Carlsbad, California on Points and Miles


I love Southern California. My family always traveled there when I was younger, so I have wonderful memories of the beaches, amusement parks, and great weather. When Alex invited my husband and I to join them on their Spring Break vacation to Southern California, we were all in. Carlsbad, California, on points and miles, was so much fun! Here’s how we did it and what we did during the trip.


Flights to Carlsbad

We paid for our United Airlines flights to San Diego Airport (SAN) since we save our miles for international travel. Alex flew on Southwest Airlines with her family of six and used two Southwest Companion passes to get two of her children there for free. She used 14K Southwest Rapid Rewards per person to get the rest of her family roundtrip tickets for a total of 56K Southwest Rewards. Now, 56K for 6 people to get to Southern California is a steal, right?

Many domestic airlines fly to San Diego, so you will find many options to use points/miles to get there. It is one of the easiest airports to use credit card points and miles for nearly free flights.


Airplane in sky

Southwest is always Alex’s choice when flying with her family!


Lodging in Carlsbad

We each used 120K Hyatt points and a Suite Upgrade Award to book suites for our stay at the Park Hyatt Aviara. (We may get invited on Alex’s family trips often because we let some of Alex’s kids stay in our room and get Globalist Breakfasts with us😜). Whatever the reason, we love it. We loved the Park Hyatt Aviara and would love to return to it!


hotel lobby

The gorgeous lobby of the Park Hyatt Aviara.


Activities in Carlsbad

Day One

Once we arrived at San Diego Airport, we took the shuttle to get our rental cars. The rental center is one of the farthest from the airport I’ve ever experienced. We were hungry, so we went to the Windmill Food Hall near the hotel for lunch. This is a great spot as there are so many options that everyone will be pleased with. I think our group picked food from four different spots, and everyone was happy.


Food hall

The Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad was a hit because everyone could get their favorite type of food!


We then headed to the hotel’s pool area. It was a brisk 60 degrees outside (not normal weather for April), so we just watched the boys have fun while we stayed in sweatshirts. What is it about kids that they can enjoy a pool no matter how cold it is? The pool area has the most comfortable loungers and tons of seating despite the many families that were there for Spring Break.

The four boys, their dad (Mitch), and grandpa threw a football around in a large grassy area on the property. They did this every day while Alex and I relaxed or worked. We finished the night by eating at Noodles and Company (her boy’s favorite). There are so many inexpensive options for families in the area instead of eating at the higher-priced restaurants at the hotel. We then stopped by a grocery store for snacks. Alex has four hungry-all-the-time boys, and grabbing snacks at a store is a cheaper and healthier option.


Grassy areas in front of white hotel.

These large grassy areas were the site of many football tosses!


Day Two

We started the day at Ponto Lago restaurant, which had one of the best breakfast buffets we’ve ever had. Seriously, my husband talked about the exceptional quality all day long. Needless to say, it was a huge hit with him and something he looked forward to every day. Getting it for free as a Globalist didn’t hurt either!

Sadly, the weather was rainy on and off, so it wasn’t a pool or beach day. Instead, we headed to the Carlsbad Outlets and did a little shopping. It had a Nike and Adidas store, so the boys didn’t mind. We joked that it was the most shopping we had done at a “real” store in years since we primarily order online.

Lunch was at family favorite Rubios for the adults, Blaze Pizza for the boys, and Haagen-Daaz ice cream for everyone. Again, there are so many options near the outlets for lunch or dinner.


Women and two boys eating ice cream at outside table

Haagen Daaz was a thumbs-up from everyone!


Mitch found a quick and easy hike for us to do in between the rain. The Batiquitos Lagoon Trail was perfect, even for our little 3-year-old grandson, Noah. We probably walked a total of two miles of the 3.5-mile roundtrip trail.


Family in front of sign on hiking trail

This family-friendly hike was the perfect activity on a day with intermittent rain!


Day Three

After breakfast, we got an early start and headed to the San Diego Safari Park. This is not a cheap experience, but the boys loved it! We splurged and did the Wildlife Safari in addition to the general admission. Alex purchased both the general admission park tickets and safari tickets for a discount via La Jolla Mom. While not the same as going on an African Safari, the boys enjoyed getting up close and personal with giraffes, rhinos, and other animals. This was one of the boys’ favorite parts of our trip to Carlsbad, California on Points and Miles


Family pretending to be lions.

Here we all are, pretending to be lions on the Safari.


We then returned to the hotel, and the boys enjoyed the water slides and the pool. We ordered wood-fired pizza near the pool – it was delicious. A movie was going on by the pool, but it was too chilly for us!


Day Four

After breakfast, we went to a nearby beach where the boys threw rocks in the ocean and ran around. It was sunny outside but not warm enough to swim in the ocean.


Little boy throwing rocks in the ocean

Noah was in heaven throwing rocks into the ocean!


Alex and I love Vuori clothes for travel days, so we had to go to another shopping area and check out the new arrivals. Even our husbands got into the shopping action (the four boys were pretty patient with us)!

The hotel lets guests have free access to the driving range and putting green, so Grandpa, Alex, and the two older boys headed there while Mitch took the younger boys to the pool. In the evening, they all enjoyed time at the golf simulator near the hotel lobby.



One boy on the shoulders of another boy in a pool

Despite the weather, these boys had a blast in the pool. (Noah is giving the peace sign in all his pics😂)


We went to The Taco Stand for dinner in nearby Encinitas. This is a popular eating spot and usually has a line. The food is delicious, but don’t forget to order their famous churros! If you go there, get some—they were a highlight for all of us!


Boy at golf simulator

Eli loved the golf simulator at the hotel.


The Taco Stand

Don’t miss The Taco Stand if you are near San Diego – there are several locations.


Bottom Line

The weather wasn’t perfect, but the company was. We had a great time in Carlsbad, California on points/miles. And somehow, not having spent cash on a trip when the weather isn’t great is a lot easier to handle. We found plenty to do in Carlsbad and enjoyed creating memories together.


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