Your Carlsbad vacation rental in “The Village by the Sea” is approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Legoland, shops, sidewalk cafes, and parks are all just minutes away. Best of all, seven miles of beach and an ideal climate make it a great vacation location for family adventures. Among the many ways to explore and experience the beautiful Pacific coast, you can take whale-watching cruises, ride electric bikes, and soar above it all in a hot air balloon. There’s also dormant volcano to climb and go-karts to drive to keep your brood as busy as bees. Here’s a list of the best 12 things to do with kids in Carlsbad, California.
1. Build Some Memories at Legoland
All ages in your family can find some fun at Legoland, starting with the theme park for children between ages two and 12. It features more than 60 rides, interactive attractions, and age-appropriate shows. From there, you can move on to the water park to face the Lion Temple Wave Pool, two sandy beaches, and the interactive build-a-boat and build-a-raft sections. Sea Life Aquarium in Legoland can be your child’s hands-on learning experience with fascinating sea creatures. They get close encounters with sharks, jellyfish, octopi, and rays, and touch tanks provide opportunities to touch starfish.
2. Hit the Beach
You selected a beach town for your vacation for a reason, and South Carlsbad State Beach is sure to live up to your expectations. Blue water and white sand provide the ideal environment for your beach fun. When you step out the back door of your Carlsbad vacation rental, you can hit the sand running to enjoy swimming, sunbathing, shelling, surfing, and building sandcastles with the kids.
3. Explore the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park
Once owned by the actor who portrayed Pancho in “The Cisco Kid,” the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park sits in a 27-acre canyon. Kids love the peacocks roaming all over the park, and your family is free to roam around on your own. It used to be a working ranch, and it includes windmills, adobe buildings, and other old structures that you can enter if you take a guided tour. The landscape is beautiful but rugged enough to require appropriate shoes for enjoying your visit.
4. Ride Electric Bikes
Pedego Carlsbad takes your family around town on electric bikes that feature electric assistance up to 20 mph, which makes it easier to ride without extra effort and lets you enjoy your sightseeing tours. Pedego excursions include the Dalai Lama Tour, the Oceanside and Harbor Tour, and the Rock & Ride Tour. The Dalai Lama Tour shows you a quiet lifestyle of the past along the coastline that runs parallel to Historic Highway 101. The Oceanside and Harbor Tour lets you explore neighborhoods and visit the house where “Top Gun” was filmed. The tour that convinces your kids that you are the coolest parent around is the Rock & Ride Tour. Riders cruise along the coastline while listening to their favorite music with audio headsets.
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5. Take a Guided Tour of Batiquitos Lagoon
The California Department of Fish and Game maintains the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation Nature Center, a coastal wetland, and nature reserve. The Foundation features programs dedicated to protecting the Lagoon and educating the public about the birds, insects, plants, mammals, and marine life habitats in the Reserve. One of the programs that your family can access is a guided, narrated walking tour that describes the importance of the lagoon to the plants and animals that live there.
6. Go to the Park
Alga Norte Community Park is a 32-acre adventure there for the taking. It features an aquatic center, three ball fields, a large playground, a dog park, and picnic and BBQ areas. The park also includes San Diego County’s largest skate park with areas for beginners and advanced skateboarders. The aquatic center features pools, a warm water spa, a splash pad, and the Dive-in Grill that offers burgers, pizza, and sandwiches.
7. Fly in a Beautiful Balloon
For a look at the Pacific coastline that is truly unique, Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures takes you aloft for breathtaking views in all directions. This gives your family a combination of peace and exhilaration as the balloon rises to fly just above the trees up to 4,000 feet. During your hour-long flight, pilot controls the altitude. Floating serenely, quietly into the sky, the only sounds around you may be the occasional burst as the burners kick in. You float where the wind takes you as you drink in the beauty and wonder of the landscape below.
8. Drive Some Go-Karts
If you haven’t been able to keep up with your kids lately, here’s your chance to get even. You can let them chase you for a change at K1 Speed, an indoor go-kart arena. Kids love the thrill and the personal independence they feel when driving a go-kart around the track for themselves. You can also grab something to eat at the snack bar or check out the VR1 Speed introduction to virtual reality. When you put on the headset, you enter fantasy experiences including ping-pong and other games. The graphics, intuitive controls, and haptic feedback provide that sense of virtual immersion.
9. Introduce the Kids to Miniature Craftsmanship
Your little builder and tinkerer may find a lifelong inspiration at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum where they can pore over hundreds of miniatures expertly crafted in wood and metal. For example, the Duesenberg SJ in Miniature took over 10 years and more than 6,000 parts to build from scratch. After 20,000 hours of work, the engine runs, the top extends, the lights work, and it is the smallest Duesenberg built. From airplanes to trains, dollhouse miniatures to miniature Viking ships, there’s something in the museum for all ages and genders.
10. Tiptoe Through the Flower Fields of Carlsbad Ranch
During the peak season from March through May each year, 50 acres of flowers burst forth in brightly-colored blooms. Your family may walk along the paths or ride the open-air wagon that an antique tractor pulls to tour the acres of beautiful flowers. Besides snapping some lovely photos, you can check out other attractions at the ranch. There’s a sweet-pea maze, an orchid greenhouse, a mining area, rose gardens, and Santa’s playground. The Flower Fields includes vending machines and food vendors. There are benches, tables, and chairs where you can relax with your picnic in beautiful surroundings.
11. Hike a Volcano
Carlsbad is home to a volcano in Lake Calavera Preserve where there are more than six miles of trails. The volcano is dormant, and you won’t see any glowing fire, blowing smoke, or flowing lava. Still, it’s a scenic hike and a great learning opportunity for the kids, so you can talk about volcanos before, during, and after your hike. One tidbit you can share with the kids is that this is a volcanic plug, or a mass of volcanic lava, which cooled and became solid in the volcano’s vent 22 million years ago.
12. Join a Whale Watching Cruise
It’s just a few minutes drive from your Carlsbad vacation rental to Oceanside where you can board the 50-foot Catamaran for a whale watching cruise with Oceanside Adventures. The one-level vessel includes both covered and non-covered viewing areas with seating throughout. As there are no steps from the parking lot to the deck of the vessel, it is also wheelchair accessible. The captain is a certified naturalist who narrates each two-hour trip, calling your attention to whales, dolphins, and any other wildlife the cruise encounters.
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