Carlsbad, often known as “The Village by the Sea,” is a serene seaside town with five-star resorts, gorgeous beaches, and a charming center that stays loyal to its small-town charm. Small businesses may be found in the walkable Carlsbad Village, including coffee shops, artisanal donut dealers, and brewpubs. According to Christine Davis, executive director of the Carlsbad Village Association, “several e-bike and golf cart rental companies make it fun and easy to explore the village and beyond,” she told Travel + Leisure.
When the Flower Fields are at their most vivid and guests may select ripe strawberries to take home, May is a popular month to visit Carlsbad. At Legoland California Resort, families swarm to enjoy rides in the water park, an aquarium, and theme park attractions for the entire day or many days.
Carlsbad, which is quickly gaining popularity among foodies, has several restaurants to choose from, two of which have received Michelin stars: Campfire and Jeune et Jolie. “Carlsbad Food Tours are great ways to learn about Carlsbad’s history while you experience tasty items from Carlsbad restaurants,” says Maria Riley of Visit Carlsbad. Both residents and tourists enjoy the annual Taste of Carlsbad event, which, in Davis’ words, “sells out every year.”
Visitors to luxury resorts come to Carlsbad for its golf courses, spas, and refined settings. Some people prefer being outside and visiting nearby beaches, lagoons, and hiking trails. It’s fantastic that Carlsbad retains its hospitable small-town charm despite all it has to offer year-round and the hordes of tourists that come for their favorite adventures.
Top Resorts and Hotels in Carlsbad
The Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Spa, and Golf Club
A suite at Park Hyatt Aviara with a view of the mountains and sea
REGARD TO HYATT
Situated on 200 acres of beachfront land, this sophisticated five-star resort boasts a championship golf course created by Arnold Palmer, six illuminated tennis courts, and stunning views of Batiquitos Lagoon. Aviara is a family favorite with two restaurants, a lobby bar, private cabanas, a children’s splash pool, and an oceanfront pool. The Miraval Life in Balance Spa offers a variety of health activities, which contribute to the resort’s allure, according to Maria Riley of Visit Carlsbad.
Whole La Costa Spa & Resort
This large resort includes eight pools (including a children’s pool and an adult-only pool), two championship golf courses, seventeen tennis courts, five restaurants, and The Spa at La Costa. Young guests are delighted by Kidtopia Kids Club, and shopping and a range of family-friendly activities are available.
The Carlsbad Resort and Spa at The Westin
This resort, which is conveniently close to Carlsbad’s attractions, has restaurants, a spa, a fitness center, and a pool area, along with a cornhole game and billiards table for entertaining the whole family. The unique rear entry to Legoland, located just a short distance from the resort, will surely be appreciated by guests.
Hilton’s Cassara Carlsbad Tapestry Collection
A variety of bedrooms are available at this facility, including roomy two-room family suites with coffee machines, mini-refrigerators, and practical amenities. In addition to a family pool with a splash zone for youngsters, there’s a “Quiet Pool” with a hot tub, fire pits, and cabanas. There is a golf course and spa close by for guests to use.
Four Seasons Hotel & Residence Los Angeles, Aviara
This Four Seasons hotel has over 800 villas and apartments, ranging from two-bedroom houses with complete kitchens to guestrooms with kitchenettes. Two heated outdoor pools, Driftwood Spa, a kid’s pool, fire pits, and barbecue grills are available for visitors. Club 760 is a kid-only area with movies, books, and video games.
Top Activities in Carlsbad
Coral Farm Carlsbad
Visit this aquafarm to see the cultivation and collection of Carlsbad mussels and oysters. You’ll see the farm’s touch tanks and learn about sustainable clam farming. Six oysters are included in the half-hour oyster tasting and shucking workshop that follows the half-hour tour. Be aware that bookings are necessary.
Gardens of Flowers at Carlsbad Ranch
Big Carlsbad flower field
Every year in Carlsbad, a rainbow is created on 55 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus in bloom from March until early May. The celebration includes wagon rides, picnic spaces, and chairs to unwind on while taking in the vibrant scene. According to Travel & Leisure, “There’s teatime in the gardens, educational programs for kids, outdoor concerts, yoga classes, dinners aux jardins, and more.”
Resort at Legoland California
The Legoland California Resort features a water park with a sandy beach, slides, and splash zone; SEA LIFE Aquarium for hands-on learning with a variety of sea animals; and a theme park with rides, shows, and attractions targeted for families with children between the ages of two and twelve. The other two accommodations in this area are the Legoland Hotel and the Legoland Castle Hotel.
The individuals who create, market, and utilize musical instruments are honored in this museum. Visitors may play drums, guitars, ukuleles, banjos, and more at interactive exhibitions. Docent tours are offered, and the instruments on exhibit range from vintage synths to antiques.
Theater at New Village Arts
“We have a 99-seat theater that has won awards and hosts year-round Broadway shows, comedies, musicals, and more,” Davis said to T+L. There’s a comprehensive schedule of activities and possibilities for performance and dinner packages.
Top Retail Stores in Carlsbad
Outlets Carlsbad Premium
This family-friendly outdoor mall offers designer retailers, boutiques, eateries, and discounted rates to attract customers. Calvin Klein, Coach, Ferragamo, and Karl Lagerfeld are just a few of the more than eighty designer labels. Panda Express, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Motto Japanese Grill, Jersey Mike’s, and Kream Factory are some places to unwind over a meal or snack.
The Carlsbad Forum
The Forum Carlsbad provides luxury eating and shopping in a lovely outdoor setting. There’s an Apple shop along with Anthropologie, Allbirds, Loft, Lululemon, Madewell, Sur la Table, Talbots, Warby Parker, Urban Outfitters, and more. Customers may eat at McConnell’s Ice Cream, Panera, Kaiseki Sushi, and Urban Plates.
The Carlsbad Shops
In addition to various stores and eateries, this large mall has a movie theater, a 24-hour fitness center, and beauty salons. Retail establishments include Forever 21, Francesca’s, H & M, Hollister, JCPenney, Macy’s, Lenscrafters, and Zara; food options include Yard House, Dave & Buster’s, Panera, and The Cheesecake Factory.
Village of Carlsbad
Situated just two blocks from the beach, this place has a small-town vibe and is perfect for strolling, dining, and entertainment. Village Rock Shop, Olde Ivy Antiques, Trove Marketplace, and interactive areas like Barrio Glassworks and Fired Up are unusual places to visit. Get coffee at Sleeping Tiger or Baba Coffee, then treat yourself to dessert at GelatoLove or The Strawberry Shack.
Life at Night in Carlsbad
The Store at Camp
This stop combines a lot of different elements. It’s a restaurant with breakfast, lunch, and supper service, a market, and a store where you may rent beach gear. It’s also a popular destination for locals and tourists, offering a complete schedule of musical acts in a family-friendly beachside setting.
Coyote Grill & Bar
This beloved (since 1989) neighborhood hotspot offers heated fire pits, indoor and outdoor dancing, and live music every day of the week. In addition to a menu that includes tacos, nachos, ribs, “bottomless chips” and salsa, local beers, and drinks, there’s a weekend brunch.
The Carlsbad Crossings
This location has a lot of entertainment, such as the “Friday Unwind” series. Local musicians perform live on the Sunset Patio every week, providing the perfect atmosphere for guests to unwind and enjoy. The celebration also includes views of the sunset and the ocean, drink deals, and sampling from nearby businesses.
The Landings Eatery & Bar
The Landings, which has a view of the runway at Carlsbad Palomar Airport, hosts live music every Wednesday through Sunday and a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. At six o’clock on Fridays and Saturdays, music begins. They provide local artisan beers, drinks, and wines with a pub-influenced cuisine.
Top Eateries in Carlsbad
Windmill Dining Area
This laid-back food hall offers more than mouthwatering cuisine, artisan beer, and drinks. In addition, it has trivia contests, happy hours, and live music—all of which go great with sushi, pizza, tacos, New England lobster rolls, coffee, and donuts. For wine, artisan beers, and creatively titled cocktails, visit The Mill Bar. Keep an eye out for their weekend brunch deals.
Jolie and Jeune
You’ll agree that the French food here deserves the Michelin star and praise it has gotten, whether dining in the dining room, having a relaxed supper at the bar, or sitting outside on the garden terrace. A four-course tasting menu, including fresh produce and seafood from the area, is available with optional wine pairings.
Sushi Bar & Robata Bar, Blue Ocean
Sushi, teriyaki, Korean BBQ ribs, soups, and salads are all on the extensive menu. The restaurant also grills meat, fish, and vegetable skewers with combinations such as filet, pineapple, scallop, and bacon on a traditional Japanese robata grill fired by hardwood charcoal.
The dining area and outside terrace are also part of Campfire’s cozy ambiance, centered around a specially designed wood-burning fireplace. The menu has grilled Maine lobster, brisket, steak, and a Wagyu skewer appetizer, with headers that carry the camping motif. Naturally, there are s’mores for dessert.
This retro-themed, dog-friendly restaurant offers a selection of ramen meals that may be enjoyed inside the dining room or outside on the patio. The menu includes many appetizers, a pig chashu bowl, a chicken karaage bowl, and classic Gonzo ramen such as tonkatsu and miso.
The Ideal Time to Go to Carlsbad
A view of the surf from Carlsbad’s cliffs
Adrian Rudd/Vacation + Recreation
The beaches of Carlsbad are excellent all year round, drawing both locals and tourists with their swimming and surfing during the summer months and bicycling, walking, fishing, and breathtaking sunsets during the cooler months. Furthermore, Carlsbad’s destination resorts, scenic surroundings, and small-town vibe make it a much-needed getaway all year round, particularly during events.
The Flower Fields are a well-liked destination for locals and visitors alike from March to May. An additional tourist attraction is the Carlsbad Village Street Faire, which occurs in November and May. “We are approaching the 29th year of our year-round Farmers Market, located in the center of downtown,” Davis continued.
Families like visiting the Pumpkin Patch at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company in the fall, open from September until early November. Popular Halloween attractions include the Haunted Corn Maze, best suited for teens and adults. Younger guests may take advantage of tractor rides, sheep and goat interactions, and a less terrifying corn maze. Visitors may pick their delicious strawberries in the spring.
How to Arrive
About 35 miles to the north of San Diego International Airport and 90 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport are where you’ll find Carlsbad. Traveling along the picturesque Interstate 5 highway along the ocean, the commute from San Diego takes around forty minutes, varying based on traffic. Traveling to Carlsbad via vehicle, shuttle, or shared ride is the most suitable and practical option.
McClellan-Palomar Airport is three miles southeast of Carlsbad and supports general aviation, corporate aircraft, and commercial services. The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner makes a picturesque journey from San Luis Obispo County in the north to San Diego by mainly following the shoreline. About five miles away is Oceanside, the nearest station to Carlsbad.