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Explore nature in our neighborhood - our little critters have moves you've never seen. 

Coastal Carlsbad Up Close
with California State Parks

Get outside and have fun exploring nature, whether it's a nature walk, wildlife viewing or becoming an "official" junior ranger. There's lots to see and do along the coast, and we're guessing you'll be more than a little surprised at what you find!

See Upcoming Events

All programs start and end at the South Carlsbad State Beach Campfire Center centrally located in the campground. Look for a Parks Interpreter to lead the trip! Questions? Reach out to our concierge, and we'll be happy to help. 

Sunset Socials 

Take in the stunning sunset and hear what's going on at the park! Meet, ask questions, and discuss ideas with the rangers. Find out what to look for, what is available to do, when the tide is low or high, or simply ask how to best discover coastal California's hidden gems!

A Guided Tour into San Diego's Ecosystem

The balance of coastline, a lagoon, a reef and the kelp bed is home to many different species. Let’s get to know our local inhabitants from birds to crabs, from sharks to plants.

  • Shell Walk and Talk
    Early morning strolls, trolling through what the surf spit out on the sand the night before, finding treasure and masterpieces, but what are they? Come learn what lives in those swirly designed shells or the remains of a tasty treat that someone else devoured.
  • Kelp Nature Walk: Growing Big and Strong
    Kelp forests provide a safe and robust habitat for plenty of species underwater and kelp is also prevalent in our daily lives. Learn how the structures of trees on land connect to the structure of various kelp species.

Wildlife Viewing

Spotting Scopes, Binoculars and a good set of eye balls! Learn how the experts spot wildlife big and small off the southern California coast. Look for whales and dolphins in the water and birds and critters on the shore.

Reef Walk at Terra Mar

Low tide offers the perfect opportunity to investigate the local tide pools and marine life. Take a peek at the snails, crabs, octopus and other creatures typically hiding at high tide. Don't forget your camera! (Unlike other State Park activities, guests meet at Terra Mar Point)

Junior Ranger Program: Bring the Kids

At your first Junior Ranger program you will get a badge and logbook to track your activities. Take adventure on the road and become an "official" ranger at parks across California. Junior Rangers gather at more than 70 state parks, from the redwood region, to the high Sierra, to our favorite - the sunny Southern California beaches. From birds to belugas, sharks and sea lions, there is plenty of activities to keep the kiddos smiling! (Ideal for rangers ages 7-12 years old)

South Carlsbad State Park Junior Ranger Activities

  • It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s an Osprey?
    Shore birds and migratory species are often seen along California State Beaches; including endangered species. Today we will identify locally occurring species of shore nesting birds, water fowl and raptors.
  • Baby Beluga, Baby Grey Whale, Baby Blues
    Baleen whales and dolphins are often seen from the sandy beach and high top bluffs of South Carlsbad Beaches. We will first get to know the size, habitat, diet and special concerns of local whale populations.
  • The Tooth Fairy’s Best Client: Sharks!
    Sharks are often misunderstood and feared by beach goers, so let us squash those fears! We are going to learn all about shark teeth, their size, shape and what their best for. We will have a brief lesson on the ecological relevance of the local kelp forest, ocean currents and sighting locations.
  • Dogs of the Sea: Seals and Sea Lions
    Meet our local marine mammals including the California Sea Lion, discover how the beach habitat helps them survive. Learn something new every time. Fun for the whole family!
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