A Local’s Guide To Fun Activities

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The lovely coastal city of Carlsbad could be greatest recognized for being residence to LEGOLAND California, however there’s a lengthy record of different enjoyable issues to do in Carlsbad.

Located in North County San Diego, 35 miles north of downtown San Diego, Carlsbad sits between different seashore cities, Encinitas and Oceanside. Its beautiful shoreline and bustling Carlsbad Village middle make this charming city a major vacation spot for all types of enjoyable indoor and outside actions, all yr spherical.

I’ve been a North County resident for ten years, and my household and I head to Carlsbad nearly each weekend. Here’s my lowdown on the most effective issues to do in Carlsbad.

You can save on tickets, excursions, and lodges via my affiliations. If you make purchases via some hyperlinks on this put up, I could also be compensated. Our editorial tips.


1. Spend The Day at LEGOLAND California

Address: One LEGOLAND Drive, Carlsbad

A family walks into the entrance of LEGOLAND California, one of the best things to do in Carlsbad CA.
The entrance on a sunny day

It’s in all probability truthful to say that LEGOLAND California cemented Carlsbad’s place on the household vacationer map when it opened again in 1999, although the city has grown exponentially since then. And because of our nice climate, this San Diego theme park is busy all yr lengthy with LEGO fanatics having fun with rides, exhibits, and LEGO-themed points of interest.

2024 is a very nice yr to go to LEGOLAND California, as a result of the theme park is toasting its twenty fifth birthday and providing some nice ticket offers and new points of interest to rejoice. In spring, they’re launching Dino Valley, a brand new land that includes rides, a Coastersauras, and meet-and-greets with new characters.

This summer time will mark the primary LEGO parade, that includes wonderful floats and reside leisure with loads of singing and dancing for the entire household.

There’s no must pay gate costs for LEGOLAND, however you’ll must crunch the numbers to see which methodology of saving cash is greatest. These are the 4 hottest tickets and sightseeing passes.

  1. LEGOLAND Online
  2. aRes Travel (use promo code LEGO)
  3. CityPASS San Diego
  4. Go City San Diego (use promo code SDOJAN10SAVE)

2. Meet Marine Life at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Kids look in an aquarium tank at SEA LIFE Aquarium.
Kids love the tank exhibits (Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE Aquarium)

The incredible SEA LIFE Aquarium is positioned throughout the LEGOLAND California Resort, however you may purchase separate tickets to go to the wonderland of marine life. Here, you may observe and find out about over 350 species and greater than 6,000 sea creatures because of the busy schedule of instructional talks and up-close encounters with stingrays and different sea creatures.

My daughters significantly love peering on the cute resident octopus, who often unfurls and stares proper again! It’s additionally mesmerizing to stroll alongside the underground glass tunnel and stare upon sharks, sea turtles, and extra, glide above and round you. It’s one other enjoyable San Diego exercise for youths for possibly an hour plus lunch (the common aquarium go to lasts slightly below an hour).

3. Ride the Slides at LEGOLAND Water Park (Seasonal)

A water slide and water play area at the LEGOLAND California Water Park, a fun thing to do in Carlsbad California
One of the water play areas (picture courtesy of LEGOLAND)

The connected LEGOLAND Water Park is open every day in the summertime months and on choose dates all through the remainder of the yr, however it’s nicely value a go to. It covers 10 acres of water enjoyable and options sandy seashores, seven incredible slides, rides, and LEGO-themed enjoyable.

You can solely enter the Water Park by way of LEGOLAND, so your ticket should embody a ticket that features the water park. Always test the LEGOLAND calendar earlier than you go. The Water Park is on varied dates beginning on March 16, 2024.

4. Stay Overnight at a LEGOLAND Hotel

If you’re searching for the final word expertise in your little LEGO fan, together with unique early entry to the LEGOLAND park, an excellent possibility is to remain on the adjoining LEGOLAND Hotel or LEGOLAND Castle Hotel.

You can select from themed rooms corresponding to Pirate, Adventure, Kingdom, Friends, or NINJAGO, and company take pleasure in a complimentary sizzling buffet breakfast, loads of LEGO play areas, and a heated pool. The predominant profit, although, is having the ability to enter the park half-hour earlier than most of the people. Be certain to time your keep accordingly, because the theme park is just not open every day.

5. Explore Carlsbad Village

An aerial view of Carlsbad Village on a sunny day.
Lots of issues to do in Carlsbad Village (picture courtesy of Visit Carlsbad)

This bustling group is positioned simply two blocks from the seashore and artfully combines the comfort of a vacationer vacation spot with the allure of a small-town vibe.

The Village is the core of Carlsbad and appears to be increasing by the month. Comprising round one sq. mile round Carlsbad Boulevard, it’s filled with nice espresso outlets, charming boutiques, numerous present and décor shops, a ravishing play space with a fountain, a farmer’s market, and glorious eating places.

You’ll discover eating places to fulfill all palates because of the eclectic number of cuisines out there within the Village, from Italian to sushi to French to Mexican, or simply good old school pub grub. You can learn my record of the most effective Carlsbad eating places for concepts. There are additionally breweries, a vineyard, and a brand-new theater, making Carlsbad Village the final word vacation spot any time of week or yr.

You can park after which stroll in all places or catch the Coaster practice to Carlsbad Village Station, proper within the middle of the village. And if you happen to go on a Wednesday, take a look at the Carlsbad Village farmers market within the afternoon.

6. Take Your Pick from Carlsbad’s Beautiful Beaches

South Carlsbad State Beach shoreline dotted with beach umbrellas and people on a sunny day.
South Carlsbad State Beach

Arguably, Carlsbad’s largest draw is its nearly eight miles of spectacular shoreline stretching alongside the Pacific Ocean. It technically contains eight totally different seashores — some rugged, some calm, some distant, and a few filled with households, however all lovely.

They’re nice for browsing, boogie boarding, tide pooling, enjoying seashore volleyball, jogging, or just strolling within the sunshine. You can learn Katie’s detailed information to which seashores are greatest for varied actions and select for your self.

There have been extra stones on some seashores lately, however an formidable renovation mission is underway. Strolling or rollerblading the boardwalk main into Carlsbad Village is a good way to benefit from the seashores from up excessive. And look out for dolphins (and the odd seal), which we regularly spot frolicking within the waves.

7. Learn to Surf

Address: Lifeguard Tower 30 in Carlsbad.

A surfboard leans against a wall along the beach in Carlsbad Calfornia.
Yes, you may learn to surf! (picture courtesy of Visit Carlsbad)

Carlsbad is the right spot to learn to surf from native specialists. Head to So Cal Surf Lessons, who have been in enterprise for over 17 years. They supply similar day classes the place doable for all ranges, together with personal classes, (for youths 5 and over), and group classes.

Wetsuits are included, and classes embody quick instruction on the seashore after which 1.5hr/2hr along with your teacher within the water. You get one hour to make use of the tools totally free following the lesson.

The better part is that if you happen to’re not up and browsing in your first lesson, the subsequent lesson is free!

8. Pick Strawberries at Carlsbad Strawberry Company

Address: 1050 Cannon Road, Carlsbad.

Whole strawberries freshly picked in a large white cup to take home.

Among the seasonal issues to do in Carlsbad, the family-owned Carlsbad Strawberry Company has been rising strawberries of their picturesque and expansive fields positioned alongside the I-5 freeway for 4 generations.

Strawberry selecting season runs from February to July, and also you merely pay for a bucket and fill it with as many strawberries as you may decide. It’s an excellent outside household exercise, and the little ones like it, particularly as you may as you decide!

The fields are busy throughout Fall, too, after they remodel right into a vastly common Halloween venue full with a corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, and a Haunted Corn Maze at night time for the older youngsters.

9. See a Show at New Village Arts Theater

Address: 2787 State Street # B, Carlsbad.

This newly renovated performing arts theater on State Street reopened in 2023 after the unique theater of over 20 years closed down following the pandemic.

The trendy new theater options an excellent bar and lounge space, and gives a packed roster of performs, musicals, talkback dialogue nights, and comedy and improv exhibits. They additionally supply dinner and theater packages.

The theater has an intimate boutique vibe as a result of its measurement and 99-seat auditorium and it’s the right addition to Carlsbad Village’s numerous nightlife.

10. Sample Brews at Pure Project

Address: 2825 State Street, Carlsbad.

The open-air patio of this common brewery options a ravishing Hong Kong Orchid Tree and is a good place to whereas away the hours within the sunshine whereas attempting Pure Project’s famed brews.

It’s slap bang in the course of the motion on busy State Street, throughout from the practice station, and surrounded by many eating places. The brewery doesn’t serve meals however you may take your personal in.

Pure Project was based by two San Diegans whereas on a backpacking journey, and it really began life as a craft brewery in Costa Rica. After two years brewing within the jungle, although, the homeowners moved the brewery again residence they usually now have 5 places in San Diego, together with Carlsbad.

11. Sip in Style at Witch Creek Winery

Address: 2906 Carlsbad Blvd. Carlsbad.

This cozy and trendy award-winning boutique vineyard is ideal for a girls night time out or date night time. Decked out with an enormous chandelier, fairy lit bar, wood high-top tables, and wine barrels stacked alongside one wall, it has a stunning heat ambiance.

It’s additionally peppered with antiques, each for present and on the market. The vineyard has reside music Thursdays – Sundays and Open Mic Night each different Monday.

There’s additionally the Sleeping Tiger espresso bar close to the doorway, which serves scrumptious connoisseur espresso and an excellent array of pastries.  

12. Get Back to Nature at Batiquitos Lagoon

Address: 7380 Gabbiano Lane, Carlsbad.

A trail along Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad CA
Lake and path paths on the Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad, California

Less than 10% of wetlands are left within the US, however Batiquitos Lagoon, which lies on the border of Carlsbad and Encinitas, is one in all them.

The idyllic 610-acre nature reserve is residence to over 65 fish species and greater than 235 fowl species. A scenic 1.6-mile-long strolling/jogging path on the north shore runs west to east, which you’ll be able to entry from Gabbiano Lane.

The path is common with locals however by no means appears overcrowded. It’s additionally one of many common issues to do in Carlsbad for individuals staying at Park Hyatt Aviara and Four Seasons Aviara since each San Diego luxurious resorts border the lagoon.

It’s lined with regional vegetation and willowy bushes and is nice for little ones to discover as a result of it’s so flat that you would be able to maintain them in sight (you may learn the total record of issues to do in Carlsbad with youngsters). Batiquitos Lagoon exudes a surprisingly peaceable ambiance, contemplating you may spot the site visitors on the freeway within the distance.

Once upon a time, it reached all the way in which to the ocean, however landfill used to assist assemble the present I-5 freeway and coastal freeway resulted in it drying up and changing into a wasteland. Today, because of an formidable restoration mission by native residents within the Nineteen Eighties, the lagoon is again to its former glory. A Nature Center additionally homes shows, taxidermy, and a kids’s space.

13. Explore the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park (and the Peacocks)

Address: 6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Lane, Carlsbad.

The peacocks additionally appeal to guests.

This charming historic ranch is totally obscured from the street, nevertheless it’s positively a hidden gem. Founded by the Nineteen Fifties Hollywood actor, Leo Carrillo, the ranch was his retreat for a few years. He died in 1961, however the property is maintained by the City of Carlsbad and was opened to the general public in 2003.

The centerpiece is Carrillo’s lovely rancho-style home, however the outside idyl of the property is what actually makes it particular. The 27-acre ranch is a peaceable oasis set amongst towering bushes. It’s an exquisite place to discover however be aware that some strolling trails and surfaces are uneven.

The outbuildings and barn are fascinating to tinker round in and look out for the resident peacocks who roam the property. They are likely to fly over the partitions, and we’ve typically noticed one strutting across the surrounding streets!

The park is free to enter, and there’s additionally a present store and customer’s middle.

14. Shop at Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Address: 5620 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad.

This procuring haven is a prime Carlsbad in San Diego and one of many metropolis’s hottest procuring locations. You’ll snag nice offers on designer manufacturers together with Kate Spade, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Michael Kors, Gap, and Skechers.

There are over 80 shops in all, and the spacious outside design with seating round fountains makes it a pleasing location, even on the loopy vacation sale days. There are loads of eateries if you want a procuring break, together with Ruby’s Diner and largely quick meals fashion choices. The Outlets are positioned proper off the I-5 and behind the Flower Fields.

15. Dine at Windmill Food Hall

Address: 890 Palomar Airport Rd, Carlsbad.

A very nice transformation of this house! (picture courtesy of Visit Carlsbad)

You might have noticed the enduring Windmill constructing positioned proper as you exit the I-5 at Palomar Airport Road — and now you may eat there. Situated proper throughout from the Carlsbad Outlets, this trendy and spacious meals corridor topped with an outdated Danish-style windmill gives an excellent break when you peruse the numerous points of interest Carlsbad has to supply.

There’s all kinds of delicacies decisions, from Thai to Mexican to Mediterranean to Chinese. And there’s a full bar serving craft cocktails and beer to clean all of it down with. For these with a candy tooth, the goodies on the Mini Donut store are to die for.

You’ll discover loads of indoor and outside bench seating, and the homeowners lately amped up the occasions calendar. You can now decide from reside music, Trivia Night, Drag Queen Bingo, Open Mic Night, and even Paint Your Pet Wine Night!

16. Discover the Museum of Making Music

Address: 5790 Armada Dr, Carlsbad.

Guitars inside the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad
A museum with devices you may see and play. (picture courtesy of Museum of Making Music)

This distinctive (and relatively hidden away) museum showcases the historical past and science of music via a collection of fascinating interactive reveals and a powerful assortment of musical devices.

Adults will love the deep dive into the historical past of music and varied fascinating tales, whereas the most effective half for youths is on the finish, the place they’ll get to play varied devices, together with electrical guitar, keyboards, and drums (fortunately largely with headphones!).

The Museum of Making Music is a reasonably small however fantastically laid out museum and positively value a go to.

17. Wander the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

Address: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad.

The antique tractor pulls a wagon full of guests through the ranunculus flowers.
The wagon excursions are common!

The Flower Fields are actually distinctive to Carlsbad, an excellent outside expertise for the entire household. Due to the flowering season, they’re solely open from March to May, although, so that you’ll must get your timing proper.

You might have seen the Flower Fields, a well-known sloping discipline alongside Palomar Airport Road that always options spectacular rotating floral designs, however head contained in the gates of the ranch, and also you’ll encounter far more.

The fields include 55 acres of vibrant blooming flowers to wander amongst, and now have tractor rides, a maze, a rose backyard, an artist backyard, and an orchid greenhouse.

The Carlsbad Flower Fields even have a packed occasions calendar, together with reside music, Flower Flow Yoga, Sunset Wine Tasting, images and charcuterie workshops, and extra.

18. Enjoy Watersports at Carlsbad Lagoon

Address: 4215 Harrison St, Carlsbad.

You can water ski, SUP, and extra. (picture courtesy of Visit Carlsbad)

This beautiful lagoon (also called Agua Hedionda Lagoon) is positioned simply off the I-5 proper behind Carlsbad State Beach. It’s the right place to get within the SoCal vibe and brush up in your watersport abilities.

The lagoon’s rental workplace has an array of motorized and non-motorized choices. Choose from extra enjoyable choices like a Pontoon or pedal boat, go for extra of a exercise with stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking, or velocity issues up on a Wave runner or speedboat. You can hop off and relaxation at idyllic little personal seashores across the lagoon whereas taking within the breathtaking surroundings. This actually is a traditional Carlsbad day trip!

Be certain to test Groupon as they typically have particular gives right here and at a handful of different Carlsbad points of interest.

19. Learn about Oyster Farming at Aquafarm

Address: 4522 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad.

Whether you’re keen on or detest oysters, you’ll doubtless nonetheless discover a tour at Carlsbad Aquafarm fascinating. It’s the one oyster farm in Southern California, located alongside Highway 101 behind the seashore.

Tours will educate you on how Aquafarm farms their homegrown oyster inhabitants, and clarify their efforts to assist shield the pure ecosystem of the encircling lagoon. An oyster shucking class is included on the finish, the place you may get to pattern the oysters.

20. Take A Guided Tour with Carlsbad Food Tours

A enjoyable lunch possibility is the Taste of Carlsbad Food Tour, a three-hour guided strolling tour via Carlsbad Village. The tour contains six foods and drinks tasting places, and your native information will provide you with an insider’s view of Carlsbad’s historical past, tradition, and structure alongside the way in which.

The tour contains tasting pork and pineapple tacos at Carlsbad’s legendary Senor Grubbys, sampling delicacies at one of many Village’s hottest Italian eating places, tucking into the wonderful donuts at The Goods, and for extra candy stuff, stopping for dessert at both The Strawberry Shack or Gelato Love, with crepes to complete. Wine tasting at Witch Creek Winery can also be included.

The excursions run every day from 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and embody meals, beer and wine, and dessert tastings. It’s family-friendly, and you’ll even take your canine!

21. Up Your Golf Game at The Crossings

Address: 5800 Crossings Drive, Carlsbad.

You can take to the hyperlinks at The Crossings 18-hole championship golf course in Carlsbad. The 6,835-yard Greg Nash-designed course options varied choices and terrains, so it’s nice for freshmen and extra expert golfers searching for a problem.

The picturesque course is surrounded by native pure habitat and wildlife, and sits on 400+ acres of Carlsbad’s coastal panorama. The membership was named after the 5 bridges/crossings integrated into the design to stick to environmental and topographic circumstances.

The membership additionally gives golf classes with one in all their PGA Professionals. Check their web site for the entire varied pricing choices.

22. Enjoy Sunset Drinks at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

Address: 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad.

The Pacific Point restaurant and bar area at Park Hyatt Aviara
Pacific Point terrace (picture courtesy of Park Hyatt Aviara)

This award-winning luxurious resort is well-known for its celebrated eating places, Ponto and Ember & Rye, however my ‘local’s tip’ is to move there for sundowners on the lodge’s beautiful terrace. The massive terrace overlooks the lodge’s lush gardens, and since it’s raised, you get an excellent view out to the ocean and the sundown.

There’s loads of seating, some round firepits, and it’s a surprisingly informal place to chill out and recharge with the youngsters. You’re welcome to both order from the lodge’s elegant bar or purchase and eat meals from the in-house retailer. I like to recommend their pastries and nice espresso. There is a lot of further seating inside to benefit from the subtle setting in fashion.

23. Explore Carlsbad on Rented E-bikes

Address: 2978 Carlsbad Blvd, #130, Carlsbad.

Carlsbad is usually flat terrain all through, so biking round is simple. But why not lease an electrical bike for additional ease as you are taking within the miles of seashores? Or seize a map and discover the paths additional afield on a self guided tour.

Carlsbad e-Bikes and More has a lot of rental choices, together with tandem e-bikes, stretch e-bikes, street bikes, cruisers, and youngsters’ bike trailers. They even lease out golf carts if you happen to choose 4 wheels to 2. You can lease e-bikes and carts by the hour or day, and the workplace is within the middle of Carlsbad Village by the big car parking zone.

24. Discover the Thrill of K1 Speed Go Kart Track

Address: 6212 Corte Del Abeto, Carlsbad.

If you’re feeling the necessity for velocity, head to K1 Speed Go Kart Track in Carlsbad, the place you’ll positively get your repair of their high-performance, all-electric go-karts. This large indoor facility focuses on ‘Arrive and Drive’ racing. It’s a timed occasion that may embody as much as 12 drivers, however as a substitute of racing for place, you race for the quickest time across the course, so drivers can begin the course at totally different instances.

Adult Karts attain as much as 45 MPH, and Junior Karts (for these 48 inches+) go as much as 20 MPH, so there’s something for all potential drivers. For these not eager to get behind the wheel, there are pool tables, a online game arcade, and prize machines, whereas the Paddock Lounge café serves up traditional pub grub.

25. Watch a Movie in Luxury at Cinépolis

Address: 6941 El Camino Real & 3434 Via Mercato, Carlsbad.

This luxurious cinema chain is ideal for a date or a enjoyable household outing. Cinépolis focuses on an upscale movie-going expertise and their motto says all of it: Wine, Dine, Recline. From the engaging full bar and accompanying restaurant if you enter the constructing, to the big (and very comfortable) reclining leather-based seats within the theater.

You can recline in consolation and order from a big meals and drinks menu (together with alcohol) on the contact of a button by way of the total waiter service. Every seat has a small desk connected the place you may eat from.

There are two Cinépolis theaters in Carlsbad, each positioned in upmarket procuring areas which additionally include loads of different eatery choices. Tickets value round $20 relying on the time of day, however most theaters have $10 Tuesday All-Day offers.


FAQs About Fun Things to Do in Carlsbad, CA

Get extra details about Carlsbad, CA, together with why you need to go to, locations to see round city, the most effective seashores, and recommendation in your journey.

Where ought to I am going to the seashore in Carlsbad?

Carlsbad has nearly eight miles of beautiful shoreline and eight separate seashores to check out. Read Katie’s detailed record to see which you need to go to.

What are the most effective locations to eat in Carlsbad?

That’s a tough reply, as there are such a lot of nice eating places – that includes all forms of cuisines. The Carlsbad restaurant scene has seen a critical growth within the final 5 years. I’ve detailed my favorites on this record. Campfire is common and so is Michelin-starred Jeune et Jolie.

Is Carlsbad value a go to?

Definitely! Carlsbad has turn into world-famous for a lot of nice causes: LEGOLAND, the beautiful seashores, lovely Carlsbad Village the place you may take pleasure in incredible eateries and discover nice boutiques and present shops, tons of family-friendly actions and locations to go to, and naturally, our well-known year-round sunny climate. It’s additionally solely a 30-minute drive from downtown San Diego and surrounded by different vibrant seashore cities, Encinitas and Oceanside.

How do you spend a day in Carlsbad?

Take your decide from any of the above! It’s really simple to do many in in the future as all the things is fairly shut by. Carlsbad Village is a good selection for hanging out, strolling the beautiful streets, and grabbing lunch or dinner. It’s additionally solely a block or so from Carlsbad’s sandy seashores and the start line of the scenic Carlsbad Seawall Walk.

What is Carlsbad well-known for?

Carlsbad is legendary for being residence to LEGOLAND California, together with the SEALIFE Aquarium and Water Park. Families flock right here year-round because of Carlsbad’s beautiful climate. Others love the seashores and incredible array of high-quality eating places. The Carlsbad Premium Outlets can also be a favourite spot for vacationers and locals seeking to snag designer-label bargains.

What can I do in Carlsbad totally free?

It prices no cash to take pleasure in one of many city’s lovely seashores and stroll the vigorous streets of Carlsbad Village whereas basking in our (nearly) countless sunshine.

What are your favourite issues to do in Carlsbad, CA, now?

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