Top 15 Things To Do In Carlsbad, California

things to do in carlsbad california
| 4 min read

The distance between you and tropical satisfaction has never been closer than in Carlsbad, California. This ocean getaway tucked against the Pacific offers no shortage of thrilling attractions, set to make your stay a memorable one. Whether you’re visiting for the weekend or vacationing for the summer, let Carlsbad prove its name as San Diego’s ideal beach destination. Scroll down to learn about the best things to do in Carlsbad, California.

1. Enjoy some fun beachside activities at South Ponto Beach

South Ponto Beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sam Trenholme used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Considered the most popular beach in Carlsbad, South Ponto Beach is frequented by tourists and locals alike throughout the year. It can get quite crowded during the summers as everyone wants to enjoy it, and you can see a lot of people playing volleyball, frolicking in the waters, going surfing, jet skiing, and paddle boarding. The beach has golden sands with lots of pebbles and sparkling deep blue water that is transparent when you stand in it. It is truly well-maintained by the locals. There are also some rocky areas where you can sit and watch the waves.

South Ponto Beach

Website: South Ponto Beach

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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2. Immerse yourself in the world of music at Museum of Making Music

Wall of guitars, Museum of Making Music
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user doryfour used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This unique museum allows you to play new instruments while also educating you about the origin of the instruments, where they are made, and how they are used. Founded in 2000, this is a relatively recent museum that is perfect for all music-lovers and anyone who has tried to learn to play a musical instrument before. There are also exhibits showcasing the history of American music and its different genres that arose over time. You can learn about more obscure instruments as well through pictures, videos, and audio samples. Additionally, the museum also hosts events and temporary exhibitions, centered around a theme.

Museum of Making Music

Address: 5790 Armada Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008, United States

Website: Museum of Making Music

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3. Enjoy a variety of thrilling water sports at Carlsbad Lagoon Recreation Area

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Entrance to Fun!! . . . . #carlsbad #carlsbadlagoon #sabdiegocounty #carlsbadbeach #carlsbadvillage #carlsbadcalifornia...

Posted by Carlsbad Lagoon on Saturday, January 9, 2021

Carlsbad is famous for its beautiful lagoons with deep-blue water and relaxing vibes, and it is the primary reason why tourists visit this city. You can go paddleboarding, kayaking, or jet skiing on the pristine and calm water, and there is a separate area dedicated to these sports that prevent motorboats from getting in your way. You can rent most of the equipment you will need here, especially the kayaks, paddleboards, and jet skis, along with some safety equipment. However, if you don’t want too much of a workout, you can opt for simple boat rides on the lagoon.

Carlsbad Lagoon Recreation Area

Address: Lagoon Pl, Carlsbad, CA 92008, United States

Website: Carlsbad Lagoon Recreation Area

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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4. Shop till you drop at Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Explore Michael’s top gifts for everyone on your list. Enjoy up to 70% off the entire store at Michael Kors, now through 12/9. Exclusions apply. See a store associate for details.

Posted by Carlsbad Premium Outlets on Thursday, December 3, 2020

Who doesn’t love shopping? Carlsbad Premium Outlets is a range of branded stores that offer a wide variety of goods, including apparel, accessories, jewelry, beauty, and wellness products. You are sure to find some great deals on a lot of things, and it is worth having a look even if you aren’t in discount season. Once you are done shopping, you can head over to one of the eateries or restaurants here that offers delicious lunch or dinner, so plan to spend a whole day here.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Address: 5620 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008, United States

Website: Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11am - 7pm; Fri - Sat: 10am - 8pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm

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5. Relish a delicious steak at Argyle Steakhouse

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Situated at the clubhouse inside Aviara Golf Club, Argyle Steakhouse is a very popular eatery that serves delicious steaks, ribs, and chops that are sure to impress you. Prepared by the world-class chefs of Park Hyatt, where this restaurant is located, you can be assured that you will not be disappointed with the quality of the steaks or chops.

Argyle Steakhouse

Address: 7447 Batiquitos Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92011, United States

Opening hours: 12pm - 8pm (daily)

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6. Embrace nature's best at the Flower Fields

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch 18 2016-05-13
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user View more used under CC BY-SA 4.0

You haven’t seen beauty like the Carlsbad Flower Fields. In bloom during the summer months, 50 acres (20 hectares) of nature’s best will captivate your gaze. Thousands of Ranunculus flowers decorate the space overlooking the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean. Frequented by more than 100,000 visitors a year, the Flower Fields at the Carlsbad Ranch promise to upgrade your definition of true beauty. Feel free to check out their greenhouses, home to constantly changing, specialized flowers! Tours are also available throughout the day, providing you an exclusive look at one privilege of a harvest.

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

Address: 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Price: from 14.00 USD

Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm

Contact: +1 7604310352

Near by Food: Ruby’s Diner, Tip Top Meats, Burger Lounge

Website: The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

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7. Walk on white sands at Carlsbad State Beach

Leucadia state beach beacons 2
Source: Photo by user Tim Buss used under CC BY 2.0

Relax to your heart’s content at Carlsbad State Beach! This recognized state park is the perfect outlet to relax by the shore, surf the waves, snorkel in clear waters, or camp atop Beach cliffs! High tide decorates the shoreline with shells, and sunsets on refreshing sands rank as a truly unforgettable privilege. Carlsbad State Beach offers a family friendly setting, awash in the constantly golden glow of friendly California sun. Come find out why Carlsbad State Beach is ranked among the best state beaches in the entire United States!

Carlsbad State Beach

Address: 7201 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008

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8. The Chocolate Bar meets your need for sweets

Posted by Carlsbad Chocolate Bar on Monday, 13 February 2017

Love your taste buds at The Chocolate Bar, Carlsbad’s one-stop shop for all things sweet! Located in the heart of downtown Carlsbad, this elegant sweets shop offers everything from coffee to caramel, truffles to toffee, white chocolate to wine. Stop by to indulge in sinfully delectable sweets, seven days a week!

Carlsbad Chocolate Bar

Address: 2998 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Opening Hours: 9am - 7pm

Contact: +1 7604344479

Website: Carlsbad Chocolate Bar

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9. State Street Farmers Market is your local produce go-to

You still have one hour to get down here!

Posted by State Street Farmers' Market in Carlsbad Village on Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Don’t settle for anything less than the best produce statewide, at the State Street Farmers Market. Frequented by natives and tourists alike, this diverse series of stands maintained by local vendors offers a wide variety of homemade goods, from fruits and vegetables to pastries and jewelry. Ranked fourth of all farmers markets within San Diego County, it is open every Wednesday from 3pm - 7pm during the summer. The State Street Farmer’s Market provides you with local goods of uncompromising quality at unbeatable prices! Support local vendors and satisfy your taste buds with this Carlsbad jewel!

State Street Farmers Market

Address: State St. between Carlsbad Village Dr. and Grand Ave.

Facebook: State Street Farmers Market

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10. Be a witness to times past at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historical Park

Leo Carrillo Ranch, Carlsbad, California
Source: Photo by user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

History meets adventure at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historical Park. This space, a fully functioning ranch named Rancho de Los Kiotes, is now a 27-acre (11-ha) manicured paradise, one that boasts aesthetic beauty and educational value. Much of the ranch is perfectly preserved history, amidst a mystifying natural landscape. Take a hiatus from life’s hectic pace at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historical Park, and learn the value of the perspective of the past!

Leo Carrillo Ranch

Address: 6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Ln, Carlsbad, CA 92009

Opening Hours: 9am - 5pm

Contact: +1 7604761042

Near by Food: Pure Burger, Luna Grill, Board & Brew

Website: Leo Carrillo Ranch

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11. Build your imagination at Legoland, California

Source: Photo by user Coolcaesar used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Rediscover your fun side at Legoland California! This Lego-themed adventure park boasts an unbeatable variety of attractions, catered specifically toward selective age ranges. Since its 1999 inception, Legoland California has existed as a youth’s destination vacation. Let your children create new memories in Fun Town! Discover together the intricate wonders of Miniland USA, a 1:20 scale model of world-class architecture constructed completely of Lego bricks! Become part of the kingdom at Castle Hill! At Legoland, to discover adventure is to turn a corner.

Leogland, California

Address: 1 Legoland Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008

Price: from 98.00 USD

Opening Hours: 10am - 9pm

Contact: +1 8773765346

Website: Legoland, California

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12. Meet recreation's best at Poinsettia Community Park

Early morning tennis at this spectacular 3 tiered tennis complex in Carlsbad. Now it's time for some real work @ Relevance 360 then Jim Crowley and I may take a hike or hang out!

Posted by John R Crowley Jr on Monday, 13 February 2017

Poinsettia Community Park truly has something the entire family can enjoy! Its ten-court tennis complex, slew of maintained athletic facilities, and wide-open spaces together create an easygoing aesthetic. Bust boredom the right way with its offered barbecue pits, soccer fields, and playgrounds for youth. The sun on your back complements the smile on your face at Poinsettia Park!

Poinsettia Community Park

Address: 6600 Hidden Valley Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92011

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13. Hike easy trails at Batiquitos Lagoon

Batiquitos Lagoon, Carlsbad
Source: Photo by user Tim Buss used under CC BY 2.0

Carlsbad’s oceanic atmosphere isn’t nearly complete without Batiquitos Lagoon! Recognized by the state as an ecological reserve, this haven for endangered plants and animals is open to the public for your uninterrupted exploration! Recognized as one of the few tidal wetlands remaining in Southern California, the Batiquitos Lagoon allows you to enjoy the company of perfect weather and non-profit marine preservation.

Batiquitos Lagoon

Address: 7380 Gabbiano Ln., Carlsbad, CA 92011, USA

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14. Discover the big picture at the Viz Art Ink Gallery

Rarely does the combination of art and culture produce an experience like that of the Viz Art Ink Gallery. Hand-drawn, ink based mediums, crafted and perfected by George “Viz” Vizintainer, exist as a message within a message. Vizintainer creates unified works which, up close, are visually composed of a series of smaller, meticulously detailed images. His gallery showcases his works, together with the talents of more than 20 local artists. Come and be a witness to local art, in a dynamic medium of sight and sense!

Viz Art Ink Gallery

Address: 2906 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Opening Hours: 9am - 4pm

Contact: +1 7604342628

Near by Food: Vigilucci’s, Señor Grubby’s, Bluewater Grill

Website: Viz Art Ink Gallery

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15. Soak up the Sun at Lake Calavera

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Looking to take your thrill-seeking outdoors? Lake Calavera has your name on it. This natural trail loop, moderate in terrain and comfortable in distance, introduces you to the beauty of more than 400 acres (162 ha) of preserved wildlife. Hike among threatened and endanger species in this privilege of an outing, a habitat yours for the hiking!

Lake Calavera

Address: 3825 Tamarack Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92010

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Nothing bad about Carlsbad at all

Carlsbad, California does well to offer something for everyone. Its opportunities for outdoor adventure are second to none; indoor activities abound; and the climate alone makes the area well worth the visit. Come see for yourself why Carlsbad, California can more than satisfy your craving for a good time!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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John Gallagher is a digital marketing consultant and writer from San Diego, California. When he isn't thoroughly enjoying the writing process or pretending he thoroughly enjoys the revision...Read more

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