Northbound: Experiencing Carlsbad’s downtown village

This past weekend, I had a chance to check out the Village Music Walk at Carlsbad Village with some friends. Wow, what an experience.

I’ve lived in Carlsbad now for two years, but have never been out in the Village during the warm summer months. This was a real treat — I saw hundreds of folks out, smiling, all enjoying the free musical performances staged in public spaces and in Village storefronts. It was a great way to explore more of the Village and musical artists you may not be familiar with; I was thrilled to learn there’s an olive oil shop on State Street (Humble Olive Oils), and enjoyed the 1920s and ‘30s tunes of the G Burns Jug Band.

Kudos to the Village Music Walk event organizers for hosting such a successful complementary event. The event was North County at its best — welcoming, community-centric, family-friendly, wholesome fun.

I’ve been thinking a lot more about Carlsbad Village lately. I’m impressed by how well maintained the business district is — I drive through it daily, and notice the tree-trimming crews, power washers and landscapers all doing their part to keep it clean. The Carlsbad Village Association emails me weekly newsletters informing me about various events and happenings in the area, including the weekly State Street Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, which I still need to get out to sometime. The new businesses under construction in the Village also have me thinking I’ll be spending more time there soon.

On my usual nights out in the Village, I can be found at the The Compass gastropub on Carlsbad Village Drive, or at The Charles Kenneth, a hidden speakeasy (shhh, it’s a secret). These spots remind me most of my former life in downtown San Diego, where I lived for five years, but not much else does. Lately however, a flurry of construction crews caught my eye in the Village, and I quickly learned that a lot of new exciting bars and restaurants are scheduled to open this summer.

Barrel Republic, a unique pour-your-own-beer bar, is currently under construction at 2916 State Street; they already have a location open in Oceanside. Park 101, which will feature an indoor/outdoor beer and wine garden, deli, lounge, and BBQ counter, will be located at the seaside corner of Carlsbad Boulevard and Carlsbad Village Drive.  Carruth Cellars Urban Winery, which just recently opened a tasting room in Solana Beach, is under construction on State Street, alongside the soon-to-open Baba Coffee and Campfire restaurant.

Other Village businesses are also under construction.

I’d be curious to learn why so many places are planning to open this summer in the Village. Has there been an upswing in the local economy? Favorable real estate prices or rental rates? Maybe it’s simply “time.” Whatever it is, I think it’s great for Carlsbad’s community gem, and diversifies the existing mix of storefront businesses there. That’s good for Carlsbad, and North County.

Vince Vasquez is a think tank analyst based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.

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