La Costa (in Carlsbad)

The La Costa area of Carlsbad (92009) is one of the better known residential areas along the North San Diego County coast.

The area began to develop around 1965 when several thousand acres of land were purchased and turned into a golf course, homes were built, and the Rancho La Costa Inn was created for visitors. The Inn was later called the La Costa Resort and Spa, which gave the area its name, and in 2014 was acquired by Omni Hotels and renamed the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.

Formerly a separate “town,” La Costa was annexed by Carlsbad in 1972, but many still refer to it by its original name.


La Costa has a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, many from Hollywood, the original Rat Pack being the most well-known (there’s even a house near the La Costa Resort where the Rat Pack reportedly hung out). The La Costa Resort is, of course, a big draw.  A number of celebrities have had homes here along the golf course or rented properties in the area. I lived in the neighborhood for 5 years and heard all kinds of stories!!

The La Costa real estate market offers a wide range of housing including apartments, condominiums, and detached homes, many with reasonably large parcels of land. Many high-end properties are gated, and there are multiple small gated and ungated condo communities along the golf course. Because of the hilly terrain, many homes offer distant panoramic views of the Batiquitos Lagoon, the ocean, the resort, and back country hills. The proximity to the famed resort and to the beaches (about 3 miles) make this area a prime residential, vacation/2nd home, and investment market.

Affordability is an issue in the Carlsbad real estate market.  The good news is that La Costa prices, on average, are less than neighboring Encinitas to the south, and the Aviara area of Carlsbad, to the west, and homes tend to be larger for a comparable price. Even with the lower current inventory that has followed the recession, plus the rising prices, buying a home in the La Costa area may be a good decision, depending on your personal circumstances and budget, and for the lifestyle this community has to offer. Prices have continued to escalate, in particular during the pandemic, and inventory is fairly tight.

Depending on where you live in La Costa, children may attend 1 of 3 school districts. Part of the area is served by San Dieguito Union High School District (Encinitas) and the Carlsbad Schools; children in other parts of La Costa attend schools in the San Marcos School District. If the schools are important, doing your due diligence is essential before deciding where to live.

La Costa offers an idyllic Southern California lifestyle, given the area is primarily residential, has beautiful views, and experiences a very pleasant coastal climate all year round, with beautiful beaches nearby.

There are two small shopping centers in the La Costa area as well as a few upscale shops at the resort. Nearby shopping of every description, however, can be found along El Camino Real, a major thoroughfare running north and south from Oceanside to Cardiff. The La Costa Town Square is the newest shopping area, completed in late 2014, just east of Rancho Santa Fe Road at La Costa Avenue.

The Forum in South Carlsbad is probably the best known upscale shopping area, but there is easy access to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets Mall to the north. La Costa is relatively close to the 5 Freeway, but without the noise that you may find in parts of Aviara and other neighborhoods closer to the beach, so travel to downtown San Diego (about 30 miles) and to LA (about 100 miles) is relatively easy except during rush hour traffic.

There are a number of restaurants in the La Costa area, the best being at the Omni La Costa Resort, however residents can enjoy upscale dining in other areas of Carlsbad including the Village, at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort (formerly the Four Seasons) nearer the coast, and in Encinitas.

Nearby attractions for residents include miles of Pacific Ocean beaches, camping facilities, the Carlsbad Flower Fields, the Museum of Making Music, Legoland, and Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park.

If you are searching for that Southern California home near the ocean, with golf, tennis, shopping and restaurants in and around the area, in a primarily residential community, but with easy access to San Diego and points south, and other coastal amusements, then the La Costa area of Carlsbad may be the ideal choice for you.