When visiting Southern California with kids you should include a few days in Carlsbad to relax and enjoy the area. With so many fun things to do in Carlsbad, CA with kids you will be happy you included it on your family vacation.
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One of my favorite places we visited is Carlsbad, California. It is a beautiful beach town with lots of good food and fun things to do. We included Carlsbad in our Southwest Road trip vacation because we wanted to visit LEGOLAND California and ended up really enjoying the area.
This vacation had a very busy itinerary. It included a visit to White Sands National Park, Tucson, Cabazon Dinosaur park, and Disneyland. By the time we reached Carlsbad we were ready for a more relaxed pace and that is just what we got for our stay in Carlsbad, California.
Carlsbad has a very relaxed vibe. Being from Rochester, NY we all fell in love with the surfer style and atmosphere, very different from the Northeast. We had 3 nights to enjoy the atmosphere and soak up the best things to do in Carlsbad.
Where is Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad, California is located south of Anaheim and north of San Diego. It is a great location for a quieter stay in Southern California, but close to a lot of great locations.
Keep in mind traffic can be very busy. If you are using Carlsbad as a central location, check the travel times from your destinations. The hour drive to Disneyland can take a lot longer on a busy day.
Fun Things to Do in Carlsbad, CA
- LEGOLAND California
- LEGOLAND Water Park
- Sea Life Aquarium
- Explore Carlsbad Village
- The Flower Fields
- Pacific Surf: Surf Lessons
- Carlsbad Aquafarm
- Add a few days of your trip to visit San Diego.
Where to Stay in Carlsbad, CA
If you are visiting Carlsbad with kids you want to check out the West Inn & Suites hotel. Although not located on the coast it is within 5 minutes from LEGOLAND and offers great amenities for families.
The full breakfast was a hit with the kids. This breakfast was outstanding. From cold cereal and fruit to hot breakfast options, there was something everyone could enjoy.
The hotel also offered game and DVD rentals, cookies and milk in the evenings, as well as a pool and hot tub. The rooms were very spacious for our family. We had a 2 king suite with plenty of room for our family of five.
If you have your heart set on staying on the coast check out Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort, but honestly the drive from West Inn to the beach was under 10 minutes and we would stay there again.
Check Carlsbad hotel deals!
Where to Eat in Carlsbad, CA
When visiting Carlsbad with kids you want places that are kid friendly and satisfy even the pickiest eater. We are not the most adventurous eaters but we try to find local places to enjoy when we visit a new place.
If you can only visit one place I highly suggest Cessy’s Taco Shop. It offers large portions and it is delicious. There is not a large dining area so you may want to get it to go or eat outside.
When we travel as a family we tend to order order take-out after a long day of sight seeing rather than go out to eat. One night we order pizza and subs from Primo Pizza and it did not disappoint.
Depending on what you and your family like I suggest checking out this list of options and choose the best for you.
3 Night Carlsbad Itinerary with Kids
Day 1: Depart from Anaheim to Carlsbad, CA
After spending one day at Disneyland and California Adventure we were ready for the final part of our trip, 3 nights in Carlsbad.
We slept in a little and checked out of our Anaheim hotel then made the short drive from Anaheim to Carlsbad. Anaheim is 61 miles from Carlsbad. The drive took us about 1.5 hours. Expect traffic and try to plan your day before or after daily commutes.
Our first stop was checking into our hotel for the next three days. We checked into the West Inn & Suites and got settled, unpacked a bit. At that point we were ready for lunch.
We made the 5 minute drive to Cessy’s Taco Shop for lunch. The food was so good!! Huge portions and budget friendly prices.
After lunch we decided to drive along the coast and explore. We stopped at a Menchie’s for an afternoon snack. Our local Menchie’s closed and the kids were happy to make the stop.
Then we made our way back to the resort where we relaxed, had some pool time, ate leftovers for dinner, and enjoyed the complimentary cookies and milk before bed.
Day 2: LEGOLAND California
We love visiting theme parks and were looking forward to adding LEGOLAND California to our list. We had visited the LEGOLAND Florida location and are even getting our own LEGOLAND NY location, but we were excited to visit.
We started with breakfast at the hotel and then arrived before park open to check out the LEGOLAND Hotel and get ready for park opening.
It rarely rains in Southern California but this was one of the rainiest days for us. It rained the entire day and the park was empty except for us and a bunch of school field trips.
The rain almost made our day better because the crowds were so low! A few attractions were closed because of the rain but for the most part we experienced everything.
One of the cool things they have at LEGOLAND California is the Sea Life Aquarium. This is located on the same property but you need a separate or two park ticket to visit.
If you are planning a one day visit you can easily visit both parks in one day. Make sure to check the park hours before your visit and plan your day.
After the park we headed back to the hotel, ordered pizza from Primo Pizza, and had a game and movie night. It was a great ending to a fun day.
Day 3: La Jolla, CA
The next day we planned a day trip to La Jolla, California. We hadn’t spent anytime on the ocean and wanted to see the seals.
The drive was under and hour and when we arrived you could smell the seals before you could see them. Parking was difficult to find but eventually we found a spot along the street.
At this point we were tired from all the driving and travel, it was nice to dip our feet in the sand. We spent some time running in the waves.
After that we walked up to see the seals at La Jolla Cove. This was a really special moment. We saw moms and babies soaking up the sun on the shore.
You can’t walk down to the seals and we kept our distance but it was a very cool experience and I was glad we made the drive down to see them.
After that we ended up picking up Five Guys for lunch in our room. We had to take some time to pack and get things ready for our drive to San Diego to catch our flight the next day.
For dinner we ate at a Joe’s Crab Shack in Oceanside. It was along a harbor and we had a great view of the sunset. It wasn’t fancy but it was a perfect last night of vacation dinner.
Day 4: Time to Go Home
We had a mid-afternoon flight which gave us a little time to eat breakfast, go in the pool, and drive down to the San Diego airport to head back home.
Overall we found so many fun things to do in Carlsbad as a family. It was the perfect pace to finish our family vacation.
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