If exploring some of the best beach towns in the USA is your goal, consider exploring Carlsbad, California.  There is so much to do and see in the area making it one of the best cities in California. The beaches in Carlsbad are some of the best in Southern California. It is a hidden gem that locals love and tourists are unaware of. 

Let’s explore some of the best things to do in Carlsbad, California and why it is the perfect place to plan a beach vacation.

Where is Carlsbad, California?

San Diego to Carlsbad map Carlsbad is located about 35-60 minutes north of San Diego and about an hour and a half from Los Angeles. Traffic is crazy in California so you never know how long it will actually take to get from point A to point B. 

Why is Carlsbad the Perfect Beach Town?

Carlsbad California Weather

There is plenty to do in Carlsbad but what makes it the perfect beach town in the USA is that it has perfect weather year-round.  The weather tends to be in the 60s and 70s all year long!  It is absolutely amazing.  

The Pacific Ocean is typically cooler but in the Carlsbad area, it is slightly warmer because a power plant releases warm water right into the ocean.  Many people surf year-round.  


10 Things to Do In CarlsbadLegoland Park entrance

One of the most well-known attractions in Carlsbad is Legoland.  Legoland is an amusement park, aquarium, and water park. Another exciting area is the Village of Carlsbad.  This area has many locally owned boutiques and restaurants to try.  There is some great outlet shopping in the area as well. But the beaches in Carlsbad are by far the best in Southern California.  

Let’s explore some of the best things to do in Carlsbad. 

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Everything is awesome at Legoland. Legoland is a dream destination for those under the age of 12. Legoland caters to a younger crowd.  Most of the rides within the amusement park are low intensity.  There are many play areas and shows. There is a multi-sensory theater that is “awesome” as well. Some of the most amazing Lego creations are displayed within the park.  

There is an amazing Legoland Water Park and the Sea Life Aquarium. Both sections are add-ons to your Legoland admission ticket.  The water park is geared towards kids and has some amazing splash pads and family rides.  The Sea Life Aquarium shows off some of the local sea life creatures and even offers feeding times. 

Legoland Hotels 

Legoland hotel

One thing to mention is that there are two hotels located on the property.  The Legoland Hotel and the Legoland Castle Hotel.  In my opinion, these hotels are better than the amusement park! Each room is themed. At the Legoland Hotel there is a pirate, ninjago, friends, and kingdom-themed room.  At the Legoland Castle Hotel, there are knights and dragon, royal princess, and magic wizard-themed rooms. 

Every night there is a dance party, royal entertainment from a king and queen, and a Lego building area in the lobby.  One of the best parts is when you check in you get to do a scavenger hunt around the hotel that ends in your room.  There is a secret treasure chest with Lego toys inside!   

If you have kids, I highly recommend staying at the Legoland Hotel when visiting Carlsbad. 

Beaches in Carlsbad

Carlsbad beaches

There are few beaches in Carlsbad. Each is unique and a perfect spot for your beach vacation.  You really can’t go wrong with the beaches in Carlsbad. Let’s explore the different options available. 

Tamarack Beach State Beach

The most popular beach is Tammarack State Beach.  This beach is perfect for families and kids.  It offers swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing, and surfing.  This area is great for beginner surfers.  Many people fish off of the Carlsbad jetties located nearby. There are a few picnic areas located near the beach as well.  The water is warmer in this area because a jet stream from the power plant releases warmer water in the area. 

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There is also a 4-mile walking path along the coast.  Throughout the day, you will see people walking, jogging, and cycling.  You can rent an electric bike and explore this path.  It is a really happening place.  

If you are lucky, parking is available but it is hard to get.  This beach is a local favorite and unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of parking spots available. Facilities are available near the parking lot. 


Carlsbad beach

Terramar is a beautiful beach located near the Carlsbad Power Plant.  We went to the beach in December and my kids were swimming.  The water is warmer because the power plant releases warm water into the ocean.  This area is technically South Carlsbad Beach but what makes it different is that there are tall cliffs, making it where you actually have to walk down to get to the beach area.  This is also a great place to surf but you will need to bring your own board because there are no rental facilities nearby.  This beach does not have lifeguards on duty. 

You can park along the street but it is first come first served. 

North Carlsbad Beach

The North Carlsbad Beach extends from the border of Oceanside down to the Carlsbad Village.  It is a beautiful area commonly used by those who own property nearby. There are no lifeguards or public facilities.  This beach is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Southern California. 

South State Beach

South State BeachSouth State Beach is another really popular beach in Carlsbad.  It is located along rugged cliffs which make it remote.  It is one of the best beaches in the county because all the area surrounding it is undeveloped.  This beach also includes Terramar.  

Another section of South State Beach is called South Ponto. South Ponto has the best conditions for surfing.  If you are lucky, you might be able to see a surfing contest in this area.  They are held from time to time at South Ponto. 


Because this area is undeveloped, there is a really nice campground.  The South State Beach Campground is extremely popular in the summer.  The campsite sits on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful ocean. There are stairs that go down to the beach from the campground. 

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There are two areas of South Beach one is very secluded near Terramar and the other is a wide open space near the campground.  

South Ponto Beach

South Ponto Beach is technically part of South Beach but is a specific section worth highlighting. South Ponto offers swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and beach volleyball.  There are also lifeguards on duty.  This beach is a popular family destination because it offers a lot of facilities including restrooms and showers.  

Parking: There is a free parking lot near South Ponto as well as a paid lot.  It cost $15.  

Village of Carlsbad

The Village of Carlsbad has many historical sites, restaurants, and boutiques.  You can go on a historical walking and food tour in the area or just grab a bite to eat on your own.  Various events are held in the village. There is a weekly farmers market where you can buy fresh items.  There are also seasonal events such as: Art in the Village, Spring Shop Hop, Taste of Carlsbad, Halloween in the Village and many more fun events. 

Carlsbad Premium Outlets 

California has style. Most trendy and popular clothing styles start in California.  Shopping is a must, especially in Carlsbad. Carlsbad Premium Outlets have some great shops.  There are specific stores only found in California as well as designer and name-brand discounted stores. Outlet shopping is a great way to spend a day in Carlsbad. 

Where to Stay in Carlsbad


Are you ready to Explore Carlsbad?Carlsbad California

Hopefully, you understand now why Carlsbad, California is one of the best beach towns in the US. There are so many awesome things to do in Carlsbad. The beaches in Carlsbad are amazing, the shopping incredible, and the entertainment is perfect for your family.  

If you are looking for a little more to do near Carlsbad be sure to check out the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Safari Park, Old Town San Diego, SeaWorld, USS Midway, and Balboa Park.  

I hope you get a chance to visit Carlsbad, California! 

Guest Author: Lisa from Planningaway.com.  Lisa loves planning trips and helping others plan theirs.  You can join her in her Travel Facebook Group , Twitter. or Instagram accounts. 

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