The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is open for the 2023 season between March 1 – May 14 (Mother’s Day). After a roller coaster of a year, you’ll be delighted to know that familiar activities are up and running in addition to a new 5-acre Sea of Sunflowers and renovated butterfly garden.
Get ready to flood your Instagram feed with coordinated displays of natural color thanks to the Giant Tecolote Ranunculus and other blooms spread across 50 acres. Below, you’ll find everything to know about visiting this working ranch and spring attraction set in the rolling hills of North San Diego County.
Before You Go
You must purchase time and date-specific tickets in advance online because they are not for sale onsite. Season passes are also available and do not require reservations.
Face coverings are required for everyone ages 2 and older, and The Flower Fields is operating at a reduced capacity. You’ll see hand sanitizing stations, enhanced cleaning measures, and reminders to maintain distance from other guests throughout the area.
No cash will be accepted. Additional experiences and merchandise payments will be taken only by credit card or mobile device.
Wear walking shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. Remember, the display areas are a working farm, and flowers grow in the dirt! Do not forget sunscreen and sunglasses.
20 Fun Things to Do at the Carlsbad Flower Fields
Mother nature certainly puts on a show at what’s considered one of the most unique attractions in the United States.
1. Take Plenty of Photos
This is your opportunity to take the perfect holiday card, family, or social media photos against a backdrop of orange, yellow, pink, white, and red ranunculus flower rows and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
Don’t be shy. You will see plenty of visitors doing the same thing (some with wardrobe changes). Leave your drones at home.
2. Pick Your Own Blueberries
New this year is a U-Pick Blueberry activity. Buy a pint ($8) and fill it with fruit that you select from the 2-acre blueberry patch.
Admission to the patch is included with admission to The Flower Fields, but guests not visiting The Flower Fields can access the patch for free by parking in a designated lot and using a different entrance. Get directions.
Blueberries are available for picking starting in early March until the patch runs out. Upon entering The Flower Fields, you’ll notice signage indicating picking is open. If there is no sign, the blueberries aren’t available that day.
3. Tour Ranunculus Flowers in an Antique Tractor Wagon
Every season, guests (especially kids) look forward to the Antique Tractor Wagon Tours, where you can ride through the fields in a towed wagon while listening to the history of this unique San Diego attraction.
You’ll buy wagon ride tickets when you arrive, but no cash will be accepted. The wagons are disinfected regularly and the seating arranged so that people in separate households can safely be seated in the same wagon. Tickets cost $8 for adults and $4 for children 3-10. Toddlers and babies under age 3 ride for free.
4. Navigate the Sweet Pea Maze
Step into this living maze to see if you can find your way out. That is if you want to get out. The colorful sweet pea flowers also give off a lovely fragrance.
5. Check Out the Greenhouse Poinsettia and Orchid Displays
Until the 1960s, this land was used by the Ecke family (who still owns the land) to grow their famous poinsettias. Long story short, they moved their operations to greenhouses, but Paul Ecke Jr. convinced his friend and local grower to plant his ranunculus flowers here. It was Paul Ecke Jr. who came up with the idea to open the ranch up for tourism to keep the location economically viable.
So, it only fits that a rather large greenhouse at The Flower Fields showcases rare and unusual poinsettias along with the history of this important Southern California site.
You can also walk through a greenhouse filled with blooming cymbidium orchids which you can also purchase at the Armstrong Garden Center Gift Shop.
6. Admire the American Flag of Flowers
Every year, red, white, and blue petunias are planted on a hillside in the shape of the American Flag.
7. Let the Kids Play at Santa’s Playground
Do you remember Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead? Well, some of the whimsical playhouses and other displays now live at The Flower Fields.
No eating or drinking is allowed inside so that everyone keeps their face coverings in place. If other visitors are waiting, guests are asked to limit time inside to 30 minutes.
The Flower Fields is already one of my favorite things to do in San Diego with kids and, of course, in Carlsbad with kids.
8. Attend a Yoga Class Or Barre Class
Check the calendar of events, and you’ll find a Bloomin’ Yoga at The Flower Fields. It’s a one-hour hatha yoga class set against the spectacular and coordinated displays of the Giant Tecolote Ranunculus.
Pure Barre of North Carlsbad hosts a class that features energetic music for a 50-minute, upbeat workout.
Dates for both events vary throughout the season, so head over to the calendar and book the time and date that works for you
9. Wander Through the Artist Gardens
Talented artists use flowers as their medium to replicate famous works of art. Visit this section for garden inspiration, to admire natural color and beauty, and see birds chirping away in their aviaries.
10. Improve Your Green Thumb at the Demonstration Garden
The Master Gardeners of San Diego County display ornamental and edible plants for visitors to browse and learn more about how to grow at home.
You’ll also walk away with a few garden design tips — it’s neat to see how companion plants are paired together by experts.
11. Take a Field Trip
I’m a huge advocate of taking advantage of the educational resources that our attractions offer.
Field trips for ages Pre-K to 3rd grades are available that cover topics like composting and gardening but include fun hands-on projects and art. And, don’t forget that you can download age-appropriate activity sheets to complete at home.
12. Earn a Girl Scout Patch
Take your troop to The Flower Fields on one of four designated dates to learn about composting, gardening, and the environment, and even take a wagon ride.
What a fun way for Daisies and Brownies to earn a patch. Reservations are required.
13. Take Home Flowers and Plants
One of the most frequently asked questions is whether you can take flowers home with you. The answer is yes, thanks to the Armstrong Garden Center gift shop.
Pick up some cut ranunculus or take home some bulbs to grow at home in the ground or containers. You can also find plenty of other plants, flowers, pots, and tools for sale here too.
14. Spend the Night
You have some choice when it comes to Carlsbad hotels near The Flower Fields. The two closest, which are located above the Carlsbad flower fields, are The Cassara Carlsbad and Grand Pacific Palisades. A shuttle will take guests to The Flower Fields (and beyond).
The Cassara Carlsbad is popular with families for its two-bedroom Karlsbad Suites. Grand Pacific Palisades are vacation rental condos with full kitchens and one to three bedrooms. Both share a kids’ water play and swimming pools.
15. MINE YOUR OWN GEMSTONES
Thanks to the Carlsbad Mining Company, adults and kids can have a blast mining their very own gemstones using a water-based method called sluicing. Tickets cost $4 per person, and kids get a dollar off if they show a completed passport.
16. TOUR THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN
The newly renovated Butterfly Garden features benches and statues surrounded by sprawling fields of blooming flowers. Dedicated to the butterflies that help the flowers grow, this spot is both an incredible photo op and a wonderful learning opportunity for kids.
17. EXPERIENCE THE SEA OF SUNFLOWERS (NEW)
This year, you can tour the remarkable Sea of Sunflowers, a 5-acre patch filled with sunflowers of all shapes and sizes. Some stand as tall as 12 feet! Kids and grown-ups will both have an amazing time getting lost among the bright blooms.
18. DISCOVER AND WONDER IN THE ILLUSION GARDEN (NEW)
The new Illusion Garden is a fun, mind-bending activity that includes two new topiaries handcrafted by Jennifer Coborn, an artist known for her whimsical, imaginative designs.
19. Grab a Bite to Eat
Bring your appetite to the Flower Fields. Grab a slice from the Pizza Trolley or fun foods like lemonade from the Lemonade Stand, cotton candy, or a strawberry milkshake from the Strawberry Shack — just to name a few options.
20. Host an Event at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
With so much color and beauty, it’s no surprise that people choose to host weddings and other events at Carlsbad flower fields. While events are still prohibited at the time of this writing, keep this knowledge in your arsenal because event space is available year-round.
Ticket Information, Parking, and Directions
When you purchase tickets, you’ll be required to select a date and entrance time that will serve as your reservation. Season Pass holders do not need to make reservations.
Seniors 60+: $21
Children 3-10: $12
Seniors 60+: $44
Children 3-10: $24
Children 3-10: $4
Address: 5704 Paseo Del Norte Carlsbad, CA 92008 (get directions)
Parking: It is free to park in the Carlsbad flower fields parking lot.
*Photos are courtesy of The Flower Fields.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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