Family Travel: La Costa For all ages

This California icon tops the list for family fun and more

By: Julee Binder Shapiro

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La Costa’s Kidtopia
On the Travel Channel Web site, La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., is listed as the top Fun Family Resort. While many properties claim to be “kid friendly” with kids’ clubs, pools and babysitting services, La Costa is not just for children alone, with all guests young and old catered to throughout the resort.

To begin with, there are several choices regarding room configurations connecting rooms, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites and options in a number of budget categories as well. On a recent hosted visit with my family of four, we stayed in a one-bedroom suite. It was spacious and comfortable, with a large bedroom and connecting bath as well as a small living area with a pull-out couch. My 3- and 7-year-olds loved the fact that they could open the shutters around the over-sized bathtub and actually see one of the flat-screen televisions while taking a bath. (Does it get any better than that?) They also liked the floor-to-ceiling Spanish-style doors opening to balconies overlooking the golf course. And, we were close to the pool.

La Costa recently revamped their main pool area Splash Landing keeping families very much in mind. There’s a sandy-bottomed kid’s pool and several waterslides (one for the little ones and two for kids over 48 inches tall) along with a larger adult area with cabanas, a bar and cafe and plenty of lounging space. What really stood out for my kids, however, was the water playground spouting fountains they could manipulate, aim at each other and run through over and over again.

And then there’s the kids’ club. La Costa’s Kidtopia, with over 6,000 square feet of play space, serves kids 6 months to 12 years. There’s a large indoor playground (think slides and plenty of climbing space) plus a light-up disco floor and movie lounge. My 3-year-old peeked in and literally begged to be signed up for the weekend evening program. Clients can also book full and half days, starting at $45 (or $15 per hour). For teenagers, there’s Vibz, an unsupervised lounge and arcade for ages 10 and up. It features video games both arcade-style and X-box 360 as well as a large-screen TV, air hockey, basketball and ping-pong.

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Splash Landing kids’ pool
What really puts La Costa at the top of the list for families, however, is the variety of free family activities scheduled throughout the day in addition to the kids clubs. We visited around Thanksgiving and made feather headbands on Saturday afternoon, and my 7-year-old is still disappointed we missed the holiday cookie-decorating activity. Sunday morning we watched a live reptile demonstration in the spacious outdoor Plaza.

At La Costa, this kids’ stuff is really only part of the picture, and perhaps a small part. There are two PGA Championship golf courses, plus 17 tennis courts and a full-service pro shop with lessons for all ages. During summer months there is free shuttle service to nearby Carlsbad beach (and kids can try out full- and half-day surf camps).

The resort is also the home of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, co-founded by well-known doctor, author and alterative-medicine pioneer Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. The center offers programs in mind-body medicine, yoga, self-discovery, emotional wellness, meditation and personal empowerment.

There’s a recently renovated full-service spa with all the expected luxury services and a fitness center to rival stand-alone gyms. There are plenty of cardio and weight machines overlooking the golf course, plus classes like yoga and spinning and personal trainers available. The weekend we visited there was even a boot-camp class for kids 6 to 12.

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The main courtyard where various
events for kids take place
There are four eateries at La Costa, including the upscale BlueFire Bar and Grill, the new, more casual Legends Bistro (with a great breakfast buffet), along with a poolside bar and grill and spa cafe. The fare at BlueFire is definitely more upscale, and while there isn’t a kid’s menu (there is one at Legends), the chef happily made my son a grilled-cheese sandwich upon request. Later he said it was the best grilled-cheese he ever tasted.

We stayed for the weekend and didn’t even feel the need to venture out. Had there been more time, Legoland is only four miles away and the San Diego Wild Animal Park is 20 miles away. And a short drive further south is the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Sea World.

One of the advantages of a stay at La Costa, however, is that, while it’s very family friendly, it has a lot more going for it than just its options for kids. So whether your clients are parents, golfers, into spas or just looking for a romantic weekend getaway, La Costa satisfies.



California Playground package
Includes accommodations, daily breakfast for two adults, plus a choice of two activities per day from the following: 50-minute spa treatment; round of golf; all-day kids’ club registration for two children; dinner for two at BlueFire Grill (alcohol excluded); a fitness evaluation and a 50-minute personal training session. Rates begin at $564 per room, per night (plus tax and $22 daily resort charge), for a plaza room.

Legoland package
Includes accommodations, breakfast for two adults and two children and four tickets to Legoland. Rates start at around $575 per night (plus tax and $22 daily resort charge), but could be more or less depending upon occupancy and season.