The latest spot on my historical landmarks of California tour was Leo Carrillo’s “Ranch of the Spanish Daggers” in Carlsbad, California. Approximately two hours south of Los Angeles, the ranch, originally owned by actor Leo Carrillo, is now a 27-acre public park that is a perfect combination of conservation, beauty and history.
Leo Carrillo, best known for playing “Pancho” in “The Cisco Kid” television series, originally bought about 1,700 acres of land in an effort to recreate an authentic Old California working ranch. At one point the ranch had over 600 head of cattle, horses, pigs, chickens and peafowl and grew everything from corn to citrus trees. The lands passed from Carrillo to his daughter, who sold off the land in pieces, including the lot that is now owned by Carlsbad for the park.
Carlsbad has taken great pains to renovate the park lands. The barn is now a visitor center and theater (where you can see a 13-minute introductory film). Adobe buildings, a hacienda, reflecting pool and other structures are scattered about the property just waiting for visitors to discover them. You can get maps at the visitor center to help you on your self-guided tours, and on Saturdays and Sundays there are 90-minute guided tours available. Building interiors are only available during the guided tours.
Admission is free. Dogs are not allowed on the park land. The park is closed on Mondays and on city holidays, but otherwise is open to the public from 9 to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday and 11 to 5pm on Sundays. Nature lovers will really enjoy seeing the varieties of plants, flowers and trees that have been cultivated on the property (not to mention the occasional peacock). The paths are moderately sloped up and down, so it’s accessible for many, but you should be prepared to walk quite a bit on both paved and uneven terrain.