Carlsbad Strawberry Company’s Robyn Ukegawa shares her tips for exploring the California city known for its beaches and brunch.

Carlsbad Lagoon
Delainy Reinard

Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.

Robyn Ukegawa
Robyn Ukegawa.
Photo by Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Meet the insider: Robyn Ukegawa, manager of Carlsbad Strawberry Company

A fourth-generation Carlsbad resident, Robyn Ukegawa has been involved in her family business, the Carlsbad Strawberry Company, for years. You can go into the strawberry field and pick your own fruit, or wander through the corn maze for cute photo ops. Ukegawa also has other tips for exploring the city known for its beaches and breakfast spots.

WHERE TO EAT:

Cafe Topes food spread
Cafe Topes

Ella Cieslak/Grace Films Co.

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“Carlsbad is well known for the brunch places,” Ukegawa notes. Her favorite is Cafe Topes. “They specialize in Cardiff Crack (marinated tri-tip), and they also make really great cinnamon rolls.” For your morning coffee, head to Steady State for quality roasted beans.

WHAT TO DO:

Carlsbad Lagoon
Carlsbad Lagoon

Delainy Reinard

It wouldn’t be a trip to Southern California without the beach. “Go to the beach and paddleboard in the lagoon,” Ukegawa says. You’re able to rent boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and more.

WHERE TO STAY:

Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa pool
Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa

Courtesy of Sheraton Hotels

The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa is in a prime location. Less than a mile from Legoland, the hotel is also close to Ukegawa’s strawberry farm, the beach, and other tourist attractions. For a five-star luxury resort, go to Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa. “It has a fancy golf course and nice amenities like a pool and spa,” Ukegawa says. “I go for the high tea where they serve quality teas and little appetizers.”

WHERE TO DRINK:

For delicious smoked meats and cocktails, head to Park 101. It’s “right on the beach,” Ukegawa says. Or, go to Barrel Republic for draft beers where you can pour your own on tap.

WHERE TO SHOP:

Forum in Carlsbad
The Forum

Courtesy of The Forum Carlsbad/Pablo Mason Photography

The Forum features high-end brands and casual clothing stores. Don’t forget to pick up fresh-squeezed juice at Pressed Juicery.