Every spring locals and visitors flock to the Carlsbad Flower Fields in San Diego County. Stop here to smell the ranunculus and pose for amazing photo opportunities among thousands of blooms. Take the kids to experience nature’s beauty, tiptoe through a maze made of sweet peas, or ride aboard a tractor-pulled wagon through over 50 acres of rainbow-colored flower fields. Here's all there is to do at the Carlsbad Flower Fields with kids.
Walk through a colorful history
The flowers at Carlsbad Flower Fields were originally planted as a crop from which to harvest and sell bouquets. The beautiful blossoms began to draw crowds. Soon they became an unintentional tourist attraction. The first ranunculus bulbs were planted here in the 1920s. Years later a then-owner, Edwin Frazee, is known to have said, “If I had one penny for every picture that’s been taken of those fields, I’d be a rich man.” From that seed of an idea, the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch was born in 1993 when Frazee formed a joint venture with grower Mellano and Company. Today over 125,000 visitors come to the fields each year.
See & smell flowers, flowers everywhere
While you can gaze at numerous types of flowers at Carlsbad Flower Fields, rows and rows of ranunculus are what paint the acres in bright stripes of colors. Breathe in the sweet scent of more than 150 rose varietals and more than 80 varietals of miniature roses in the All-American Rose Selection Garden and Walk of Fame. Stop by a greenhouse stocked with well-known and unusual poinsettias. Orchid-lovers will be amazed by the stunning display of these gorgeous flowers. The Artist Garden is a must-see spot filled with unique floral displays among caged birds and burbling fountains.
Embark on a Carlsbad Flower Fields scavenger hunt
Upon entrance, children are handed a paper passport to fill with stamps from stations set up throughout the Carlsbad Flower Fields. This extra activity will help hold the attention of older children who like a challenge. As a prize for getting all of the stamps, kids get a free chance to mine for gems at a sluicing station set up by the Carlsbad Mining Co.
Mine for gems
Kids love a treasure hunt – especially one that involves uncovering polished gem stones! The Carlsbad Mining Co. gives children (and adults) a chance to find their own pirate's booty. Sluice for gems like California settlers did in the early 1900s, by sifting through sand with water at Carlsbad Flower Fields.
Get lost in the Sweet Pea Maze
My children and I are suckers for a life-sized maze. The Sweet Pea Maze at Carlsbad Flower Fields is a fragrant labyrinth with one entrance and one exit. While some corn and hay mazes are quite simplistic, this floral maze was a challenge for us and many other visitors. If you really want out, the entrance is fairly easy to find but it was more fun to seek…and seek…and seek the exit!
Go for a ride
The Carlsbad Flower Fields are huge, so be sure to bring a sturdy stroller or baby carrier of some sort if visiting with a baby or toddler. You can also climb aboard a tractor-pulled wagon (for an additional fee) to ride through the fields. Listen to commentary from an expert while you rest your tootsies for a bit.
Romp through Santa's Playground
Your children will definitely want to stop by Santa's Playground at Carlsbad Flower Fields. While you can't meet the jolly elf here, kids will adore climbing and sliding among the play houses and gigantic mushrooms that were once part of the popular Santa's Village amusement area in Lake Arrowhead from 1955 to 1998. These vintage treasures were restored and brought to the Carlsbad Flower Fields in 2008.
Feel special at the Carlsbad Flower Fields
There are special events each year at the Carlsbad Flower Fields like a Blue Grass Festival, an Arts & Crafts Fair, and a Mother's Day Event. The Annual Kids Day features such activities as face-painting, animal balloons, magic shows and juggling. On the regular ol' day that we visited, my daughter was enthralled by the tunes of local teen singer, The Luke Walton Band.
Take nature home with you
Before heading home, wander through the on-site Armstrong Garden Center to peruse a wide array of garden accessories, seeds of all sorts, and plants for sale. Children can continue their nature lesson by planting flowers, fruits, or veggies in a garden or planter at home.
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are typically open to the public March 1 through Mother's Day each year.
Where is your favorite garden or flower field to explore with your kids? Let us know in the comments!
A Note from The Travel Mama: My family received free entrance passes to the Carlsbad Flower Fields. I always provide my honest opinions and tips, no matter who pays! This story includes affiliate links. Your clicks and purchases help to keep TravelMamas.com a free resource for readers like you.