California is a state so jam-packed with destinations that it’s easy to overlooks cities that would be world-class destinations anywhere else. We can wax lyrical about Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Disneyland Park all day, but it’s time to show a little love to Carlsbad.
The City of Millions is by no means unpopular, being a metropolitan resort city with high-end shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, but it’s just as much a peaceful haven for those who want a retreat with gorgeous nature, sunny beaches, and plenty of family activities to scope as well. Here, we’re going to give Carlsbad its due respect with an idea of what you can expect.
Plenty of sun, sea, and sand
If you’re looking for somewhere to set down your towel and enjoy some California sun against a backdrop of sapphire waters, then Carlsbad has you more than covered. There are eight beaches all within easy reach of the city, from the rugged, hiking-ready Warm Water Jetty Beach to the idyllic white sands of Robert Frazee State Beach. If you’re looking for a little more than relaxing by the water then you might be glad to discover the surfing culture is well and truly alive in Carlsbad, with plenty of surf spots of varying difficulty to test both newcomers and old hands.
Plenty for families to do
Carlsbad has a lot more family-oriented activity than your standard Californian destinations which, outside of Disneyland Park, tend to skew for a more adult audience. Legoland California is the one must-see for those bringing their kids with them. Kids stay and play entirely for free, and there are tons to see from the Legoland Water Park full of slides, pools, and tubes, as well as the Sea Life Aquarium bringing you face to face with some of the most colorful underwater denizens that you’re likely to clap eyes on. Of course, a trip to Legoland wouldn’t be complete without some snatching up some Lego as a souvenir, as well.
Enjoy the glitz and glam
Speaking of souvenirs, it wouldn’t be a Californian city without some stops to pick up the latest fashions. The city is well known for the sheer scope and breadth of its shopping. If you’re looking for the top designer labels like Van Heusen and Michael Kors, or you simply want to fashion yourself a new outfit from slightly more affordable, beloved clothing brands, then a stop at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets mall is a must. If you want to see a more quirky, creative side to the city and still end up with something new to wear, then the boutiques of the Village Faire in the middle of historic Carlsbad can work just as well for you, too. There really is something for everyone here.
This is no regular park
Carlsbad has plenty of gorgeous parks, walking spots, and nature retreats, there’s no doubt about that. One of the most enthralling isn’t far out of the city at all, in fact, it’s right there inside it. We’re talking about the Batiquiitos Lagoon, a lush tidal wetland, one of the few of its kind remaining in the US. You can walk the trail with just you and whomever you bring on the journey or join one of the group walks and see all kinds of birds, insects, and fish thriving amongst the marshes and verdant coastal brushes. If you hit up the city in the Autumn, this is even a good spot for kayaking if you’re looking for more of a rush.
There’s always something going on
It doesn’t matter when you visit the city. As populous and jam-packed with different attractions as it is, there is almost always a selection of events to pick and choose from. If you’re looking to see what’s up, check out the Carlsbad Visitor Center and they can point you in the right direction. In the Springtime alone, you have farmers markets, golf tournaments, beach runs, wine festivals and more. Meanwhile, if you’re visiting in the peak tourist season of the summer, there’s the Carlsbad Music Festival spanning an entire weekend, bringing together all sorts of styles from folk to rock to chamber music in literally dozens of free concerts that sees the city come out in force.
Add a touch of color
If you have the luck to happen to visit in the spring, then you’re also going to see one of the most colorful displays of your life. The Flower Fields open every year in Carlsbad with dozens upon dozens of endless rows of orchids, petunias, poinsettias, and much more. Join a walk through the fields, hop on a tractor, or visit some of the creative floral installations in the Artist Gardens. From movies to mazes, there are plenty of attractions to get swept up in while the calendar of events, such as arts & craft days and cultural celebrations like Holi are always going on. This is a spot you can’t miss whenever you visit Carlsbad, especially if you catch it in full bloom.
Close to all kinds of excellent days out
If you’re looking to fulfill your California bucket list, then there are few better places to set out from than Carlsbad. Right on the northern edge of San Diego, it’s a short trip away from Los Angeles, Cleveland National Forest, and Palm Springs and Joshua Tree are just a little ways out if you’re up for making a day trip. Closer by, still, are the San Diego Safari Park and Seaworld. Whether you head north to Los Angeles was, East towards Nevada, or deeper south into San Diego, there’s tons to do in every direction. This makes Carlsbad not just an excellent destination in its own right but the best place from which to discover the rest of the Golden State.
Next time you’re heading down California way, don’t skip Carlsbad. It’s a thoroughly unique slice of the Golden State that has just about everything you could want from a seaside city, but without quite as much of the clutter of the other better-known destinations.