If you’re a military history buff, you’re in for a treat at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. Founded by Captain Gaspar de Portola back in 1769, Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base is steeped in tradition and is one of the most special bases in all of California. At one time, long before it became the Marine Corps’ largest base in the country, both the Army and the Marine Corps were interested in the land. The Marine Corps came out the winner and eventually purchased the space for over $4.2 million in 1942. That’s a lot now, never mind then!
Since then, Camp Pendleton has played a unique role in preparing service members, as well as the country, for various engagements overseas, including World War I, World War II and the Korean War, among others. More than 250 years after Portola’s arrival, Camp Pendleton is the west coast’s premier fleet marine force training base, with over 2,600 buildings and over 500 miles of roadway. In some ways, it’s a city unto itself.
Whether you’re a recent arrival to Camp Pendleton or you’ve been there for a while, you may not be familiar with what to do in Camp Pendleton beyond revisiting its storied past at the Ranch House Complex or the Marine Corps Mechanized Museum. Those activities could be fun for you and your spouse, but may not be on your son or daughter’s top 10 list of what to do in Camp Pendleton.
This article will give you some suggestions for easy to get to potential activities around the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.
1. Explore the beaches
If there is one thing that California has in abundance — beyond sunshine, especially in San Diego County — it’s beaches. From Del Mar Beach on Camino Del Mar or San Onofre Beach on the Southern Pacific Coast Highway, beach life literally surrounds the installation. Del Mar Beach is on the southern side just past the main Del Mar Gate, while San Onofre is on the opposite side at the San Mateo Gate, as noted by MyBaseGuide.com. The beauty of each beach — beyond their visual attractiveness — is that only military families who have access to the base are eligible to use them. This way, you don’t have to worry too much about social distancing and there should be plenty of room to spread out with your gear or to toss the frisbee around with the kids.
You may want to stake out either area before you pack up to ensure it’s open. If you visit the website maintained by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, you should be able to get the contact information you need.
2. Prepare for battle at Camp Pendleton Paintball Park
If you’ve never played paintball before, you’re in for a real treat. Located at 1700 Vandegrift Boulevard, Camp Pendleton Paintball Park is a popular location for military families and has been in operation for more than 20 years. Covering roughly 30 acres, the park is the perfect place to let your kids run wild and foster the importance of teamwork and leadership. However, if paintball doesn’t suit anyone’s interest, there are plenty of other exhibits and activities at the park, including castles, tiki villages and life-size dinosaurs. Here’s the website for ticketing information and hours of operation. For now, Camp Pendleton Paintball Park is open Fridays through Sunday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
3. Go horseback riding
Has your son or daughter taken an interest in horses? Then step on up to Stepp Stables. Located across from the Paintball Park, Stepp Stables is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to these gentle giants. Stepp Stables is open to the public, not just the Marine Corps, and offers lessons for all ages 7 and up. Private lessons are also available should your kids be younger than 7 (ages 3 through 6).
In addition to meeting the mares, the trails are long and stunning to behold.
Stepp Stables is open, but for now only on Wednesday through Sunday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
4. Live it up on Lake O’Neill
San Diego may be a coastal city flanked by the Pacific Ocean, but you can enjoy a slice of lake life at Lake O’Neill. Southern California in general is heaven on earth for outdoor enthusiasts, and Lake O’Neill offers a little bit of everything, from fishing to hiking to water crafts to tent camping to playgrounds to miniature golf. There are also basketball courts if your kids are looking to play a game of HORSE or practice their outside shot. Here’s the website for contact information.
5. Great golfing at Marine Corps Memorial
Is golfing a passion that you’re passing down to your kids? Then the Marine Corps Memorial Golf Course is the place to be. Open to the general public, Marine Corps Memorial is an 18-hole, Par 72 course spread out over nearly 6,900 yards. It also has driving ranges and putting greens to practice your stroke or your kids’ swing.
Alternatively, if you’re brand new to the sport, you can take classes from the experts. Indeed, all the classes are taught by members of the PGA.
As it states on the Marine Corps Memorial website, golfers come here and “play for the history, the heroes and the tradition.”
When it comes to what to do at Camp Pendleton when you’re out of your Marine uniform, these are just a handful of the options that are available to you — all just around the corner from where you live. Another place that is minutes away? None other than Omni Financial. We specialize in personal loans to military families like yours in San Diego and beyond; we are ready to serve you when you need us. We’ve been doing it proudly for all service branches for over 50 years. Please contact us or visit our location at 2216 El Camino Real. We’re a few blocks away from the movie theater.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Visit the individual websites for complete details including hours of operation and pricing information. Information can change at any time. Omni Financial does not endorse, recommend or imply affiliation with the listed companies, events or organizations.
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