Best of San Diego: Carlsbad

Best of Carlsbad

Carlsbad is known as the village by the sea, a coastal city north of San Diego. With miles of coastline, lagoons and one of the best family-friendly beaches around, you can spend a lot of time in and around the water in Carlsbad. Home to Legoland, the beautiful Flower Fields, the Premium Outlets, Leo Carrillo Ranch and Palomar Airport, it really has everything you need close by.

The name Carlsbad was inspired by its infamous alkaline water, which has been offered since 1882. Having been said to taste similar to spa water, they named the town after the famous spa town in Bohemia, Czech Republic called “Karlsbad”. 

Hi, I’m Tabitha, a mom of three living in Carlsbad. After living in downtown San Diego in a loft with our first born, we realized it was time to move to a more family-friendly area. One day we were in Carlsbad walking along the boardwalk when we thought “wow, I wish we could move here!” Little did we know it is where would we end up. Having been in Carlsbad for nearly 5 years now, I take advantage of all that Carlsbad has to offer by being outside with my family every day. I hope my recommendations below give you plenty of ideas of things to do in Carlsbad. 

Carlsbad Village
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Carlsbad Village
300 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 453-7076

Carlsbad Village is the best place to visit if you are ever in Carlsbad. Everything is walking distance and they offer plenty of free parking. With several blocks of amazing restaurants, shopping, the beach and even an underground Speakeasy, you can count on amazing day and night life in Carlsbad Village. Not to mention its weekly farmers market, bi-annual street fair, music festivals and so much more!

Poinsettia Park

Poinsettia Community Park
6600 Hidden Valley Rd. Carlsbad, CA 92011

This is our favorite park because it is 42 acres with large beautiful trees that provide lots of natural shade. Not only that but they have tennis courts, three baseball fields, basketball courts, a multi-use turf as well as plenty of picnic tables and grills for barbecuing. The park is currently under construction and expected to add a pickle ball court, dog park and a much larger playground. With three parking lots and two bathrooms, it is a great park to go to. 

Let’s not forget the TGIF concerts in the park every summer, a free family-friendly concert that takes place at various parks in Carlsbad on Friday nights. 

Alga Norte Park

Alga Norte Community Park
6565 Alicante Rd. Carlsbad, CA 92009

Alga Norte Park has a ton of amenities. This includes the aquatic center with a pool, amazing splash pad, concessions and more. The park also has baseball and soccer fields, a dog park and an amazing playground. It is also home to San Diego County’s largest skate park, where many of the pros have skated. 

Other great Parks in Carlsbad:

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park – 6200 Flying LC Lane, Carlsbad, CA 92009

Not quite a playground type of park, but a great place for weddings, to walk around and enjoy the history of this beautiful and tranquil former ranch. My kids love the wild peacocks roaming around and they have an area to sit and eat your lunch. This is a popular place for taking photos with its amazing abode buildings, antique windmills, beautiful structures and plants. 

Carlsbad City Library
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Carlsbad City Library
1775 Dove Lane, Carlsbad, CA 92011 | (760) 602-2049

Carlsbad libraries offer story time and other family friendly events. Get a free library card at any location. 

Georgina Cole Library
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Georgina Cole Library
1250 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 434-2870

Carlsbad City Library Learning Center / 
La Biblioteca de Carlsbad Centro de Aprendizaje

3368 Eureka Place, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 931-4500

Features include: A Spanish, English and bilingual library collection for all ages, literacy tutoring for adults, materiales en inglés, en español y bilingües para niños, adolescentes y adultos.

Pizza Port Carlsbad
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Pizza Port
 571 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 720-7007

2730 Gateway Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009 | (760) 707-1655

With two locations in Carlsbad, this is a great family friendly restaurant. It’s casual, has plenty of arcade games and candy/toy dispensers for kids and let’s not forget their amazing variety of craft beers on tap! You can’t go wrong with Pizza Port if you are up for some pizza and beer and fun for the kids too. 

Park 101

Park 101
 3040 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 434-2217

Park 101 is a popular spot in the heart of Carlsbad Village. It has two stories with outdoor seating, lawn games and even a cotton candy machine for the kids. They also host many events throughout the week such as trivia night, movies in the park and brunch. 

Other great Dining to Try in Carlsbad:

Campfire – 2725 State Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 637-5121

We love Campfire because their eclectic food and drink menu is amazing! They have a cute tee pee outside for kids to play in and it’s located in Carlsbad Village. 

Draft Republic – 5958 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 448-4627

Draft Republic is conveniently located right off the freeway and down the street from the Premium Outlets. They have plenty of arcade games for kids and adults alike, a large list of craft beers on tap and a food menu with something for everyone.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets
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Carlsbad Premium Outlets
5620 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 804-9000

I am a frugal type of mama, so I am all about those good deals. If I can get name brand clothing, shoes and home goods for cheaper by shopping at their outlet store, I am all about that! They have plenty for the kids to do too. My favorite shops are Gap Kids, Vans, Converse, Nike, Disney and Le Creuset. 

Carlsbad Forum
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The Forum Carlsbad
1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad, CA 92009 | (760) 479-0166

The forum is a great place to shop and eat. They also have a new play structure for kids. My favorite shops are lululemon athletica, H&M, Anthropologie and Apple. 

More great Shopping in Carlsbad:

The Shoppes at Carlsbad – 2525 El Camino Real, Suite 200, Carlsbad, CA 92008 

An indoor mall with plenty of shops, restaurants and an indoor playground.

Legoland California
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1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 444-5601

Legoland California is tucked away in Carlsbad, with plenty of great hotels and resorts nearby. Legoland also has a Sea Life Aquarium and Water Park, with something to do every time you visit. Get the best bang for your buck with an annual pass. 


Carlsbad Flower Fields
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The Flower Fields
5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 431-0352

The flower fields is only open during the spring when the flowers are in bloom. With nearly 50 acres of colorfully coordinated flowers, the Flower Fields has become part of Carlsbad’s heritage. They offer wagon rides and it is a beautiful place for a wedding and taking pictures. 

More great things to do with kids: 

Carlsbad Lagoon – 4215 Harrison Street, Carlsbad, CA 92106 | (760) 434-3089

The lagoon is the perfect place for water sports including jet-skiing, boating and paddle-boarding.

Tamarack State Beach – At Tamarack Ave & Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Tamarack Beach is one of the best family-friendly beaches with bathrooms, picnic areas and a parking lot.

Stroller Strides

Stroller Strides
Poinsettia Park – 6600 Hidden Valley Rd, Carlsbad, CA 92011 | (760) 410-8492

Stroller Strides is a stroller-based fitness program for moms of all stages of motherhood. With a kid-friendly atmosphere and interaction, this is a must for any mom in or near Carlsbad. With locations all over San Diego, this is my go to workout that both my kids and I can enjoy. Talk about strength in motherhood!

Equinox Carlsbad
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7710 El Camino Real
Carlsbad, CA 92009 | (760) 268-9657

Talk about a luxurious gym! They even have a child care center. Although I have never been to Equinox, I hear amazing things about this fitness club. 

Other great Fitness suggestions near Carlsbad:

Kickstart Fitness – Cottonwood Creek Park – 96 N. Vulcan Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024

Just a short drive from Carlsbad is another great outdoor fitness program called Kickstart. They offer an onsite babysitter too!

Magdalena Ecke YMCA – 200 Saxony Rd, Encinitas, CA 92024

Also a short drive from Carlsbad is the YMCA. I love this facility because they offer childcare and plenty of programs for kids. 


Omni La Costa
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Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009 | (760) 438-9111

Carlsbad is home to some amazing resorts, but Omni La Costa is by far my favorite. It is the perfect place for weddings and events, has a beautiful golf course and their spa is unlike any other. I love staying here for a staycation or enjoying a day at the spa. They have incredible pools with something for everyone, including a splash pad and water slides. 

Hyatt Aviara Carlsbad
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Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa
7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92011 | (760) 603-6800

Park Hyatt Aviara is another popular resort in Carlsbad. With a golf club and spa, this is a great family-friendly destination.  

Other great Resorts in Carlsbad:

Cape Rey Carlsbad – 1 Ponto Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011 | (760) 602-0800

Sheraton Carlsbad – 5480 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 | (760) 827-2400



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