While most travelers are familiar with Carlsbad's famous caverns, some have yet to discover the city's other exciting sights. The small town aura of Carlsbad belies a charming and vibrant city, just waiting to tickle the fancy of anyone passing through.
A quick drive around town reveals tree-lined streets and numerous parks. Located on the Pecos River, the city was founded on a literal oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert. The river flows through town, providing gorgeous views and cool breezes for sightseers. Guided boat tours of the river are given daily by Carlsbad Cruises, taking passengers on a historical tour of the area. Personal paddle boats, kayaks and paddle boards are also available for those looking to explore the river on their own. Visitors can also check out the historic Pecos River Flume—an aqueduct that passes over the river, carrying its water to the dryer surrounding areas. Because of the flume, the waterway was featured in “Ripley's Believe it or Not” as “the world's only river that crosses itself.”
Lake Carlsbad is another great natural spot inside the city. It's used by locals for picnics, outdoor recreation and swimming. The park sports four miles of walking paths, picnic tables, grills and playgrounds.
To learn more about the city's rich history, take a trip to the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center. This museum is free to the public and has exhibits displaying items from the area's past—stretching from prehistory to today. The museum features ancient Native art and artifacts as well as a collection of contemporary, modern and Southwestern art.
It's closed at the moment, but if you happen to be passing through next summer, make sure to stop for a cooldown at the Carlsbad Water Park. The park features three water slides, a lazy river and a children's play area.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens gives visitors a chance to see local wildlife while strolling through an incredible botanical garden. With hiking, picnicking and educational opportunities, this destination spot is perfect for children and families. And best of all, it's a no-harm zoo exclusively holding animals that cannot be released into the wild.
Outside the city is Lincoln National Park, home of the breathtaking Sitting Bull Falls. The waterfalls are open to explorers looking to hike through the canyon, swim under the falls or just enjoy a picnic and a nap.
To the south of Carlsbad is Brantley Lake State Park, known as a fishing and boating spot. Nearby is the famous Carlsbad Caverns, one of 20 World Heritage Sites in the US—which draws visitors from all over the country. The caverns are natural wonders that took millions of years to form. Featuring some of the rarest rock formations on Earth, it's an attraction that has to be experienced.
From its subterranean depths to its canyon peaks, Carlsbad is a perfect spot for both adventure seekers and families looking to get away and relax. And its small town charm and hospitality make it one of the best places New Mexico has to offer. ()