Headed to the Carlsbad Flower Fields? Here’s everything you need to know about this magical spring wonderland!
The Carlsbad Flower Fields are truly a sight to behold – imagine rows and rows of colorful flowers, blooming as far as the eye can see, along with beautiful ocean views. Seriously, you won’t see anything like it.
Officially known as The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, the fields boast 70 million ranunculus flowers blooming across 50 acres, in every color of the rainbow (and then some – there are 13 colors of flowers blooming here).
Visiting the Carlsbad Flower Fields has become an annual springtime tradition for many Southern California residents. After seeing tons of photos of the vibrant blooms on Instagram, I knew I would have to see it for myself and paid my first visit in 2019. Well, I loved it so much that I just had to make a return visit.
Sure, there are plenty of ways to experience spring in California, and plenty of blooms that pop up all over the state (such as poppies, wild mustard, wisteria, cherry blossoms, and more), but the Carlsbad Flower Fields are just something else. You can’t help but feel joyful while frockling amongst these vibrantly colored blooms – seriously, I dare you not to.
Still need some convincing? Just look at alllll of these pretty photos. I mean, come on, look at all those flowers! *insert heart eyes emoji here*
Wanting to plan a trip to the Carlsbad Flower Fields? Keep on reading for everything you need to know about this magical spot!
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Carlsbad Flower Fields: Everything You Need to Know
Visiting the Carlsbad Flower Fields in 2021
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are open in 2021 from March 1 through May 9. NOTE: The Flower Fields just announced that they will be open for an extra week until May 16!
For the 2021 season, tickets must be purchased in advance online here. Tickets are sold in 30 minute windows from 9am-5pm that designated arrival time – once you enter the fields, you are allowed to stay as long as you wish (except if you book the last time slot, then the fields close at 6pm).
Admission is $20 for adults (10+), $10 for children 3-10, and $18 for seniors (65+). If you plan to visit multiple times, there is also a season pass available ($42 for adults, $22 for children 3-10, $38 for seniors). Parking is included in the admission fee.
Weekends are the most popular time to go, so plan accordingly. We visited on a Friday, and booked our tickets on Wednesday.. However, our friends were going on Saturday and we found that tickets had already sold out.
Face masks are required while visiting the Carlsbad Flower Fields in 2021. You are allowed to take your mask off for photos, but there are signs in the designated photo areas reminding everyone to put them back on afterwards. The staff does a good job enforcing this policy – we saw them going up to people and reminding them to put their masks on.
There are also signs everywhere reminding people to stay six feet apart from each other.
Cash is also not accepted during the 2021 season – all purchases (food and drinks, wagon rides, flowers and other merchandise) must be paid for by a credit or debit card.
About the The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are the result of over 85 years of floral cultivation. Its history dates back to the early 1920s, when horticulturist Luther Gage settled in the area, and brought ranunculus seeds with him. Gage began growing the seeds next to Frank Frazee’s small vegetable farm in Oceanside.
Eventually, Frazee also started growing ranunculus, and taught his son Edwin to learn to grow them. It was Edwin Frazee who moved the operation to its current site in 1965, and cultivated the flower field to its present form.
At first, the fields only had red and yellow flowers. Frazee would carefully select seeds that produced ranunculus flowers in various colors, and replant them the following year. After years of careful selection and hard work, the fields grew into what you see today, with full flowers blooming in 13 different colors.
The Flower Fields currently reside on land owned by the Ecke family, who previously used the land to grow poinsettias. The Eckes had a vision for bringing in tourism to finally sustain their agricultural operations, which is how the fields became a tourist destination.
Today, the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch stretches across 55 acres. The ranunculus flowers grow on 50 acros, and the remaining five acres are devoted to other specialty blooms. It has become a favorite spring destination for Southern California residents, many of whom visit on a yearly basis.
The Flower Fields are currently owned by the Ecke family, and is still a working farm.
Where are the Carlsbad Flower Fields?
The Flower Fields are located in Carlsbad, California, located about 35 miles north of San Diego.
It is about a 35 minute drive from downtown San Diego, about an hour from Orange County, and an hour and 30 minutes from Los Angeles (depending on traffic), making the Carlsbad Flower Fields a fun day trip from any of these destinations.
The address for the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad CA 92008. FYI, there is a random geotag for “Flower Fields” in Carlsbad on Google Maps, so make sure you are going to “The Flower Fields” – my boyfriend navigated to the wrong one, so we took a nice little detour around Carlsbad, lol.
Best time to visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields
The Carlsbad Flower Fields are open every year from early March – Mother’s Day. Peak bloom is usually at the end of March to the beginning of April.
Both times that I’ve visited the Carlsbad Flower Fields have been during this time frame (the first time during the last weekend of March, and the second time the first week of April). In 2021, peak bloom is during the first three weeks of April. The entire field of flowers is blooming simultaneously, which is apparently a rare occurrence!
We visited on Easter weekend this year and saw tons of colorful flowers in bloom all over the field – however, we did see some smaller patches of baby blooms in parts of the fields, so there are still plenty of blooms to come!
The best time to come to the Carlsbad Flower Fields is during the first time slot of the day at 9am. This is when the lighting is not as harsh yet, and when you will encounter the fewest crowds, since you will be the first ones to enter that day! You can also book the last time slot (5pm), but there will be more crowds.
We ended up visiting midday, and yes, the light was harsh AF – but we still got some amazing photos (the flowers are still super gorgeous at any time of the day)!
Obviously, weekends tend to be the most crowded (and tickets sell out the quickest), so if possible, visit during the week. Even if you find a crowd of people towards the front of the fields, chances are, the further back you go, you’ll find that it thins out.
What kind of flowers are at the Carlsbad Flower Fields?
What you see blooming at the Carlsbad Flower Fields are ranunculus flowers, officially known as Tecolote Giant Ranunculus. These flowers are native to the Asia Minor region (Turkey/Armenia), and are also sometimes referred to as Persian Buttercup or Ranunculus Asiatic flowers.
Carlsbad provides perfect growing conditions for the Giant Ranunculus, with its sunny but not-too-hot days, ocean breeze, and mild winters. The Flower Fields stretch across 50 acres, with millions of flowers in bloom, in every color of the rainbow (and then some!).
You can purchase freshly cut ranunculus flowers that you see in the fields to take home with you as a souvenir (or even as a photo prop)!….but please, please pleaseeee don’t pick the fields directly from the fields.
After the flowers are finished blooming and die off, bulbs are harvested. These can be purchased by the Armstrong Garden Center that is on the property.
Tips for taking photos at the Carlsbad Flower Fields
The Carlsbad Flower Fields are so beautiful that they are just begging to be photographed! The colorful flowers are just made for Instagram, and you’ll likely snap tons and tons of photos (seriously, I couldn’t not stop snapping away).
Just please..STAY OUT OF THE FIELDS!
Seriously, don’t walk into the roped off areas. While you may see photos on Instagram where people are walking through the flowers, or sitting on them, the green tape is there for a reason and this is 10000% not allowed or ok!
While we saw some staff members reprimanding people for jumping over the tape, we still saw many more who were still doing it, and we also saw patches where the flowers had clearly been trampled over. This ruins the blooms and ruins it for everyone – so please, let’s keep out of the fields so people can enjoy the blooms for years to come!
So what’s a girl to do if she wants some epic photos without trampling flowers? It’s all about being creative and working those angles!
You’ll find designated photo spots around the fields, with a cutout in the flowers so that people can walk through the area and snap some photos. There are also benches set out in the photo areas so people can sit and take photos as well. However, if you take a photo on the bench, there’s space in front of you so it won’t look like you’re actually in the field.
Here’s my tip – instead of sitting in the actual photo spot, stand in a spot on the sides, with a patch of flowers in front of you. Have your photographer stand on the opposite side of the patch of flowers, standing off to the side at about a 45 degree angle.
Then, have them kneel slightly, and have them shoot from a lower angle – this will make it seem like you are actually standing right in the middle of the flowers, even though you aren’t!
If you want to take a photo with the rows of flowers in front of you, have your photographer shoot slightly from above. This will allow you to capture more flowers out in front of you – and you’ll be able to cut out most of the green tape below. If you happen to get some of the tape in your shot, you can crop it out, or use an app like Touch Retouch or Picsart to easily erase it.
I like to shoot at a wide aperture (low f stop number – I shot at f2.5) to blur out background distractions. You can also use portrait mode.
Coming at the first or last time slot of the day will yield you the best lighting. However, even if you come midday, you can make it work! I took a lot of photos of my backside (which will also make the viewer of the photo feel like they’re experiencing the scenery), or looked to the side where the light was coming from, to avoid shadows. You can also shoot a backlit photo to avoid shadows.
If you are looking to avoid crowds in your photos – go all the way to the back of the fields! You’ll encounter far fewer people back there.
What to Wear/Pack for the Carlsbad Flower Fields
- A cute sundress (mine is from Old Navy)! Perfect for some springtime photos. Wear something that’s solid colored or a subtle pattern. Avoid bold colors and loud prints – these will compete with the flowers, and look really busy in photos.
- A hat: there is no shade at the fields, so this will keep the sun out of your eyes. Wearing a cute straw hat will also look cute in photos (you know, that blogger look!), especially if you’re shooting from behind!
- Sunglasses: I forgot mine (whoops), but it’ll help prevent squinting into the sun.
- Sunscreen: Again, the fields are in full sun, so slather on that SPF!
- Comfortable Walking Shoes or Sandals: The Flower Fields stretch across 55 acres, so you’ll do a fair bit of walking. Allbirds are my new favorite travel shoe – you’ll stay comfortable all day! If you want to look cute and be comfortable, Rothy’s are my go-to as well. I wore some comfortable sandals, but keep in mind that you’ll be walking on some dirt paths so your feet might get dirty.
- A light jacket or cardigan – it can get breezy here. I just carried around a denim jacket with me.
- Reusable water bottle: All that sun and walking will probably make you thirsty!
- A camera: There are soooo many photo ops at the Carlsbad Flower Fields! Most of my photos in this post were taken with my Sony a6000 and 50mm f1.8 lens, or my iPhone.
Other things to do at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
While the flowers are the main draw here (since, you know, it is named The Flower Fields after all), there are many more fun activities at The Flower Fields.
The Flower Fields also hosts a variety of events throughout the season – you can check out the 2021 activity calendar here. Some of the events include yoga, Zumba, musical performances, and a photography day.
Here are some of the other things you can do at The Flower Fields:
- Walk through the Sweet Pea Maze – a one-of-a-kind living maze made with fragrant sweet pea blossoms.
- Pick some blueberries at the U-Pick Blueberries patch (opens mid-April). This is new for the 2021 season!
- Take a ride on an antique tractor around the property, and listen to audio commentary about the history of the Flower Fields. The tractor ride costs $6 for adults, and $3 for children 3-10 (cash is not accepted, so bring a credit card).
- Admire the American Flag of Flowers, made with red, white, and blue petunias.
- Check out the Artist’s Garden and Bird Aviaries – where paintings come to life as a garden, using flowers as an art medium.
- Stroll through a historic 1,500 square foot greenhouse filled with poinsettia flowers.
- Explore exotic orchids at the Cymbidium Orchid Greenhouse.
- Purchase ranunculus bulbs, garden tools, and more at the Armstrong Garden Center.
- Learn about gardening, and edible and ornamental plants at the Demonstration Garden.
Other things to do in Carlsbad, California
Aside from The Flower Fields, there are plenty of other fun things to do in Carlsbad. For a fun day or weekend trip to Carlsbad, consider adding the following to your itinerary:
- Hit the beach! Carlsbad has miles and miles of beautiful coastline. Some of the best beaches include Carlsbad State Beach, Tamarack State Beach (a favorite surf spot of my boyfriend), and South Carlsbad State Beach (which also has a beautiful campground – but hurry, spots fill up super quick!).
- Sample some craft brews – Carlsbad (and the San Diego area in general) is home to some amazing craft breweries. We stopped by Arcana and Rouleur, which are nearby the Carlsbad Flower Fields and enjoyed them both. You can also stop by Karl Strauss, which is at the Carlsbad Ranch, and is a local favorite.
- Go shopping at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets – they’re right next to The Flower Fields!
- Pick some strawberries at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company. If you can’t get enough flower fields, they have a sunflower field there as well!
- Check out all the Lego themed rides, displays, and attractions at Legoland.
- Sample the fresh and “most healthful” alkaline mineral water at the Carlsbad Mineral Spa.
Have you ever been to the Carlsbad Flower Fields?
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