Known as “The Village by the Sea,” Carlsbad offers the charm of a European town with the conveniences of a large city. As you wander streets lined with antique stores, boutique shops and sidewalk cafes, you’ll soon discover much more including miles of coastline, beautiful flower gardens and world-class shopping.
With a perfectly mild climate, each season offers a variety of unique events and activities from street fairs to art walks. Steps away from the village lie clean, uncrowded beaches for swimming, sunbathing and surfing as well as beautiful lagoons for fishing, bird-watching and nature hikes. From seaside shopping, indoor kart racing, to an amusement park made of Lego’s, Carlsbad is the epitome of family friendly. If you fancy arts and culture there is a variety of creativity and inspiration in fine arts, concerts and craft beers. A local favorite is the beach walk extending from Pine Avenue to Tamarack Avenue along Carlsbad Blvd. Grab a cup of coffee, take a stroll, watch the surfers catch waves, and then catch a beautiful Southern California sunset. Mass Transit bus route 101
The area known today as Carlsbad was claimed as a territory by Spain and then by Mexico before becoming a part of the United States. The shoreline of Carlsbad’s coastal lagoon was home to the indigenous Luiseno and Diegueños Indians for centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards. The City of Carlsbad is named for a famed 19th century spa in Europe, yet its history reflects the heritage of many cultures.
Carlsbad was named after Karlsbad, a spa city (a town situated around a developed mineral spring), located in Bohemia, Czech Republic. How the name came about was from a man by the name of John Frazier, who was a former sailor, who dug a well in Carlsbad and tapped artesian and mineral springs. He began offering his water at the train station to thirsty train passengers passing through, where the town became known as Frazier’s Station and was a popular tourist spot. A test done on a second fresh-water well found the water to be chemically similar to one of the most famous spas in Europe, at Karlsbad in Austria-Hungary (now in the Czech Republic). After Frazier’s discovery of this found-to-be therapeutic and healthy mineral water, he and several business men formed the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company. Soon after, Frazier’s Station became known as Carlsbad. The area experienced a period of growth, building beautiful homes (One of the homes was Neiman’s Restaurant that was built in 1887 where it became a favorite stopping place for travelers and diners in the 1920s. It is still standing on the corner of Carlsbad Village Drive and Carlsbad Boulevard, now named Ocean House.) a hotel, and a spa next to the mineral wells. The site of John Frazier’s original well can still be found at Alt Karlsbad, a replica of a German Hanseatic house, located on Carlsbad Boulevard.
By the mid 1920’s, Carlsbad had its own school district, several new churches, a movie theater and a newspaper, the “Carlsbad Journal.” With its close proximity to Camp Pendleton and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the post-war boom brought many veterans to the city returning to the sleepy little beach town of their wartime memories. This growth led to Carlsbad’s incorporation in 1952. Since then, the city’s population has increased nearly 700 percent and has expanded three times its original size, yet much remains the same. To the west and north, the friendly small-town atmosphere envisioned remains a vibrant feature of Carlsbad’s historic downtown.
- Notable residents of Carlsbad include: Congressman Brian Billbray, Conservationist Leo Carillo, Members of the band Switchfoot, and athletes Tony Hawk and Shawn White.
- The first skate park in the world – Carlsbad Skatepark – was built in Carlsbad in 1976.
Things To Do:
1. Beaches- Carlsbad is home to seven miles of pristine, uncrowded and surfer’s-paradise beaches. Renowned as one of the best surf spots in southern California, there’s still plenty of water and sand for all to enjoy. Dogs are not allowed on beaches in Carlsbad, but leashed dogs are welcome on the trails. There are three beaches in the area; let’s go from South to North. South Carlsbad State Beach stretches from La Costa Avenue to Palomar Airport Road and includes a popular 220 site camping area (make reservations far in advance) and two day use areas. Beach areas included are Ponto and Terramar beach. Carlsbad State Beach runs from Pine Street south to Cannon Road and includes Frazee State Beach/Tamarack Surf Beach and Warm Water Jetty (in front of the power plant). Dogs on leashes are allowed up top, but not on the lower path. Finally, North Carlsbad beaches run north of Pine Avenue and all the way to the Oceanside border. Beaches in north Carlsbad do not have lifeguard services, restrooms, showers or other amenities.
2. Shopping- Carlsbad offers so much shopping whether it’s boutiques or antiques, this city has it all! The Carlsbad Premium Outlets combine fashionable factory-outlet stores, restaurants and art galleries. It is a great place to go bargain-hunting in San Diego. Be sure to visit The Forum in South Carlsbad, a 265,000 square-foot specialty retail center with all the popular “name brand” clothing stores, is one of those “new-style” outdoor malls. On the city’s north boundary is the Westfield Plaza Camino Real mall, also known as “The Carlsbad Mall”, is a huge regional shopping mall with all the major department stores and a variety of specialty shops. The Village of Carlsbad, or downtown Carlsbad, is packed with antique stores, trendy boutiques, great eats, and a bi-annual street faire touted as the largest one-day faire in the country. All of this is amid beautiful landscaping within walking distance of the beach.
3. LEGOLAND California- LEGOLAND is a theme park that is focused on LEGO bricks. The park is split into nine major sections which are: The Beginning, Dino Island, Duplo, Village Green, Fun Town, Castle Hill, Miniland USA, Pirate Shores, Imagination Zone, and Land of Adventure. LEGOLAND also opened a water park in May of 2010 and is the world’s first and only one that has been built. The Water Park features a 45-foot tall tower of Legos, more than 20 Lego models, two beach wading areas, and over eight rides and attractions geared towards 2-12 year-olds. www.california.legoland.com. (760) 918-LEGO. Click here for discounted tickets
4. SEA LIFE Aquarium- SEA LIFE Aquarium could be your child’s first interactive guide to the life of the sea combining active hands-on learning with fascinating educational talks, and up close encounters with 4,000+ sea creatures including Sharks, Octopus & Rays! There is a touch pool where you and your children. The cost of admission is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $13 for kids (3-12). Click here to buy tickets. www.visitsealife.com/california.
5. Museum of Making Music- The Museum of Making Music, founded in 1998, explores the history and innovation of American music products (1890’s to today). Offering an unusual perspective, the museum showcases a side of the music industry where very little is known. The museum educates the public through films, private concerts, workshops, and their interactive area where visitors have the opportunity to create their own music using the museum’s one-of-a-kind instrument collection.
Representing traditional and new waves of sound, the museum’s assortment of hands-on instruments range from classic rosewood acoustic guitars and banjos to Beamz, an interactive instrument that connects to a PC. It includes Beamz Player software, allowing each laser beam to control a new instrument, music clip, or sound effect. The Museum of Making Music’s gift shop offers an abundance of cool educational toys, clothing, post cards, CDs and books. (760) 438.5996; www.museumofmakingmusic.org; Mass Transit bus route #101. Click here for a map to the Museum of Making Music. Click here for a $2 off admission coupon!
6. K1 Speed- If you are looking for the perfect introduction to go kart racing in San Diego, K1 Speed’s North County indoor karting track in Carlsbad is for you. The Carlsbad location has been open since 2003 and is the original location of K1 Speed. We were the first to introduce electric indoor karting to the San Diego and Southern California area.Combining tight, technical corners with a wide front straight and the thrill of electric karts, K1 Speed is the premier go-kart racing and indoor karting facility in Carlsbad, North County, and San Diego. With speeds approaching 40mph on the straightaway and other racers vying for position all around you, you’re sure to feel the rush! The entertainment venue offers 70,000 square feet of space that includes arcade games, sitting areas, a snack bar and our 1/3 mile-long indoor karting track, and is perfect for birthday parties, bachelor parties, special occasions, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate functions and team building exercises. The center opens at 12 noon. (760) 929-2225. www.k1speed.com/carlsbad-location. Hours: Monday – Thursday 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM , Friday & Saturday 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM , Sunday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
7. The Flower Fields- The Carlsbad Flower Fields are a sensual overload of beauty and vibrant color. Overlooking the blue pacific in South Carlsbad, the 50 acre Flower Fields provide more than just eye candy, and people from all over the world visit each year to see the famous multi-colored rows of Ranunculus.
There is something for everyone at the Flower Fields, including a sweet pea maze, gemstone mining, a playground for children, a miniature rose garden, and numerous displays and live entertainment. Walk the fields yourself and take it all in, take a wagon ride for a small fee or book a group tour. The season starts March 1 and lasts through early May. Hours are 9am to 6pm, seven days a week. Admission prices are available by calling (760) 431-0352 or by visiting www.theflowerfields.com.
8. Carlsbad Skateboard Park-Carlsbad Skatepark offers a good mix of street and small transition skateboarding. The flow of the park is decent and offers some good lines. This is a good skatepark for the beginner and for those looking for a mellow place to skate. It features curved and flat ramps, two pyramids, two stairways, kidney + spin bowls, pipe grinding ledges, a beginner’s area, picnic tables, and restrooms nearby. Safety equipment is required. The skatepark is open from 8am to 10 pm daily and is located at 2560 Orion Way, Carlsbad, CA 92010.
9. Golfing-Golfing in Carlsbad is not just a game, it’s an experience! Beautifully designed, world-class courses offer unmatched amenities, such as GPS-equipped golf carts that help gauge your next shot, gorgeous clubhouses to relax in, golf classes with top golf pros, and nearby resorts and spas for when you’re done playing and want to unwind. Carlsbad is also headquarters for major golf companies such as Callaway, Cobra, and TaylorMade. Golf courses that are located in Carlsbad are The Crossings Golf Course (city owned, public): 18 holes / par 72, La Costa Resort North Golf Course (private): 18 holes / par 72, La Costa Resort South Golf Course (private): 18 holes / par 72, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Golf Course (private): 18 holes / par 72 and Rancho Carlsbad Golf Course (public): 18 holes / par 56. Click here to reserve your discounted tee times.
10. Magee Park- The craftsman-style Magee House was originally built by Samuel Church Smith (one of the founders of Carlsbad Land and Water Company) in 1887 and is now home to the Carlsbad Historical Society and its archives. The house is furnished in a turn-of-the-century style reflecting thel life of the early Carlsbad settlers who once owned the house. The historical gardens feature a nationally registered Rose Garden that earned Carlsbed the covet American Rose Society’s “An American Rose City” in 2002. This is a worthwhile stop on Historical Highway 101 for anyone interested in history and plants, to experience one of Carlsbad’s oldest structures located one block from the Pacific Ocean in a beautiful park setting. depicts the life style of the early settlers of Carlsbad who had once owned the house. Located at 258 Beech Ave, Carlsbad CA, 92008. Tours of the historic buildings are offered by the Carlsbad Historical Society.
11. Leo Carillo Ranch Historic Park- Leo Carrillo Ranch, also known as Carlsbad’s Sleeping Beauty, is a historic rancho. In the ‘50s, at the peak of Carrillo’s film career, he felt an intense yearning to find a retreat where he could re-create an Old California-style working rancho, an important cultural asset he felt was rapidly dying out. Walk over the Old North Bridge and observe the weir complex, head towards Caretaker’s Cottage and pick up a copy of the ranch guide full of valuable information. Adore Toyon trees around you as you stroll down Palm Lane. With the self-guided walking tour, there is so much to see and the dozens of brilliant peacocks who call the ranch home will keep you company. Guided walking tours are offered on Saturday at 11 a.m and 1 p.m. and on Sunday at noon and 2 p.m. lasting approximately 90 minutes.