Carlsbad beach at sunset. — Photo courtesy of Gina Douglas Tarnacki
Carlsbad, California is located in North County San Diego, about 40 minutes north of downtown San Diego. It is a prime vacation spot for families due to its laidback beaches, community feel and kid-friendly attractions. It also has its own little downtown area called Carlsbad Village, which has a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars – all in walking distance of Carlsbad’s gorgeous beaches.
The beaches of Carlsbad are clean and family-friendly. Head to Tamarack Beach for big waves if you want to try surfing. The beach north of Tamarack west of Carlsbad Village Drive is behind a bluff, shielding it from the often blowing ocean breezes and making it a relaxing stretch of sand.
Carlsbad may be located 35 miles north of downtown San Diego, but that doesn’t mean it has a lack of activity once the sun goes down. Wine bars, Irish pubs and dance clubs adorn the streets of Carlsbad Village, with most bars off of Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue.
This popular amusement park is fun for both kids and adults. Marvel at the giant statues made completely from Legos, scream on the adventurous rides the park has and pretend you’re a giant in the miniature land made from Legos that you can walk through.
Legoland California — Photo courtesy of MGrannetia
Carlsbad has a large outlet mall that boasts brands such as Coach, Barney’s, Nine West and Juicy Couture. If you’re spending time in Carlsbad Village, you’ll find many surfer-inspired shops plus a variety of boutiques.
Carlsbad Village has many delicious and acclaimed restaurants. Try Mexican at Norte’s, Seafood at Jay’s or Italian at Vigilucci’s. Or just wander up and down the pretty streets of Carlsbad Village and see what strikes your fancy.
Carlsbad is a great town for walking around. The streets of Carlsbad Village have wide, safe sidewalks. The beachfront also has a long boardwalk stretching from the Village all the way down to Tamarack Beach and is great for walking at sunset.
Carlsbad offers a multitude of activities from everything from running to rock climbing. The most popular activity for visitors, however, involves the water. Carlsbad has a lagoon that is ideal for water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking or jet skiing.
Carlsbad boasts one of the famous In-N-Out Burgers – a must eat for any non-vegetarian visitors to Carlsbad. Another off the beaten path local favorite to visit is Tip Top Meats in south Carlsbad for a huge and cheap steak dinner. If you need a snack while at the beach, head to Knockout Burger off of Carlsbad Boulevard in the Village for some burgers to go.
Carlsbad has a state campground called South Carlsbad State Beach, which is right on the ocean. You’ll fall asleep in your tent to the sound of the waves crashing and if you’re lucky, you’ll wake up to the view of dolphins swimming along the coastline. The campground also has laundry, toilet and shower facilities.
Dolphins swimming in the ocean off of South Carlsbad State Beach — Photo courtesy of Gina Douglas Tarnacki
10. The Ocean
Yes, the beach was already mentioned, but the ocean needs to have its own category for Carlsbad. Why? Because Carlsbad offers its waves to visitors unpretentiously. Want to try surfing? Head just north of Tamarack for good beginner waves. If you’re not quite ready to give surfing a go, but still want to ride the waves, rent a boogie board; you can take advantage of the fact that the waves of Carlsbad’s beaches break far enough away for a good ride in, but still shallow enough that you can stand up – an ideal mix for novice ocean dwellers.