25 Best Things to Do in Carlsbad, NM

Carlsbad, NM
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Break the streak of monotony with a vacation to Carlsbad, a marvelous city in New Mexico that presents tourists with a lot to see and experience.

Carlsbad is also nicknamed "The Pearl on the Pecos," as the entire city sits around the Pecos River.

With an estimated population of 29,800 living across 31.21 square miles, Carlsbad will offer you your personal space.

This city is infamous for its huge range of caverns filled with bats, located in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Apart from its popular tourism sector, the city is also renowned in the petroleum and potash industries.

The edging Guadalupe Mountains, several national parks, and forests are waiting to see you in Carlsbad.

So, what are you waiting for?

Here are the best things to do in Carlsbad, New Mexico:

Visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Big Hall in Carlsbad Caverns
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This particular attraction will top anyone's must-visit list any day, as a trip to Carlsbad would be incomplete without a tour of these fascinating, age-old caverns.

The "Big Room" inside the caves is something that you cannot miss.

Underground pools, fossils, and bat sightings make for an excellent experience at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Columns in spring-fed pool of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
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If you are there between mid-April to October, you will be able to spot thousands of bats flying over the Bat Flight Amphitheater during and after sunset.

This is also where you can spend time learning about the various species of bats living inside the deep caverns.

The caverns are spread over 46,766 acres and are identified as the world's largest underground chambers—something that you must witness with your own eyes.

Bat flight amphitheater at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
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Experience Wine, Food, and More at the Balzano Family Vineyard and Pumpkin Patch

The Balzano Family Vineyard and Pumpkin Patch have a commendable selection of New Mexico wine and beer.

Starting from Italian red wine to fine wines from Luna Rossa and, of course, their authentic wines, Balzano is a pleasant place to visit.

The vineyard also comprises a restaurant that serves sumptuous appetizers.

They also have a weekly menu for their guests who are dropping by, as well as for those who order through their online platforms.

Monthly trade days are full of surprises, and these are something that you can look out for before planning your trip.

This includes fresh farm swaps, small-scale antique trading, and the promotion of small-scale American businesses.

Spend Time Amidst Flora and Fauna at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park

Animals at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park
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The zoological park faces the Pecos River Valley, and that itself will make your visit a serene experience.

A wide range of flora and fauna from the arid Chihuahuan Desert is exhibited there.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park is a unique indoor and outdoor museum, and the place stretches over an area of 1,100 acres.

It is home to more than 40 native animal species, along with hundreds of plants, both native and foreign.

Plants surrounding Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park's lily pond
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A 1.3-mile personal tour will take about 1.5 hours to complete.

One will come across bison, bears, elks, and various birds of prey during the tour.

The park also conserves the endangered Mexican gray wolves.

Visitors will find the park's huge cacti and succulent collection captivating.

An owl at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park
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Drop by Guadalupe Mountain Brewing Company for a Refreshing Drink

Initially a father and son's dream, Guadalupe Mountain Brewing Company finally took shape after years of planning.

Visitors can enjoy the best brews in the community, along with their deli-style menu.

Take your pick from their indoor and outdoor seating options.

One of the first instances where craft beer was introduced in Carlsbad was through the hands of Chris Pettus, the owner of Guadalupe Mountain Brewing Company.

His lifelong friend Brad Carlsen is also an important part of the business.

Together, they aim to get across the entire spectrum of beers in Carlsbad, making everything readily available.

Experience home brewing up close at Guadalupe Mountain Brewing Company!

Feed Your Artistic Cravings at the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center

Established in 1931, the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center maintains its motto of collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting important works of art, artifacts, and documents.

It is the oldest municipal museum in the whole of New Mexico.

Most of their installations showcase works from Carlsbad and other surrounding areas of southeastern New Mexico.

Native American antiquities are something that will pull you close to this art center.

Learn more about the role of local photographers in establishing the famous caverns in Carlsbad.

The museum's temporary installations include interesting local 3D photography of the caves.

Admission to the premises is free of cost.

Children will love the history of finding the Carlsbad caverns.

A visit to the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center will indeed be enjoyable for all.

Eat Well at Classic Carlsbad Restaurants

Touring Carlsbad means a lot of treks here and there.

What will keep you going is good food.

Fortunately, Carlsbad is dotted with good restaurants and cafes that keep you satisfied in between tiring treks.

If you are looking for good old homey recipes, Red Chimney Pit Bar-B-Que is exactly where you'll want to be while spending quality time with your family.

They've been serving simple yet mouth-watering dishes for the past 60 years.

If it is experimental and creative dishes that you are looking for, you wouldn't want to miss the three-course meal at Yellow Brix Restaurant, which includes the best dessert choices ever.

Splish and Splash around Carlsbad Water Park

A great place to be with your kids, Carlsbad Water Park is open during summers, from Tuesday through Sunday.

It is situated by the shores of the Pecos River.

The major attractions are the three water slides, the lazy river, the children's play zone, lounge chairs across the pool sides, and free unlimited Wi-Fi.

The pools are clean, and so are the locker rooms.

The size of the park is a plus point—since it's not too big, parents or guardians can keep an eye out for their little ones while they enjoy their own time in the park.

There are several rides and attractions inside the park, so your entire family can have a great time here.

The Artist Gallery was established by five artists belonging to the Carlsbad Area Art Association, who have also been the sole managers of the gallery for more than 40 years.

The organization has grown through the years, promoting and selling artworks mainly from the Carlsbad area.

After relocating several times, the gallery finally found its permanent home at 120 South Canyon Street, right at the heart of the historically rich district of Carlsbad.

It exhibits oil, watercolor, and acrylic paintings, along with textiles, pottery, photography, and more.

The Artist Gallery will undoubtedly provide visitors with an informative and beautiful experience.

Go for a Stroll around the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area

The waters of Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area
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Explore the Pecos River that flows through the city of Carlsbad.

Visit the Pecos River Flume—the age-old conduit that conveys water over the river.

The fun fact is that this flume was included in Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the only river that crosses itself.

Originally made of wood, it was rebuilt with concrete after its demolition by a flood in 1902.

Finally, you can park your car at the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area and enjoy one of the best and most peaceful walks in the city.

Enjoy the views of the lake and spot hundreds of ducks.

To end the day on a river cruise or with a paddle boat rental would surely be the cherry on top of your experience at the Lake Carlsbad Recreation Area.

Shop at Pecos River Antique Mall

If you have an active interest in exploring flea markets, you will not be disappointed by Pecos River Antique Mall.

It is located at an important juncture in Canyon Street and is one of Carlsbad's hidden gems.

The store boasts memorabilia, antiques, and various treasures belonging to periods from the 1960s through the 1990s.  

There is so much in store for you that, at times, you will find it challenging to navigate through the shop.

The prices are quite reasonable, but there are no such fixed deals, so you have to sift through to find the best item.

All in all, the out-of-the-box Pecos River Antique Mall will be a fine addition to your Carlsbad itinerary.

Watch a Show at Carlsbad Community Theatre

Carlsbad Community Theatre highlights various artistic expressions in theater and provides a high-quality experience of performing arts.

Carlsbad's taste in creativity and art is nurtured through the very active functioning of its community theater.

It enriches and inspires both residents of the city and tourists who are interested in art.

Veteran audiences who still visit the theater find it mesmerizing up to today.

Cross-check the show timings with the officials to catch your favorite performance.

This old theater will take you back to former times and come off as a great recreation in between your treks.

Go for a Calming Boat Tour with Christmas on the Pecos

Take a boat tour through the Pecos River and come across an enchanting view of fairy-like twinkling lights and beautiful houses with decorated yards.

The boat docks will attract your eyes with their bright colors, and their reflection on the river water creates a rather dreamy effect.

Christmas on the Pecos is a 40-minute Christmas-themed ride, and you have the option to choose between boats that can hold 15 people and 45 people in one go.

This boat tour will also be an absolute delight for kids and is considered one of the top 100 things to experience in North America.

Enjoy Various Activities in the Great Outdoors

While there are options for so many activities throughout the city, don't forget to embrace Carlsbad's great outdoors in the purest way possible.

It doesn't matter if you are a novice or an expert, but do go fishing in any of the lakes spread throughout the city and have loads of fun with your family.

It's not hard to get lost in the natural beauty of Carlsbad.

If you're after something more exciting than a regular hotel stay, go for typical American camping stations or RV sites with amenities like electricity and sewage hook-ups, water supply, and trash disposal, and spend a night close to nature.

Play a Friendly Game of Golf at Lake Carlsbad Golf Course

The Lake Carlsbad Golf course is just one of the many surprises in Carlsbad.

It is a fantastic course for tourists since any aspiring golfer will find this semi-grassland bordered by the desert a great challenge.

The Lake Carlsbad Golf Course, bordered by hundreds of acres of city-owned parkland, is situated in the center of Carlsbad.

A par three course and even a full eighteen are available at Lake Carlsbad Golf Course.

The conventional 18-hole course is nestled in the highlands east of the river, while the nine-hole par-3 course follows the Pecos River.

There are golf courses that can be played in less than an hour and are perfect for beginners, the elderly, and young golfers.

Have a Picnic at Brantley Lake State Park

The grounds of Brantley Lake State Park
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A paradise of water, wildlife, and greenery, as well as spectacular sunsets and starry sky, is featured in New Mexico's southernmost lake.

Brantley Lake State Park, twelve miles north of Carlsbad, has constructed campsites, facilities, and amenities such as boating, kayaking, canoeing, fishery, walking trails, and excellent bird viewing.

Welcome sign of Brantley Lake State Park
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The Brantley dam, established across the Pecos River in the 1980s, is where the name of this state park originates.

With picnic areas, outdoor showers, playgrounds, and a visitor center, Brantley Lake State Park features around 50 established camping sites.

Spend your weekend at Brantley Lake State Park, whether having a daytime picnic or staying in your RV.

Dam structure of Brantley Lake State Park
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Order Specialty Drinks at YellowBrix Restaurant

YellowBrix Restaurant has served the Carlsbad neighborhood with exquisite, genuine, and homemade meals for several years.

It is open for customers both lunch and dinner day in and day out.

Meals are prepared fresh to order using only the best ingredients and are guaranteed to satisfy customers' cravings.

Discover why YellowBrix Restaurant is a highly rated restaurant by trying one of their specialty coffee drinks.

They definitely have something for everyone, with favorites like Wraps, Pasta, and Steak!

In addition, they have a sizable wine and beer menu for customers to drink with their meal or at the bar!

Explore the Streets of Downtown Carlsbad

Buildings along Downtown Carlsbad
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According to most tourists, roaming through its streets is the greatest approach to getting to know a new city.

Carlsbad has a ton of attractions in the city in addition to the natural wonders around it.

Travelers may engage in unlimited shopping, dining, and nightlife every day of the week, on weekends, and in the evenings in the bustling downtown of Carlsbad.

Sunset over Downtown Carlsbad's water fountain
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The community and tourists are brought together through festivities in downtown Carlsbad, which also benefit the local economy.

The CavernFest, Downtown Fall Festival, Progressive Dinner, Electric Light Parade, Carlsbad Downtown Farmers & Makers Market, and many other events occur at Carlsbad MainStreet.

Feed the Ducks at Lake Carlsbad Beach Park

Walking pathways, beaches, water activities, paddle boats, and even fishing areas are available at Lake Carlsbad Beach Park on the shores of the Pecos River.

More than 120 acres of land make up the park and leisure area offering numerous covered places with picnic tables and grills.

Many people enjoy strolling along the clean pathways that follow the river.

In addition to being well-known as an excellent swimming spot, the park is also well-liked by the neighborhood ducks.

Visitors may feed the ducks in areas such as the nearby Duckpond.

Go Practice Shooting at Across the Canal Shooting Sports

Shooting sport is a popular pastime among Carlsbad visitors.

In 2008, James Binder opened Across the Canal Shooting Sports to bring shooting sports to the people of southern New Mexico.

For those interested in clay shooting for recreation, competition, or bird hunting in preparation for the season, this venue offers three active skeet fields and five-stand shooting.

The rifle range at Across the Canal Shooting Sport features a target practice silhouette for rifle shooters, in addition to a 100-600 yard target practice area with pellet traps, skeet and wobble trap, and registered skeet contests.

The venue also organizes charity events, private shoots, and business parties, so guests may have even more fun joining a skeet league.

Catch a Sporting Game at Bob Forrest Youth Sports Complex

Bob Forrest Youth Sport Complex is a testament to the community's enthusiastic support for and involvement in organized youth sports.

Here, you may catch softball, baseball, soccer, or football tournament or play with the locals. All seasons long, kids and teens gather here to compete in leagues and host tournaments.

Restrooms and extensive refreshment stands are available at each location.

There is parking for several events in one convenient place.

The Bob Forrest Youth Sports Complex splash pad is always available, regardless of whether or not any sports are taking place.

The complex's water play area, or splash pad, is open for the season throughout the warmer months.

Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes Bataan Recreation Area

Whether stopping for a quick stretch or organizing a day trip with the kids, Bataan Recreation Area has everything for you.

The Carlsbad Veterans Park area features ample grassy space, a playground, a shaded patio area, and several memorials.

It lies near the mouth of the southernmost Pecos River channel that the city of Carlsbad has developed for public use.

Excellent memorial to the heroes who made our liberties possible.

In Carlsbad, California, a bridge honors the troops who sacrificed their lives during the Bataan Death March in 1942.

Learn Self Defense at Kingdom Jiu-Jitsu Academy

Are you in for something new in CarlsLocated?

Kingdom Jiu-Jitsu Academy offers Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, self-defense, and children's martial arts training in the city's heart.

High-quality, individualized training is central to our purpose of empowering our students, whether young or old, to realize their full potential.

This premier martial arts and fitness facility offers programs in bully avoidance, practical self-defense, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, mixed martial arts, No-gi competition, and more.

Come in to learn, then come home bolder and braver.

Release Your Stress at Carlsbad Yoga Barre

The Carlsbad Yoga Barre is an independent health and fitness center.

In the greater Carlsbad region, this is the only establishment dedicated to hot yoga.

You may choose from many classes, like hot yoga, barre, weight training, bungee, cardio, aerial, and pole dancing.

It also provides a wide range of courses and events focused on improving participants' overall health.

It uses cutting-edge methods to guarantee that you will feel completely revitalized and invigorated after each session.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Spend Quality Time at Sitting Bull Falls

Daytime view of Sitting Bull Falls
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The majestic Sitting Bull Falls is an hour's journey from Carlsbad's central area.

You surely won't regret including a side trip to this waterfall in your itinerary.

The drive will take you through a desert and will end at a canyon with a beautiful park.

Sitting Bull Falls is indeed an incredible sight, but the little pool below it steals the show.

Scenic view of Sitting Bull Falls
Alex Clary Photography / Shutterstock.com

Perfect for a family picnic or a nice time with your loved ones, a detour to this waterfall is inexpensive and fun.

The best time to visit this place is in the morning.

This is because the pool below the waterfall starts to get a bit chilly past noon.

As there are a couple of trails near this attraction, hiking around Sitting Bull Falls is also a great idea.

Trail at Sitting Bull Falls
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Visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Landscape of Guadalupe Mountains
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The entire range of the Guadalupe Mountains is truly majestic.

For a long time, the mountain has attracted geologists as it is one of the most prominent examples of fossilized reefs from ancient times.

This destination is a must for every hiker's Carlsbad itinerary.

Landscape of Guadalupe Mountains National Park
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Trails in and around  Guadalupe Mountains National Park can get as extensive as 80 miles, touching upon woodland canyons and lush falls and streams.

This particular attraction is not exactly situated at Carlsbad but sits just 54 miles southwest in the state of Texas.

If you are in this part of the US and can hear nature's call, this is one of the best places to answer it.

Fossil reef at Guadalupe Mountains National Park
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Final Thoughts

The city of Carlsbad, situated in the southeast corner of New Mexico, is most well-known, possibly for the vast national park close to it.

Relax in one of the numerous public areas, such as the Lake Carlsbad Beach Park, along the lovely riverside walking pathways, or at one of the many top picnicking locations.

With the list of the best things to do in Carlsbad, you'll have a pretty good idea of activities and places to visit, especially if you decide to extend your stay for an extra day or two.

Enjoy your vacation to Carlsbad and create memories of a lifetime.

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