20 Things to Do in Carlsbad with Kids
North County San Diego's gem has beach fun and much more
Carlsbad is a popular San Diego vacation destination for families. The beaches can be quieter and are absolutely stunning. LEGOLAND California is here as are some of San Diego’s best resorts. The list of things to do in Carlsbad with kids is long but here are a few suggestions.
Table of Contents
- LEGOLAND California
- Watersports on the Lagoon
- Museum of Making Music
- Leo Carrillo Ranch
- Batiquitos Lagoon Walks and Fun
- Take a Helicopter Tour
- Grab a Slice
- Become a Junior Beach Ranger
- Carlsbad Flower Fields
- SEA LIFE Aquarium
- Visit a Skatepark
- Enjoy American History
- Aviara Community Parks
- Take an Electric Bike Tour
- Book a Food Tour
- Race Go Karts
- Magee House
- Play Golf
- Learn to Surf
- Enjoy Carlsbad Beaches
Carlsbad’s popular theme park, LEGOLAND California, is geared toward LEGO enthusiasts of all ages (but most commonly kids 12 and under) with about 60 rides, hands-on LEGO pits and other interactive park experiences.
LEGOLAND California recently announced the Spring 2018 opening of the LEGO Castle Hotel, which will offer 250 premium LEGO Castle themed rooms, LEGO Castle décor throughout featuring knights, princesses, dragons, wizards and more, as well as a pool area featuring fountains, slides and play features and a new themed restaurant. However, LEGOLAND Hotel is currently open and kids will love its LEGO pits and themed rooms while parents enjoy early admission to the park (translation: fewer lines) and perhaps happy hour at the bar next to the LEGO pits.
See also: What It’s Like to Stay at LEGOLAND Hotel
It is wise to always check the calendar before planning a trip because the park is not open daily during low season. If you are going to visit other popular San Diego attractions, you may save money with a Go San Diego Card, a bundled attractions admissions pass with discounts of up to 55%.
Watersports on the Lagoon
Test your balance on a standup paddleboard or kayak in Carlsbad with kids (or without) by renting a variety of watersports equipment at Carlsbad Lagoon. I used to wakeboard here (its proper name is Agua Hedionda Lagoon) quite a bit in my 20s and it’s really fun. The variety of rentals include speedboats, aqua cycles and much more.
You can also practice sun salutes in a Stand Up Paddleboard yoga class on the lagoon, too.
Museum of Making Music
Visit the fun and rhythmic Museum of Making Music—a hands-on museum that showcases the evolution of musical instruments from the late 19th century to present day. This is a great place to take kids who already love music or who are thinking about taking lessons. They will be able to see, touch and feel how guitars, pianos, drums and other more exotic instruments work. And, the docents are amazingly helpful.
Leo Carrillo Ranch
Take a walk back into Hollywood history at Leo Carrillo’s historic ranch and roam the 27-acre property along with the resident peacocks. As the name implies, the ranch was once owned by actor Leo Carrillo. Guests can take a self-guided tour and it’s a very popular spot for photos because of the adobe buildings and stunning landscape.
Batiquitos Lagoon Walks and Fun
Enjoy kid-friendly conservation talks, birding and hands-on events hosted by the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation. It’s one of the only remaining tidal wetlands in Southern California. There are also a few nice and easy walking trails that are stroller and wheelchair friendly. Maps are available at the Nature Center.
Take a Helicopter Tour
Take in the amazing aerial views of the Pacific in an epic Icon Helicopter Tour. Tours can be customized based on what guests would like to see from above.
Grab a Slice
Taste Carlsbad’s best pizza at the Intergalactic Headquarters for the Pizza Port Empire. Adults will appreciate the extensive list of craft beer on tap in a kid-friendly atmosphere. Try the Monterey Pizza with artichoke hearts, pepperoni, mushrooms and onions. It’s one of the best places to eat in Carlsbad with kids.
Become a Junior Beach Ranger
Become a Junior Beach Ranger with Cape Rey Carlsbad. Families meet up at the Campfire Center at Carlsbad State Beach campground directly across from the hotel every Tuesday and Friday from March to October. The 45-minute ranger-led program teaches visitors about marine life, ecology and the environment in fun interactive sessions that include nature walks, tide pooling and hands-on activities. Each participant also receives a special ranger logbook with stickers to track their accomplishments and take home as a keepsake.
Carlsbad Flower Fields
Start your own spring tradition at the Carlsbad Flower Fields a distinctly Carlsbad attraction—the field opens in March for six-eight weeks, showcasing the vibrantly blooming Ranunculus flowers. Visitors enjoy tractor rides, mazes, the orchid greenhouse, rose garden and much more over the 55 acres.
SEA LIFE Aquarium
Interact with the underwater creatures at the SEA LIFE Aquarium, located adjacent to LEGOLAND California. This popular Carlsbad attraction also has a quiz trail, great counter-order dining area and some touch pools.
Visit a Skatepark
Bring the skateboard. Not only is Carlsbad Tony Hawk’s home, but there are plenty of skateparks for all levels, including Alga Norte Skatepark.
Enjoy American History
Enjoy a traditional shepherd’s pie and some U.S. colonial history at the Green Dragon Tavern & Museum. It’s one of Carlsbad’s newest attractions and quite a large space complete with a museum, restaurant, tavern, coffee house and meeting space.
Aviara Community Parks
Take an Electric Bike Tour
Take an electric bike tour through the village with Pedego Electric Bike Rental. These electric bikes allow you to pedal put in as much pedaling effort as you like. If a tour isn’t your thing, rest assured that they also rent bikes including tandem bikes, road bikes and even kids’ bike trailers.
Book a Food Tour
Take a bite out of Carlsbad’s culinary best on a Food Tour where you’ll visit 7-8 eateries while learning insight about the architectural details and history of the village area.
Race Go Karts
Yes, the largest indoor karting facility on the West Coast is at K1 Speed Go Kart Track. Adults and junior drivers (must be 48″ tall) can rev up an Italian electric Pro Kart (zero emissions).
Take a glimpse at what life was like in the late 19th century at the Magee House, one of Carlsbad’s oldest structures and roam its historic walls and surrounding rose gardens.
One of the best places to improve your swing is at the Arnold Palmer designed Aviara Golf Club, located adjacent to the lovely Park Hyatt Aviara hotel. Kip Putterbaugh’s Aviara Golf Academy hosts junior clinics and lessons but they really can improve any level of player (adults, too). It’s the longest running golf school in the Western United States.
Learn to Surf
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Learning how to surf is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids when on vacation here, in my opinion. In Carlsbad, the pros at So Cal Surf Lessons will be glad to help you hang ten.
Enjoy Carlsbad Beaches
A Carlsbad vacation isn’t complete without a visit to one of its gorgeous beaches, whether you learn to surf or not. Some are more secluded than others, and very easily accessible from some of San Diego’s best beach hotels in the area. Visit Carlsbad has a run-down of each beach including location and reasons why your family will love them.
What is your favorite thing to do in Carlsbad with kids?
*Photos are provided courtesy of Visit Carlsbad.