Get to know Carlsbad
That signature yummy white tea scent that Westin pumps in all their hotels greeted and energized us upon arrival to the soaring Christmas tree lobby. The clean and refreshing fragrance with notes of cedar and vanilla even permeated our face masks.
After passing the expansive outdoor pool and jacuzzi, we had checked in at the perfect time because soon after, the sunset splashed across the ocean horizon. From our fourth-floor balcony, we could witness what seemed to be miles of ocean, with palm trees and rolling hills separating us from the sea. Situated atop a 50+ acre complex, the Westin Carlsbad Resort and Spa offers unparalleled views of the Pacific. Of the 208 guest rooms, 28 suites come with these stunning views.
Since we did not want to go far the first evening we checked in, we dined at the onsite restaurant 20|Twenty that features local ingredients from Southern California farms. It was cold this time of year, so we chose to forego the outdoor patio for dining inside in a cozy booth with West Coast comfort food – a juicy ribeye with mashed potatoes, braised grass-fed short ribs, and shared buttery lobster risotto. Watching Netflix in bed seemed like the best idea after and even better in the Westin Heavenly® Bed, the brand’s well-known luxury bed affording everyone a pleasurable night’s sleep.
The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa is ideally situated to explore an array of things to do in Carlsbad and San Diego county. Families will want to stay at this location since there is literally a path right to Legoland. In the past, we have rented Pedego electric bikes and zipped down the coastline to another cute coastal town, Encinitas, but happily, we were returning to Carlsbad Village, just a 7-minute drive away. This cute, safe enclave is stuffed with boutique shopping, many outdoor restaurants, and an amazing craft beer scene.
This hotel’s location is also ideal because Carlsbad offers 7 miles of pristine beaches, active water sports at Carlsbad lagoon, golfing at The Crossings at Carlsbad, and shopping at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets. The Westin Carlsbad offers complimentary shuttle service within a 5-mile radius to enjoy all these activities and guests can take advantage of the Ride the Tide open-air beach trolley with shuttle service to Tamarack Beach. Hiking, biking, and running trails can also be easily accessed from the resort while guests can use the property’s onsite bike rental with one hour free.
The resort closely follows Marriott’s Commitment to Clean Standards in all guest rooms and public spaces and has adopted enhanced cleaning steps aligned with recommended protocols and safety procedures. Contactless check-in, check-out and room entry are available via digital key access through the Marriott Bonvoy app.
Explore Carlsbad Village
Besides the beaches and sprawling ocean views from the hotel room, our favorite part of staying at the Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa is the proximity to the easily walkable Carlsbad Village. On this trip, we walked to the Succulent Café for a coffee and admired the hummingbirds swooping in from every direction in this plant-filled outdoor cafe. Now it appears you can even sip a lavender latte and buy driftwood with every type of succulent imaginable and make your own arrangement.
As we walked around, we couldn’t help but admire the street art in Carlsbad Village. Many pieces helped identify the business but the fun colorful splashes of free art enhanced the area.
We heard about the sushi at Blue Ocean so our first stop in Carlsbad Village was lunch at this beautiful restaurant with a geometric painted exterior, teak wood accents, mid-century modern décor, and outstanding lunch specials. The luscious fresh sushi did not disappoint as an attempt to savor just the miso soup, sashimi bowl and sushi platter turned into sake, salmon egg sushi, salmon asparagus hand rolls, and their specialty rolls. We gorged ourselves on this succulent sushi.
For dinner, we booked reservations at Campfire, a bib gourmand winner in 2019 where dishes are cooked on red California oak in a 12-foot wood-burning hearth. The place was packed and a lot longer and bigger than one might think from just walking by the entrance. Standout dishes included their most talked about roasted lime peanut broccoli with chermoula which we learned is the only dish that has repeated itself on the menu. The weekly rotating menu lends itself to constantly new items due to the season.
Cocktails with smoky Mezcal were brought to life with unexpected ingredients like juniper, rose hip, concord grape and piloncillo, cacao, pineapple, and lime. We shared grilled eggplant topped with herbs and apple along with sea bass (the market fish) soaking in yuzu and bacon with brussels sprouts. While make-your-own S’mores seemed like the best finale at Campfire, our stomach told us to return again for this fun dessert. The wild is calling. Take yourself to the Campfire!
Tour Carlsbad Aquafarm
Less than 10 minutes from the hotel and we found ourselves on a fascinating educational tour at Carlsbad Aquafarm where they grow and harvest mussels and oysters at this lagoon. This one-hour tour educates guests through the whole lifespan of the oyster where the local Carlsbad Blond oyster features a unique flavor. They sell 11,000 pounds of this special oyster each week to Whole Foods.
Did you know it takes 11 months to grow this fresh delicious aphrodisiac? Eighty percent of the seed oysters we get in America come from Kona, Hawaii but are grown locally in places like Carlsbad Aquafarm. Due to the pandemic and the red tide, 90% of the seafood here was affected in 2020 so there were no clams or scallops, only oysters and mussels. Part of the experience includes learning how to properly shuck your own oysters and slurping down as many of these homegrown briny meat mollusks as you can.