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Carlsbad, California
City of Carlsbad
Downtown Carlsbad
Downtown Carlsbad
Official seal of Carlsbad, California
Village by the Sea
Location of Carlsbad in San Diego County, California.
Location of Carlsbad in San Diego County, California.
Carlsbad, California is located in San Diego County, California
Carlsbad, California
Carlsbad, California
Location in San Diego County, California
Carlsbad, California is located in California
Carlsbad, California
Carlsbad, California
Location in California
Carlsbad, California is located in the United States
Carlsbad, California
Carlsbad, California
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
County Flag of San Diego County, California.png San Diego
Incorporated July 16, 1952
 • Type Council–manager
 • Body Carlsbad City Council
 • Total 39.08 sq mi (101.21 km2)
 • Land 37.77 sq mi (97.83 km2)
 • Water 1.30 sq mi (3.38 km2)  3.55%
52 ft (16 m)
 • Total 114,746
 • Rank 5th in San Diego County
56th in California
 • Density 3,038.02/sq mi (1,172.91/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
92008–92011, 92018
Area codes 442/760
FIPS code 06-11194
GNIS feature IDs 1660437, 2409984
City flower Bird‐of‐paradise

Carlsbad is a coastal city in the North County region of San Diego County, California, United States. The city is 87 miles (140 km) south of downtown Los Angeles and 35 miles (56 km) north of downtown San Diego and is part of the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Carlsbad is a popular tourist destination and notable home for many businesses in the golf industry. The city's 2020 census population was 114,746 and the reported median household income was $123,409.


Statue of John Frazier

Carlsbad's history began with the Luiseño people (the Spanish name given to them because of their proximity to Mission San Luis Rey). Nearly every reliable fresh water creek had at least one native village, including one called Palamai. The site is located just south of today's Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition of 1769, met native villagers while camped on Buena Vista Creek. During the Mexican period, in 1842, the southern portion of Carlsbad, was granted as Rancho Agua Hedionda to Juan María Marrón.

In the 1880s a former sailor named John Frazier dug a well in the area. He began offering his water at the train station and soon the whistle-stop became known as Frazier's Station. A test done on a second fresh-water well discovered the water to be chemically similar to that found in some of the most renowned spas in the world, and the town was named after the famed spa in the Bohemian town of Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic).

To take advantage of the find, the Carlsbad Land and Mineral Water Company was formed by a German-born merchant from the Midwest named Gerhard Schutte together with Samuel Church Smith, D. D. Wadsworth and Henry Nelson. The naming of the town followed soon after, along with a major marketing campaign to attract visitors. The area experienced a period of growth, with homes and businesses sprouting up in the 1880s. Agricultural development of citrus fruits, avocados and olives soon changed the landscape. By the end of 1887, land prices fell throughout San Diego County. However, the community survived on the back of its fertile agricultural lands.

The site of John Frazier's original well can still be found at Alt Karlsbad, a replica of a German Hanseatic house, located on Carlsbad Boulevard.

In 1952, Carlsbad was incorporated to avoid annexation by its neighbor, Oceanside.

The single-runway Palomar Airport opened in 1959 after County of San Diego officials decided to replace the Del Mar Airport. The airport was annexed to the City of Carlsbad in 1978 and renamed McClellan-Palomar Airport in 1982 after a local civic leader, Gerald McClellan.

The first modern skateboard park, Carlsbad Skatepark, was built in March 1976. It was located on the grounds of Carlsbad Raceway and was designed and built by inventors Jack Graham and John O'Malley. The site of the original Carlsbad Skatepark and Carlsbad Raceway was demolished in 2005 and is now an Industrial Park. However, two skateparks have since been developed.

In March 1999, Legoland California was opened. It was the first Legoland theme park outside of Europe and is currently operated by Merlin Entertainments. Merlin Entertainments owns 70 percent of the shares, and the remaining 30 percent is owned by the LEGO group and Kirkbi A/S.

Carlsbad is home to the nation's largest desalination plant. Construction of the $1 billion Carlsbad Desalination Plant at the Encina Power Plant was completed in December 2015.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 39.1 square miles (101 km2) of which 37.7 square miles (98 km2) are land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) are (3.55%) water, the majority of which is contained within three lagoons and one lake.

The northern area of the city is part of a tri-city area consisting of northern Carlsbad, southern Oceanside and western Vista.


Carlsbad has a semi-arid Mediterranean climate (Koppen classification BSh) and averages 263 sunny days per year. Winters are mild with periodic rain. Frost is rare along the coast, but sometimes occurs in inland valleys in December and January. Summer is almost rain free, but sometimes overcast and cool with fog off the Pacific. While most days have mild and pleasant temperatures, hot dry Santa Ana winds bring high temperatures on a few days each year, mostly in the fall.

Climate data for Carlsbad, California
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 87
Average high °F (°C) 64
Average low °F (°C) 45
Record low °F (°C) 20
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.42

Carlsbad neighborhoods

The Old Santa Fe Depot, built in 1907, is a local landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places and currently houses the city's Visitor's Information Center.

For city planning and growth management purposes, Carlsbad is divided into four distinct quadrants.

Northwest quadrant

The northwest quadrant of Carlsbad (ZIP code 92008) includes the downtown "Village," the Barrio, and "Old Carlsbad." It was the first part of Carlsbad to be settled. Homes range from 1950s cottages and bungalows to elegant mansions on the hill overlooking the ocean. It is also home to Hosp Grove Park, a grove of trees relatively untouched by development and now designated by the city for recreational use, in addition to the Buena Vista and Agua Hedionda Lagoons. It is located west of El Camino Real and north of Palomar Airport Road.

"The Barrio" area is near downtown Carlsbad bordered by Carlsbad Village Drive to the north, Tamarack Avenue to the south, Interstate 5 to the east and the railroad tracks to the west. It was settled by Latinos in the early 20th century. It is the site of the Centro de Aprendizaje, a Spanish division of the Carlsbad City Library.

Northeast quadrant

This quadrant (ZIP code 92010) is located east of El Camino Real and north of Palomar Airport Road and consists mostly of single-family homes, with larger lots found in the older area known as Chestnut Hills and the new developments around Calavera Hills.

Southeast quadrant

The southeast quadrant (ZIP code 92009) is located east of El Camino Real and south of Palomar Airport Road and features several newer expensive master-planned communities set among hillsides, golf courses, Alga Norte Community Park and permanent open spaces. It includes Bressi Ranch and the La Costa neighborhoods of Rancho La Costa, La Costa Ridge, La Costa Oaks, La Costa Greens. In 1965, La Costa gave its name to the Gold Medal Golf Resort, La Costa Resort and Spa, now known as the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa. Residents here are served by the Carlsbad Unified School District, San Marcos Unified School District and the Encinitas Union School District.

Southwest quadrant

This quadrant (ZIP code 92011) extends along the Pacific Ocean to the south of the center of Carlsbad. It includes the Aviara neighborhood. It is located west of El Camino Real and south of Palomar Airport Road.

Calavera Lake and Mount Calavera on the eastern boundary of Carlsbad


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 9,253
1970 14,944 61.5%
1980 35,490 137.5%
1990 63,126 77.9%
2000 78,247 24.0%
2010 105,328 34.6%
U.S. Decennial Census


As of the 2010 United States Census Carlsbad had a population of 105,328. The population density was 2,693.1 per square mile (1,039.8/km2). The racial makeup of Carlsbad was 87,205 (82.8%) White, 1,379 (1.3%) African American, 514 (0.5%) Native American, 7,460 (7.1%) Asian, 198 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 4,189 (4.0%) from other races, and 4,383 (4.2%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13,988 persons (13.3%).

The Census reported that 104,413 people (99.1% of the population) lived in households, 459 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 456 (0.4%) were institutionalized.

Out of 39,964 households in 2011, there were 26,992 (67.5%) families, of which 12,345 (30.9%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 21,705 (54.3%) were married-couple families, 1,489 (3.7%) had a male householder with no wife present, and 3,798 (9.5%) had a female householder with no husband present. There were 12,972 (32.5%) nonfamily households, of which 10,198 (25.5%) were made up of a householder living alone and 3,299 (8.3%) were a householder living alone who was 65 years or over. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.10.

The population was spread out, with 25,366 people (24.1%) under the age of 18, 6,718 people (6.4%) aged 18 to 24, 28,073 people (26.7%) aged 25 to 44, 30,373 people (28.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 14,798 people (14.0%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.5 males.

There were 44,673 housing units at an average density of 1,142.2 per square mile (441.0/km2), of which 26,808 (64.8%) were owner-occupied, and 14,537 (35.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.6%. 69,855 people (66.3% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 34,558 people (32.8%) lived in rental housing units.

In 2011, the median household income was US$85,743 and the median family income was US$102,254, with 11.9% of households and 14.9% of families earning US$200,000 or more. Males had a median income of US$80,590 versus US$54,159 for females. The per capita income for the city was US$42,712. About 6.8% of families and 8.4% of the population reported income below the poverty line, including 10.1% of those under age 18 and 3.5% of those age 65 or over.

Of the population 25 years and over, 95.7% graduated from high school and 51.3% held a bachelor's degree or higher. 65.2% of the population 16 years and over was in the labor force.


As of the census of 2000, there were 78,247 people, 31,521 households, and 20,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,090.2 people per square mile (806.9/km2). There were 33,798 housing units at an average density of 902.8 per square mile (348.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.6% Caucasian, 1.0% African American, 0.4% Native American, 4.2% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.7% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.7% of the population.

There were 31,521 households, out of which 30.7% contained children under the age of 18, 54.3% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of single individuals, and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The mean household size was 2.46 and the mean family size was 2.96.

23.3% of residents were under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.8 males. Among those 18 and older, there were 92.8 males for every 100 females.

Sister cities


Amusement Parks
  • South Carlsbad State Beach
  • Aviara Golf Club and The Aviara Golf Academy.
  • La Costa Resort and Spa
  • The Crossings at Carlsbad.
  • Rancho Carlsbad Golf Club
Open Space
  • The Flower Fields


Carlsbad's core industries include information technology, video game development, manufacturing, robotics, medical devices, life science, wireless technology, clean technology, action sports, tourism, design development and real estate. In 2013, Google named Carlsbad the digital capital of California with the strongest online business community.

Carlsbad is also known as the "Titanium Valley" because of its golf manufacturing industry. Callaway Golf Company, TaylorMade-adidas Golf Company, Cobra Golf, Titleist, and Odyssey Golf are all located in Carlsbad.

Top employers

According to 2021 figures, the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Viasat, Inc. 2,481
2 Legoland California 2,300
3 Life Technologies Corporation 1,982
4 Omni La Costa Resort and Spa 1,300
5 Carlsbad Unified School District 1,092
6 TaylorMade Golf Company 960
7 City of Carlsbad 748
8 Nortek Security Control 637
9 HM Electronics 571
10 Gemological Institute of America 555

Notable corporate headquarters

  • Applied Spectral Imaging, multinational bioimaging technology company
  • Arkeia Software, network backup solutions
  • Atticus Clothing, Apparel
  •, online B2B marketing platform
  • Callaway Golf Company, Golf equipment and apparel manufacturer
  • Cobra Golf, Golf equipment and apparel manufacturer
  • Fallen Footwear, Shoe company
  • Gemological Institute of America, Gem Nonprofit
  • Hay House, New Age Publisher
  • Hot Dog on a Stick, Restaurants
  • Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, restaurant
  • Jazzercise, International dance fitness program
  • Jenny Craig, Inc., Weight management
  • Kisco Senior Living, senior living
  • Macbeth Footwear, apparel
  • MaxLinear, Semiconductors
  • No Fear, Apparel
  • Osiris Shoes, Shoe company
  • PC Power & Cooling, PC power supply manufacturer
  • Rockstar San Diego, Video Game Developer
  • Rubio's Coastal Grill, Quick-serve Restaurants
  • TaylorMade Golf Company, Golf equipment and apparel manufacturer
  • Upper Deck, Sports and entertainment trading card manufacturer
  • ViaSat, Satellite communications


North County Transit District (NCTD) provides public transportation services in Carlsbad, managing Coaster commuter rail (with stops at Carlsbad Village station and Carlsbad Poinsettia station), Breeze bus service, Flex on-demand transit service, and Lift paratransit service. Sprinter hybrid rail, also managed by NCTD, does not pass through Carlsbad. While it passes through Carlsbad, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner does not stop within the city.

Interstate 5 runs through the western part of Carlsbad, while California State Route 78 passes close to its northern border.

McClellan–Palomar Airport is located about 7 miles (11 km) southeast of downtown Carlsbad, and allows general aviation and limited commercial service to the city.

Notable people

  • Frank Alesia, character actor and television director
  • Marcus Allen, college and professional football star
  • Brian P. Bilbray, U.S. Congressman
  • Ron Blair, bassist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • David M. Brahms, Marine Corps Brigadier General, Military Lawyer
  • Adam Brody, film and television actor; played Seth Cohen on The O.C.
  • Francesca Capaldi, child actress
  • Ron Capps, Current NHRa Funny Car Driver Former Top Fuel Driver 2016 NHRA Funny Car Champion
  • Leo Carrillo, actor, cartoonist, conservationist and preservationist, and owner of Leo Carrillo Ranch in Carlsbad
  • Aaron Chang, surf and ocean photographer
  • Brandon Chillar, linebacker for the Green Bay Packers
  • Jim Cochran, pioneering organic strawberry farmer
  • Jonathan Compas, center for Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • S.E. Cupp, journalist and political commentator
  • David Díaz, Caldecott-winning illustrator/author
  • Thomas Eshelman (CHS Grad 2012), MLB Pitcher for Baltimore Orioles
  • Drew Ferris (born 1992), football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League
  • Jon Foreman, lead singer of alternative band Switchfoot
  • Tim Foreman, brother of Jon Foreman and bassist for Switchfoot
  • Robert C. Frazee, businessman and politician
  • Ryan Gallant, professional skateboarder
  • Sid Gillman, professional football player
  • Troy Glaus, baseball player
  • LeRoy Grannis, photographer
  • Ryan Guy, football player for St. Patrick's Athletic
  • Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and entrepreneur
  • Taylor Knox, professional surfer
  • Ted Johnson, professional football player
  • Michellie Jones, triathlete, 2006 Ironman world champion, 2000 Olympic silver medalist
  • Josh Kalis, professional skateboarder
  • Rod Laver, former world #1 Australian tennis player, retired in La Costa
  • Fred Lynn, baseball player
  • Sal Masekela, son of musician Hugh Masekela. CHS graduate. TV host for Winter X Games on ESPN
  • Tim Miller, an original student of Ashtanga-yoga founder, K.P. Jois, and teacher of Ashtanga in the US.
  • Martin Milner, television actor, Route 66 and Adam-12
  • Dale D. Myers, former Deputy Administrator of NASA, three NASA Distinguished Service Medals
  • Gregory R Nelson Sr., co-founder of DonJoy, Inc., CEO of United Orthopedic Group
  • Emily O'Brien, The Young and the Restless actress; 2003 graduate CHS
  • Ron Packard, U.S. Congressman
  • Kevin Pearce, snowboarder, public speaker and advocate for traumatic brain injury and Down syndrome research and education; extreme sport commentator
  • Jean Peters, actress and wife of Howard Hughes
  • John Pugsley, libertarian political activist
  • Bridget Regan, actress known for her role as Kahlan Amnell on Legend of the Seeker
  • Allard Roen, co-founder and the on-site Manager of the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California.
  • Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek
  • Boris Said, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver
  • Steve Scott, champion miler
  • Pancho Segura, former professional tennis player and coach
  • Brian Simo, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver
  • Sebastian Soto, professional soccer player for SC Telstar and the United States national team
  • Staciana Stitts, 2000 Summer Olympics gold medalist swimmer; graduate CHS
  • Brett Swain, professional football player.
  • Joe Toledo, American football player
  • Victor Villaseñor, author
  • Barbara Werle, actress and dancer
  • Shaun White, professional snowboarder, skateboarder, 2006, 2010 and 2018 Winter Olympics gold medalist

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