On the surface Carlsbad appears as little more than a typical family resort town, perfect for an ideal summer vacation or as a pit-stop on the next family road trip. After all, it’s the home of Legoland, California, one of the coolest amusement parks for kids in the world, and K1 Speed, a racetrack designed for the kid in all of us. However, beneath the surface sights are some amazing hidden gems and awesome activities that will make your next trip to Carlsbad more memorable.
New Village Arts Theatre
This intimate and artistic theater is a favorite among Carlsbad locals. The plays vary throughout the year but the cast is always top-notch and never disappoints. Although there are only 99 seats, the theater positioned them perfectly so all guests can be confident they will have a great view of the stage. You will find wine, beer, and coffee sold at the theater. There is usually a food truck out to satisfy any larger appetites the attendees of New Village might have. For a full schedule or to book tickets, please consult their website.
K1 Speed Carlsbad
Most visitors to Carlsbad are so distracted by the resorts, beaches, and wealth of water-based sports and activities that they do not even realize K1 Speed exists. This astounding place is an indoor go-kart racetrack designed for both kids and adults. Although both age groups can race, they cannot do so at the same time. The adult karts are top-notch and can hit 60 mph. K1 Speed hosts birthday parties and corporate events regularly, so it is best to call ahead to avoid a long wait upon arrival.
While mom and the young kids are having fun at Legoland, K1 Speed is the perfect place for dad to take the teenagers. Get a rush of adrenaline and experience what it is like to be a race car driver in a safe, fun environment. Even if you’ve been before, it’s worth a second visit because they periodically change the track. Oh, and did I mention they also sell food and beer there? So, what are you waiting for?
This fairly small museum packs itself full of precious gems and rare stones, and is definitely a must-visit while in Carlsbad. The 90-minute tour is free, although if you take a guide (recommended as visitors will learn so much more this way), then it is polite to tip appropriately at the end of the tour. It is also staggering to see the amount of protection and security precautions the museum takes with these gems. It is important to call ahead one day before to place yourself on the list (and most likely screened to ensure that you are not an international gem thief!).
Take the Carlsbad Best Burger Challenge
While the winner of the coveted “best burger in Carlsbad” award may never be officially declared, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the challenge and proclaim your own winner. Three of the traditional top spots vying for the title are Pure Burger, Notorious Burgers and Craft Burger. All three are quite delicious but Craft Burger is my personal favorite.
Another noteworthy burger joint is Ty’s Burger House, located on the northern side of Carlsbad. They have made a name for themselves recently thanks to their extensive menu of exotic meats such as kangaroo combined with craft beer, an outdoor patio and great music. Of course Ty’s also serves all the traditional burgers as well — perfect if not everyone in the group is an adventurous eater.
Expert Travel Tip: Visit on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds.
This humongous park is a great way to escape the crowds of tourists and relax in more tranquil surroundings. Bring a picnic basket and unwind over a tasty meal. Alternatively, strap on those running shoes and hit one of the many park trails. For the sports enthusiasts there are tennis, soccer, basketball, and baseball fields. Besides regularly scheduled team games, there are also impromptu games depending on the weather, so do not worry if you arrive without a ball.
Even if you didn’t bring a skateboard that is no reason to skip over this 15,000-square foot park. Just relax on the sidelines for an hour and enjoy watching the others hone their skills. Should any take a spill, it is lucky for them there is hospital right next door, which skateboarders know will help out if any injuries should occur.
Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
Arguably the most beautiful sight in all of California, the Carlsbad Flower Fields are 50 acres of colorful brilliance. For a nominal $10 entry fee, visitors can wander through the fields for hours and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. It is also a favorite destination of photographers or anyone who wants to get some amazing family photos amongst a sea of flowers. The best time of year to visit is during spring when everything is in full bloom.
flickr // notahipster
Carlsbad is home to around a dozen different hiking trails located around the city. The Aviara Trails, a collection of six diverse hiking paths on the southern side of town, offer the best scenery. Each trail is named after one of its primary features, making it easy for first-time visitors to pick a trail that is appealing to them.
Tip: The Lagoon Trail and the Eucalyptus Trail are the two most scenic walks, with the latter being my personal favorite.
Learn Something New
Take the family over to the Museum of Making Music for a unique and educational experience. As the name implies, this museum is a hands-on experience that is designed to be fun for the whole family. It covers over 100 years of musical instruments, history, displays, and stories in a way that is both entertaining and informative.
Tip: Check their upcoming events schedule to time your trip with an exciting live performance.
These are but a fraction of the exciting things Carlsbad offers, so get off the beach and go explore the city!