Last Updated on March 7, 2023

Carlsbad is blessed with its location. Numerous big cities are within driving distance of this charming town. But what to do in Carlsbad, California? Plenty.

Families visiting Disneyland can detour to the beach, 56 miles away. With seven miles of coastline, it is a welcoming reprieve from the crowds. Watch stunning sunrises and sunsets after standing in long lines at Disneyland is as relaxing as it is beautiful.

If your original destination was San Diego, it is worth taking the time to make the 35-mile drive north to enjoy the area. Or suppose Los Angeles was your destination for business. In that case, we can assure you the 88-mile drive south to Carlsbad can be the perfect place to refresh and dine on the plentiful Pacific Ocean, fresh seafood while listening to the waves lapping into the evening.

The Flower Fields

Flower Fields in Carlsbad CA
©Kathy Condon

This ranch, owned by the Frazee Family, was originally a vegetable farm when nearby neighbor Luther Gage started planting flowers called ranunculus. The public started taking notice, not only were they an unfamiliar flower, but their brilliant colors dotted the hillside.

With the seeds and careful cultivation, the Gage family developed many colors from the original red and yellow flowers. It became the only commercially grown source of ranunculus in the country.

The ranch was never meant to be open for public access. Still, people kept stopping along the road to capture the essence of these expansive, colorful fields. The Frazee and Gage families discuss how both families may benefit by opening the area. In 1993, Edwin Frazee announced the public could learn about the flowers’ commercial growth and see the flowers up close.

The Flower Fields are the best mid-March through mid-April but remain open through Mother’s Day. They offer extensive classes for people of all ages on the grounds, including an orchid greenhouse.

Carlsbad Village

The enchanting Carlsbad Village is in the heart of downtown Carlsbad. Park your car and browse this three-block area. You can tell by the landscaping; the people take great pride in their town.

The quaint shops are brimming with unusual items. It is the place to find the hard-to-find gift for your most discriminating friends. For consignment connoisseurs, you are sure to find things you cannot live without once you get home. Are you looking for casual clothes to add to your wardrobe? No problem. Be sure to check out the shoe stores.

State Street Farmers Market

Farmers Market - Carlsbad
©Kathy Condon

The State Street Farmers Market is in the heart of Carlsbad Village. This is the place to buy farm-fresh produce grown by local farmers. You may encounter something you have not seen before, so feel free to ask questions.

You will find the farmers very willing to share information, and yes, they may even push you out of your comfort zone to try something new. Other artisans emphasize organic products such as bone broth, kombucha, and yogurt.

Then, of course, there are special handmade treats for dogs, and for humans, there are specialty coffees and cold beverages that will quench your thirst on a warm afternoon.


It is not what you are thinking. Crack refers to the Crackheads Restaurant tangy sauce that appears to be the perfect accompaniment to its famous breakfast sandwiches.

More than one traveler has detoured the highway to come to the Village to sit and enjoy their relaxed and dog-friendly atmosphere. With a large expanse of artificial turf, it is the perfect place for children to play and exert some energy.

An unusual aspect of the grounds is a gigantic blackboard that holds many secret messages to others or childlike drawings that are too precious to erase. Later in the evening, the roof-top structure is the site for your birds-eye-view of the downtown at night and people watching as you sip a brew or one of their creative drinks.

Carlsbad Visitors Center

This dark green building with bright yellow trim cannot help, but draw attention to itself. A closer examination reveals the ornate structure and causes one to seek out more information.

In 1887 a depot was built on this spot. With the urging of city fathers, the original building was replaced in 1907. They wanted a building with much more interesting architectural aspects. Through the years, it served multiple purposes: a telegraph office, a post office, a general store, and a local produce shipping area.

For many years it was the depot on the route from San Diego to Los Angeles. Passenger service stopped in 1957; it closed in 1960. Today it proudly serves as the Carlsbad Visitors Center. Visitors are welcome to learn about the railroad history of the area and the many attributes of this charming community.

Carlsbad Central Park

Carlsbad Central Park
©Kathy Condon

A gathering place in a town develops a sense of community. This lovely park situated at the end of Carlsbad’s retail area serves multiple purposes, for it is meant to be a community asset used by people of all ages.

During the day, it is an excellent place for children to play, take a lunch break while eating your favorite food from a local restaurant, or sit and breathe in the fresh ocean air.

As evening approaches, bring your family, blankets, and chairs and sit back and listen to music or schedule your visit so you can watch your favorite movie on the big screen.

Museum of Making Music

Museum of Making Music
©Carlsbad Visitors Center

Initially, this museum was founded by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) as their headquarters. The public became curious, for it heard about the historical exhibits housed within the walls. With curiosity continuing to expand and thirst to learn more about musical instruments’ history, it eventually opened to the public.

There has been a complete renovation of the Museum of Making Music. Visitors can explore how the instruments are made, how they are sold and distributed throughout the world, and their impact on our culture. Technology is used extensively throughout the music and making it highly interactive.

If you ever wanted to pick up an instrument and try to play it, here is your chance. This museum is also made to be a place where families can learn together about the musical world.

South Carlsbad State Beach

Steps away from the Village is an expansive five-mile Beach of South Carlsbad State Beach. This vast beach has a boardwalk, which goes for miles. Here you will find cyclists, runners, and people taking leisurely walks, all enjoying a California beach day.

For the adventurous, you might want to try out your athletic skills surfing on the sweeping waves often prevalent in this area. Or, if you have always wanted to learn to dive, lessons are available.

There is a large campground but make reservations for there is in great demand for ocean view sites. It is unusual to find a campground right on the Pacific Ocean. Security is impressive.

LEGOLAND California

Legoland California
©Carlsbad Visitor Center

With a ticket in hand and your car parked, you see The LEGOLAND California Theme Park Hotel, which beckons you to come in and explore. The journey through this park will bring the kid out of any age person. Follow the paths and view gigantic sets of model towns. You will marvel at the intricate work of master Lego creators. As an aside note, imagine your job is building things with Legos all day.

If you ever wondered how Legos are made, you must stop at the factory where they are created and see thousands, if not millions, of Legos sitting in their bins waiting for LEGOLAND creators to build the next new addition to the park.

Children will love the playgrounds where they can take gigantic Legos and build wherever their imagination takes them. End the day with a magical boat ride that starts calmly but somehow ignites the urge to cause trouble and run into other boats. Nothing better than ending a day laughing.


Explosion in Carlsbad Prohibition caused the demise of small breweries. Hops, grown in fields, were left in ruin. After Prohibition, the large beer companies used available hops. They made beer, which was often flavorless but appreciated by people because it was readily available.

Today, people want farm-to-table cuisine and locally grown beverages. With an eye to meeting consumers’ needs, breweries have added quaint bars, which serve as the perfect meeting place for friends and visitors to savor their flavorful beverages. Carlsbad is now home to nine breweries.