My wife and I stayed here for 7 nights in late August 2013. The condo is well provisioned and close to everything. We flew from the East coast and I especially liked having beach chairs and boogie boards at the condo (on back patio) so I didn't have to fly beach gear with us on the plane. We cooked in the room and saved lots of money. The bed was soft for me but my wife loved it so I only mention it in case you have a sensitive back. I was very grateful that in the closet I found a selection of various pillows of varying soft/hardness and thicknesses. That was a nice touch and we noted all the linens were very clean.
There is so much public transportation in this place. Coming from a smallish Eastern city where we have little in the way of public transport both my wife and I were thrilled with the easy transport options. We walked all over the town and even to the next town, Oceanside, where we had a fantastic veggie burger and delicious draft beers at the sports pub. We also walked to the Carlsbad Art Festival and had a great time in a sidewalk cafe people watching. We also walked to the gourmet chocolate shop every night as a vacation treat. There are bike lanes everywhere and we rented an electric bike a block from the condo and rode it all the way to the next town down the Pacific Coast Highway. One day we took the commuter rail to San Diego where we hooked into an amazing bus system (pollution free natural gas buses AND they have electric trollies everywhere) and went to Balboa Park. There are lots of museums there and we even saw famous paintings by Degas and Monet and were home in time for dinner. Every evening we walked down to the ocean, only a short block away, and watched the incredible Pacific sunsets. The beaches are huge. We were there in summer so the beaches got a lot of use, but we took a walk on Sunday morning for a very long distance and had the beach almost to ourselves. Also, people start packing up in the late afternoon to go home for dinner, and when YOU stay this close to the ocean then you can actually go to the beach late in the day if you want - rather than having to go home like everyone else. This is quite a luxury and allows you to go to the beach in the cooler part of the day and still get in some serious beach time.
A couple of things I noticed: We had a polite taxi driver from the airport. So much that we called him personally to take us back a week later. Its a small thing but we have had some horrendous taxi experiences in Eastern cities that have stayed with us, even at beach and resort locations. In fact, practically everyone we met was nice and polite - people smiling on the streets, holding doors for you, and saying thanks. I noticed people are crazy active and fit here, despite having a lot of good places to grab a good beer (hey, best of both worlds!). The locals were always talking about going to the beach, and we saw a 7ish year old learning to surf and a guy in his 70s (or so) coming out of the water in a wetsuit with a surfboard. He was healthy and happy and we joked that everyone from 7 to 70 must surf here and that maybe that is how they all stay so fit and young looking.
I also noticed that the area seemed pretty safe. At the art festival, for example, there was a huge crowd and where I come from there would have been bike cops, teams of police on foot patrols, police cars parked everywhere and blocking all the street entrances, etc. Instead, we laughed when we were sitting at the sidewalk cafe for a couple of hours and saw these two retiree-looking guys with "Volunteer Police" on their shirts walking and chatting happily together - with no guns or clubs or anything like that! And the great thing is that I didn't see any reason for them to have anyone else other than those volunteer guys walking around. This was due to everyone being nice to each other and well behaved. I noticed the same niceness when we went to the farmers' market and walked around for a long time. And, we highly recommend the farmers market. Strangely, we did have a couple of guys ask us for our leftover food when we were walking back to the condo from restaurants (always out on Carlsbad Blvd, not near the condo). They never asked for money or bothered us, but it happened several times. It wasn't a big deal and I wouldn't let it worry me. We always took food back to the condo to have later so we wouldn't have to eat out so much. If you finish that last bite instead of taking it with you then you won't even have to deal with this.
We seriously meant to go to the winery storefront that is like a block away for a wine tasting and we never made it because we were too busy. This town is a great place to go if you want to have an active vacation. Honestly, we weren't even in the condo that much except to have our cheap breakfast and lunches and then hit the beach. If you like to walk you will love it here. There is a sidewalk that runs all up and down the beach for strolls and during our evening walks we discovered the Carlsbad Village Faire Centre shopping plaza on Carlsbad Village Drive (yes, it was a block away too, like practically everything). The place has several good looking restaurants and interestingly several places to take art classes that are all located in the same plaza. Living at the beach must inspire artistic hobbies. Anyway, there is a bar called Coyote's that has a wild karaoke session (seemed like every night). We don't sing but walked down to watch (it is out on a patio) and people were having a true blast.
One last thing here before closing. We are vegetarian and lean toward vegan, which isn't always easy to accomplish when we/you are in a strange place and don't know where to eat. I always mention this in my reviews in case anyone is interested in how vegetarian friendly a place is. We never found a strictly vegetarian restaurant, but we never had any trouble finding food on menus as there were usually some options. We went straight to the Albertson's grocery store upon arrival in Carlsbad and stocked up on food (its about a 10 minute walk) and we ate two meals a day for 7 days for what one restaurant meal would have cost us. Additionally, I must give a recommendation to Swami's Cafe on Carlsbad Blvd (OK, maybe a block-and-a-half, maybe). They have a huge vegetarian selection and when we did eat out we usually headed there as the food was incredible with plenty of reasonably priced and healthy options.
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