert that was created by Dole Food Company in 1986), ice cream cones and strawberry short cake.
Special events: Kid’s Day, featuring Fern Street Circus and the Star Theater Coast Kids performing a review of “Newsies” on March 22; Sunset Wine Tasting & Music on March 27, April 3 and 24; Blues Day on March 29; Bloomin’ Yoga on April 6 and 9; and Easter Sunday Service on April 12; and closing out the season is a Mother’s Day celebration featuring the Rancho Buena Vista High School’s Ballet Folklorico on May 10.
Live music: The fields come alive Saturdays and Sundays with the sound of country, swing and everything in between from local artists, including The Chris Fast Band (April 4), Bill Magee (April 5), The Bayou Brothers (April 12) and Sara Petite (April 26), to name a few.
What to see: There’s a sweet-pea maze, a cymbidium orchid greenhouse, a poinsettia display, rose and themed gardens, a mining area, a water-wise garden area and Santa’s playground. Some activities require an additional fee, so be sure to bring extra cash. And don’t forget your camera.
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
When: Opens Sunday. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through May 10
Where: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad
Admission: $18 adults; $16 seniors 60 and older; $9 children 3-10. Season passes: $39 adults; $34 seniors 60 and older; $20 children 3-10; antique tractor rides: $6 adults; $3 children 3-10. Parking is free.
Phone: (760) 431-0352