A Great Destination For Golf And Much More
The Arnold Palmer-designed Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad has a beautifully secluded post hole… [+] another one.
I went to Carlsbad for the golf. I came back amazed by the city and its many other attractions.
Carlsbad sits between San Diego and Los Angeles in the weather epicenter of coastal Southern California. In the golf industry, it is called the Silicon Valley of the sport, as many of the major golf club manufacturers are based here. For the golfing traveling public, it is home to two acclaimed destination resorts, the luxurious Park Hyatt Aviara and the historic Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, which host many high profile PGA Tour events and other championships. There are also other great golf courses in the area.
But having no kids, I had no idea Carlsbad was home to Legoland, perhaps its biggest attraction, and one of the first things I saw on my way to the tee. I had no idea there was a beach town frozen in time with a great vibe. Little did I know the area was famous for its hiking trails and miles of gorgeous beaches. Surprises like these continued throughout my visit and made me appreciate Carlsbad far more than the top golf destination I knew it would be.
There’s a lot more to do for families in Carlsbad than just golf.
Legoland has been a huge hit in the area for almost a quarter century and spans over 125 acres. The complex includes its namesake park, the Sea Life aquarium, a water park and two hotels. There are over 60 rides, shows and attractions, many of which are highly interactive. The establishment is aimed at families with children from 2 to 12 years old.
It is quite rare to find municipal routes as good – or as advantageous – as the Traversées à … [+] Carlsbad.
The entrance to Legoland is almost immediately outside the Crossings at Carlsbad, the city’s surprisingly upscale municipal golf course. On rolling terrain with stunning views, The Crossings takes full advantage of its setting from the dramatic first tee and is both better and more affordable than many of the daily pay courses I’ve played in Southern California. The course boasts an extremely generous 400 acres of site, twice the typical terrain, and includes the five bridges that give it its distinctive name. Designed to bridge the topography with minimal environmental impact, these have made them one of the most expensive municipal courses ever built, but that’s not reflected in green fees, which currently start at $45 – while you can’t even play in much of the country. This is the city’s hidden gem when it comes to golf since most visitors come for the famous resorts.
Although not associated with either the theme park or the golf course, The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa is located within walking distance of Legoland and directly across from the Crossings drive-in entrance, making it a great under-the-radar option for golfers not staying at one of the big name golf resorts, especially for members of Bonvoy, the world’s largest frequent hotel program (Marriott).
Omni La Costa’s legendary Champions course has hosted dozens of championships.
But the main event for golf lovers is the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, a classic that’s laid out like a village with plenty of facilities: a whopping eight swimming pools, a world-class tennis center with 17 courts, seven restaurants and bars and more. more than 600 rooms, suites and low-rise villas. For golf, it’s both one of Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Resorts and a Golf Digest Editors’ Choice. The two 18-hole courses include the historic Champions, which is currently closed for a major upgrade by one of the world’s most acclaimed and sought-after architects, Gil Hanse, who won the heated competition to design the Olympic course for the Rio Games.
The original layout was designed by Dick Wilson, famous for other renowned courses including Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill, the Blue Monster at Doral, Royal Montreal, Dubsdread at Chicago’s Cog Hill and one of the most legendary private clubs in the world , Seminole. The course opened in the 1950s and has hosted more than three dozen PGA Tour events. It’s one of those places steeped in all the greats who have walked its fairways, meaning you’re truly playing in the footsteps of golfing legends. It will soon reopen better than ever and, from 2024 to 2026, will host three consecutive years of the NCAA Division 1 golf championships, with the men’s and women’s tournaments back-to-back.
Wilson also designed La Costa’s second layout, Legends, which was refurbished last year and is also much improved. For some PGA Tour events here, half of each course has been used, in this case the final nine of Legends, so whichever layout you choose (better play both) you’ll get a taste of this rich history.
Carlsbad has seven miles of Pacific Ocean frontage, much of which features wide public beaches.
The luxurious Park Hyatt Aviara is the crème de la crème when it comes to lodging, earning 5 Forbes stars and 5 AAA diamonds. It sits very close to the beach on 200 gorgeous acres, with amenities such as a top-notch fitness center and exceptional spa, and it’s known for its ‘Signature’ suites, including the Palmer Suite, named after the legendary golfer and Hall of Fame golfer. course designer. The Palmer Suite has two large decks, one of which is a putting green, something I haven’t seen elsewhere. There is a large pool complex with multiple features, recently renovated, one of the area’s most popular hiking trails runs through the property, the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail, and when you are not on the course, the complex has a TopGolf Swing suite with a state-of-the-art simulator. The tennis center is ranked in the Top 75 in the nation and Park Hyatt Aviara is Conde Nast Traveler’s number one golf resort in Southern California.
The Aviara Golf Club was designed by Palmer and is a feast for the eyes with excellent conditions, endless wildflowers, clever bunkers and multiple water hazards. The design isolates each hole and makes you feel like you have the place to yourself even when every tee time is taken, a rare privilege. It’s hosted several LPGA Tour events, is rated one of the best in California by Golf Digest, and I had a blast playing there. The clubhouse is also home to Park Hyatt’s remarkable Ember & Rye, a creative upscale steakhouse by Top Chef winner Richard Blais that is one of the area’s top restaurants.
The village of Carlsbad is an old-school coastal charmer.
But what I will remember most about Carlsbad is the town itself, the beach, the whole vibe of the place. The neighboring areas of Southern California that I’ve visited previously are the kind of places where old homes are being torn down to make way for McMansions. Carlsbad has seven miles of beautiful, nearly unbroken coastline on the Pacific Ocean, most of it lined with wide, sandy beaches that are open to the public. Along this strip there is an Old School beach town feel, with people riding bikes equipped to carry surfboards, families walking to the beach with children, chairs and dogs in tow, just a laid-back authenticity that’s getting harder and harder to find. Vintage beachfront homes are well-preserved, adding to the frozen-in-time atmosphere of Americana, and coastal downtown Carlsbad has a sort of state fair feel with plenty of bars, restaurants, and local stores. It attracts tourists but maintains a sense of the people who actually live here, and that’s a good thing in my book.
Inland from the beach, Carlsbad has modern outdoor malls with tons of dining options, including more chain restaurants, so there’s something for every taste and budget – much like golf. For golfers, it’s also close enough to easily play other great courses like the 36-hole Torrey Pines, a major venue and host of last weekend’s PGA Tour event, and for classic tour enthusiasts. , it’s just up the road from legendary Del Mar. The whole area is dotted with enough hiking trails, beaches and attractions, plus tons of water sports such as surfing lessons, to entertain even the most avid golfer off the course.
As a golf enthusiast, I’ve been to many places where golf is everything, and pretty much the only reason to visit. It can be good, but it’s even better when there’s more to do than golf – especially for families – and that’s what I was so pleasantly surprised to find in Carlsbad.