Shoulder season in Carlsbad, California extends into September, October, November, and even December, making it an ideal spot for travelers looking for more budget friendly accommodations and smaller crowds. Even at this time of year, this Southern California town still offers the ability to bask in the warm golden sun, enjoy stunning sunsets, and kick back and savor a beach vibe.
Carlsbad is a small, easy-going coastal town with a thriving core where there are more pedestrians than cars. There’s an outlet mall offering top selling brands for less than retail stores prices, an amusement/water park made with millions of Lego bricks, prominent golf courses, and a 5-star luxury resort. Stroll the beach and watch a dramatic sunset of reds, yellows and oranges drop behind the Pacific Ocean.
A City That Lives Outdoors
On one hand, Carlsbad is the quintessential beach town, with a relaxed, informal ambiance. As you amble through The Village, you’ll find city blocks filled with locally owned eateries, shops, galleries, outdoor cafes, breweries, boutiques and tidy sidewalk displays of bathing suits, sarongs, jewelry or art.
The Village is small town pride at its best: an old-fashioned neighborhood where people walk, a community that takes pride in maintaining high standards and shows respect for safety and sustainability. Well-executed street art is displayed on sides of buildings and some of the art is rotated monthly.
The communal vibe is furthered by a Wednesday farmer’s market and an art walk on the 4th Thursday of each month. You can idle away 30-minutes sitting on a bench people-watching while having an ice cream cone. Or, try a food tour through The Village with Cherie Poulos and Carlsbad Food tours. You’ll have an opportunity to indulge at several of the local eateries and either a wine or beer tasting and hear about Carlsbad’s Italian-Mexican history. And, while you’re in town, be sure to visit the natural mineral water spa that gave the town its name; Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa.
Something For Everyone
For major shopping therapy, go to the Carlsbad Outlet Mall featuring over 90 top name stores: like True Religion, Theory, Barney’s New York, and Salvatore Ferragamo offering significant savings. At Christmas, there is not a parking place to be found on the whole site and for blocks around.
Carlsbad is a family friendly location with something for every age from toddlers to grandparents, and activities that will satisfy all interests. There’s extreme shopping and the renowned Legoland amusement and waterpark. But there’s also water sports, including water skiing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding in the Carlsbad Lagoon. For those who choose, Carlsbad State Beach offers camping. Hiking and biking trails with various degrees of difficulty abound throughout the community.
For those of a less adventurous bent, the Batiquitos Lagoon, a marine sanctuary, offers a peaceful and serene walk with lots of opportunity for bird watching.
Gemological Society of America
Carlsbad is the home of the Gemological Society of America, where budding jewelers are trained. Their museum is open to the public with videos, a library, and exhibitions accompanied by audio. If you have a little Elizabeth Taylor in your soul, this is a must-see. Think you were born with the talent of a Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, YoYo Ma, Bob Dylan or Keith Urban?
Museum of Music Making
Visit the Museum of Music Making. You’ll see a rich history of instruments dating from the 1900’s to today. There are unique exhibits and live performances, where you can hear hear ragtime, marches, jazz, folk, rock and roll or pop music. Listen to music from countries around the world. Or try out the synthesizer, the Theremin, and a variety of other instruments in the Innovation Studio. See how the genres and tunes have evolved from 1900 to today. Each has impacted the music we listen to and connected people worldwide.
Miniature Engineering Craftsman Museum
If you are a Mr. Gadget, check out the Miniature Engineering Craftsman Museum, the largest collection of model engineering and craftsmanship in the world. It features the ultimate in workmanship of miniature airplanes, autos, clocks, guns, toys, working steam, combustible and solar powered engines including an exquisite model of a 1932 SJ Duesenberg. The museum also contains a fully equipped machine shop where experienced craftsman can work and visitors can watch. It’s also a gathering place where skilled craftsmen share and jointly solve problems with others at their skill level.
Stay at the Hyatt Park Aviara
If all that’s not enough to keep you busy, stop by the Hyatt Park Aviara. It’s earned a 5-star rating from both Forbes and AAA- for 3-years in a row and is known for their Arnold Palmer designed golf course and luxurious accommodations. The resort sits high on a hill providing a sun-drenched overlook of the California Coastline. Their patio is a great place to watch a spectacular sunset. Featuring five exceptional restaurants, there’s everything from Italian, to the Argyle Steakhouse with its organic meat, to the casual California Bistro with a market-fresh seasonal menu. You can’t make a wrong decision. Four hard surface and two clay tennis courts plus an exercise center can fill your day and keep you fit. After all that exercise, be sure to spend some time in the exceptional spa for some first-class pampering.
The Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park
If you’d like to take a step back in time, check out the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, a registered California Historical Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The actor, the original Cisco Kid, preservationist and conservationist, Leo Carrillo was born in Los Angeles, but preferred San Diego. The original buildings were constructed in the late 1800’s and the property was acquired by Carrillo in 1937. It now serves educational functions and offers special programs for fourth grade students to learn California history.
Shoulder Season in Carlsbad, California
Carlsbad is a charming surf town with plenty of sandy beaches to stroll. It offers everything from the downtown Village, a place watch spectacular sunsets, catch a wave, beach comb, skateboard or hone your shopping skills. Carlsbad draws surfers, beach combers, day hikers, campers, and bird watchers to its remarkable seaside bluffs, marine sanctuaries, and miles of hiking, biking and backpacking trails.
- The Carlsbad Visitors Center, 400 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008, www.carlsbad-village.com/go/carlsbad-visitors-center
- Carlsbad Food tours, www.carlsbadfoodtours.com/about-historic-walking-tour-carlsbad/
- Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa, www.carlsbadmineralspa.com/
- Gemological Society of America, www.gia.edu/
- Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, https://carrillo-ranch.org/
- Hyatt Park Aviara, https://aviara.park.hyatt.com/
- Miniature Engineering Craftsman Museum, https://craftsmanshipmuseum.com/
- Legoland, www.legoland.com/california/
-All photos courtesy the Carlsbad Vistors Center.