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20+ Exciting Things to do in Carlsbad California

Carlsbad California


Need a little getaway? Carlsbad, California is the perfect place for a weekend trip. We’ve put together our best lists of recommendations for the most notable things to do in Carlsbad California this fall and winter. From sightseeing to restaurant recommendations, you’re sure to find something that’ll pique your fancy.

1. Walk through Carlsbad Village – Things to do in Carlsbad California 

This is what you see in the fairy-tale-like pictures of Carlsbad Village. Surrounded by old world type buildings like this Victorian style home. You can spend hours, a day or your whole trip discovering this quaint area. Here is what we suggest you to do:

  • Stroll in the old European-like streets
  • Enjoy a delicious cafe latte at the Carlsbad Chocolate Bar
  • Shop in galleries on State Street and Carlsbad Blvd.
  • Get a picture in front of the Twin Inns.
  • Take a break of walking and enjoy lunch at one of our unique eateries
  • Check out the Antique shop and see what gifts you can find.


2. Take a Carlsbad Food Tour

Carlsbad Food Tours is where foodies and history enthusiasts unite. While you walk the village streets, your passionate, local tour guide recounts the vibrant history of this area. In 3 hours you stop in 6 different tasting locations, like in the original hotel “Los Diego’s”. There’s no better way to learn about a city’s heritage than to be guided by a local and to taste its delicious, home-grown foods.
Carlsbad Food Tours

3. Chill out at a one of our ephemeral outdoor spaces 

Carlsbad has many outdoor ephemeral spaces created as a fun place for everyone. Our top choices this year are :

  • Choice Juicery specializes in cold pressed juice, craft almond milks, super-food smoothies and smoothie bowls! – A cool place to hang out and try to figure out what words can be found in the Robot Mural Waterfall. 430 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Park 101 is Carlsbad’s unique answer to community dining, lounging and sipping in style in the heart of the Village. It is a family friendly multi-level, plaza-style complex. 3040 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008

4. Discover the best new restaurants in town

Carlsbad is definitely a foodie town and new restaurants are always popping up. Get ahead of the crowd and discover these new hot spots:

Photo Credit: Cicciotti’s

  • Cicciotti’s Trattoria is casual Italian dining cooked by a Published Author & Chef Gaetano Cicciotti. Cicciotti’s Trattoria serves classic Italian pasta like fettuccine Alfredo which you might find in Italian restaurants, but you won’t find Italian restaurants that cook fresh Italian food the way Gaetano Cicciotti does.
  • Park 101 is a brave new concept, located right on Coast Highway 101, promises to literally change the landscape. It isn’t just a restaurant or a bar or a park. Instead it is a gathering place that’s a little bit of all three.  It is a combination space of both indoor and outdoor areas that serve both coffee and wine. Start with a delicious hot and sticky donuts with some coffee, then have lunch at the barbeque from Park 101’s meat-centric menu which offers lip-smacking selections cooked with unsurpassed passion and pride. Or end your day beach day with a sunset snack on the amazing rooftop bar.  Bring your kids and your dog.
  • The Goods new eats in Carlsbad, is an artisan doughnut bakery, that specializes in delicious doughnuts including Brown Butter, S’mores,  Strawberry Cheesecake and Tahitian vanilla.  The Barille family of Carlsbad has built a loyal following for the house-made cinnamon rolls at Carlsbad’s favorite breakfast place Cafe Topés. Now they’re hoping to do the same with doughnuts. The Goods is a hands-on family enterprise with Mom Jacquie coming up with the idea and Dad Joseph building it.
  • Grubby’s Poke & Fish Market will be one of the new eats in Carlsbad, opening soon The Shoppes At Carlsbad. The owners of Señor Grubby’s (authentic Mexican) will now be offering poke seafood and rice bowls. Grubby’s will also have a retail section where customers can purchase fresh, local, sushi-grade seafood for take away to make your own poke bowls at home
  • Windmill Food Hall: Carlsbad’s landmark windmill building is updating it’s looks inside and out.  Once home to Andersen Pea Soup, it will be soon be one of the new eats in Carlsbad.  The iconic building is about to be created into a food hall with 11 unique eateries.Windmill Food Hall is the latest brainchild of Carlsbad restaurant entrepreneur James Markham, who developed the national Pizza chains: Pieology, Project Pie and MOD Pizza. The vendors chosen for the Windmill include Markham’s own Crackheads, Doughballs & Rolled Up eateries.  Joining them will be Bing Haus & Up2You Café(asian desserts), Cross Street Chicken & Beer, Taco Lady and Thai Style Kitchen
  • Markhams other new venture in Carlsbad is called Crackheads, an all-day breakfast concept which serves up breakfast sandwiches, sushi burritos and mimosa. Crackheads location will be at the corner of State Street and Carlsbad Village Drive in the container box next to Choice Juicery.

–> Click here to see our list of best restaurants in Carlsbad, California (Full Guide for 2018)

5. Explore the area’s nightlife scene  

For a historical town, Carlsbad still has it’s big share of party-goers. In every district you will find a different nightlife atmosphere. Therefore here are our suggestions:

  • Barrel Republic – a self-pour beer bar in Carlsbad – 2961 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Witch Creek Winery – San Diego’s oldest Urban Winery originally founded in 1993. 2906 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Compass –  Weekly Specials available
  • Coyote Bar & Grill Carlsbad – combines a Southwestern theme, hip cuisine and live entertainment.

          300 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008

  • Alley – Dancing & cocktails seven nights a week until 2am! DJ, Karoake & live band nights.

6. Take the car on a day trip to the Spa

Do you have a car and are wondering if there is anything else to see nearby Carlsbad? The answer is YES! Here are a few day-trips just a couple of minutes or hours out of town that you will very much enjoy!

  • La Costa Omni Resort & Spa
  • Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
  • Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa


7. Visit the Carlsbad Art & Antique Shop 

8. Rent a bike to explore further

Pack a lunch, rent a bike with and head on the cycling paths on Carlsbad Blvd/Hwy 101/PCH.  Are you ready for a whole new kind of fun? Pedego electric bikesgo farther and faster, empowering you to see more in less time.

9. Get in touch with nature at the Batiquitos Lagoon

10. Have a drink on a terrace

Step outside at Park 101 to enjoy the fresh air while sipping a watermelon mimosa.

  • Campfire – Relax with one of Campfires specialty cocktails. 2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Witch Creek Winery – Wine Tasting in the private patio area. 2906 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008

11. Cool off at the beach on a hot day 

Carlsbad has 7 miles of beautiful beaches, come explore and find your perfect beach.


12. Soak-up some Carlsbad street art, history & architecture

You can learn all about art, history, architecture and more with short or long visits to the famous landmarks in town. Visit an Victorian home, a mineral spa, a  surf museum, the Carlsbad barrio area and immerse yourself in local culture.

  • Twin Inns
  • Catnap Mural
  • Lola’s Mexican Deli
  • Carlsbad Mineral Spa

13. Check out Carlsbad’s Walk the City Historical Tours

This Historical Walking Tour is located about half way between San Diego and Los Angeles, located in the hip little beach town of Carlsbad, California. Carlsbad boasts over seven miles of coastline, nine local breweries, and a variety of attractions sure to please travelers and locals of every age.  The gem in the crown of Carlsbad is the delightful downtown village that has the charm of an old European city and the atmosphere of a typical Californian coastal resort community.  This quaint village, the very heart and soul of Carlsbad, is home to antique shops, restaurants, theater, art galleries, besides all this, it’s original Carlsbad Mineral Water & Spa is still a main focus in town.
Walk the City Tours Carlsbad

14.Go to one of Carlsbad’s many events & festivals

 Carlsbad festivals. From beer to music festivals, and from comedy to historical fairs therefore Carlsbad should be one of your go to festival towns. Here is a list of the most notable ones:

  • Oktoberfest
  • Farmer’s Market – Every Wednesday’s 3-7pm
  • Carlsbad Street Fair – November 4th “World’s largest one day street fair”
  • Art & Rhythm –  Free Community Event-Saturday, October 20, 2017, 11am-7pm and Sunday, October 21, 2017, 11am-7pm.


15. Enjoy a Unique Shopping Experience

  • Carlsbad Premium Outlets features a collection of the finest brands for you, your family and your home. Include a shopping stop during your next trip to the San Diego area.
  • Arnelle’s – Women’s Clothing Shop – 2940 State St., Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Carlsbad Art & Antique Mall – 2752 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
  • Shoppes at Carlsbad – 2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92008-1204
  • The Forum – 1923 Calle Barcelona, Carlsbad, CA 92009
  • Village Fair Restaurants and Shops– 300 Carlsbad village Drive, #108, Carlsbad CA 92008
  • Olde Ivy Antiques – 2928 State Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008


16. Dine in an upscale Carlsbad restaurants – Exciting Things to do in Carlsbad, California

Carlsbad city has some amazing fine-dining cuisine. From traditional French style to locally-sourced modern inspiration, you can splurge on a whole variety of great eats, though recently the restaurants are especially drawing from local food traditions. We recommend:

  • Vigilucci’s – Taste the flavors of Italy
  • Paon– Innovation in plating using local cuisine and game.
  • Land and Water Company– Experience gustatory poetry made from seasonal & sustainable ingredients
  • Campfire – New and delicious inspiring dishes cooked over a campfire
  • Polo– Fine dinning, farm to table
  • Cicciotti’s – Italian Cuisine
  • Via Vai – A Taste of Italy


17. Eat Grubby’s at 1 am

Once all the bars in Carlsbad close for the night, there’s one more thing you have to do. This is Carlsbad, after all, so stop by Senor Grubby’s for some late night Al Pastor taco. The sports bar is a favorite with locals and open until 2am  Friday-Saturday. Even the late night partiers want that proper Carlsbad taco.

18. Spend a day at the Leo Carrillo Historic Ranch in Carlsbad

  • Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is a municipal park that sits in a 27-acre canyon and one of the best things to do in Carlsbad, California. Opened in 2003 and designated as a Historic National Landmark, the park is a former working ranch that was at one time owned by actor Leo Carrillo. In addition to the beautiful natural landscape, the park includes a reflecting pool, old windmills, adobe buildings, and other historic buildings. The park is home to many plants such as birds of paradise, bougainvillea, and agave as well as various kinds of trees. There are also many peacocks that walk around the park and add to the unique ambiance.


19. Attend a Foodie Block party at the Carlsbad Farmer’s Market

Imagine a block party where most of the people attending are chefs, gourmet food makers, or hopeless foodies. Now imagine that these people are lined up all on one street, with their best selection of delicious local food and products. Well, that’s the Farmer’s Experience. The street is closed to cars, and State street restaurants set up booths offering tasty treats paired with some musical and artistic selections. Click here to find out more.

20. Take in a Hollywood style Musical  

  • New Village Arts is an award-winning professional theater in the heart of Carlsbad Village. Located in the historic Bauer Lumber Building, New Village Arts presents six main stage theater productions each year, ranging from classic musicals to modern favorites and exciting new works.

New Village Arts Theater

Bonus: Take a Stroll on the Beach at Sunset 

Best Places to Sunset Watch in Carlsbad California are at the beach, the sun is at it’s best when setting in the Pacific Ocean. The contrast between the blues and greens of the water and the orange, yellow and reds of the sunset make a rainbow of colors.
Best Places to Watch Sunset in Carlsbad