Carlsbad is a city in the north end of San Diego County in Southern California. The city has a relaxed beach town atmosphere away from the urban madness of Los Angeles and San Diego, but close enough for easy access. It has a 7-mile stretch of mostly undeveloped coastline with nice beaches, secluded coves and picturesque cliffs that are well maintained and accessible.


San Francisco built out of LEGO bricks

Carlsbad is the third largest city in San Diego County. Its northern neighbor is the second biggest city in San Diego County, Oceanside. South of Carlsbad is the affluent beach town of Encinitas.

Carlsbad is a favorite destination for families and foreign tourists, especially Germans.

For families with children, Carlsbad's biggest draw is Legoland California, a theme park based on the popular toy line with sculptures made of the little plastic bricks and lots of Lego-themed rides. The downtown Carlsbad Village by-the-Sea area is a nice place to spend the day shopping and eating at an eclectic mix of places. For now the area has kept a charming mix of the Old California single story development - giving its European Village feel - with the modern amenities of a modern city.

Get in[edit]

Map of Carlsbad (California)

By car[edit]

Carlsbad is about 30 miles north of San Diego on Interstate 5. The Coast Highway (County Route S21) passes through Carlsbad as well, under the name Carlsbad Boulevard.

By rail[edit]

While the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, which travels between San Luis Obispo and San Diego, passes through Carlsbad, it does not stop in the city; the closest stops to Carlsbad are at the Oceanside Transit Center and Solana Beach Station. However, the more numerous commuter Coaster trains between Oceanside and San Diego, run by NCTD [dead link], do stop at two stations in Carlsbad: 1 Carlsbad Village at 2775 State St near downtown and 2 Carlsbad Poinsettia at 6511 Avenida Encinas, between Palomar Airport Road and Poinsettia Lane.

NCTD Sprinter Hybrid Rail travels between the Oceanside Transit Center and the Escondido Transit Center, but does not pass through Carlsbad.

There are also regional Metrolink trains from Los Angeles to nearby Oceanside, from where it's possible to take a bus or taxi to Carlsbad.

By plane[edit]

  • 3 McClellan-Palomar Airport (CLD IATA). is served by Advanced Air and JSX for commercial services. Also serves as a general aviation and FBO (Fixed Based Operator) airport for VIP flights. By public transportation the NCTD #445 bus goes by the Carlsbad Palomar Airport from the Carlsbad Poinsettia Coaster Station, on its way towards Palomar College. McClellan–Palomar Airport (Q650767) on Wikidata McClellan–Palomar Airport on Wikipedia

San Diego International Airport (SAN IATA) is the closest major airport to Carlsbad. From SAN, you may take San Diego Transit's Route 992 bus to the Santa Fe Depot, connect to the COASTER, and get off at the COASTER stations at either Carlsbad Poinsettia or Carlsbad Village.

John Wayne Airport (SNA IATA) in Orange County is the next closest major airport; the nearest Amtrak/Metrolink stations are in Santa Ana, Tustin, and Irvine.

Get around[edit]

The North County Transit District provides public bus service within Carlsbad.


Flower Fields
  • 1 Legoland California, One Legoland Dr (exit I-5 at Cannon Road, turn east, then turn south onto Legoland Drive), +1 760 918-5346. Operating hours vary. Sister park to the Danish park themed to the phenomenally popular toy line. Strikingly accurate Lego sculptures, thrill rides, a pair of water parks, and more. Adults $89, children 3-12 $83, children under age 3 free; water park extra $21 (parking $15 per car, $20 RVs, $5 motorcycles). Legoland California (Q2276588) on Wikidata Legoland California on Wikipedia
  • 2 Flower Fields. For six to eight weeks each year - from early March through early May, almost fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers are in full bloom. Admission to the fields is $11, though the fields are quite visible from outside as well.
  • 3 Sea Life Aquarium at Legoland Resort, 1 Legoland Drive (next to the entrance to Legoland), +1 760 918-5346. Operating hours vary. An aquarium with touchpools, play areas, and lots of interactive exhibits for children. $20; discount if purchased online; can be purchased in combination with Legoland admission.


Carlsbad State Beach
  • 1 Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa, 2802 Carlsbad Blvd, +1 760 434-1887. Hot baths in Carlsbad.
  • 2 Carlsbad State Beach, from Cannon Road north to Pine Street (near the end of Palomar Airport Road). One of the area's nicest beaches. In warm weather there may be stingrays, so walk carefully. The area also has an R/C Gliderport along the cliffs. Carlsbad State Beach (Q5042879) on Wikidata Carlsbad State Beach on Wikipedia
  • 3 Carlsbad Village Street Faire, Grand Ave from Carlsbad Blvd to Jefferson St, +1 760 931-8400. First Sunday in May and November. 900 vendors and an international food court.


  • Carlsbad Pipeline. Beachwear and accessories.
  • Carlsbad Premium Outlets, off Carlsbad Village Drive. Upscale outlet center.


  • 1 Benihana. Part of a chain of Japanese restaurants. Their food is good, and they prepare it entertainingly right in front of you.
  • 2 Captain Keno's, 158 N Coast Highway 101, +1 760 753-4555. Large portions. $3 breakfast all day, $3 spaghetti after 4.
  • Coyote Bar & Grill. Mostly featuring Southwestern and Mexican food, a wide range of tequilas, and live bands.
  • Daily News Cafe. Relaxed breakfast and lunch cafe near the beach. They have Reubens on Sunday.
  • Tip Top Meats. European market with a restaurant in the back that serves European foods. The lines can be long but its a local favorite.
  • Jay's Gourmet. Pizza and seafood and seafood pizza.
  • Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill, at the Carlsbad Company Stores near Palomar Airport Rd. & I-5. A chain of unique restaurants spanning California and several other western states which has its roots in the San Diego area and is headquartered in Carlsbad. Try an Original Fish Taco.
  • Yoshino Japanese Deli, 2913 State St. M–Sa 10AM-3PM. Very good sushi and poke bowls at reasonable prices.

Gluten-free dining: If you are on a gluten-free diet you are in for treat. The following restaurants are located in Carlsbad Village and are walking distance from the train station: Pizza Port offers delicious gluten-free pizza and carries gluten-free beers and ciders. For Mexican dining try Garcia's or Norte, all of who can provide gluten-free options. Several Italian restaurants will substitute gluten-free pasta including Vigilucci's. The Coyote Bar and Grill has an excellent roasted half chicken and other menu options that can be made gluten-free.


  • Pizza Port Carlsbad, 571 Carlsbad Village Dr.. Beer enthusiasts will want to check out this place, which was featured in the Beer Advocate's Top 50 places to drink beer in America. The pub is family-friendly, and the California-style pizza is a local favorite. They also host local beer-tastings and microbrew events.
  • Vinaka Cafe, 300 Carlsbad Village Dr #211, +1 760 720-7890. Fresh coffee, tea and food in a comfortable coffee shop atmosphere. It's upstairs in the center of the Village Faire shopping center. Prices are about average coffee shop prices.



Carlsbad State Beach. A beautiful area south of town on the Pacific Coast Highway. Reservations required most dates.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Carlsbad
Santa AnaOceanside  N  S  EncinitasSan Diego
Los AngelesOceanside  N  S  EncinitasSan Diego

This city travel guide to Carlsbad is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.