Carlsbad, California is located in beautiful Southern California and just North of San Diego. When driving up the interstate along the coast you’ll come across several small towns. Carlsbad is about 45 minutes from San Diego. Carlsbad is literally my favorite place ever! Why? Well yes, my family is there and that’s where I grew up, but it really is so gorgeous!! Carlsbad has grown a lot over the years, but it just keeps getting better. When thinking of Carlsbad, I think about family, not due to my family being there, but because Carlsbad IS a family. Growing up there, it seems like no one ever leaves. To this day when I come back to visit, I run into random people I knew from grade school. Kinda cool!
Carlsbad has become a hot spot for tourists, but I don’t blame them I would spend a vacay there too!! This small beach town needs to be a “hot spot” on your travel bucket list. I could share all the typical tourist spots around and in Carlsbad, but that’s not happening here! NOT UP IN HERE! (laughing out loud) On Styled by Sequins Travel Category I’m sharing what the locals would do and suggest into different categories below…
Where to Stay?
I highly suggest looking into an Airbnb because you can find some cool spots that are right on the beach and some that are more affordable than a hotel. I know some would prefer a hotel, but Airbnb might be your new found favorite. When staying at an Airbnb you’ll find it’s more personal and private. If a hotel or resort is more your thing I would suggest staying at the Four Seasons Aviara, Sheraton Carlsbad, Cape Rey Hilton Carlsbad, and Omni La Costa Resort and Spa! Fun fact: Colin and I actually had our Rehearsal dinner at the Sheraton and stayed at the Omni La Costa the night of our wedding. So those resorts I’m more bias to! They’re gorgeous places to stay and have amazing views!! I would suggest my parent’s house because that’s the best in Carlsbad, but that’s reserved for the VIP (wink wink) Long story short, any of those places I suggested you can’t go wrong with. Yes, they might be pricey, but it’s worth every penny… it’s your vacation so why not?
Where to Eat?
There’s a bunch of places to eat in Carlsbad but you might be asking yourself what’s the BEST? I have made a list of what I consider the local favorite! These are the local’s favorite and best in town! Some might be in the next town over, but all in the relative area!
Mexican: Norte Mexican Food
Healthier side: Tin Leaf Fresh Kitchen
Sushi: Sushi N Joy
Tacos: Haggo’s Organic Tacos
Italian & Seafood: Vigilucci’s (amazing view!)
Pizza: Knockout Pizza
What to Do?
Well of course y’all need to spend the day at the beach, but what else should y’all do? I have listed a few of my favorite things to do while in Carlsbad + some ideas for newbies!
1. Tamarack Beach or Carlsbad State Beach – Best place ever to spend the day. No matter if you want to sit on the beach or take a stroll. Carlsbad State Beach is GORGEOUS! The seawall is the perfect place for a sunset walk too. As far as spending the day at the beach, I would suggest to park on Chestnut street. It’s street parking only there, but easy to find a spot to park. On busy days it’ll be harder to find a spot, but park in that area. Then take the stairs down and spend the day by Lifeguard Tower 37! If you’re heading down with kiddos, I would suggest to settle down by Tamarack street and park in the parking lot there. It’s paid parking and you’ll be guaranteed a spot. No locals really park there because why pay for parking. The reason I reccomand this spot if you have kiddos is because it’s easy, there’s showers and restrooms near by too. If this is too crazy busy head a mile North to “Off Shore beach” towards the Village. There’s lifeguard towers, restrooms and showers there too!
2. Carlsbad Lagoon – If the beach isn’t your place, but more of a lake type of scene is I would suggest the Carlsbad Lagoon! This is where I grew up learning to wakeboard and boating. Here y’all can rent jet skis, stand up paddle boards, and all the water sports y’all may have an itch for. There is no lifeguards on duty, but it’s a great place to take the family and spend the day. There’s places to picnic out and layout while the kiddos play. If you don’t have kiddos then the world’s your oyster!
3. Oceanside Pier – Head a few miles up the coast to the next town, Oceanside. The Oceanside Pier is the perfect place to take a walk and soak in the salty air. You might be lucky and see some dolphins playing in the waves. Y’all can even grab lunch or dinner at Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier.
4. Carlsbad Village Farmers Market – On State Street in Carlsbad every Wednesday there’s a GREAT farmer’s market. Y’all will enjoy fresh organic produce, locally prepared foods, handmade crafts, and live entertainment in the heart of Carlsbad Village on State St. between Carlsbad Village Dr. and Grand Ave. This market offers several local vendors with the freshest and finest produce and items for your taking! While you’re in the Village there’s some cute boutiques that are on that same street. Read further down about where to shop!
I always love visiting new towns and going to their local farmers market. Every farmer’s market is different and gives you a great taste of the culture that the town has to offer. If produce if your thing and enjoy that part of traveling then I highly reccomand visiting Carlsbad Strawberry Field Company!! This one of a kind strawberry field allows you to pick your own strawberry bunch!
5. Ride the Coaster – Take a ride on the iconic Southern California Coaster down the coast to another beach town, Solana Beach! When you get off the coaster take a short walk to Cedros Avenue. It’s a perfect girls day that won’t put a damper on your day. It will be a day y’all will remember most! Cedros Avenue is like no other!! It’s in the heart of Solana Beach and where you’ll find anything that speaks your style from great boutiques, day spas, yummy food, endless entertainment, nightlife and more! Need a spa day? I highly reccomand Alexa K Spa and then after have a refreshing lunch next door.
6. Local Breweries & Wine– Want to try some great IPA or local beers? Not for me, but maybe it’s for you!! Well lucky you because San Diego is home to many local breweries and visitors don’t realize they extend way beyond the city limits of San Diego. In fact, Stone Brewing Company, has its headquarters in Escondido along with a massive beer garden, picnic seating areas, yummy farm-to-table restaurant. Stone also has a tasting room in Oceanside- good spot after a walk on the pier!! San Diego isn’t just about the beer, though. head inland to Temecula, which is a large wine-growing region in California. How cool!! If that’s too far of a drive head to a local wineries of Witchcreek Winery in downtown Carlsbad.
Where to Shop?
As a fashion blogger, I have got this one on lock! Don’t get me wrong, I love some good food and adventure, but shopping is my expertise. Want to know more? Y’all can read the About Kirstin section of the blog to learn why shopping is my thing. Okay y’all, let’s get to the point so y’all can shop till we drop! I have listed my top 10 favorite boutiques, malls, outlets and more to shop shop shop! (no particular order)
3. VICI– located 50 minutes North from Carlsbad in Newport Beach, but SO worth it!!
6. The Den
7. Coco Rose
10. Cedros Soles
What’s the Nightlife?
If you want nightlife there’s a good nightlife in Carlsbad. It’s not wild and crazy, but it’s there. There’s a wild range of different nightlife atmospheres. I haven’t experienced any dance clubs only causal bars. The wild scene is going to be more in San Diego. However, I could be wrong since I haven’t been in that scene for a while. There’s some GREAT bars in Carlsbad for sure. Like usual I’ll list them, but won’t link them as some don’t have websites. I will indicate the city for easy planning if you want to bar hop. That’s how I would roll with it if I were you. These are the ones I highly reccomand…(Take my opinions or Yelp it!)
1. Compass – Carlsbad
2. Hennessey’s Tavern – Carlsbad
3. O’Sullivan’s (have live music)- Carlsbad
4. Coyote Bar (live music around happy hour and DJ at night) – Carlsbad
5. Golden Tee (hidden bar & where my Dad loves to go with his boys) – Carlsbad
6. The Alley- Carlsbad
I love a cute and unique cafe! Some of these that I have listed are both cafe’s and great places for breakfast too. Each place y’all can either grab coffee or sit down to eat some yummy food. All these are located in or around Carlsbad.
Cafe Topes– Voted BEST breakfast in Carlsbad
Carlsbad is a GREAT place to visit. I love my time every visit I make. I have a lot of people ask me if I would ever want to move back to Carlsbad. That’s a hard, yet easy answer for me to make. The only reason I would move back is because of my family. However, I love Texas and where Colin and I have established our roots together. Carlsbad will still stay near and dear to my heart. I will always have Carlsbad in my roots too & will be my hood! It’s safe to say Carlsbad is pretty BAD-ass! I hope y’all use these travel recommendations. If there’s anything special y’all need help with I’d love to help.
Happy travels & Love from Texas,