Headed to SoCal and looking for info about the Carlsbad Flower Fields? You’re in the right place! Here I’m sharing everything you need to know about the best spring activity in all of California! If you’re as obsessed with pretty blooms as I am, get ready. This place will blow your mind.
Rows and rows of ranunculus. That cool ocean breeze. Sweet smells and that SoCal sun. Paradise does exist — in the form of 70 million pretty blooms! It’s SoCals annual burst of color (hello spring!), and I’m here for it!
I’ve been wanting to visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields for years. YEARS! Ever since we moved to California and I learned about the thousands of ranunculuses in pretty little rows, I knew I was destined to visit. Spring time just makes me so happy (see photos of the wild mustard super bloom in Half Moon Bay here, and sunflower fields in NorCal here).
I finally got to cross the Flower Fields in Carlsbad off my massive California bucket list on our latest visit to SoCal (where we visited Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, and Borrego Springs). I’m so glad we were able to sneak in a quick visit towards the end of our trip! Our entire road trip was oh so amazing, but the flower fields just did it for me. I was in awe the entire time — it was an absolute dreamworld!
Besides the many rows of giant ranunculuses (which kinda look like a cross between a rose and carnation), there’s plenty of petunias, sweet pea blossoms, poinsettias, roses, and even orchids. Although there’s no tulips here like the famous fields in Amsterdam (still on my bucket list), it’s still the ultimate flower paradise. I promise. I mean, 50 acres of brightly colored Tecolote Ranunculus flowers running down the hill? Yes please!
I don’t think Noah’s ever seen me happier — I was literally smiling from ear to ear our entire 2+ hour visit. The blooms are just so cheery; I wanna make it an annual SoCal spring time activity with friends!
The Flower Fields in Carlsbad are definitely one of the most Instagram-worthy and picturesque places in all of SoCal. I mean, they were designed by a professional colorist afterall (wouldn’t that be a fun job?!)! BUT — they’re only in bloom for about 8 weeks a year, so you gotta plan ahead! All my tips below!
- What: a huge working flower farm with millions of blooms
- Where: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, California
- When to Visit: March 1st – May 9th, 2021
- Cost: $20 for adults and $10 for children
- Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm daily
And there’s every color imaginable here — from pink and red, to orange and yellow, to purple and even multi colored! I couldn’t believe it! My favorite? Probably the multi-colored beds, but I really loved them all!
I’m writing this post solely to show off my pretty photos (you caught me!), and of course encourage you to go — whether it be this year or next!
Where is Carlsbad?
Carlsbad is located in Southern California, between Los Angeles and San Diego. The town itself is actually part of San Diego county, but you’ll need to drive north about 45 minutes!
It’s not terribly far from many other hot spots of Southern California as well. If you’re visiting any of the following from March to May (and love flowers as much as I do), I highly encourage you to make a day trip out to Carlsbad!
- San Diego: 45 minutes
- Laguna Beach: 50 minutes
- Anaheim: 1 hour
- Los Angeles: 1 hour, 45 min
- Santa Monica: 2 hours
- Palm Springs: 2 hours, 15 min
- Santa Barbara: 3 hour, 30 min
Just remember there may be traffic (this IS southern California afterall), so I’d leave earlier than needed in order to not miss your timed entrance (more on that below)! We were coming from the desert in Borrego Springs (after a few days in Palm Springs), and thankfully had little to no traffic.
When to Visit
The official season of the Carlsbad Flower Fields is from March 1st – May 9th, 2021. And no, the flowers aren’t in bloom in summer (it’s a springtime seasonal attraction in San Diego county).
While you’ll see pretty blooms anytime during this timeframe, the absolute BEST time to visit is from mid-March to mid-April. This is prime time and when the most flowers are in bloom! For reference, we visited in early April and all the blooms were super lush and oh so pretty.
There were still a few flower beds that weren’t in full bloom just yet, so don’t worry, there’ll still be plenty of beauties in late April and May.
Psst: Missed the Carlsbad flower fields season? Don’t fret! There’s other flower fields in California to check out:
- Wild Mustard Blooms in Half Moon Bay (February)
- Lavender Fields in Dixon (May-June)
- U-Pick Sunflowers in Half Moon Bay (September)
Cost and Purchasing Tickets
Cost: $20 for adults and $10 for children
Some people may think that $20 is kinda steep for a walk through the fields, but I thought it was more than worth it. I mean, when else are you gonna stroll around (literally) MILLIONS of gorgeous ranunculus flowers?
FYI: YOU NEED TO BUY YOUR FLOWER FIELD TICKETS ONLINE IN ADVANCE! In years past you were able to get tickets right at the entrance, but not anymore. When you buy your ticket you need to choose a 30 minute time slot you’ll be arriving at. So plan wisely!
Once you’re in, you’re in. They don’t kick you out once your 30 minutes are up — it’s just the time you can enter the fields.
I follow the Flower Fields on IG (@the_flower_fields) and checked often in February to see when tickets would be available! Since we were only able to go one specific day at a specific time, I made sure to snag those babies right up! If you live closer and have more flexibility, it’ll probably be easier for you to grab tickets closer to when you wanna visit.
Reserve your tickets on the Carlsbad Flower Fields site ASAP — days and times do sell out!
Missed out on the fields this year? Do yourself a favor — go follow the Carlsbad Flower Fields on instagram. Right Now. I’ll wait, haha.
What to Wear and Bring to the Carlsbad Flower Fields
- Wear a pretty sundress and a straw hat! You’re here for photos, right?! Look the part! The sun gets harsh midday so you’ll want a sun to protect your eyes anyways.
- Bring a light jacket as it can get kinda windy at times. The Carlsbad Flower Fields are pretty close to the Pacific, so you’ll get that nice ocean breeze.
- Slather on the sunscreen — the sun is strong here! I made the mistake of forgetting sunscreen and let’s just say my skin didn’t love me after walking 2+ hours in the scalding sun. Thankfully it turned to tan the next day, but still — treat your skin right!
- Carry around some water, you’ll 100% want it.
- Wear comfy shoes/sandals — while you don’t NEED to do much walking, it’ll be way less crowded the further you go into the fields. And I’d definitely recommend flat soles (keep those heels at home).
- A camera, of course! And maybe extra batteries and memory cards. I used both my iPhone and mirrorless camera, and took over 500 photos in about 2 ½ hours, haha.
Our Carlsbad Flower Field Experience
The short version: 10/10 LOVED IT
The longer version: Once we got to the Flower Fields, there was a staff member directing parking — we even had to use the overflow lot. It was that busy!
We aimed to get there exactly for our timed ticket, but arrived 30 minutes early! I was worried we’d have to wait a half hour, but the staff thankfully let us right in! I’d try your best to get there when your ticket says so, but don’t worry if you’re a few minutes early or late. I’m pretty sure the times are just for crowd control and to limit the number of people allowed in per day.
My husband followed me around (true story) as I wandered from row to row, admiring all the colorful blooms, and doing his part as IG hubby. Thanks love!
After I took about 7,348 photos (no joke, haha), we exited the fields and made our way to Armada Drive. From up here we were able to see a somewhat birds eye view of the fields, with the Pacific Ocean in the background! Simply stunning and a great way to end our time in Carlsbad!
Etiquette in the Flower Fields
Okay, before we move on, we gotta get this outta the way.
I understand you’re visiting the flower fields to take pretty pictures of the flowers (I mean, obviously!), but please abide by the rules! This means NOT crossing the green tape! For any reason at all!
Visitors are NOT allowed to walk inside the actual flower beds in order to protect the pretty plants! And there’s even green tape to remind you. Don’t be those people crossing the clearly-marked barriers. They clearly say “Help us protect the flowers. Please do not cross tape”, yet I saw numerous people scoff their head at this and climbed right over. This hurts the flowers! They aren’t yours and staff have worked for months tending to the farm!
I honestly was at a loss for words with how many people were flat out being so rude and disrespectful. Don’t say, “Oh, just one picture”, or “But I’ll be super careful”, or “Lemme just sneak one in”.
And no, #sorrynotsorry definitely doesn’t cut it here. Be a good example and stay out of the beds. Please. There’s designated areas for photos for goodness sake! If you’re creative enough, you can clearly make it look like you’re standing smack in the middle of the field, without breaking the rules.
Don’t think you won’t get caught — oh, but you will! There’s staff driving around in golf carts looking for all those pesky naysayers, yelling at them to get out of the flower fields.
I read a few blog posts prior to visiting, and lemme just say, I’m absolutely ashamed at the number of bloggers that admitted crossing the tape for photos. C’mon people — I honestly cannot believe how blatantly rude people are.
To say I lost respect for a whole lotta bloggers is a massive understatement. Just don’t do it.
Also, there’s no smoking, no pets, and no drones allowed. Please respect the rules. 🙂
- Walk further down the fields. As soon as you enter, you’ll see tons of people crowding the designated photo spots. Many even with super long lines! Walk right past them and wander further into field 2 and field 3 — you’ll find significantly less people and hardly any lines! A worker thankfully told us this after waiting a few minutes closer to the entrance.
- Get creative with your angles. Shoot from above, and below, and close up, and far away. Take some detailed shots of the pretty blooms, while getting the whole field in others!
- Don’t walk into the fields. It’s not allowed, so just don’t do it. You WILL get yelled at (there’s enforcers walking around). Instead, get creative with the designated photo spots. I had my husband kneel down and shoot up a bit behind some flowers, giving the illusion of being in the middle of the field.
- Visit early, or late. We visited smack in the middle of the day — we had a flight to catch later that night, so didn’t really have a choice. I would have loved to visit in the early morning, as that’s when the light isn’t as harsh and is so much softer.
- Visit on a weekday, if possible. You’ll find less crowds. Again, we didn’t have this luxury, as we were headed back from a much longer road trip (Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Salton Sea, and Borrego Springs) and our flight home was on a Saturday.
- Head to Armada Drive. After your visit to the Flower Fields, drive the few minutes to Armada Drive to see the fields from a somewhat higher vantage point — that’s how I got photos of the rows of different color fields from above!
Other Activities at the Carlsbad Flower Fields
Besides strolling along the MILLIONS of gorgeous flowers, the Carlsbad Flower Fields offers even more! While we admittedly only wandered around the fields, I kinda wish we took advantage of the other activities. Oh well — there’s always next year!
- Go blueberry picking (we had planned to do this but sadly the blueberry patches were between pickings)
- Purchase ranunculus bulbs or a pre-cut bouquet of flowers in the Armstrong Garden Center
- Stroll through the Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse to see the exotic varieties
- Take the kids on a tractor ride
- Check out the huge American Flag made entirely of flowers
- Walk through the sweet pea maze
- Relax and listen to the live music (on select weekends)
Other things to do nearby:
- Go strawberry picking at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company
- Take a walk (or just relax with a good book) at Carlsbad State Beach
- Go shopping at Carlsbad Premium Outlets (right next door to the Flower Fields)
- Check out the Museum of Making Museum (kinda like the MIM in Scottsdale, AZ!)
- Take the kids to LEGOLAND California
- Check out the San Diego Botanic Garden
I hope this helps you plan your trip to the Carlsbad Flower Fields! I can’t wait to go again next year!