Beach, Beer, and the Bounty of Cape Rey Carlsbad and Aviara Golf

A short drive opens opportunity for scenic Twilight play

Judd Spicer Golf


Slivers of sun slice through the southwest facing side of the home in the late afternoon. As fellow desert-dwellers can empathize during these summer months, it's just too hot to get on the golf course for a Twilight round.

For those itching to play, try a getaway to nearby Carlsbad. Just a two-hour drive to the coast, the proximity allows for a long weekend escape to enjoy some salve from the summer sizzle.   


Photo courtesy of Cape Rey Carlsbad

Chandler’s may be causal, but the platings prove far beyond leisurely.


Cape Rey Carlsbad

For lodgings, the recently rebranded Cape Rey (a boutique Hilton property) proved a welcome retreat. Just three-years-old, the clean, modern stylings proved flexible for all comers, as the resort was casually bustling with couples, families, seniors and surfer dudes.

"Whenever I complain about the 'June Gloom,' I just look at the temps around the desert and that's when we start seeing people from the east head our way," says Michael Swyney, vice president of sales & marketing.

Situated across street from South Carlsbad State Beach (which the optimist will see as steps away while, the pessimist will opine about the highway separating the resort from sand), Cape Rey works with a proactive attitude to accommodate guests.


Photo courtesy of Cape Rey Carlsbad

The folks at Cape Rey are ready to serve  — wherever you may prefer to dine.


"We want the mindset to be more of an adventure," Swyney says. "Every time somebody goes to a resort for vacation they think they want to do things they can't do at home. The old way of looking at things is that people wanted to go to a hotel for luxury, but now, hotels and homes have all the same amenities: they have a pool, they have a spa near their home. So, now, what we want is for people to come here and say, 'Gosh, what can I do?'"

From local craft beer tours to arranging dining on the beach, to their area shuttle service, the resort aims to please.

For on-site dining, the welcome ensues at Chandler's. But from the outset, the scallops set the oceanside tone and the tenderloin follows to provide an assurance that you're experiencing an impressive, "New American" cuisine which usurps the informal surrounds.

Additional on-site pampering should be explored at the Ocean Crest Spa. Quiet and clean, the spa menu is replete with treatments including a trio of Couple's Massage selections, Body Therapies, and three Sand Castle Packages (of which the 3.5 hour "Sea Melody" experience provides the most extensive indulgence).  

• Travel Tip 1: Be sure to investigate the "Resort Fee" of just $20, which includes a host of discount cards for on-site and area amenities.

• Travel Tip 2: The adventuresome (or at least agile) should enjoy on-site bike rentals; though some of the pedaling may well be performed adjacent to traffic, the oceanside rides do have bike lanes and some of the vistas are exceptional.  


photo Courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara

The collection of par 3s at Aviara is like playing golf in a garden.


Aviara Golf Club

All due respect to Tiger, Phil, Rory, Jordan and Jack — but there is still no bigger name in the golf world than Arnold Palmer. Desert players are no doubt especially familiar with The King, given his part-time desert residency, local restaurant, and host of course designs in the valley.

Yet in San Diego County, Aviara Golf Club at the Park Hyatt Aviara plays as the lone Palmer design; and it's a course which desert golfers will surely appreciate.


photo Courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara

Home of the Kia Classic, Aviara plays with pleasing quietude.


Soon to celebrate its 25-year anniversary, Aviara will also resonate with Palm Springs' players as, since 2013, the course has served as home of the LPGA's tune-up tourney in the week preceding the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.

Pros aside, daily duffers will dig Aviara not merely for its inviting landing area from tee boxes and gorgeous collection of par 3s. Perfect for couples golf, the course proves short for the fairer set (at 5,007 yards from the ladies' tees) and long on quietude with its serene setting beside the nature-preserved Batiquito Lagoon.

Golf Tip 1: Note that for each night at Cape Rey, golfers receive $100 off a round at Aviara, along with free shuttle to-and-from the nearby course.

Golf Tip 2: Additionally, Aviara offers a "Play at the Park," seven-day membership package with a pair of options; the latter sports unlimited golf (and tennis) after 10 a.m. for two at $800.


photo Courtesy of Bagby Beer Company

Craft beers, cocktails and excellent pizzas served at Bagby define the area’s craft beer explosion.


"Hop" to a Nearby Brewery

Take a 10-mile drive to Oceanside to explore the area's explosion of craft breweries. Try a night at the expansive and inviting Bagby Beer Company.

Naturally, the beers are in abundance, ranging from the Bagby brands to a myriad of local options and esoteric selections. But the libations shouldn't be ignored either, especially the undeniably refreshing hand-crafted Mojito.

Per the fare: Akin to many of the palates of modern-day brew lovers, the menu has a host of bold flavors. Sure, there are salads to be had, but at least one member of your party needs to get aggressive with a Pork Belly Slider starter (replete with peanut butter and jalapeño jelly) before moving to the pizza section presenting a host of Woodstone-fired choices to pair perfectly with a cold beer.


Cape Rey Carlsbad, 1 Ponto Road Carlsbad, Calif., 760-602-0800;

Aviara Golf Club, 7447 Batiquitos Drive Carlsbad, Calif., 760-603-6900;

Bagby Beer Company, 601 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside, Calif., 760-270-9075;


Judd Spicer is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Have a golf tip or golf story idea to share? E-mail Judd: [email protected].

Follow Judd on Twitter: @JuddSpicer

See Judd's previous posts under Life on the Links.


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