Where to find stunning flower blooms in SoCal

Colorful field of flowers in Anza Borrego. Leon Baginski

Spring break is only a few weeks away and numerous videos of flower blooms are spreading through social media. If you’re curious about where you can experience fields of color in Southern California, look no further.

Anza Borrego

Anza Borrego hosts an impressive amount of wildflower blooms during the spring. Anza Borrego State Park and Borrego Springs feature many places to spend the night after a long drive.

The first homesteaders to arrive in Borrego valley came around 1910. Not too long after that, only 28 years later, the first public school was opened. The small community built itself up from scratch, with electricity and the town as we know it only arriving after World War II.

Where to spend the night: 

The State Park has multiple campsites, some with cabins and some available just for tent camping. Many areas around Anza Borrego even allow for dispersed camping, although this should be researched beforehand. 

Borrego Springs, a small town in the middle of the Anza Borrego region, has a few hotels, one of which is the Borrego Springs Resort & Spa. 

The drive:

Anza Borrego is about a two-hour drive from Mission Viejo and is nestled into both Riverside and Imperial counties.

“Well, you’re going to have to take Henderson Canyon Road to see the flowers,” said Leo Joseph, who travels to Borrego quite often for the flowers.

Kinds of flowers: 

Common flowers for the Anza Borrego sands include a bright yellow Desert Dandelion, Globe mallow, Pink Sand Verbena, white Dune Evening primrose, Desert sunflowers, and vivid orange California poppies. The blooms are most visible between March and April, so don’t miss it!

The Flower Fields, Carlsbad 

Looking for a more urban trip? Carlsbad is home to The Flower Fields, a flower garden open to visitors for an entrance fee of around $15-$30.

In the early 1920s, a settler named Luther Gage brought ranunculus seeds to plant near Oceanside. Later on, a man named Edwin Frazee spent many years cultivating the flowers to be more colorful and grow more petals. In 1965, Frazee moved his farm of flowers into Carlsbad, where they’ve stayed ever since.

Where to spend the night: 

There are far more hotels in Carlsbad than there are in Anza Borrego or Joshua Tree. There are many hotels within the area with prices ranging between $50-$500. The closest hotel to the flower fields would be the Carlsbad by the Sea Hotel, which is only a five-minute walk from the attraction. 

Kinds of flowers: 

The flower fields were hand planted in the early 1920s, the rows of color entirely made up of Tecolote® Giant Ranunculus flowers. Although they’re not wildflowers, they still display 55 acres of red, orange, yellow and pink petals. 

Also available at the flower fields are tractor wagon rides, a butterfly garden and food/drink to sip on while viewing the many amenities. 

The drive:

The Flower Fields is a 30-40 minute drive from Mission Viejo without traffic. As of now, tickets run until May 12, which allows more freedom for travelers. 

Joshua Tree 

Not all that far from Anza Borrego is Joshua tree, offering a wide display of wildflowers and, as the name suggests, Joshua trees.

Starting from way back in 4000 BCE., native Americans, more specifically the Pinto Culture, lived on the land of what we now know as Joshua Tree. American settlers arrived in the 19th century, using the region for mass mining. In the 1900s, Joshua Tree became an attraction for settlers, rock climbers and musicians. 

Where to spend the night:

Joshua Tree offers a few hotels, including an AutoCamp where visitors can stay the night in an airstream trailer. There are also many campsites, including, but not limited to, cottonwood, black rock, indian cove, and jumbo rocks. These campsites average between $20-25 per night and can be reserved online

The drive:

Joshua Tree is about as far as Anza Borrego, being around two hours away from Mission Viejo. 

Kinds of flowers:

Similar to many desert California state parks, Joshua Tree has many of the same flowers. Some of the common flowers include Desert Dandelion, Globe mallow, Dune Evening primrose, pink Arizona Lupine, deep purple Desert Canterbury Bells and California Poppies. These flowers are in full bloom March-April. 

If you want more information on how to go wildflower viewing, Joshua Tree National Park offers a guide on just what to do and what to look for. 

All locations mentioned above have their own websites for booking tickets or reserving campsites. Happy viewing and happy spring break!