Where to Go

4 Day Trips Worth Taking From Carlsbad, California

Get your share of sun, sand and surf

The Vacationeer
Sailboats in a bay of Catalina Island, California

The quaint seaside town of Carlsbad, California, lies just outside of sunny San Diego, making it an ideal locale for family-friendly adventuring and quiet couples’ escapes. While you could spend your entire getaway relaxing at MarBrisa, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club, there are plenty of things to see just outside Carlsbad’s city limits.

Check out these four delightful day trips within driving distance of Carlsbad.

San Diego skyline and palm trees at sunset 

1. Head North To San Diego

Staying at MarBrisa has plenty of perks, especially the immediate access to the neighboring LEGOLAND® California Resort.

But what if you’ve already experienced the nearby rides and attractions?

What to do: Head about an hour south of Carlsbad to hit SeaWorld® San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, brimming with animal encounters, rides and educational opportunities for all ages. Pick your favorite and make a day of it.

Where to eat: After a busy day in the sun, head back toward the resort for dinner at Campfire, a cozy Carlsbad restaurant with a teepee and fire pits on the outdoor patio.

Approximate travel time from Carlsbad: about two hours round trip by car

Beach of Coronado Island, California 

2. Soak In The Sun On Coronado Island

Drive an hour down the Pacific Coast Highway to one of the most beautiful beaches in California: Coronado Island. This special place has been on the map since the early 1900s when it earned the nickname “Tent City” as a popular camping spot.

What to do: You can park your car along Ocean Avenue, walk up the boardwalk to bodysurf, build sandcastles and watch dolphins wave jump. And if you’re planning to visit the island during the week, you might also catch a glimpse of military planes taking off from the island’s north side. 

Where to eat: Enjoy a leisurely meal at Tent City Restaurant, an al fresco space attached to the Coronado Museum of History and Art, serving salads, sandwiches and brunch alongside exciting cultural exhibits just waiting to be devoured.

Approximate travel time from Carlsbad: less than two hours round trip by car

Vineyard at Temecula, California 

3. Stroll Through Temecula

Colorful Temecula is a quiet slice of wine country boasting over 40 wineries amid its rolling hills —just a 45-minute drive from MarBrisa.

What to do: Spend the morning strolling through the historic Old Town lined with rustic Western-era buildings, antique shops, craft breweries and specialty boutiques. Save the afternoon for wine tastings, of course.

A visit to Temecula may lead you to an outdoor festival, so keep your schedule flexible.

Where to eat: Support the local farms and wineries by filling up at E.A.T. Marketplace, a modern restaurant with a menu packed with locally sourced produce.

Approximate travel time from Carlsbad: one-and-a-half-hours round trip by car

Lighthouse on a cliff on Catalina Island, California 

4. Sail West To Catalina Island

Of course, a car will only take you so far in Southern California. If you think you can’t get any further west than Carlsbad, think again. Just off the coast lies Catalina Island, a great place for a bit of adventure.

What to do: Make your way by helicopter or boat for a sun-splashed day scuba diving through the kelp forests, parasailing above the waves or hiking the canyon trails. Or retrace the footsteps of movie stars and filmmakers along Avalon Bay.

Where to eat: Tuck into Avalon lobster at The Lobster Trap, serving fresh seafood and cold cocktails to savor at sunset.

Approximate travel time from Carlsbad: one-hour scenic boat ride aboard the Catalina Express

Where To Stay In Carlsbad

No matter which direction you head, make your home base in Carlsbad at MarBrisa, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club. Choose from a Studio or Suite (with your choice of one, two or three bedrooms), and take advantage of the kitchen or kitchenette. Relax at the on-site spa, pool or your balcony as you soak in a golden West Coast sunset.

For more ways to explore Southern California, check out our six-day road trip itinerary, which will take you to some of the dreamiest spots along the California Coast.



The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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