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Dreaming of visiting the famous tulip fields of Holland but need a solution closer to home? The Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch outside of San Diego, California, are the perfect American substitution! You’ll love being surrounded by thousands of colorful blooms under the California sun!
We recently spent 2 weeks on a 12-hour road trip to Southern California. It involved two days in Las Vegas, 3 different cities in California, 4 theme parks, 10 extended family members, 3 different AirBnBs, and lots and lots and lots of car snacks. Our trip was fun but exhausting, and luckily culminated with a visit to The Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch. Oh how I needed to refresh and relax among beautiful flowers!
Here’s why we loved the Flower Fields and the best time to visit the Flower Fields of Carlsbad!
The Carlsbad Flower Fields
The Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch was started in 1921 by horticulturist Luther Gage. Gage introduced the ranunculus seed to the area, and they quickly because his main growing focus. 85 years later, his original ranunculus farm has expanded to over 50 acres!
Carlsbad Ranch not only grows a rainbow of this “Asian Buttercup” for visitors to walk through and enjoy, the plants are also cut for immediate purchase in their gift shop and harvested for bulbs. Visitors can see an actual working farm when touring the beautiful flowers!
Things to do at The Flower Fields
I was prepared to walk through gorgeous fields of flowers, but had no idea how many different activities there are to do at the farm! Here are just a few of the things you’ll enjoy at the Carlsbad Flower Fields California.
Take a tractor ride through the fields
I was glad we had tickets for the tractor ride, because it’s a long (though enjoyable) walk from one end of the flower fields to the other! The tractor ride is not only a fun time saver, a speaker also spouts facts on the flower fields while you ride. Double win!
Corn mazes kind of scare me, if I’m being honest. The corn stalks are creepy when they dry out, and I panic that I’ll never escape! But a flower maze… that’s a totally different story. The flower hedges are fun walk around but don’t lead to claustrophobia.
The Artist Garden
The Artist Garden is so named because of the gorgeous use of colors and plant variety in small garden plots. Walk around them to get inspired for your own home landscape, or to simply get lost in the wonder of nature.
American Flag of Flowers
This was actually Whit’s favorite part of the flower fields ranch tour! We saw the largest living American Flag made out of red, white, and blue petunias on the edge of a giant hill. It’s so large we couldn’t see the entire flag at one time, which left us with a deep respect for the breath and importance of this great country.
Walking Through the Flower Fields
The main reason to visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields is to walk through the rainbow of ranunculus plants, of course.
For us, it was an opportunity to get back to nature and refresh after a busy week of sightseeing around San Diego. I immediately felt calm and peaceful, yet inspired by the many colors and bright blooms laid out before me.
It’s a photographer’s dream location, and I used my camera like the favorite toy that it is! We ended up staying until they closed because I just. couldn’t. stop. photographing.
Looking for other things to do around San Diego? Check out Anza-Borrego Desert State Park!
The Best Time to Visit the Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch 2019
Here’s some important information to consider when planning your trip to the flower fields. You’ll definitely want to make the most of your visit!
Which is the best Season to visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields?
The flowers are grown, bloom, and harvested in cycles throughout the year, but the flower fields are only open to visitors in the Spring. In 2019 the Flower Fields are open from March 1- May 12, 2019.
Is there a best day to visit the flower fields?
The Flower Fields offers special events throughout the week, so check their calendar of events to pick the perfect day for your family to go and have an extra learning experience!
We chose to go on a weekday that didn’t offer any special events, unfortunately, but I was pleased to see it was less crowded than a weekend would have been.
What time should I see the Carlsbad Flower Fields in 2019?
In 2019 the Carlsbad Flower Fields are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Since Southern California can get a bit hot, I would suggest avoiding the middle of the day. Early morning or later afternoon are your best options to avoid direct sun and to get the best photos.
Photography at the Flower Fields
Any photographer interested in a dedicated photo session at The Flower Fields is asked to submit an application. Approved photographers will be granted time slots as late as 6:30, which will help (but not entirely diminish) harsh shadows in your photos!
Amateur photographers are welcomed to the Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields as regular guests. You are encouraged to bring any recording equipment you need, but must stay within areas designated for foot traffic. You aren’t allowed to walk through the flower rows, disturb the workers on duty, or interfere with other paying guests. This will limit your availability for certain pictures, but the overall experience will still be amazing!
For reference, all photos shown here were taking between 5:00-6:00 pm during regular operating hours, not during a dedicated photo session. We stayed to relegated walking zones, which we were able to cover with certain poses or camera angles.
Our entrance to the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch were complimentary in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own.