Lege godt means “play well” in Danish. For decades, this phrase has been translated into LEGO, the name of the colorful building bricks, likely the most successful children’s toys ever created. Kids find endless ways to play well at Legoland, the beautiful and imaginative amusement park in Carlsbad. The Legoland Hotel extends the colored-brick universe further, with themed rooms and restaurants designed to induce LEGO-Nirvana in young fans. Adults will find many other ways to play well in this sun-drenched resort town just north of San Diego. If you’re a golfer, you can upgrade your game by stopping by the Callaway Performance Center, right next to Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport. And make sure you throw an extra swimsuit in your bag because, between the beaches, lagoon watersports, and famous spas, we bet you’re going to get wet.
Carlsbad has become something of a spa-haven. If you want the top-rated spa according to Spa magazine, just head over to the La Costa Resort and Spa, where the breadth of treatments available is unmatched. The Deepak Chopra Center provides meditation gardens, retreats, and workshops. Walk barefoot over rounded pebbles and lush landscapes on the Reflexology Pathway. Drench yourself in a waterfall shower. Massages, facials, buffs—you name it—can be had with all manner of accoutrements like bee propolis, citrus, and a full complement of botanicals. Combined with the pools, luxury villas, and fine dining, a La Costa vacation will give you all the pampering you can handle.
Many people visit Carlsbad just for the Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa, the town’s original star attraction. Check out the turreted Alt Karlsbad House and, for $0.80, fill a gallon water container with sweet artesian water. Spa treatments and mineral baths for singles and couples are available in themed rooms.
Just west of the airport, seven miles of wide, warm, uncrowded, sandy beach await, with surf that invites year-round. The nearby Agua Hedionda Lagoon provides safe havens for numerous water-dependent species, yet a separate large area is reserved for splashy recreation like jet-skiing, wakeboarding, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. You’ll also find hiking trails and a native garden. The Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center is at the eastern end of the estuary. Each March, they hold the Tip Top Run to raise money to keep the lagoon in tip-top shape. Participate and then dig into a smorgasbord supplied by local Tip Top Meats, an excellent European market, deli, and restaurant.
From March 1 through mid-May, you can visit spectacular flower fields that overlook the ocean (they’re worth a flyover, too). The Museum of Making Music offers engaging exhibits on the evolution of American music. MOMM, as it’s called, is also a blast for kids, who can make their own music and not worry about anyone “shushing” them for being too loud.
But Carlsbad’s biggest draw for kids is Legoland California, a must for any LEGO fanatic, with over 60 family rides, interactive attractions, and shows. Enchanted forests, cities, dragons, pirates, Star Wars, even a water park—you name it and you’ll find it in LEGOs here. And now you no longer just visit Legoland, you can sleep in it. Rooms are decorated in themes; parents get a queen bed while kids occupy their own sleeping area that includes LEGO bricks to build with.
If you just want to hang out around the beach, stay at the peaceful Pelican Cove Inn, just two blocks from the Pacific. Nancy and Kris Nayudu provide free airport pickup, Wi-Fi, and a delicious breakfast. Walk over to the Harbor Fish Café for fish tacos or fish and chips, or try Dini’s Bistro, right on the waterfront. If you have a car, dine at Chandler’s at the Cape Rey Carlsbad, a Hilton resort. In otherwise heavily populated Southern California, Carlsbad provides the open space, slower pace, and mild climate that let you truly play well, any time of year.
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