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Leo Carrillo Ranch: San Diego’s Secret Garden for Peacocks

The peacocks of the "Sleeping Beauty” of Carlsbad, California, are the main attraction.

Shelley Beeby

Discover the history and tranquil beauty of this former working ranchero, once owned by actor Leo Carrillo, in this video.

Secluded on a 27-acre private landscape lies the "Sleeping Beauty” of Carlsbad, California, the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, waiting to be discovered by visitors who wait outside the romantic, curving lines of the wrought-iron entrance gate. It is a haven for bird lovers, bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. Amidst the adobe haciendas, antique windmills and reflecting pool, the park also features dozens of peacocks that wander around the estate, trailing their iridescent plumage like silken dresses across the grass.

The Leo Carrillo Ranch is one of the most secretive of the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered throughout San Diego County. Designated as a historical landmark by the City of Carlsbad in Southern California, The Leo Carrillo Ranch is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places after being opened to the public in August 2003. Named after the late Hollywood actor who bought the estate in 1937, Carrillo changed the ranch’s original name, Los Kiotes, to Rancho de los Quiotes, which translates to "Ranch of the Spanish Daggers.” The tranquil landscape became his primary residence after he retired as a Hollywood actor, appearing in more than 90 films throughout his career and in over 15 plays, several of which were on Broadway. But Carrillo remains most well-known for his performance as Pancho, the endearing sidekick to the Cisco Kid on the early 1950s television show of the same name.

Against the creamy beige background of adobe buildings, the peacocks that adorn the ranch are the main attraction, flitting around like living jewels across the grounds. Carrillo loved peacocks and insisted on having them on his estate. New bird watchers may be surprised to learn that the peafowl can utter strident cries. Some people think they sound like cats, while others insist that the birds sound like elephants trumpeting!

Perhaps the most breathtaking attraction out of the crowd of peafowl is the solitary white peacock. When he spreads his plumage on display, the cluster of pale "eyes” on the feathers look like glowing stars during the middle of the day.

For guests new to the Ranch, appropriate footwear is recommended. The Leo Carrillo Ranch is built around a canyon, which features paved and gravel roads, so closed-toe shoes are the best choice. Visitors are also encouraged to bring water bottles and wear hats, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen, as the 90-minute outdoor tours can be quite warm during most times of the year in Southern California. The park is open from 9:00am-5:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and 11:00am-5:00pm on Sundays. The ranch is closed on Mondays and city holidays. 90 minute guided tours are available on Saturdays at 11:00am and 1:00pm, and at noon and 2:00pm on Sundays. Self-guided tours are also available for the adventurous who want to follow their own trails. However, guests are advised to proceed with caution, as the terrain is uneven with steep climbs surrounding the canyon.

Want more places to go birding? Check these out!  

San Diego Lagoons
Birding in Nevada's Lahontan Valley
Birding in California's Salton Sea


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Posted: September 3, 2014, 2:00 p.m. PDT

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Leo Carrillo Ranch: San Diego’s Secret Garden for Peacocks

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Lovely place.
Carol, Annapolis, MD
Posted: 9/12/2014 12:10:42 PM
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