15 Best Things To Do in Carlsbad

The small town of Carlsbad in California has rightfully earned the title of ‘The Village by the Sea’. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Carlsbad is almost like one of those quaint and dreamy European hamlets. But at the same time, it has the ambiance of a sunny Californian beach with all its fervor and spirit. With stretches of white sands and even bigger stretches of colorful flower fields, Carlsbad is indeed the perfect place to spend a quiet weekend. Explore Carlsbad attractions, best places to visit in Carlsbad with us. Whether you are a new resident of the place or are planning to visit anytime soon, here are 15 tourist attractions in Carlsbad that should be on your list.

Let's explore 15 best things to do in Carlsbad:

Carlsbad, California - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

1. Sea Life Aquarium

Under the tutelage of Legoland, the Sea Life Aquarium in Carlsbad is a marine park that offers visitors interactive sessions to know more about the underwater world, its flora and fauna and their lifestyles. In the aquarium, you will find more than 5,000 sea creatures resting and breeding. Do not miss the feeding sessions.

2. Adventure sports at Carlsbad State Beach

The strip of white sands in south Carlsbad is a hub of adventure sports and other activities. Swimming, surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, jet skiing, beachcombing – pick whichever you are comfortable in and indulge to your heart’s content. Above the beach, the bluffs are perfect for camping and picnicking. There are facilities for bathroom, shower and electricity.

3. Museum of Making Music

The Museum of Making Music is a culturally enriched establishment, hosting an array of exhibitions, concerts, interactive programs, workshops and more to preserve the history of American music. The exhibits include classical musical instruments, clips of vintage music and the evolution of it to contemporary ones. The museum is closed on Monday.

4. New Village Arts Theatre

A less popular spot, but you will like this place very much if theatrics attract you. The New Village Arts Theatre can seat around a 100 people, and the productions are arranged by a local ensemble group. But they do a good job, and you can pay a visit if you have some time in hand to discover the local artists.

5. Carlsbad Village

Carlsbad Village is the downtown area of the city with lined up shops, pubs, restaurants, hotels and more. The best way to explore the Carlsbad Village is on foot. Do visit the few antique shops that there are. To steer away from shopping, you can go wine tasting at the Witch Creek Wine Tasting Shop and get a flavour of the best of California. Visit the Alt Karlsbad Hanse House for a relaxing mineral spa massage. This spa dates back to the 1880’s almost.

6. Legoland California

Legoland California is the best attraction of Carlsbad. In a small town like Carlsbad, an attraction like this is a big deal. The park has more than 60 theme-based rides, interactive attractions, simulation rides, and children show for kids between 2 to 12. The Water Park, on the other hand, has, even more, rides suitable for the whole family like Temple Wave Pool, Crocodile Swamp, Build-a-Boat session and more.

7. Le Carrillo Ranch Historic Park

One of the best attractions of Carlsbad, Le Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is a National Landmark. It was once an actual working ranch, all old and vintage style, run by actor Leo Carrillo. Now it is a tourist spot with a lovely landscape, picturesque overlapping of blooming plants and a handful of old windmills and buildings. To add to the experience, many wild peacocks roam around the part free.

8. Carlsbad Village Farmer’s Market

Carlsbad Village Farmer’s market is a weekly Wednesday farmer’s market that sells fresh, organic and homemade products. Naturally grown flowers, vegetables, plants and saps, local food and more such things make this market a popular destination to visit. Taking some time away from the malls and the commercialized shops, this market lets you buy straight from the farmers and support small businesses.

9. The flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch

During the spring-summer months of March to May, the fields along the hills of North San Diego turn alive with a burst of colours thanks to the fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bulbs.  The ranch lets public visit the vivid fields all seven days of the week during the blooming season. They also have a smaller garden and a gift shop, if you want to take back some souvenir of the fields.

10. Carlsbad Village Art and Antique Mall

The Carlsbad Village and Antique Mall is a dream come true for vintage item lovers and collectors. Spread over 15,000 square feet, the mall caters to around a thousand dealers who sell antique items of all sorts. From home décor to old jewelries, exquisite collectables, fine art, china and ceramic items, textiles and the shops are stuffed with many more such items.

11. Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Nature Center

Batiquitos Lagoon is a coastal wetland and nature reserve, which is among the few remaining tidal wetlands of California, and thus a marine conservation area. The nature centre is built around the lagoon to make the public aware of such landforms. Visitors can take guided walking tours that explain the ecosystem of the lagoon, the flora and fauna and the natural system of ecology in the park.

12. Carlsbad Lagoon

Carlsbad Lagoon is a water sports centre where the visitors can enjoy a number of adventurous activities like kayaking, paddleboat, canoeing and wave runners. The equipment devices are available for rent from the centre, and there are trained instructors who explain the techniques and mechanisms of using the equipment if you are an amateur or new to the centre.

13. The GIA Museum

The Gemological Institute of America is in Carlsbad, and the museum is a delight for the eyes. They not only educate the public in the field of gemology and gemstones but have some eye-dazzling items on exhibit as well. The best one is called Symphony in Gemstones, which is a complete set of display including a miniature trumpet made of turquoise, a grand piano made of black onyx, a harp made of tiger eye and more.

14. Craftsmanship Museum

The Craftsmanship Museum is home to automobile, locomotive and aviation-related everything made of wood and metal. The collection has more than 500 working miniatures of engines of different types. Some of the main attractions are the model of a 1932 Duesenberg and the World War II fighter plane models.

15. Carlsbad Food Tour

Carlsbad has reputed agencies that will take you on a tour of the local street food as well as gourmet cuisines. Culinary experts will guide you on tour, and explain the history of the dishes or the famous eateries of Carlsbad. If you are a foodie, and if you are ready to travel for food, you must go for these tours. 

There are always more things to experience in a place than you can ever read on a list. Make your itinerary in such a manner that you get to enjoy and explore the best of the places in Carlsbad.

Author: Ketki Hanamshet
Usually lost in a reverie, Ketki is someone who absolutely refuses to live in the practical world. While she has a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, she should be honored mastery in procrastination. If you see her slouching on a couch, ask...

Are you looking for a Carlsbad travel itinerary? Create an itinerary within minutes, on your own!

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Carlsbad, New Mexico

Must see places in Carlsbad ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Carlsbad and point of interests to visit.

  1. Living Desert Zoo And Gardens State Park

    # 1 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 55 times in trip plans
    Living Desert Zoo And Gardens State Park

    Tags: Park, Zoo

    Address: 1504 Miehls Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Home to 40 native species of animals, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park is where you can have thrilling close encounters with the wildlife in Mexico.  See a variety of animals and rept...Read more

  2. Sitting Bull Falls

    # 2 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 98 times in trip plans
    Sitting Bull Falls

    Tags: Park, Waterfall, Canyon, Nature

    Address: Carlsbad, New Mexico, USA

    Timings: 12:00 pm - 06:00 pm Details

    Replenishing the arid canyon of the Lincoln National Forest with its striking presence, the Sitting Bull Falls covers a height of 150 meters into the canyon and disappears just as quickly into the und...Read more

  3. Carlsbad Museum And Art Center

    # 3 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 16 times in trip plans
    Carlsbad Museum And Art Center

    Tags: Art And Culture, Art Gallery, Museum

    Address: 418 W Fox Street, Carlsbad, New Mexico

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Learn about the culture, art, history of Carlsbad and see a vast collection of documents, artefacts and art creations when you visit the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center. The Native American art pieces ...Read more

  4. Brantley Lake State Park

    # 4 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 37 times in trip plans
    Brantley Lake State Park

    Tags: Park, Lake, Nature

    Address: 33 W Brantley Lake Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The Brantley Lake State Park is the southern most lake in New Mexico and is a loved fishing and boating spot. The lake is fed by the Pecos river and named after the Brantley Lake made over the Brantle...Read more

  5. Lake Carlsbad Beach Park

    # 5 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 25 times in trip plans
    Lake Carlsbad Beach Park

    Tags: Park

    Address: 101 N Halagueno St, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Covering an area of 125 acres on the shore of the Pecos river, the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area’s lush green surroundings are apt to escape the desert climate and cool off with a dip in the wat...Read more

  6. Pecos River Flume

    # 6 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 34 times in trip plans
    Pecos River Flume

    Tags: Outdoors, Water Body, River

    Address: 2309 Westridge Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The Pecos river provides water to the whole city and passes to Texas where it ends in the Rio Grande. To see a fraction of its grand structure, visit the Pecos River Flume. During the late 19th centur...Read more

  7. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

    # 7 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 72 times in trip plans
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park

    Tags: National Park, Park

    Address: 727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, New Mexico, USA‬‬‬‬‬

    If you have adventure on your mind, a few hours exploring the majestic Spider Cave as you crawl through minute openings that make way for a stunning experience, is something you simply must not miss! ...Read more

  8. Artist Gallery

    # 8 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 8 times in trip plans
    Artist Gallery

    Tags: Art Gallery

    Address: 120 S Canyon St, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    The art pulse of Carlsbad, even though quiet subtle, does enlarge the view of Mexican culture and its influence in contemporary art.  The Artist Gallery is one of the few art galleries and art de...Read more

  9. Carlsbad Caverns National Park - Information Center

    # 9 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 38 times in trip plans
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park - Information Center

    Tags: National Park

    Address: 727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 07:00 pm Details

    Everyone should visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park at least once in their life! You will feel magical and at the same time majestic when the lights are shut off and you listen only to the sound of c...Read more

  10. Carlsbad Caverns National Park- Information Center

    # 10 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 1 time in trip plans
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park- Information Center

    Tags: Tourist Center

    Address: 727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Before paying a visit to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center, you can certainly go to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center to acquire right information regarding the stated ...Read more

  11. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Headquarters

    # 11 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 25 times in trip plans
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park Headquarters Image

    Address: 3225 National Parks Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details
    Google Reviews
    Jessica R

    A jewel in the heart of America. As you walk down 78 stories, your mind will have a hard time grasping how big the caves are. I have been twice and loved it, and saw something new each time. I plan to...

    Read more
  12. Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center

    # 12 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 4 times in trip plans
    Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center Image

    Address: 727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA

    Google Reviews

    Our family actually went on Memorial Day, I couldn't believe they were open for the holiday. Parking was great, restrooms are clean. We got in for free on the Every Kid in a Park pass, but normal ad...

    Read more
  13. Carlsbad Koa

    # 13 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 48 times in trip plans
    Carlsbad Koa Image

    Tags: Park, Camp

    Timings: 09:00 am - 07:00 pm Details
    Google Reviews
    A Google User

    Tent camped here a few weeks ago for 1 night via reservation. My kid loved this place! One of the top KOA's we've stayed at. The pool was magnificent. The game room had everything for a kid. There was...

    Read more
  14. Fiesta Drive-In Theatre

    # 14 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 26 times in trip plans
    Fiesta Drive-In Theatre Image
    Timings: 07:00 pm - 11:00 pm Details
    Google Reviews
    Scott May

    Excellent price to get in and really great combo options for the snacks. Management is also on hand for a quick jump if you run out of power. Get there early to get your spot, very minimal trailers...

    Read more
  15. Lake Carlsbad Golf Course

    # 15 of 20 Things To Do in Carlsbad | Added 22 times in trip plans

Find Your Carlsbad Attractions on Map

Find more places to see in Carlsbad

  • Old Mission San Luis Rey

    4050 Mission Ave

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Olivenhain Meeting Hall

    423 Rancho Santa Fe Rd

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Rancho Buena Vista Adobe

    651 E Vista Way

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • The Top Gun House

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • The Beverly Mansion

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • San Luis Rey Mission Church

    4 Mi E of Oceanside on Ca 76

    Historic and Protected Sites
View On Map
  • Lake Hodges Dam

  • Lake O'Neill

  • Guajome Lake

  • Del Mar Shores

View On Map
  • Craftsmanship Museum

    3190 Lionshead Ave

  • Museum of Making Music

    5790 Armada Dr

  • San Dieguito Heritage Museum

    450 Quail Gardens Dr

  • Audubon Society-Buena Vista

    2202 S Coast Hwy

  • San Diego Children's Discovery Museum

    320 N Broadway

  • California Surf Museum

    312 Pier View Way

View On Map
  • Legoland California

    1 Legoland Dr

    Amusement Parks
  • Pari Land

    2614 El Camino Real

    Amusement Parks
  • LEGO Technic Coaster

    5605 Grand Pacific Dr

    Amusement Parks
  • Lost Kingdom Adventure

    5605 Grand Pacific Dr

    Amusement Parks
  • Ninjago the Ride

    1 Legoland Dr

    Amusement Parks Restaurants
  • Xbox WB Games Family Game Space

    1 Legoland Dr

    Arcades Amusement Parks
View On Map
  • The Alley

    421 Grand Ave

    Bars Burgers Mexican
  • Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

    6115 Paseo Del Norte

    American Bars Seafood
  • The Compass

    300 Carlsbad Village Dr

    American Bars
  • Luna Grill

    2681 Gateway Rd

    Middle Eastern International Bars
  • Board & Brew

    2675 Gateway Rd

    Delis Bars American
  • Mother Earth Brew Co.

    2055 Thibodo Rd

    Breweries Bars
View On Map
  • Ocean's Eleven Casino

    121 Brooks St

    Casinos and Gaming Restaurants Sports Bars
  • Casino Concepts

    3085 Hidden Creek Ln

    Casinos and Gaming
View On Map
  • Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

    8833 Harmony Grove Rd

    Natural Parks
  • Heritage Park Village & Museum

    220 Peyri Dr

    Natural Parks
  • Guajome County Park

    3000 Guajome Lake Rd

    Natural Parks
  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

    12600 N Torrey Pines Rd

    Natural Parks
  • Jacks Pond Park

    986 La Moree Rd

    Playgrounds Natural Parks
  • Franks Peak

    Natural Parks
View On Map
  • Ann D. L'Heureux Memorial Dog Park

    2700 Carlsbad Village Dr

    Dog Parks
  • Bressi Ranch Pool

    2565 Dogwood Rd

    Dog Parks
  • Carlsbad Rail Trail

    Dog Parks
  • San Diego Humane Society & SPCA Dog Park

    2905 San Luis Rey Rd

    Dog Parks
  • Rancho Bernardo Community Park

    18448 W Bernardo Dr

    Dog Parks
  • Glen Park

    2149 Orinda Dr

    Playgrounds Dog Parks
View On Map
  • Tamarack State Beach

    101 Tamarack Ave

  • Frazee Beach

    3179 Carlsbad Blvd

  • Carlsbad State Beach

    3900 Carlsbad Blvd

  • Carlsbad Beach Fest

    300 Carlsbad Village Dr

  • Vacation Beach Rentals

    864 Neptune Ave

  • Cardiff State Beach

    2504 S Coast Highway 101

View On Map
  • Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation

    7380 Gabbiano Ln

  • Stanley Peak

    3024 La Honda Dr

  • Highland Valley Trail

    12373 Highland Valley Rd

  • Guy Fleming Trail

    12600 N Torrey Pines Rd

  • Ridgeline Trailhead

    102 San Elijo Road

  • Xterra Black Mountain Trail Run

    14800 Carmel Valley Rd

View On Map
Show More

What To Do in Carlsbad: Day-Wise Ideas

Find what not to miss in Carlsbad! Recommended Carlsbad itineraries and vacation ideas created by travelers across the world.