High tide or low tide, Mom will always be by your side. This Mother’s Day, show her love as wide as the ocean with a walk alongside it. Feel the sand between your toes, search for birds at two lagoons, and explore a charming waterfront village on a 3.5-mile trek in Carlsbad.
Park or disembark at Carlsbad Village Station and head to the corner of State Street and Grand Avenue. The Village is a picturesque downtown where it’s tempting to linger, but for now, grab a snack at Yoshino, a Japanese deli known for fantastically fresh poke bowls (we like the ahi and spicy tuna combo), sushi rolls, and a variety of sides; try the tako (octopus) salad. Call the friendly owners ahead of time and you can pick up your goodies for a beach picnic. Head west on Grand until you reach stairs that lead you straight to a classic SoCal beach. Stroll south along the sand for a mile, watching the sandpipers scurry along the waves and brown pelicans soaring overhead. You will reach the end of Tamarack State Beach and a set of stairs leading you up to Carlsbad Blvd.
Cross the street at the dolphin statue and head south two blocks to find the Agua Hedionda Lagoon trailhead. The dirt path hugs the blooming iceplant, sea lavender, and brittlebush that cover the bluffs along the 400-acre coastal wetland that is home to plentiful marine life and nesting birds, such as herons, egrets, and elegant terns. The trail passes a marine hatchery and leads you under the railway bridge where you can watch stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers float across the lagoon, but head back to the first trail junction and up the hill when done exploring. Take Garfield Avenue a few blocks to Tamarack Avenue and turn right—at the next block, just across the tracks and on the left, will be the Coastal Rail Trail (CRT). While on this pristine 0.7-mile trek, wave at speeding trains and slow down to inspect the cone blooms of the pride of madeira. The trail ends at Oak Avenue in Carlsbad Village, where you have many treat options to complete your Mother’s Day adventure.
BONUS TREAT: Directly to the right of the terminus of the CRT, Succulent Cafe has coffee and snacks and seating amid a gorgeous display of water-retaining plants. Or, for sweet-tooth mamas, Carlsbad Chocolate Bar is nearby. Also nearby is historic Carlsbad Alkaline Water. Whether or not you believe in the health effects of the alkaline water, it does taste refreshing after a long hike and the spot even has a mineral spa for Mom’s final indulgence of the day.
To get to Carlsbad Village train station and parking lot, take the I-5 to Carlsbad Village Dr. and exit west. After 0.4 mile, turn right onto State St. Yoshino will be on your left at the end of the block. Parking here is convenient, but metered. Turn left at the next block (Grand Ave.) and right at Washington to find the train station and lot. There is also free parking on Grand Ave. next to the beach entrance. No dogs on the beach.