Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park 7

Late actor’s home in Carlsbad offers serenity and a look back at Old Hollywood

Not every city can say it has a link to the glory days of Old Hollywood, but Carlsbad can, thanks to 1920s-1960s actor Leo Carrillo. Whether you’re a fan of the Golden Era or not, it is at the sprawling 27-acre Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, once owned by former co-star of TV’s The Cisco Kid, that you can be swept back in time.

The Cisco Kid was a half-hour American Western series starring Duncan Renaldo in the title role, The Cisco Kid, and Carrillo as his jovial sidekick, Pancho. You can catch it on reruns or via YouTube.

The ranch is cradled in a canyon – located at 6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Lane. It was a second home and getaway for Carrillo and his wife, Edith Shakespeare Haeselbarth and their daughter Marie Antoinette.

A Slice of Heaven

Now owned and maintained by the City of Carlsbad, Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is open to the public. It was given to the city by the developer that purchased the land for future homebuilding, via the Quimby Act.

What makes it such a slice of heaven? It’s in this little quiet pocket of Carlsbad and is a place for all types of people. It is a place where kids can run, and where history lovers can come. It’s also for Cisco Kid fans, and for those folks who like Western culture and the Old West feel of a ranch. They even have Plein Air painters and birdwatchers since there are so many peacocks, owls, hawks and woodpeckers and a great spot for photographers.

According to Carrillo’s book The California I Love, he stumbled on this Shangri-La. “He talks about hanging out with some buddies on a hunting trip. “Leo said he wanted an old ranch that he could restore into a working ranch that was close enough to the ocean to get a breeze.  When Carrillo owned it, it was a working ranch of more than 1,700 acres with cattle and other animals. It was not unusual for him to entertain many of his Hollywood friends at the ranch. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were frequent visitors as were other Hollywood stars who wanted to get away from L.A. Sara Kelly archivist from the Ranch said “Leo wanted to create the glory days of old California – he liked to be the Don, and be on the land, ride horses, and barbecue.”

A Truly Historic Place & More Than A Movie Star

Today, Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is a registered California historical landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides the ranch, Carrillo was also famous throughout California for his conservation and preservation efforts, as well as being active in politics.  Most probably don’t realize Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu is named after the actor, too. He had such a strong presence on California off-screen that it’s not uncommon to overhear visitors watching ‘This is Your Life, Leo Carrillo’ playing in the barn say ‘I didn’t realize he was an actor!”   As for Carrillo, he died at age 81 in 1961 of cancer, and is buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Santa Monica.

Today, the Carrillo Ranch remains one of California’s and Carlsbad’s glittering gems for all who want to see and enjoy a bit of Old Hollywood and return to simpler days. Come out and visit even if you’re not a Cisco Kid fan.

Entertaining at the Ranch Today

Now you can hold a special event on the grounds that can accommodate up to 300 guests.  It is beautiful property that features lots of trees, agave plants, bougainvillea, Birds of Paradise, and magnificent peacocks with no shortage of stunning photography spots. The picturesque Leo Carrillo Ranch offers an exceptional all-inclusive package, which includes a professional day of coordinator who will work with you throughout the planning process to ensure that your entire event is picture perfect, a wonderful catered meal with tray passed appetizers, all your tables, chairs, linen, china and more are included. Whether you are looking to host a birthday, graduation, retirement or even your wedding celebration, it’s sure to be an unrivaled affair at Leo Carrillo Ranch. leocarrilloranch.com

Photos provided by City of Carlsbad, Carrillo Ranch Archives & personaltouchdining.com