Carlsbad ain’t bad – California’s cool, small town draws midwesterners

Mark Rudyk, of the Visit Carlsbad tourism organization, told me, over plates of short rib and chicken parmesan at an outside table 264 Fresco, that the village along the Pacific Coast Highway was largely a “drive-up” destination. But it doesn’t have to be. After all, I drove up…from San Diego’s airport just 34 miles to the south.

And it was in the process of dropping my rental car with the valet at Carlsbad Omni La Costa Resort I learned just how much many celebrities have loved coming to Carlsbad over the years.

“I played cards with Lucille Ball late into the night and met Betty Davis, too,” said Eddie, a deep-voiced valet who’d worked at La Costa long enough to handle Governor Ronald Reagan’s luggage. “While carrying his two Louis Vuitton bags I accidentally knocked one of his security agents’ weapon out of his holster. When it hit the tile floor everyone held their breath. Reagan was so cool though. He just looked up and me and asked, ‘Eddie, is that your gun? Because it isn’t mine.’”

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