The Flower Fields at Carlsbad
s someone who grew up in the desert, flowers in Springtime were an unfamiliar concept. The phrase “April showers bring May flowers” always confused me. We barely had any showers in April and where were all these promised flowers?? I’ve always wanted to visit a place like the ones I had seen in countless photographs with rows and rows of blooming flowers painting the ground with spectacular color. I knew of locations like the fields in the Netherlands, but I had no idea I had a flower wonderland right at my doorstep!
I was scrolling through some photos on Instagram and came across one featuring a gorgeous field of flowers. Already in love, I decided to see where the photo had been taken, sure that it was from some far away, mystical place I wasn’t likely to be visiting in the next few years….
I was surprised and slightly confused when I saw that the photo was taken at a place called “The Flower Fields of Carlsbad”. Was this the Carlsbad just 45 minutes up the freeway from me?? And if so, how was I just discovering this dreamy location??
Rushing to see if the fields were still open for the season I was ecstatic to find they were open for another two weeks. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I knew this would be the perfect place to take my Mother and Grandmother as a surprise and without a moment’s hesitation I called up Mom and Grammy and told her to reserve Sunday for a spontaneous girls day ?
NOTE** The next few paragraphs will be a brief recount of our girl’s day at The Flower Fields. For anyone looking for more detailed information, please skip below to where it says “A Guide to The Flower Fields” Here you can find specific information about all the activities offered and of course, plenty of accompanying photographs. For website and ticket information, location, times and prices, please see the information listed just to the right in the sidebar.
Grandmother, Mother and Daughter Discover The Flower Fields
Arriving at the Flower Fields we quickly found a map and set off towards the Orchid Greenhouse. Wandering slowly, so we could take in all the action, we weaved our way through countless others who had come to enjoy the festivities. Stopping at a booth we watched as a group of children eagerly “panned” for precious stones at the Carlsbad Mining Company station. An enthusiastic woman with bright yellow flowers in her hat was instructing the children on how to properly maneuver their pans within the water, clapping her hands excitedly as they squealed with joy over their new treasures.
After stopping to take a memorable photo in front of the 10-foot-tall rooster we made our way to the Sweet Pea Maze. We found ourselves stuck in the maze for about 15 minutes, with the large “EXIT” sign teasing us as to where to go. In no rush to escape, we lazily meandered through the colorful labyrinth all the while snapping photos of the adorable little sweet peas and breathing in the delicious scent.
Just as Grammy was about to run straight through the wall of Sweet Peas to escape the maze, we made the correct turn at last and headed for the Orchid Greenhouse. Stepping through the doors we entered a room of perfection. Gorgeous, crisp, colorful Orchids lined both sides of the walkway. Almost too perfect to be real, all three of us were in awe of their color and detail.
Ready to treat ourselves with a cool glass of freshly squeezed lemonade we began making our way through the Test Gardens of UC San Diego. With colorful and fragranced roses spilling over the pathways, ocean boxes of sea shells, coral and succulents, this was my Mom’s dream garden. No doubt in a few weeks’ time I’ll be getting a phone call from her asking me to “put on my work shoes” and come help her recreate their perfectly curated, ocean inspired designs.
With ice cold lemonade in hand, we stopped by the Pointsettia Display. Who knew there were so many species of Poinsettias and that they date back to BEFORE Christ! Refreshed and ready to get back in the sun, the wagon ride was our next destination. The soft rocking of the wagon along with the cool ocean breeze was the perfect, relaxing way to take in all the glorious fields.
As the wagon ride came to an end we grudgingly stepped off to make way for the next group of anxious visitors. I’m sure all three of us could have gone round-and-round all day had they let us! Our final stop, as we exited the Flower Fields, was the Armstrong Nursery. We browsed through their many plants for sale as well as their adorable gift shop full of garden decorations, tools for any gardener, cards, lamps, and even a children’s section. We left feeling as radiant and refreshed as the flowers we had just spent hours enjoying!
A Guide to The Flower Fields
Arriving at the Flower Fields-
The fields are only open for about 2.5 – 3 months a year so you can imagine they are pretty busy. Thankfully, they seem to have planned well for large crowds with ample parking and two locations to purchase tickets once you arrive. If you don’t mind walking, then I would skip all the front row parking, save yourself the headache and head straight to their additional parking lot.
From there the walk is only about 3-5 minutes AND it takes you right up to the back entrance where the second ticket booth is located. From my experience, this booth had almost no line at all so even if you park in the front lot, you may want to walk around the corner from the front entrance and purchase your tickets from this second location as the wait will be significantly shorter. OR you can save yourself the time and simply buy your tickets online! You can find a link to where you can buy tickets just to the right will all the other location information.
What to do at The Flower Fields
- Antique wagon ride
- View the perfectly curated “Flower Flag” of the United States
- The Flower Fields
- The Carlsbad Mining Company
- Santa’s Playground
- The Artist Gardens
- Orchid Greenhouse
- Pointsettia Display
- Monarch Butterfly Garden
- Sweet Pea Maze
- Four Leaf Clover Search
- Water Wise Farming
- Test Gardens of UCSD
- Enjoy a snack, ice cream or freshly squeezed lemonade
- Armstrong Nursery
- Other Scheduled Events (listed on their calendar)
1. & 2. Antique Wagon Ride/View of the “Flower Flag”:
- Whether young or old, the wagon ride is a wonderful way to see the seemingly never-ending rows of flowers. Give your feet a rest and enjoy the breathtaking views as you roll along behind an antique tractor. You can enjoy listening to the history of the Flower Fields through the speakers on board. This was perfect for my grandma to be able to see all of the Flower Fields without needing to walk the entire premises. The children on board seemed to enjoy it just as much as we bounced along the dirt road.
- You can get off the wagon at the top of the Flower Fields to stop and walk around and get back on any time you like. While at the top of the fields, definitely take the chance to view the “Flower Flag.” This is located at the top of the hill and to the right if you are facing up the hill. The curators of this display did an incredible job of creating a 300 by 170 foot display of petunias made to look like the flag of the United States of America.
- Don’t be disappointed if the line looks long for the wagon ride. New wagons come every few minutes and fit about 15-20 people on each so it moves quicker than you think.
- The wagon ride is $5 each for adults and $3 each for children 3-10 years old. Definitely worth the few extra bucks!
3. The Flower Fields:
- Wander through seemingly never-ending fields of gorgeous flowers. Perfectly color coded and ready for their photoshoots. To protect the flowers, you are not able to walk in between the rows, but there are small areas cut out where you can get a good photo that makes it appear you are in the middle of all the flowers. There are even a stray antique tractor or two surrounded by flowers that you can climb up on and get a unique photo!
- I have to say that I was a bit disappointed and frustrated when I saw how many people were trying to cross over the designated areas into the rows of flowers just for a picture. I understand as well as anyone how nice it is to get a beautiful shot, but the guidelines are there for a reason. Countless hours have been put into cultivating these beautiful flowers.While not intending to, walking over and through the rows can harm and disrupt the flowers in more ways than we think. Disregarding these small requests to help protect the flowers is disrespectful to everyone who has played a roll in maintaining them and working so hard to create something beautiful for YOU.
- So please, even when you see others crossing over the green tape, refrain from doing so yourself and kindly ask them to respect the rules that have been put in place.
4. The Carlsbad Mining Company:
- This is a fun activity for children (or those older, no judgement here!). Learn about the history of the miners while getting a change to “pan” for stones. For just $4.00 you can select a bucket of sand that has several pretty stones hidden inside. An adorable and enthusiastic woman briefly demonstrated to the children how to place their mesh and wood contraptions into the water, swish them side-to-side to wash the sand away and reveal the twinkling stones. Your stones are then collected and bagged for you to take home!
- While the activity in and of itself is exciting for children, they can learn quite a bit of information about the history of the miners in the area. Let your kids (or yourself) pan for stones and be sure to take a moment to read over the educational signs or ask the kind folks at the booth to give you some more information about the history!
5. Santa’s Playground:
- This is a colorful and creative, enclosed playground for children. While The Flower Fields are very open, giving kids plenty of room to wander, this is a great place to let the kids get all their extra wiggles out as you do not want them running wild over the well maintained flower exhibits!
6. The Artist Gardens:
- Stroll through several flower covered archways, and flower boxes bursting with color. On either side of this garden you will also find two aviaries with several different species of birds flitting about!
7. Orchid Greenhouse:
- Filled to the brim with Orchids, here you can see the mature Orchids as well as countless others in different stages of growth. As with every location in the gardens, there are signs hanging with different facts about the plants.
8. Pointsettia Display:
- Get in the Christmas spirit early each year as you walk into the Pointsettia Display. The display is host to over 20 species of this iconic plant. Large signs cover the walls giving historic information about the plants themselves as well as information about how they were originally introduced into The Flower Fields of Carlsbad.
9. Monarch Butterfly Garden:
- In the far-right corner next to the Poinsettia Display, there is a small garden that is home to the Monarch Butterflies. If you are lucky you will be able to spot some pods, caterpillars or newly born Monarch butterflies in this little garden! Take a moment to read the sign to yourself or your kids to learn more about these beautiful insects.
10. Sweet Pea Maze:
- A fun and fragrant maze of sweet peas! Enjoy wandering through the walls of colorful sweet peas while inhaling the incredible sent of their blooms. Find a hidden corner where you can snap a few photos and then try to find your way out! It may be trickier than you think!
- A fun activity for kids but be sure and remind them not to harm the plants as they navigate their way through the paths!
11. Four Leaf Clover Search:
- Just in front of the Sweet Pea Maze you will find two planters filled with clovers. Take a seat and accept the challenge of trying to locate any 4-leaf clovers that may be hidden in the mix! If you get lucky and find one make sure you get proof with a photo, but remember that others will be looking as well so try not to give the location away and of course don’t pick it and try to take it home!
12. & 13. Water Wise Farming/Test Gardens of UCSD:
- Within the Test Gardens of UCSD you’ll find plenty of succulents, cacti, ocean inspired planters, roses and a lovely gazebo! Along the back side of this garden you will find an educational area on Water Wise Farming, detailing the dedication to being water conscious and the many steps this includes.
- Within the Flower Fields there is a lemonade stand, ice cream stand, kettle corn stand, and a snack bar selling a variety of foods. We also loved seeing that there were several local bakers with stations selling freshly made cookies and scones!
- The management at the Flower Fields also allows visitors to bring in snacks of their own. This can be a great option for those who have dietary restrictions or picky eaters and there are plenty of picnic areas to set up camp for a while to eat and enjoy the scenery.
15. Armstrong Nursery:
- The exit takes you through their nursery full of plants and flowers for sale. Inside their shop you will also find plenty of gardening tools, garden décor, lamps, seeds, cards and much more.
- In the back corner of the Nursery you will also find a stand where you can buy fresh strawberry shortcake, strawberry shakes and strawberry sundaes!
16. Scheduled Events:
- The Flower Fields has an impressive calendar of events throughout the 3 months they are open. I was bummed I only just discovered their location as there were several events I would have loved to attend! A few of them are: Basket Weaving, Arts and Crafts Day, Kids Day, Girl Scouts Day, Succulent Arranging Workshop, Live Music, Tea in the Garden, Sunset Dinner, Photography class, etc.
- You can find their full list of scheduled activities HERE!
- They have a really fun activity called the Stamp Passport. At the front you can ask for a “passport” for each child and at each of the different gardens and other activities there is a little stand with a stamp that the kids can stamp into their passport as they “travel” through the gardens.
Our spontaneous girl’s trip to the Flower Fields was such a wonderful time for all three of us. I am already putting their opening date in my calendar for next year so I can be sure to see all the flowers in full bloom and attend some of their scheduled events! I have included logistical information, links to their website pages, contact information, etc. just to the right of this post in the side bar!
The Flower Fields have a beautiful history, which I had planned to share in this post, but it was already so long. Instead, you can find a full history on their website HERE! Definitely worth a read before visiting because the dedication and effort that went into making this place possible is a beautiful story and definitely makes you appreciate your experience even more.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the Flower Fields of Carlsbad. I know it was rather lengthy, but I always try to be as informative as possible. If there was anything I missed or if you have any questions please let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear about your experience at the Flower Fields. Especially for those of you who have attended any of their events, what did you think? I’m dying to go to their Arts and Crafts day! Yes, yes I am 22, but you are never too old for crafts!