Carlsbad is an outdoor enthusiast's wonderland. Between its beaches and many surf breaks, boardwalk along Carlsbad State Beach, watersports in the lagoon, and over 50 miles of trails for hiking and biking, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this coastal paradise. And even if breaking a sweat isn't your thing, there's always charming Carlsbad Village, where shopping and dining is just a stone's throw to the beach and proves for a quintessential So-Cal outing. So pack your sunscreen and head to this North County beauty the next time adventure strikes this summer.
Take the Carlsbad Village Drive exit from Interstate 5, head west, and then south on Carlsbad Boulevard for multiple access points along the bluff-lined Carlsbad State Beach. For surfers, Tamarack (named after the road it intersects, also a freeway exit) and Ponto are popular surf breaks, and the long boarding crowd loves Terramar, near the lagoon. Camping is available at South Carlsbad State Beach (call (760) 438-3143 for more info), with bluff top views of the Pacific and plenty of space to ride bikes and make merry. Fishing and diving are also popular in this area, along with its huge stretch of paved boardwalk for joggers and sightseers.
For a complete list of Carlsbad's hiking trails and beach access points, visit carlsbadca.gov.
While you're there...
Grab a sunset bite to eat at the iconic Harbor Fish Cafe, a favorite among locals for its huge portions of fish and chips, tacos and clam chowder. With stunning ocean views, this affordable seafood joint is worth the wait - though proceed with caution on the weekends when lines are long. 3179 Carlsbad Blvd., (760) 729-4161.
Village sights and bites
In 2014, the already easy-on-the-eyes Carlsbad Village kicked off its mural project, giving six local artists space (Grand Avenue, Carlsbad Village Drive, and along State and Washington Streets) to display their public art works. The perfect time to take a self-guided tour is during the 17th Annual Art in the Village, happening Sunday, Aug. 9, when over 150 regional artists take over State Street and Grand Avenue for the open-air fest. Beginning at 9 a.m., there will be photography, sculpture, woodworking displays, live musical performances and more in the village where galleries, boutique shopping and dining are aplenty.
Must try: Yoshino Japanese Deli
Super fresh and delicious poke bowls are the item to get at this Asian deli. With limited seating, takeout is popular; this family owned, cash-only spot is known to close up shop when supplies run out, so get there quickly for your protein fix. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (max) daily. 2913 State St. (760) 889-0309.
Visit Batiquitos Lagoon
These tidal wetlands encompass 610 acres and is one of the few remaining habitats of its kind in Southern California. While there, enjoy the two-mile trail starting just east of Interstate 5 at the end of Gabbiano Lane (leashed pups are allowed, bikes aren't); visit the The Nature Center (from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends); and go fishing, with a permit, in the designated area. For maps and more info on visiting the lagoon, parking lot and access points, visit batiquitosfoundation.org.
More nearby lagoon attractions
Bummed you can't get in the water at Batiquitos? Head over to nearby Carlsbad Lagoon where you can ride aqua bikes, go waterskiing or wakeboarding, rent boats, stand up paddle boards and more. With reasonable rates and picturesque scenery, this is a must-visit, if getting wet and wild is what you're after this summer. 4215 Harrison St., 888-5-LAGOON. carlsbadlagoon.com.
Carlsbad Strawberry Company
Perhaps the area's most renowned attraction, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch may be out of season (the breathtaking Giant Tecolote Ranunculus bloom from March to early May); however, there's still time left this season to pick your own strawberries. At the nearby U-Pick stand, visitors can cruise the rows of berries with a small- or large-sized bucket to collect the juicy fruit. Admission is $5, plus $10 for a small bucket. If you buy a large bucket for $20 - which is good for two people to use-admission is free.
Carlsbad-grown strawberries are some of the best in our region and picking them yourself is way more fun and economical than shopping at the farmer's market. Pro tip: The fields can get muddy, so be sure to wear shoes you're willing to dirty up. Open from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. for the remainder of July. 1050 Cannon Road, (760) 603-9608 or carlsbadstrawberrycompany.com.