Escape LA: Carlsbad

Adulting is hard work. There’s a reason we turn to sites like this to guide us to the next Happy Hour, resort spa and bottomless mimosa brunch. Many Californians are forced into a life of labor, toiling sometimes as much as five days a week. Some have traded slumber to produce children, a hedge against poverty and loneliness in old age. And there are so, so many laws we’re expected to obey.

To counter the inevitable ennui of grown-up life, let me share with you a message of hope. There is a land not far away where the salt air of the Pacific dissolves not only the paint on your car but the pain in your soul; where sadness is measured not in painkiller prescriptions but in bogeys; and where you may just find remnants of your idyllic youth that have not been chewed up and spit out by the miseries of life. Yes, I’m speaking of Carlsbad.

Located in coastal north San Diego County — or “North County,” to the locals — Carlsbad is a land rich in golf courses, beachfront and cargo shorts. Don’t let the abundance of goatees and tribal tattoos fool you, this is a friendly people who enjoy mirth, fish tacos and strong drink. So come, relax and experience the joy of joy.

Ninjago World opens at Legoland with great fanfare. (Courtesy photo)

And to feed your id, here are some hedonistic tips:

Legoland: There is nothing quite like the sound of children’s laughter, especially when they’re not your kids. The resort is teeming with pint-sized tykes who reek of fun, and who have know idea what a TPS report is. Nary a necktie is to be found on these hallowed premises where elevators come alive with disco and disco ball, and you will discover something strange happening on your face — it’s called a smile, a real one — and you may remember it from your long-dead childhood.

The newest attraction at the park is Ninjago World, featuring five attractions designed to test your balance, agility, speed and creativity — and it’s not a Crossfit class. It simply exists for the sole purpose of providing happiness, the culmination of which can be found in the 4D ride known only as Ninjago. Or Ninjago the Ride because Ninjago is sort of a catch-all for the world, but it’s also an individual ride within it. Anyway, Ninjago.

A first-of-its-kind, the ride allows, um, riders to demonstrate ninja skills with their bare hands. That’s right — no gun, no joystick, no glove. The hand-gesture technology enables riders to throw fireballs and lightning bolts at evildoers.

West Inn & Suites’ lobby — the leather armchairs upstairs are ideal for enjoying a glass of complimentary wine at Happy Hour. (Courtesy photo)

West Inn & Suites: The travails of couplehood are unquantifiable. And not to frighten you, but your relationship is doomed. I mean, of course, it’s doomed if you do not properly nurture it (it still might be doomed, honestly). West’s “Date Your Mate” experience is designed to counteract the wear and tear that living with another human being brings.

The package showcases the joys of your 80s’ childhood, including signature movies of the era with Milk Duds and popcorn, classic board games that generated sibling rivalry and sudsy bubble baths, ducky provided. It also includes night time cookies and milk, a pop-up beach party and totally free parking because parking is the bane of your existence.

And for dinner, I know you’re thinking Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese or beanie weenies. Wrong. This isn’t Proust (duh). There are no Madeleines. Your palate has been refined by years of fine dining on Melrose, you’re not going to enjoy McNuggets, as delightful as that sounds.

Within steps of the resort is West Steak & Seafood. Here at this very grown-up establishment (no hats or beachwear, you slobs), you’ll savor the finest grass-fed beef, some corn-finished from Midwest farms, as well as Wyoming bison from Durham Ranch, even certified Angus and Wagyu. Meats are topped with decadent sauces and served alongside incredible sides — forget the Kraft, West serves lobster mac ‘n’ cheese and truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. That’s how it’s done. The fish is, of course, exceptional, from Chilean sea bass to Loch Etive Scottish salmon to Hawaiian Ahi poke to baked Blue Crab cakes.

The dining room at West Steak & Seafood. Elegant, right? (Courtesy photo)

The wine list is probably the best in Carlsbad, and maybe the best in this part of the entire county. And most interesting of all about this restaurant is that it operates its own farm nearby. Not a little herb garden, but a full-on farm. How cool is that?

So, reconnect with the part of your inner being that is still alive while there is still time. Find yourself in Carlsbad. And find yourself.

Legoland Resort and theme park are at 1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad.

West Inn & Suites is at 4970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad. Click here for more about special packages.

West Steak & Seafood is right next door, at 4980 Avenida Encinas.


Scott Bridges, writer

Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.





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