“No Bad Days” is a popular bumper sticker in this part of the world, and it’s not hard to see why. Just 30 minutes north of San Diego on California’s West Coast, the laidback coastal village of Carlsbad is known for its sun-drenched weather, fresh sea breezes and miles of un-crowded, quintessentially California beaches.
Kid-approved casual eateries (Mexican fare is a specialty), water sports and family-friendly attractions—plus manicured golf courses, spas and shopping—are all close to home at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego.
For day trips, you can drive down the coast to San Diego, a city filled with vibrant Latino music and cuisine, iconic bright-red trolleys, farmers’ markets, and Navy ships sailing in and out of port.
*Year-round warm weather and sunny skies. It’s California. The stats: 260 days of sunshine annually; temps around 60 degrees F in winter and lows of 70 degrees F in summer.
*Nearby San Diego. A seaside port city filled with palms and bougainvilla, with the scent of salty ocean air and flowers wafting in the air.
*The beach. Miles of golden sand. We like Moonlight State Beach in nearby Encinitas.
*Surfer’s paradise. Outdoor fun: hiking, sailing, whale-watching, cycling, fishing, rollerblading along the coast, kite sailing, body surfing, skimboarding.
*Swimming. The Residence Club has two heated, free-form pools. The Meadows pool area pipes in underwater music (let the kids discover this on their own for fun) and includes a heated whirlpool and separate children’s pool.
*The beach. Kids can spend hours here, happily, while you join in for the occasional game of Smash Ball or flip through a magazine and work on your tan.
*S’mores by the firepit. Weekly and complimentary at Four Seasons. (If you’re not there on the designated night, the concierge can deliver a S’mores Kit to your villa.)
*Scavenger hunts, magic shows and other Seasonal Residence Club activities.
*Weekly tennis and golf clinics to help you brush up on the basics.
*Margaritas at a café overlooking the beach. While the sun melts
into the Pacific; chips, salsa and fresh guacamole to complement.
*Teaching the kids the fun way about California’s historical Spanish Colonial missions. In person!
* The Residence Club’s villa setup—ideal for families: Fully-equipped kitchen and in-villa washer/dryers, separate bedrooms.
*Long walks on the shore.
*California cuisine: clean, light, healthy, with an emphasis on farm-to-table.
*A comprehensive fitness center, and Residence Club classes (vinyasa yoga, water aerobics, circuit training…).
* Seasonal Four Seasons wine tasting and classes such as watercolor and ceramic pottery painting (ask for the dates).
*Retail therapy: Carlsbad Premium Outlets with Juicy Couture, Barney’s New York and Crate & Barrel.
Batiquitos Lagoon, one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the So Cal coast. Walk the stroller-accessible two-mile public walking trail. Take in one of the monthly guided tours: “The Rookery Rocks” (looking for nesting birds under the guidance of a nature photographer) or “What’s Bugging You?” (entomology, of course).
Dine in—For a light bite, the Residence Club has two poolside grills. On the menu: From the grill, Carne Asada Tacos; Achiote Marinated Chicken Torta; and Crab, Lobster and Shrimp Cobb salad. Also traditional American favorites, salads and sandwiches. There’s a children’s menu and signature cocktails for Mom and Dad. Our top pick: the Carlsbad Cruiser pizza with garlic béchamel sauce, shrimp, tomato and cilantro.
In-villa dining is convenient, fresh and easy. The night we arrived, both kids were tired and hungry. They devoured a rustic cheese pizza, while we sampled pan-seared halibut and grilled salmon.
Dine out—After a day on the beach, Fidel’s Norte is perfect for a casual Mexican dinner. The kids will love the complimentary chips and salsa after working up an appetite in the waves.
For oceanfront dining with incredible views, head to The Beach House in nearby Cardiff. It offers seafood, steak and homemade desserts in a family-friendly, casual beach atmosphere.
For your date night out, tuck into expertly prepared cuts of California beef at Argyle Restaurant & Steakhouse. There’s a nice selection of California wines and signature cocktails (the Argyle Sidecar). (Take advantage of convenient and friendly babysitting, arranged by the concierge team.)
1. LEGOLAND: Lego Masters, you’ve met your match. (If you have one at your house, you understand the obsession.) Just a 10-minute drive away, this fun attraction is especially great for younger kids who may not be ready for full-throttle amusement parks. There’s plenty to see and do: hands-on attractions, interactive areas such as Imagination Zone that encourages creativity and free play (with a zillion Legos, of course), rides, shows and displays such as Miniland USA (seven American landmarks, reproduced with 20 million Lego bricks!).
2. Beach day: San Diego is known for its spacious, mostly undeveloped beaches, just right for California dreaming. Nearby options include Ponto Beach, popular with local surfers, and Moonlight State Beach, with picnic tables, a playground and public parking. The concierge can round up all the beach supplies you need, including chairs, umbrellas, towels and beach toys.
3. San Diego Zoo: This lushly landscaped zoo is deservedly famous. Schedule your visit early in the day to beat the crowds and to catch the animals at their most energetic. Check out zones a la Discovery Outpost (up-close animal viewing), Panda Canyon (the world-renowned giant pandas) and Elephant Odyssey (learning about extinct southern California critters and their descendants).
4. Play on the water: With calm, un-crowded waters, California Water Sports at Carlsbad Lagoon is a great place for renting canoes or kayaks for a family paddle or testing your balance with stand-up paddle boarding.
5. Balboa Park: In San Diego, this huge and amazing urban cultural park is set on 1,200 lush acres: a variety of gardens, 15 museums, galleries, theaters, a golf course, mini railroad and free tram ride.
*Babies: Relaxing together in a shady spot poolside. Long walks in a stroller, taking in the lush surroundings. Listening to the waves and seabirds at the beach. Spotting and smelling colorful flowers at public gardens in Balboa Park.
*Toddlers: Splashing with pool toys in the children’s wading pool. Watching seahorses, listening to whale calls and touching starfish in tide pools at the Birch Aquarium in nearby La Jolla. And at Aviara, PB&J sandwiches.
*Kids 5-10: Wading and floating at the new LEGOLAND Waterpark (open seasonally) and hanging out at covered play areas with oversize Legos. S’mores in the firepit. Seeing cool vintage instruments and learning about music at the Museum of Making Music, a 10-minute drive from Four Seasons.
*Tweens & teens: Surf lessons. “Intro to Golf” clinics, designed to introduce the game at a basic, fun level. Ordering poolside pizzas. Beach volleyball.
Read more about San Diego in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read more our Concierge Recommendations for San Diego in Four Seasons Magazine.
Kim Cole is the Director of Public Relations for Arizona’s Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and New Mexico’s Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and two children, Cameron, three, and Victoria, one. Kim enjoys travel, food and wine, and spending time with her family.
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