Around Town in Carlsbad

See Where a Photographer and Her Son Hang, Nosh and Sip

Around Town Carlsbad

Chat with photographer Jessica Rice for just a few minutes about the Carlsbad Village neighborhood she calls home, and you’d think she’s lived here all her life. But the North Carolina native, who spent several years working with nonprofit organizations around the world, settled into her North County abode just three years ago, after she married Nick (who’s originally from Fallbrook). And in that short time, Jessica has definitely become a local in the know. The owner of Jessica Rice Photography, who just launched a photo session subscription service this spring (visit for details), straps her 15-month-old toddler, Lincoln, into his stroller and takes us to her favorite spots in her hood.

1. Cafe Elysa
Cafe ElysaJessica says we have to get to this oceanview coffee shop early to snag one of the amazing chocolate-chip muffins before they sell out. No joke. We get there before 10 a.m. on a Monday morning to find just one left. “Everyone who tries these gets hooked,” she says as she offers Lincoln a bite; he rips off a huge chunk and shoves it in his mouth. “We pop in here at least once a week and definitely on Saturdays.” Besides pastries, the cafe serves omelets, pancakes and French toast as well as hamburgers and sandwiches, and has plenty of outdoor seating. 3076 Carlsbad Blvd., 760-434-4100,

2. Sea Wall
“With a baby, I don’t get a lot of time for myself, but I like to pretend I’m alone when I walk along the beach,” Jessica says. At least four times a week, she makes the seven-minute walk from her apartment to the water, and pushes Lincoln in the stroller down the mile-long paved, flat path that parallels the beach from Pine (where we enter) to Tamarack avenues. Often, she sees dolphins or whales, or friends who live nearby, or the lady who walks the path carrying her love bird in its cage.

Around Town Carlsbad

3. Park 101
When Jessica’s with her mom tribe, a trip to the Sea Wall ends with a mimosa at this very kid-friendly hub that’s got multiple food and drink concepts rolled into one giant 8,000-square-foot-space. In fact, there’s a Tuesday morning special—Moms Who Mimosa—when, from 8:30-11, prosecco and rosé bottles cost $15. Jessica says this place has become a hangout, where she can let Lincoln play on the soft, faux turf while she and the girls chat and order something from the barbecue area or the grab-and-go deli. 3040 Carlsbad Blvd., 760-434-2217,

Park 101

4. Campfire
You’d probably be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of this popular restaurant, but Jessica says she can’t find anywhere with a better cocktail menu, which changes seasonally. Her current favorite is the Table Talk, a refreshing elixir made with tequila, maqui berry, maca, lemon and mint (not pictured). Plus, the roasted broccoli is to die for, she notes. “I can eat the whole thing myself,” she says of the blackened mounds of florets served with tasty chermoula sauce, lime and candied peanuts. Portions are generous and meant to be shared, and Jessica says her crew comes regularly for family-friendly brunch or dinner—and the fun outdoor teepee where kids can play. 2725 State St., 760-637-5121,

5. The Goods
Jessica uses this artisan doughnut shop as a place to work and be inspired—and grab a selection of the mini treats made hourly in small batches so they’re always fresh. While Jessica’s purist palate prefers the brown-butter baked good, the nearly year-old cafe is better known for its gourmet selections, including Tahitian Vanilla and S’mores, a brioche dough filled with marshmallow cream, dipped in chocolate ganache and topped with graham-cracker crumbles. Just being in the space helps the creativity flow. “It’s light and bright,” she says. And the painted brick walls, blue velvet seating, marble tables and wood floors lend a cool art-deco vibe. 2965 State St., 760-994-0458,

The Goods

6. Choice Superfood Bar & Juicery
Housed in a shipping crate and surrounded by a vertical garden, a chalkboard wall and lots of tables and chairs (all outdoors)—this healthy bistro makes a great pit stop for Jessica to refuel and let Lincoln out of his stroller to crawl around and explore. She orders the Mint Chip every time, a smoothie made with sprouted vanilla almond milk, date, eco-protein, banana, mint extract, spinach and cacao nibs. Everything on the menu—from juices and bowls to salads and sushi—is gluten- and dairy-free and uses plant-based ingredients. 430 Carlsbad Village Drive, 760-994-0013,

Humble Olive Oils7. Humble Olive Oils
We pop into this tasting room/shop to sample a few of the infused oils and vinegars. Both Jessica and Nick love to cook. “We cook all types of cuisines but try to stick to a mostly Paleo diet,” she says. Today, we taste some of her pantry staples—a spicy Harissa olive oil, the popular Tuscan herb olive oil and the cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar that Lincoln laps up with bread. 2922 State St., 760-994-0132,

8. Ampersand
Before she was a photographer or a mom or even a world traveler, Jessica wanted to be an interior designer. In fact, in every place she’s lived, before she unpacks one practical box of kitchen essentials or jewelry, she decorates. “It’s how I instantly make a place feel like home,” she explains. So she’s drawn to shops, like this one, that sell home decor items, furnishings and art. 2916 State St., 760-496-3280,

Around Town Carlsbad

Categories: Lifestyles, Neighborhood Guide