Hidden Destinations in Carlsbad, San Diego

Carlsbad is a coastal community in North County San Diego, spanning about 7 miles along the Pacific Ocean shoreline. Located 35 miles north of the San Diego International Airport and downtown San Diego, it is a great escape for those seeking a more relaxed beach vacation.

You probably aren’t surprised to hear that San Diego is home to some of the best weather in the United States (or the world, really). Take advantage of the 263 sunny days Carlsbad receives annually.

When looking for a place to stay here, it isn’t hard to dream of that perfect beachfront house. Sure you can rent a house off the busy Mission Beach boardwalk, but there are some other hidden gems a short drive away, with more space and privacy.

Paradise Shores

wedding event venues san diego north county carlsbad

Paradise Shores sits on a one-half acre of prime real estate in Carlsbad, California. This 5,800-square-foot beachfront palace is located on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Paradise Shores has its own private sandy beach as well as a resort-style pool and jacuzzi. At the private beach guests will find palapas, a full array of water-sports equipment to use on the lagoon (kayaks, paddle boards, fishing gear, etc.) and a fireplace. The beach even has its own sound system.

Paradise Shores Event Wedding Venues

The lagoon is also the backdrop for the indoor and outdoor dining areas and the spacious wrap-around balcony. Paradise Shores has seven bedrooms for you and your family and friends to enjoy.

Wedding Venues San Diego

This Carlsbad estate wedding venue can also be booked for a wedding or private event. Up to 150 guests can be accommodated on the day of your wedding or event.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon

Carlsbad is home to several lagoons, the most popular of which is the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. The lagoon is a great place for stand-up paddleboard, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, jet skiing, and more! The lagoon is most frequented during the summer months, but with great weather throughout most of the year, there really isn’t a bad time to visit.

Calvera Lake’s Cave, Volcano & Labyrinth

Calvera Lake is a 110-acre preserve with about 4 miles of hiking and biking trails for you to explore. The reservoir is 400 acres on its own and is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, some of which are considered endangered due to the development in the area and destruction to their natural habitat.

The cave is actually an old mine which is called an “adit.” this area was used as a rock quarry back in the day. Mount Calavera is actually a 22-million-year-old volcanic plug. A volcanic plug occurs when magma hardens within a vent on an active volcano. When the volcano became extinct and eroded, this was the only bit that remains. There are only three volcanic plugs in Southern California, and this is one of them!

Calvera Hiking Labyrinth

The man-made labyrinth is a great place to stop on your hike. Use the coordinates 33.168833, -117.284051 to find them, and be sure to check them out on google maps so you know where to find them.

Batiquitos Lagoon

Batiquitos Lagoon is another picturesque area full of wildlife and flat hiking trails. The trails are about a mile and a half long (about 3 miles total). While you can’t do water sports here, this is a great spot to bring your dog, take a seat on one of the benches around the trail and admire your surroundings.

Flower Fields

flower fields

Photo by Jason Rosenberg

The Carlsbad Flower Fields are incredible to look at in the spring when in full bloom. Rows of colorful Giant Tecolote Ranunculus fill the 50-acre field between March and May. You can buy tickets online if you wish and even schedule a tour. Otherwise, you are able to roam around the designated walkways on your own.

The Carlsbad Flower fields have been a north county San Diego staple since 1965, but the flowers are a result of about 100 years of cultivation. An early settler to San Diego brought with him Ranunculus seeds which he started selling and growing in Oceanside. After years of labor and careful selection, we now have the 13 incredible colors you will find at the Flower Fields today.

U-Pick Carlsbad Strawberry Company

A seasonal activity that is sure to please the whole family is picking your own berries at the Carlsbad Strawberry Company’s farm. Picking your own strawberries comes with a fee, which will be more than what you will pay at the grocery store, but the strawberries are absolutely delicious and better than anything you’d find there anyway. Talk about fresh! Check the website to find out when strawberry picking season is. The farm in located right around the corner from the Carlsbad Flower Fields.

Shopping & Dining

Carlsbad Village is a great place for a stroll and to grab a bite. Carlsbad Village Drive is one of the main roads through the village which has plenty of cute boutiques to poke your head into. If you’re looking for something particularly “off the beaten path” there are some wonderful antique shops off of State Street in the Village.

Lhooq/Exrealism Rare Bookstore

Lhooq/Exrealism Rare Bookstore

Photo by lhooq/exrealism

This hidden gem is located off the popular Carlsbad Village Drive. Whether you’re seeking out a rare book or sip a cup of espresso, this store is certainly not what you would expect to find in such a commercialized area of Carlsbad.

Pizza Port

Locals love their microbrews. Check out Pizza Port for a tasty pint of one of San Diego’s famous IPAs. The hand-tossed pizzas are fantastic too! For another hidden gem, stop by the bottle shop next door for local beers you can’t find outside of San Diego.

Spa Services

spa services san diego north county

Photo by Carlsbad Mineral Spa

Carlsbad is a great place to be pampered. You won’t have any difficulty some incredible spas at local resorts in the area. If you’re looking for something a bit different, you’ve probably never seen anything quite like the Carlsbad Mineral Spa. The history of the spa is quite fascinating.

In 1882 Capt. John Frazier drilled a well on his farm near the beach and found that the water shared the same properties of the healing spring mineral waters that were found in a famous European spa resort in Karlsbad (now known as Karlovy Vary, in the Czech Republic). This town of Carlsbad was named after this famous European city! The alkaline mineral water is thought to have special healing powers, and you can still get your hands on it today (bottled or with spa services). The spa is housed in a unique European-style building and the interior mimics spas in Egypt and Rome.

Unique Museums

San Diego is filled with incredible museums, namely in the Balboa Park area. But the more you explore, the more you’ll find. Some of our most unique museums are in the north county area. Here are two of Carlsbad’s small but eclectic museums.

Museum of Making Music

Check of the Museum of Making Music to explore galleries of instruments, special exhibits, and live shows. There are interactive exhibits that allow you to play a number of different instruments, watch videos, and more. A great stop for the music lover.

Craftsmanship Museum

Craftsmanship Museum started as an online museum, which got a brick and mortar location in Carlsbad back in 2011. Filled with small-scale metalwork like working engines, model cars, and other machines, you’ll be impressed by the detail work and well....craftsmanship that went into each piece.


north county san diego beaches

Photo by Rob Malouf

Surfers should head to Tamarack beach for some popular surf spots (Warm Water Jetty and Terramar specifically). South Carlsbad State Beach is known for its campground along the water. You’ll need to reserve a spot well in advance if you plan to spend a summer weekend camping here. If you live on the edge, you may be able to show up early in the morning to see if anyone cancelled or didn’t show up for their reservation, but the odds are not in your favor. The beach at South Carlsbad is one of the most popular in north county San Diego. Locals know this spot as Ponto beach.

Don’t Forget

Carlsbad is also home to some major attractions. If you’ve got little ones with you, be sure to spend a day at Legoland and the attached aquarium. You may want to visit the K1 Speed racing course or take a hot air balloon ride. Golfers will love the world class got courses, like the Omni La Costa Resort where icons like Phil Mickelson have spent their time. Enjoy your stay and let us know your favorite hidden (or not-so hidden) hotspots!