Every year from approximately March 1st to May 13th, 50 acres on the west side of Carlsbad (north of San Diego) come alive with the beauty of thousands of blooming Ranunculus flowers. It is a fantastic view, seeing so many flowers blooming all in unison and one that I would recommend for both children and adults alike. I went this past weekend (2011) and was surprised I had not heard more about it in the past. It was at about 30% bloom, but based on the way the flowers grow, I was told it never really gets more than 55%. Even at 30%, it was a sight to see. Check out the history, pictures, and review below. Update 2018: I visited again and updated the post with new information and photos.
- Cost: $16 for adults (as of 2018)
- Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM
- Location: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
- Written from my visit in 2011 and 2018
History of the Flower Fields
More than six decades ago, an English horticulturist named Luther Gage and his family left their native country of England to make a new home in Southern California. Before his immigration, Gage had taken a special interest in the beautiful ranunculus flower, and in particular, the strain of ranunculus now known as Giant Tecolote Ranunculus. This motivated Gage to bring a collection of seeds along on the journey, subsequently resulting in the first ranunculus flowers known to be planted in North America. In 1958, the flower fields were planted in Carlsbad, and they received the nickname the flower fields from residents of the area that drove by. Today, more than 150,000 people visit the grounds each year, many of whom return year after year.
The Flower Fields are stunning with flowers stretching as far as the eye can see in both directions, separated by color. The ranunculus flower is native to Asia Minor and is a member of the buttercup family. This unique blossom is also known as a Persian Buttercup or Ranunculus Asiatic.
The flowers are grown in a variety of colors ranging from white and yellow to vibrant purples and oranges. The fields are split into sections by color, which gives you a unique view of the many different flowers that dot the hillside.
I also thought it was interesting to see the way the flowers are pollinated and how that affects the color of the flower. In a section of white, it was not odd to view another color standing out in the bunch. Check out some of the photos below.
It is beautiful to see the ocean so close to the fields as well. If you are standing at the top photographing the flowers, the ocean is directly over the windmill, as you can see below.
You can even make a full day out of it and head to the beach before or after looking at the flowers.
Other Attractions at the Flower Fields
If you get tired of walking around, there are a few other things to do with your admission ticket. There are greenhouses filled with other plants, things for the kids to do like a maze to explore, and even different food vendors. The main attraction other than the flowers is the tractor rides, which give you a unique view of the rest of the fields without having to walk to all of them (it may be an additional fee though).
There is also a store with everything you need to start gardening your own plants, including the bulbs, the plants themselves, and even cut versions of the flowers. The cost was very reasonable for these as the planted plants and bulbs were around $6 for 5 or 6 of the flowers.
The fields are open from the beginning of March to the middle or end of May.
I would highly recommend a trip to the flower fields. There is something for every member of the family, and I enjoyed being able to see and photograph such a beautiful collection of flowers. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.