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Carlsbad Coast Drive

By John Rogers, Senior Editor of Enlightened Explorer Travel

Driving home from Los Angeles on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a break from the fast pace of the freeway. Although you can see the Pacific Ocean from I-5, it’s difficult to enjoy its true beauty at 70 MPH. So, after crossing the San Diego County line, I drove south a bit further and found my favorite stretch of coastline—perfect for a leisurely drive away from the stress of the freeway. This “Coast Drive” starts on the north end of Carlsbad and extends to Leucadia.

I exited the freeway at Carlsbad Village Drive and drove several blocks west (toward the ocean) to Carlsbad Boulevard, the heart of Carlsbad Village, a quaint area filled with shops and restaurants. Hungry after a long drive, I stopped at a local favorite, Fidel’s Mexican Food and Cantina (3003 Carlsbad Boulevard). Fidel’s has been around for 40 years and still serves outstanding Mexican cuisine. After my meal, I walked through the adjoining hotel-pool area and found the stairway to the beach. A short walk on the beach felt good before jumping back in the car.

After the walk I started driving south on Carlsbad Boulevard (the Coast Highway) and a breathtaking expanse of coastline opened before me.

Remarkably, this stretch of coast is still relatively undeveloped, making it feel pristine and natural. Soon I passed Carlsbad State Beach and pulled off the road to savor the view and take a couple of pictures.

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Continuing south, I passed Agua Hedionda Lagoon, a tidal marshland that is home to many plants and birds, especially those that stay the winter from the north. Along this route, be sure to look for South Carlsbad State Beach on your right.

At South Carlsbad State Beach there’s free, short-term parking if you want to get out of the car and walk to the beach for a few minutes. I did just that. South Carlsbad State Beach features over 200 camping spaces located right on the bluff overlooking the beach (call 800-444-7275 for reservations or 760-438-3143 to reach their direct line.) This is one of San Diego County’s three public beachfront campgrounds and it’s great for families. Public restrooms are available near the temporary parking area.

Continuing south, Batiquitos Lagoon soon appears on the left. This is yet another beautiful example of a rare natural tidal wetland area along the Southern California coast. Birdwatchers can enjoy several viewing areas around the lagoon. At the south end of Batiquitos Lagoon, I turned left on La Costa Avenue, which goes to I-5. I reluctantly entered the freeway and continued my drive to San Diego.

John Rogers was born and raised in San Diego. He spends much of his free time exploring the beaches and open spaces of California, especially those described n this site.

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