Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center in Carlsbad
The next time you are looking for a fun, educational way to spend the day in Carlsbad, you should definitely add the Agua Hedionda Lagoon and the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center to your list of things to do.
The Agua Hedionda Lagoon is a 400-acre lagoon in Carlsbad that is surrounded by threatened coastal wetlands and is home to a fish hatchery, a mussel and oyster aquaculture facility, a nature center, hiking trails, a power-generating plant and various recreational opportunities, like boating and paddle boarding. The lagoon’s ecosystem is also home to a variety of habitats, including upland plant communities, subtidal, intertidal mudflats and marshlands.
While you could simply spend the day viewing wildlife or boating on the lagoon, a visit to the Discovery Center will provide you and your family with an educational experience that will teach you more about the importance of preserving the lagoon’s habitat and the significance of native plants to early inhabitants of the area, as well as fostering a greater appreciation of our valuable water resources.
The Discovery Center, which was completed in 2004 and opened its first exhibit on Earth Day in 2006, is located at the east end of the lagoon and offers educational and outreach programs designed to teach visitors about the lagoon, the wetlands, native plants and wildlife, and the importance of maintaining the health of this important ecosystem.
The main exhibit currently on display at the Discovery Center is the Luiseño History and Cultural Exhibit, which was put together by the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians and CSU-San Marcos. The exhibit features displays and photographs depicting Luiseño culture with a particular focus on the important role of native plants in the lives of early inhabitants.
While you are there, you should definitely explore the Native Garden, which is home to more than 750 plants from more than 50 plant species, including multiple types of sage, Manzanita and wild lilac. This is a great way to learn about plants that were used as food and medicine by early inhabitants, some of which we still use today as natural remedies for headaches, cold symptoms or arthritis.
You can also learn about more than 20 species of birds that live at the lagoon, or migrate through the lagoon each year, at the Birds of Agua Hedionda Lagoon photographic exhibit, and view displays of native amphibians.
All of this is owned and operated by the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation (AHLF), which is a non-profit organization established in 1990 with the mission of preserving and restoring the lagoon, and maintaining a balance between public access and protecting the land and ecosystem.
Hiking the Lagoon
Explore the lagoon, and view native plants and wildlife, from the .5-mile Hubbs Trail, the one-mile Kelly School Trail or the .25-mile Discovery Center Trail. Visit the foundation’s hiking trails page to learn more or get directions to each trailhead.
Events at the Discovery Center
The Aqua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation hosts a variety of events, festivals, workshops and classes throughout the year, including a summer camp, yoga classes, the annual World Water Day Festival and the annual Birds & Bees Festival. They also offer monthly garden tours of the Native Garden, and provide a venue for meetings, weddings, and special events.
The Academy of Environmental Stewardship
The center also offers an environmental education program for third-grade students that provides hands-on learning experiences that foster a better understanding of our natural surroundings and how they are affected by human activities.
If you would like to donate your time to further the mission of the Discovery Center, you can volunteer as a docent, help with school field trips, assist in maintaining the Native Garden or help the foundation maintain the trails. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit the foundation’s website or call the office.
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