Carlsbad beach is favorite for families looking for long, less-crowded beaches where kids can play all day and mom’s are content sitting in the sun. Carlsbad State Beach has camping and Carlsbad Village has shopping, restaurants and great hotels on the beach for romantics who love an ocean view.
Although the 35-mile drive from San Diego to Carlsbad may seem a little more than daunting on a summer weekend, a few gems await at the other end, including world-class La Costa Resort and Spa and other Carlsbad hotels to entice visitors and families.
Carlsbad beaches (and nearby hotels) offer a variety of activities such as swimming, surfing, body boarding, windsurfing, camping, bird watching, hiking, and kayaking. Carlsbad State Beach, about 5 miles in length, has picnic areas on the beach and above on the bluff.
Walk along the coast or the nearly mile-long seawall / walkway adjoining the beach, beginning one block south of Carlsbad Village Drive. In between beach junkets, take the kids to Legoland, California — 128 acres of Legos, rides, and restaurants. Also, carve out a couple of hours and visit the boutiques, cafes, and antique stores of Carlsbad Village.
Lifeguards are stationed up and down the coast at both Carlsbad State Beach and South Carlsbad State Beach. Showers are at Tamarack Avenue and Christiansen Way. Your best bet is to find street parking near the beach, which is fairly plentiful. Or try the lot on Tamarack Avenue, but get there early on weekends if you want to find a space.
If you don’t like to hang out with teenagers and families it’s best to head farther south to South Carlsbad State Beach, which has fewer people and a campground situated between the bluffs and the highway with more than 200 campsites. Here you’ll also find Batiquitos Lagoon with its 600 acres of restored wetlands, visitor’s center, and hiking trail running north. Farther south near the community of Leucadia is Ponto Beach, known for its high sand dunes.
One of the most scenic drives in San Diego County lies along the Carlsbad coastline. From the south, take I-5 north to the La Costa Avenue exit and drive north along the coast highway to Carlsbad Village. From the north, take I-5 south and exit at Tamarack Avenue. Drive south along the coast highway to Leucadia. This stretch of coastline is relatively undeveloped, offering natural views of the ocean and lagoons. There are several parking lots and pull outs where you can park, take a walk, or snap a few photos.
Directions to Carlsbad
Carlsbad State Beach is located at 100 Tamarack Avenue. From the south, take I-5 north to the Tamarack Avenue exit and turn left. From the north, take I-5 south to the Tamarack Avenue exit and turn right. The Amtrak “Coaster,” which travels up the coast from San Diego, is a good option for beach goers who are looking for a more leisurely trip. It drops passengers off a few blocks from the beach.