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If you only have a day in … Carlsbad: flower fields, ocean breezes, and California ambience await visitors
Carlsbad is a what's-not-to-like kind of place. First of all, it's on the Pacific Ocean, a real plus in my book. Then there's the weather, which seldom drops below 50 degrees or rises above 80. And, though it has a decidedly small-town feeling, there are plenty of restaurants, places to stay, and things to do.

Carlsbad is about an hour and a half from Los Angeles and 30 minutes from San Diego. There are no high-rises, strip malls, or chain fast food emporiums in the downtown area. The streets are tree-lined, the buildings are sparkling and well maintained, the pace is relaxed, and the longest line on a sunny day is outside of the ice cream parlors.

Luiseno Indians camped on the shores of Carlsbad's three coastal lagoons for centuries. Then, with the coming of the railroad in 1883, homesteaders began settling the area. One of these was retired sea captain John Frazier, who, while drilling a well on his property, struck mineral water. When tests revealed that the water had the same properties as the water of Karlsbad, Bohemia, the town got its name.

In 1887 Frazier sold the well to Gerhard Schutte, who established the California Land and Mineral Water Company. A 100-room hotel was built, and the town became known as "the greatest seaside sanitarium on the Pacific Coast." Today, a lovely European-style building on the site of the original well houses a spa that offers everything from mineral baths to aromatherapy.

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