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Things To Do In Carlsbad

Known to locals as the “Village by the Sea,” Carlsbad is an iconic, affluent beach town famous for warm weather, white sand beaches and a variety of family-friendly attractions. Learn more about how Carlsbad Village, the downtown area of the city, offers a rare small-town take on the classic California getaway nestled between San Diego and Los Angeles.

Carlsbad is synonymous with Legoland California, Sea Life Aquarium and pristine, sandy beaches, but there is much more to the city than meets the eye. Explore Carlsbad Village, the Flower Fields, and more to learn about the best things to do in Carlsbad. Learn more about the best things to do near Carlsbad: 

  • Visit Legoland California to explore all things Lego including a water park, rides and more
  • Take a walk in the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch featuring 50 acres of radiant Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers
  • Explore Carlsbad Village, the downtown area of the city, including local shops, art galleries and restaurants
  • Meet more than 5,000 sea creatures in interactive exhibits at Sea Life Aquarium
  • Relax for a few days at South Carlsbad State Beach, a favorite among locals and tourists alike

Street fairs, museums, and other free things to do in Carlsbad show there is a ton of budget-friendly fun in the city. Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing stroll in nature or waiting for a chance to discover your hidden musical talents, there are many ways to adventure in Carlsbad.

Cheap things to do near Carlsbad include the following:

  • Visit the weekly Wednesday Carlsbad Village Farmers Market for local food and handmade arts and crafts
  • Check out all kinds of models and displays at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum
  • Get in touch with your creative side or see a live performance at the Museum of Making Music
  • Meet birds of paradise and admire the ornately landscaped plants at the Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch Park
  • Hike or pack a picnic to bring to the Hosp Grove Trails

Carlsbad feels like a small town, but it is also chocked full of tourist attractions for the whole family. With white sandy beaches, theme parks and plenty of natural Californian beauty, a vacation to Carlsbad is filled with adventure. Popular attractions near Carlsbad include the following:

  • Swim, surf, paddleboard or fish along the white sands of the South Carlsbad State Beach
  • In early May explore the sprawling Carlsbad Village Faire, the largest street fair in the country
  • Learn about marine conservation and wetlands at the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Nature Center
  • Canoe, kayak or rip through the surf on a waverunner at the Carlsbad Lagoon
  • Spend a restful day sightseeing in the Alga Norte Community Park, the largest park in San Diego County

While Carlsbad is known for its beaches, there is much more to do in the area than work on your tan or ride the waves. From exploring the caves and hiking a dormant volcano to movies, plays and other areas to adventure, there are plenty of fun things to do in Carlsbad. Exciting activities near Carlsbad include the following:

  • After you hang ten at the beach, grab lunch at Board and Brew, a surf-themed sandwich spot in Carlsbad Village
  • Hike Calavera Lake, a dormant volcano with bike trails and scenic views
  • Catch the newest blockbuster flick at Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas
  • Go see a play or live music at the New Village Arts Theater
  • Pack a flashlight and water and spelunk in the Carlsbad Caverns

As the sun sets, Carlsbad lights up with things to do at night at the many local bars and restaurants across town. With a secret speakeasy, dance parties, and tons of live music, there’s never a dull moment. Fill your glass and drink up the local culture in Carlsbad Village. Nighttime activities near Carlsbad include the following: 

  • Grab a drink and groove to live music from the house band at The Alley
  • Check out the swinging blues dance party at Firehouse North County Dance
  • Check Instagram to find out the daily password for The Charles Kenneth, Carlsbad’s exclusive speakeasy
  • During the summertime check out blues, soul, funk and more at the Carlsbad TGIF Concerts in the Parks
  • Sip tasty cocktails during karaoke at the Coyote Bar and Grille

From award winning brunch spots and city-spanning food tours to day trip getaways to scenic coastal highways and waterfalls, there is no shortage of things to do this weekend in Carlsbad. Weekend activities near Carlsbad include the following: 

  • Voted the best breakfast in Carlsbad, check out the great food and espresso drinks at Café Topes
  • Enjoy mouth-watering food samplings from across the city via the Carlsbad Village Food and Walking Tour
  • Watch the big game, grab some food and tour the New England history museum at the Green Dragon Tavern and Museum
  • Hike to Sitting Bull Falls, a series of beautiful waterfalls just southwest of the city
  • Take a scenic day trip along the Coast Highway from Oceanside to La Jolla.

Your children will love Legoland California and the beaches, but you can’t miss the other unforgettable things to do with kids in Carlsbad. Become a Junior Beach Ranger, tour the city on an electric bike, get some air in Tony Hawk’s hometown skate park and wash it all down with an intergalactic pizza experience you won’t soon forget. Family-Friendly things to do near Carlsbad include the following:

  • With over 50 rides and interactive exhibits, Legoland California is the Lego-lover’s dream destination
  • Savor Carlsbad’s best pizza and intergalactic adventures at Pizza Port Empire
  • Pass the training course and receive your special ranger logbook when you become a Junior Beach Ranger at Cape Rey Carlsbad
  • Bring your skateboard and visit the Alga Norte Skatepark
  • Take an electric bike tour of the city with Pedego Electric Bike Rental

Nothing says romance like a sunset walk along the beach, but that is just the beginning of your date night in Carlsbad. Tasting California wines, catching a bird’s eye view of the city by balloon and seeing a Broadway show or concert are all on the table when you are looking for love in Carlsbad. Date night ideas near Carlsbad include the following: 

  • Catch a Broadway musical or concert at Moonlight Amphitheater.
  • Get a bird’s eye view of the city from a hot air balloon with Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. 

  • Take a romantic evening walk on the beach at Tamarack State Beach.
  • Sample some of California’s famous wines during a tasting at Witch Creek Winery.
  • Enjoy a few hours of couples’ pampering with locally sourced ingredients at the Spa at La Costa.

There is definitely strength in numbers when it comes to fun group activities in Carlsbad. Grab your friends or coworkers and try your hand at brewing your own beer, hosting a chili cook-off or taking home the trivia crown at the local pub. Whatever you do, don’t forget happy hour tacos and your tee time. Things to do with your friends near Carlsbad include the following:

  • Sign up for a daylong team building exercise and brew your own beer at Bear Roots Brewing Company’s Brewing Success Changing the Culture
  • Set your tee time at the seaside Crossings at Carlsbad golf course
  • Host a Carlsbad-style chili cook-off at Cape Rey’s Chopped Kitchen
  • Show off your trivia skills on Tuesday nights at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub
  • Dig into street tacos and happy hour specials at The Landings at Carlsbad.

Once you have had your fill of the sun and sand, check out the relaxing indoor activities in Carlsbad. You can shop at the premium outlets or find a unique gift at the antique mall after you have learned about jewelry making, surfing and marine wildlife. Carlsbad things to do indoors include the following:

  • Cool off and learn about marine wildlife at the Sea Life Aquarium
  • Bring home a special memento of your trip from the Carlsbad Village Art and Antique Mall
  • Learn about gemology and jewelry making at the Gemological Institute of America Museum
  • Shop ‘til you drop at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets
  • Travel to nearby Oceanside for a visit to the California Surfing Museum

Carlsbad is deeply shaped by its geography and adventurous spirit, with a variety of hikes and other outdoor activities around the city. From dormant volcanoes to world-class triathlons, you can whip up a serious appetite before the brewery tour and leisurely stroll through eucalyptus groves. Active things to see in Carlsbad include the following: 

  • Hike or bike Calavera Lake, a dormant volcano with scenic views and trails
  • Test your stamina in the Carlsbad Triathlon, ranked one of the top five triathlons in the world
  • Take a tour of the award-winning Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  • Explore the winding trails through eucalyptus tree groves with 100-foot ocean overlooks at Hosp Grove Park
  • Grab your tennis rackets and volleyball for an afternoon of sporting fun at La Costa Canyon Park

Carlsbad is a well-known tourist destination, but ask the locals and there are still many hidden parts off the beaten path. Some of the best attractions include a man-made labyrinth on a dormant volcano, a password-protected speakeasy, rare books and a little slice of Italy in the heart of downtown. Must-see places near Carlsbad include the following:

  • Lose yourself in the man-made labyrinth at Calavera Lake
  • Pick your own strawberries at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company’s farm
  • Check Instagram for the password to Carlsbad’s secret bar, The Charles Kenneth Speakeasy
  • Shop for rare books and sip tasty coffee drinks at the Lhooq/Exrealism Rare Bookstore
  • Transport yourself to Carlsbad’s own slice of Italy at Vigilucci’s Authentic Italian Market