Carlsbad Beach Vacation: How To Enjoy A COVID-Friendly Trip

Every year my family migrates to the gorgeous town of Carlsbad, California, for a week of sun, sand, and copious amounts of alcohol. I look forward to this trip more than any other, because the peaceful seaside town is home to some of my favorite childhood memories. Have you ever been to a place that makes you feel nostalgia so intense you can almost hold it in your hand? If I could bottle up the way Carlsbad makes me feel and use it on those days where I’m just feeling blah, I totally would. I’d bring that little bottle everywhere.

Sunset on the beach – right before we accidentally walked in the pitch dark for half an hour.

Anyway, enough about bottles. The point is, I love it there. Thanks to COVID, our usual week in June was cancelled, but luckily my parents are as desperate for some ocean air as I am and have a second week they usually trade for other timeshares in October. After several weeks of begging and one minor tantrum, they decided not to trade up to a Hawaii condo for two and keep our week in good old California. So that’s how I will set the scene for our lovely little getaway that ended up including my very new and very fast friend (and co-blogger) Rachel.

Leaving Las Vegas (no movie pun intended) was hard. It was the first time Thom (pronounced Tom but he leaves the H- no one knows why) and I had to leave our baby Books behind for a whole week. It was also the first time we had to board her at camp instead of leaving her with my
parents. Before you make that shocked and appalled face, Books is a dog and usually loves camp. But it was still difficult to leave her and I spent a good 20 minutes of the drive crying. Once I had a meltdown with Rachel telling me by text it would all be fine, I let myself get excited for that first breath of salty sea air.

A few hours later (four and some change to be precise) we were pulling up onto Carlsbad Village Drive. This little section of town boasts a grand number of restaurants, bars, and cute shops that will keep you busy for an entire week if you decide to visit for that long. Because my parents have a timeshare, accommodation was already taken care of, but if the mood ever
strikes you to head down, there are Airbnbs and other hotels within the area. They book out fast, so it is worth planning way in advance.

Rachel met us a few hours later after I spent the previous two days convincing (bullying) her into coming out. She found us sipping colorful flights of beer at a new brewery called Pure Project, just off the main drag. If you’re a beer drinker, Carlsbad has a variety of awesome breweries
perfect for day or nighttime get-togethers. Since most things are within walking distance of the beach, it’s even worth coming up from San Diego (or down from LA) should you be in the neighboring cities and just spending an afternoon exploring the boutiques and bars around town. Just make sure to have a DD if you plan to drink because it’s easy to lose track of time
and the number of drinks consumed.

The mural on the wall outside Witch Creek Winery.

Should you be staying in the area, there is a delightful selection of healthy eats and coffee shops around too. Our favorite was the Succulent Cafe, which is the dreamiest little spot filled with, you guessed it: succulents. Every surface is covered in the cute little plants, and some are
available for purchase. Make sure to bring a camera because it is an Instagrammer’s and photographer’s dream – just ask Rachel.

Thom and I at the Succulent Cafe, trying to figure out how the hell they keep all these plants alive when we can barely manage one.

One thing that was fun for us was branching out from the usual routine and trying to find less populated spots to maintain social distancing. During one exploration, Rachel and I stumbled across a plant nursery called Bamby’s Flowers. Not only is it a magical spot that is much bigger than the outside lets on, but their prices are extremely reasonable and we both left with a box (yes, an actual BOX) full of plants. If you have your own vehicle or live nearby, don’t miss out on this great spot.

Getting lost in the sauce at Bamby’s, preparing to drop big bucks on plants.

Most of the bars and restaurants can get busy but are awesome about expanding their space to outdoors so you can sit and enjoy food and drinks patio style in the fresh California air. I’d say dining was my favorite part of the trip because there were so many outside options, which makes everyone feel a little better in these crazy times. Besides, who doesn’t love sipping a chai tea latte or munching avocado toast under the sun? Or sipping your favorite cocktail at sunset with a cool breeze kissing your cheeks?


The beach always had visitors, but it wasn’t packed and you could always find a spot away from others. We took to running the boardwalk in the mornings which was a little busier, but worth the cardio burst. If you’re trying to avoid people altogether, running the sand is harder but less likely
to include passing others at near distances.

The tasty treats and beverages did run higher than our usual budget, but places like Pure Project that offer flights of beer or The Village Pub, which is marginally smaller and older than some of the newer spots (but just as welcoming), has prices that will match a tighter budget.
I was worried about running into bars and restaurants with long waits, but many places took reservations and I found it is worth calling ahead.

Because it’s a little further north than the busy beaches of San Diego, you can enjoy the ocean without feeling packed in among hundreds of
other salt-water seekers.

Rachel and I on the beach: me dressed in comfy clothes and she dressed as a reincarnated modern-day pioneer woman.

I may be biased because I’ve loved this place for so long, but if you’re in the mood for a little west coast getaway, this dreamy beachside town is just the spot to cure those post-summer-time blues.

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