Beyond LEGOLAND®: why Carlsbad, California is the ultimate destination for the whole family


As multigenerational travel continues to trend, families want to visit destinations where there are activities to satisfy everyone from toddlers to grandparents. A recent study by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reported that Gen Z influences $600 billion of family spending, playing a pivotal role in the decision to take family trips. What type of destination caters to a multi-generation trip? Carlsbad, California.

Located 30 minutes north of San Diego, the easily accessible seaside city, Carlsbad, CA, should be on your radar when planning your next family vacation. The seaside city is teeming with activities for the whole family, world class spas, luxury resorts, bike-friendly roads, seven miles of pristine beaches, ample watersports activities, and an up and coming culinary scene.

Fun for everyone

In the springtime Carlsbad comes alive in full bloom with the city’s vibrant Flower Fields. From March to May, families are invited to frolic in the fields and experience over 18 different color varieties of ranunculus. There are selfie stations for teens who want to get the perfect Instagram picture, a whimsical playground for the young ones to expel their energy, a historic poinsettia display where the adults can learn about the unique history of poinsettia farming in Carlsbad, as well as tractor rides that will keep the whole family entertained.

Did you know that Carlsbad is home to beautiful lagoons? Families can spend the day at the Carlsbad Lagoon and choose from an array of different water sports including SUP paddleboards, waterbikes, and kayaks, or opt for motorized boat rental and spend the day tubing, and cruising the beautiful waters. Families can also pack a picnic and lounge out on the beaches along the lagoon.

Carlsbad’s culinary scene is up and coming with the addition of Campfire—recently crowned a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant, Juene et Jolie—a French-style fine dining experience that will transport dinners straight to Paris—and Clara—a California style bistro perfect for happy hour and small bites.

Two new food halls also opened over the last few years offering a selection of cuisine that will please everyone’s taste buds, Park 101 and Windmill Food Hall—which opened in September. The wood-frame structure was built in 1982 for the Danish-inspired Pea Soup Andersen’s hotel and restaurant and now welcomes the food hall which is home to over 13 restaurants and bars which brings another great venue to Carlsbad’s vivid food & beverage scene. A unique answer to community dining in the heart of the Carlsbad Village, Park 101 is a place the whole family can enjoy (its kid and dog friendly)! Sink your teeth into some of Carlsbad’s finest barbeque, stretch out by the fire pits on the Tamarack View Deck, or play a round of corn hole on the lower park.

In addition to the beaming foodie scene, Carlsbad offers an array of great breweries. Some of Carlsbad’s most prized craft breweries can be found along the HopsHighway in Carlsbad, including Arcana Brewing, Rouleur Brewing, Draft Republic, Barrel Republic, Culver Beer Company, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Carlsbad Brewing Company, Papa Marce’s, and Pizza Port Brewing Company.

Toddlers and Kids LEGOLAND® California Resort has been drawing families to Carlsbad for the last 20 years. LEGOLAND® California Resort offers dual access to the SeaLife Aquarium as well as access to rides, family entertainment, great food, and meet and greets with your favorite blocky character’s. For easy access, and to give the parents sometime to wind down, families can stay at the Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa offering resort guests a private entrance to the theme parks as well as great dining at 20 | Twenty, kid-friendly pools, as well as the relaxing and marine-themed Ocean Peal Spa.

Cape Rey Carlsbad, a Hilton Resort offers the Junior Beach Ranger Program where kids can explore Carlsbad’s pristine coastline. Another don’t miss activity is the Museum of Making Music where parents can learn the history of music while the kids will have the opportunity to touch and play a variety of unique instruments.

Teens, tweens and inbetweeners

Carlsbad, California is a mecca for action sports, as the destination is home to some pro athletes including Tony Hawk, and the flying tomato, Shaun White. Teens can finesse their ollieing skills at the Alga Norte Skate Park or learn how to surf like the pros with So Cal Surf Lessons. Let the teens run, or shall we say drive, wild at Carlsbad’s B K1 Speed Go Kart Track, or cruise through the charming Carlsbad Village on an e-bike with Pedego Electric Bike Rentals.

Adults and seniors

Known as the SoCal’s Pebble Beach, Carlsbad welcomes parents and grandparents to perfect their swing at one of three top-rated golf courses including the Arnold Palmer-designed Aviara Golf Course at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, the Greg Nash-designed public course at The Crossings, and the legendary Champions Course at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

Carlsbad is also ideal for those wanting to unwind and discover the “fountain of youth”. Carlsbad was discovered on mineral springs and is home to the first resort spa in the U.S., The Spa at La Costa. The adults can also escape to the Ocean Crest Spa, Ocean Pearl Spa, or Aviara Spa for naturally sourced treatments and couples amenities.

With a perennially perfect weather, a wide selection of activities, and excellent family-friendly accommodations, Carlsbad, CA has a little something for everyone, guaranteeing lasting memories.

Sam Ross is Executive Director for Visit Carlsbad. Visit Carlsbad is the official destination marketing organization for Carlsbad, California.

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Comments (9)

  1. Brian says:

    You always get one or two family members who have their doubts about a day at a theme park. The things is that these parks always deliver. At the end of the day they offer something for everyone. However much of a grinch you are it’s great to see the kids having fun and smiling.

    • Lorraine Berry says:

      I think you’re forgetting that most dads and granddads grew up playing with Lego. Many men have a real sense of nostalgia with the days when they were building boats, cars, castles and houses etc. Usually the men are grown-up kids for the days and they enjoy it just as much.

    • Roger says:

      In many ways Lego is a more powerful brand than Disney and some of the other theme park brands. Lego has nostalgia on its side. How can it lose when it’s all about memories of playing in your childhood and creating the things that you were interested in?

  2. Gary Childerly says:

    For me the key word in the golf section is perfecting “their” golf swing. I like the suggestion that everybody has their own and unique swing. I’ve had some coaches who’ve tried to teach me to hit a ball like a young, lean pro in his 20s. For me the best coaches are the ones who accept that my body has worked hard, that my back has gone through hell and that my knees don’t quite do what they are supposed to.

  3. Sheryl says:

    Ranunculus, haven’t seen those in a while, such pretty flowers. I really like seaside places like this, though I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, how laid back and youthful it feel where people are usually happy, there’s entertainment and no shortage of things to do. This sounds like a lovely location and I had no idea they had a Legoland there, I stupidly thought the only one was in the UK! Just shows how little I know.

  4. Steve says:

    Carlsbad is probably the best location for a theme park that you’ll get in the United States. Florida folk will argue that they edge ahead of California on winter warmth but they get hit by more storms and those storms are getting bigger and wetter. Take it from me a day at a theme park in torrential rain is no fun.

  5. Mina says:

    Although Billund is more the original LEGO homeland and Cali opened a lot later, I’d still rather go to California for a holiday over the other Legoland resorts. As you say, there’s so much to enjoy there so it’s got a lot going for it in general. While I’ve only been nearby while visiting the US in previous years and not to Carlsbad in particular, I can appreciate that laid back family friendly atmosphere there. Plenty for everyone no matter your age, interests or abilities by the sound of it. I’ll keep it on my radar as I’d like to go back to the States again in the near future.

  6. Jeanne Mitchell says:

    I’ve always enjoyed theme parks even as an adult because I’m now able to afford all these trips. And I don’t really believe one can outgrow being a kid once in a while. I still find all the rides and shows and activities in these theme parks. So it’s really good to see that many theme parks now take into consideration more grown-up activities especially for the tweens (they are harder to please), ensuring that everyone in the family can enjoy such an outing.

  7. K. Owens says:

    I agree! It is absolutely a destination for the whole family and not just for kids. There are activities for every member of the family, so everyone can enjoy their vacation. There are watersports activities for the adventurous, spas for mom and dad, restaurants for the foodie, and even breweries. Also, the outdoor spaces give visitors a chance to experience the beauty of nature as they can walk around or ride a bicycle. Glad to know that people of all ages can enjoy this place.

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