What to do and see in Carlsbad, United States: The Best Places and Tips

August 5, 2017 Jacquiline Delozier

Spa-goers have flocked to Carlsbad since its mineral spring was discovered in the late 19th century. Today, you can visit the site of the original well, but you can do much more than just "taking the waters"—Carlsbad’s spas offer world-class services.
Restaurants in Carlsbad

1. The Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum

3190 Lionshead Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92010-4701 +1 760-727-9492
Excellent
80%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

5 based on 128 reviews

The Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum

The museum features wood and metalworking craftsmanship at the small end of the size scale. Exhibits include running internal and external combustion engines, model ships, aircraft and autos, tools, clocks, jewelry, guns and dollhouses. Small Engines are run in our working machine shop each day at 10, 12 and 2 PM. Admission is free, and regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday 9 to 4. The museum is sponsored by the non-profit Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship and partially funded by Sherline Products Miniature Machine Tools.

Reviewed By Brackstead - Carlsbad CA

Great small (but not tiny) museum tucked away in Industrial buildings. Its inland Carlsbad near Bressi Ranch.

Fascinating to me and sons and Grandsons. Anyone who appreciates engineering and making precision working models to scale will totally appreciate this. Some of the models take your breath away particularly the miniature cars with working engines. There must be thousands of people years invested in creating this stuff.

There are Dolls house and other models so all can appreciate this.
Children can take away a lot from the experience regarding design, mechanical engineering, patience and dedication to perfection etc. plus respect for craftsmanship.

Leave a donation.
Docents very helpful. Its fun for children plus they do have some working demos. There is a very Heath Robinson style clock which is set off from time to time. Phone and ask whats on before going. Lots of Parking beside Museum. No food in Museum but jugs of coffee.

2. California Welcome Center

928 N Coast Hwy, Suite A, Oceanside, CA 92054-2136 +1 800-350-7873
Excellent
84%
Good
12%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 141 reviews

California Welcome Center

California Welcome Centers are California’s official State Visitor Centers offering valuable information and services for today’s traveler. There are 17 affiliated Welcome Centers located throughout the state, with volunteers and staff to answer your questions and enhance your visit. Oceanside is home to one of the California Welcome Centers, ready to assist visitors daily from 9am-5pm (except major holidays). Free maps, brochures, a gift shop, restrooms, and personal assistance to get you where you want to go!

Reviewed By FitzFamilyTravels - Commerce Township, Michigan

This Welcome centre really lived up to its name. Everyone in there was very welcoming and informative. Gave us many suggestions for things to do and see and answered all of our questions. Thank you!!

3. COASTER

195 S Tremont St, Oceanside Transit Center, Oceanside, CA 92054-3028 +1 760-966-6500
Excellent
70%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 611 reviews

COASTER

Reviewed By on_the_go_98765 - Tucson

We've taken the Coaster from Carlsbad to Oceanside (really nice center, Oceanside should be proud), and we've also taken the Coaster from Carlsbad to San Diego. Nice experiences during all of those times.

Fortunately for us, we do not travel during peak times and we were able to buy our reduced fare tickets via the machines with few problems. The transportation center in Oceanside is an especially nice, modern, state-of-the-art center. Its terminus is roughly closer to the pier than anything we can think of.

Driving in California can sometimes feel more like a contact sport or a race to the finish (wherever that finish line may be). Any opportunity that says, to us, sit back, relax, and leave the driving to us: Hey, that works for me! Sign me up!

Just as an aside here, we always walk to the station from wherever we are staying.

4. South Carlsbad State Beach

Carlsbad Blvd. and Hwy 101, Carlsbad, CA 92008 +1 760-438-3143
Excellent
65%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

South Carlsbad State Beach

This nearly five-mile stretch of beach is popular with families but also draws surfers and skin divers to the water and runners and cyclists to the boulevard bordering the beach.

Reviewed By Chip B - Powder Springs, Georgia

This is a lightly-traveled beach area, and was certainly not overcrowded during our February visit. We were at the "North Ponto" area of the beach. The kids enjoyed climbing on some of the boulders and rocks holding back the coastline from erosion, but there was plenty of sand for walking along the seashore. We parked near a bathroom facility and also noticed a lifeguard stand. Short drive to the rest of the Carlsbad area (within five minutes). A nice visit!

5. Museum of Making Music

5790 Armada Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008-4608 +1 760-438-5996
Excellent
65%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 299 reviews

Museum of Making Music

This unique museum provides an exciting documentary of the last 100 years of American music through interactive displays, a focus on six different musical eras and a collection of musical instruments.

Reviewed By Kevin W - Sioux Falls, South Dakota

We went to the Jack Tempchin concert celebrating the 45th anniversary of the release of the Peaceful Easy Feeling song, one that he wrote. The capacity of the concert hall is about 130, so it was cozy and intimate. The concert was outstanding, afterward Jack Tempchin greeted attendees and signed autographs until all were signed. We noted that there were many upcoming concerts for the Museum that would be very entertaining in this atmosphere. If we lived in San Diego we would attend shows at this venue as much as possible. You should just do this one.

6. Mission San Luis Rey

4050 Mission Ave., Oceanside, CA 92057-6402 +1 760-757-3651
Excellent
65%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 484 reviews

Mission San Luis Rey

Founded in 1798, Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, known as the "King of the Missions," is a National Historic Landmark. The largest of all the 21 California missions, it is home to a community of Franciscan Friars and is open daily to the public in the Franciscan tradition of heritage and hospitality. Facilities include a Retreat Center with day and overnight programs for spiritual renewal, multi-function meeting spaces, a Cemetery open to all people, Mission Gift Shop, Historic Church and interpretive Museum.

Reviewed By Starviagera - Los Angeles, California

Very interesting history of California. The land keeps changing hands. Hispanics once more the majority. Visit the museum and the labanderia

7. Batiquitos Lagoon

Batiquitos Dr, Carlsbad, CA
Excellent
66%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
0%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 163 reviews

Batiquitos Lagoon

Reviewed By RetiredHawkeye - Iowa

Batiquitos Lagoon is an amazing place for walking and bird watching in the middle of urban Carlsbad. It is one of our favorite places to visit when in the area. Local volunteers do a great job of keeping up the trail and hosting the Nature Center (with bathrooms). There have been a number of benches added which are great for just sitting, looking and listening. There are no charges but financial support of the Friends group is appreciated and used to improve the facilities.

8. Oceanside Pier

300 S Pacific St, Oceanside, CA 92054-2922 +1 760-467-4565
Excellent
57%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Oceanside Pier

Longest wooden pier on California coast at 1941 feet, 1/3 of a mile, there is a convenience store half way out stocked floor to ceiling with fishing pole rentals, bait, tackle, snacks and beverages, and a whole lot of souvenir's stuffed into a 7X15 foot space. Ruby's 50's diner is located on the end with breakfast to burgers and a view to die for. The pier it self is open 24 hours a day 7days a week

Reviewed By jfort2018 - Oceanside, California

I love it. The improvements to the pier over the past few years have made it a comfortable walking experience with new wood it's a smooth experience. People fishing and scenic views of everything from surfers to dolphins make it different nightly.

9. Carlsbad Village

Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 +1 760-434-6093
Excellent
61%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Carlsbad Village

Downtown Carlsbad offers antique and curio stores, lots of good eating places and a great place to cool off after spending hours on the nearby beach.

Reviewed By on_the_go_98765 - Tucson

It's been a couple of years since we were here last and it is still as delightful now as it was then. Be aware that Carlsbad Village Drive (the street) pretty much divides the city between the Barrio neighborhood (on one side) and the Village on the other. Stay on the Village side for the vast majority of the finest Carlsbad has to offer.

Shopping, dining, sight-seeing, all the things we travel to Carlsbad to see are in the Village. The barrio side of the street has a few Mexican restaurants with a nice home style vibe (as in nothing fancy) but not all that much more. It tends to be composed of more older residential and business-oriented buildings (like banking, etc.) If time is at a premium, make your choices accordingly.

When we visited recently, we stayed in Oceanside and walked up the Rail Trail path to Carlsbad (maybe 2 miles, not anymore) and you can always take the train back if the walk is too much.

The street-post banners announce where the "Village" is and there is always something exciting going on somewhere in the "Village." The Farmers Market takes place here, the train station is here, cafes, antique shops and high-end specialty shops are here, hotels are here ... I dont think I missed anything.

This is a geat place to spend the day.

10. Oceanside Sunset Market

316 Mission Ave, Oceanside, CA 92054-2553
Excellent
60%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 164 reviews

Oceanside Sunset Market

Reviewed By on_the_go_98765 - Tucson

When the sun sets, the strings of overhead lights come on and the whole area takes on a festive atmosphere, the likes that we have not seen in any other Farmers Market/Sunset Market anywhere, ever. This was off-the-charts spectacular in every aspect. The shops lining the Market were offering their wares (and brews) so the area really came to life.

Where to start? How about finding food stalls with every imaginable ethnic food available (we are partial to the Turkish wraps), or maybe it is the amusements set up for those who want to bungee chord jump to their hearts delight? Or maybe its the really great musical groups on stage. Or maybe it is all these things mixed together?!?

This should be a carnival by any standards. Loved it. Oceanside, you did this right. We'd come back again and again, just to experience this exciting experience.

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