Are you looking to break away from Camp Pendleton for a weekend with your family but still remain fairly close to your home turf? A great place to consider is Oceanside, California. With a name like Oceanside, the beach should undoubtedly be on your list of places to go (the Oceanside Harbor Beach being chief among them). From Breakwater Way Beach to Buccaneer Beach, Oceanside is teeming with opportunities to take your shoes off and enjoy the warm sand, hot sun and delightfully cool breezes. After all, the third-largest city in San Diego County boasts over six miles of shoreline.
But if you have active children who quickly grow weary of sunbathing, there are plenty of things to see and places to go that will keep everyone occupied and — above all — entertained.
In no particular order of significance, the following are a mere handful of things to do in Oceanside, CA that the whole family can enjoy.
1. Oceanside Pier
From a sheer aesthetic perspective, the Oceanside Pier is quite the sight to behold, a genuine gem of Southern California. The panoramic views are glorious and the 1,900-foot wooden pier is a modern-day marvel, still one of the country’s longest wooden piers despite being built back in the late 19th century. Its vastness makes it an ideal spot for socially distanced fishing. You don’t even need a fishing license, according to Visit Oceanside. Lots of different fish varieties are biting year-round, including halibut, croakers, sand bass and surf perch.
Once you’re through, consider taking the family to lunch at Ruby’s Diner. The 1950s-themed restaurant and menu has a taste-tantalizing dish for just about everyone, from the Classic Ruby Burger with Cheese to Ruby’s trademarked Frings. Frings combines French fries with onion rings; they’re delicious and sure to satisfy even the most finicky in your family.
In addition to the fishing and the food, Oceanside Pier is a great perch for people-watching, particularly those surfing along the crashing Pacific Ocean waves down below. You may also want to see what’s happening at the Junior Seau Pier Amphitheatre. While COVID-19 lockdown measures, which have affected the entire state of California, have led to the postponements of several previously scheduled events and concerts, be sure to check out the regularly updated Visit Oceanside website to see what is still taking place. Just click on the “Events” tab at the top.
2. Oceanside Farmers Market
When it comes to fresh produce, it really doesn’t get much better than going hyperlocal, as opposed to shopping for fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. You can help improve the local economy and small businesses by patronizing the Oceanside Farmers Market. Set up at the corner of Pier View Way and the North Coast Highway, Oceanside’s Certified Farmers Market is open weekly from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round, but only on Thursdays. This, of course, means you won’t be able to see what’s for sale if you’re out and about with the family on the weekend. But if you’re free on a Thursday, the downtown Oceanside market is a must-visit. Like several other locations in and around San Diego proper, the fresh produce hotspot was closed due to the pandemic, but it has since re-opened. Social distancing, face masks and a few other guidelines are required of customers. Main Street Oceanside has the details on what to be aware of before you go so everyone can shop safely. Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, the terms and conditions are subject to change.
3. California Surf Museum
The mere mention of the term “museum” likely makes you think of fine art, ancient artifacts or scientific exhibits. Oceanside, however, is home to its very own museum devoted to all things surfing. Established officially in 1986 and conveniently located at 312 Pier Way, the California Surf Museum chronicles the exciting history and evolution of surfing as a professional sport as well as an extracurricular activity. While the first known surfing-related activities trace back to Polynesia, surfing in many ways is part of the California cultural fabric. As the museum’s website states, its aim is to “serve as an international repository and resource center” of the surfing sport by “capturing, preserving and chronicling its art, culture and heritage” for today’s and tomorrow’s generations.
From exotic surfboards to a retrospective history of how surfboards have adapted over time, the California Surf Museum is a fun place to visit on a rare rainy day. Check the website for more information on exhibits, operating hours and what COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
4. Go on a Whale Watch
If you’re looking for a real whale of a time, look no further than Oceanside. Whales of all sizes and varieties, from gray whales to mink whales to humpback whales, make their way to the surface so you can see just how enormous these mammals truly are. Since whales are migratory, the ones you’re most likely to encounter depends on the month you book a tour. You may spot several other exotic creatures, fish and marine life while you’re at sea.
The wall-to-wall sunshine that San Diego County is known for makes whale watching tours a year-round treat, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble reserving a spot on one of the ships. Providers include Oceanside Adventures and Sea Star Sport Fishing. The duration of these cruises runs around two hours.
Take a peek at the whale watching section of Visit Oceanside to learn more about prices and what to bring (and leave behind).
5. Mission San Luis Rey
Anyone stationed in Oceanside has gone by Mission San Luis Rey, but if you haven’t actually visited the iconic location, now’s the time. Built in 1798 and named for King Louis IX of France, Mission San Luis Rey is an architectural marvel and a registered national landmark. Many people who visit California put touring Mission San Luis Rey on their bucket list. Self-guided tours are free of charge.
If you’d like to take advantage of the weather, you may want to bike there with the family via the San Luis Rey Bike Trail. Safely tucked away from the city’s busy streets, the 13.9-mile trail, which begins at Oceanside Pier, is an ideal one for all ages because the ground is flat and smoothly paved.
6. Heritage Park
While the name “heritage park” may not be especially unique — there are at least four Heritage Parks in California alone — the one neighboring Mission San Luis Rey is one-of-a-kind in its own special way. Aside from the fact that it’s home to some of the very first structures and edifices built in Oceanside, Heritage Park hosted the city’s first general store, where residents shopped for food, toiletries and other home essentials.
Additionally, If any family members enjoy model railroads, Heritage Park is home to the North County Model Railroad Society (NCMRS). Located at 230 Peyri Drive, the NCMRS even has a program that is designed for children, aptly called “Train 4 Kids.”
At the present time, NCMRS is open solely to members because of the coronavirus restrictions, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the website to see when restrictions are lifted. If you are a local train enthusiast, you may want to consider joining; membership to the society is fairly reasonable at $25 per month.
7. LegoLand California
Although not technically residing in Oceanside, LegoLand is right around the corner in Carlsbad. Appropriately located on 1 LegoLand Drive, LegoLand may be heaven on earth for kids of all ages. From themed shows and activities to the on-site store to even aquarium events, touring LegoLand may be at the top of your kids’ wish list — perhaps even your own if the plastic bricks were part of your youth.
8. Guajome County Park
Nestled away in one of Oceanside’s more rural areas, Guajome Regional Park is a family-themed outdoor retreat that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spread out over approximately 394 acres, Guajome Regional Park has a plethora of activities that can keep the kids occupied, from basketball courts to traditional playground equipment, and is a great locale for bird watching and trail riding. Up for some camping? There are nearly three dozen tent and recreational vehicle spots to select from should the mood strike you.
Here’s a downloadable brochure to see what else Guajome County Park has to offer. It’s conveniently located close to several points of interest, so a stay here might give you an idea of some other places to check out besides the beach. Touring the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum may be worthwhile, especially for the railfan in your family.
9. Tyson Street Beach
If you only go to one beach, make it Tyson Street Beach. Conveniently located near to Oceanside Pier mentioned earlier, Tyson Street Beach boasts stunning views everywhere you look. With clean restrooms, showers and a large grassy area for picnicking or playing, it’s a perfect spot for family fun.
Whether you spend your trip touring the beach and harbor or taking everyone small harbor fishing off the Oceanside Pier, it’s the togetherness of your family that matters the most. Omni Financial can help you pay for some of your group outings with a personal loan for active duty service members and career-retired. Contact us online to learn about some of our personal loan options; you can use the funds however and wherever you choose. We also have a satellite location in Oceanside.
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.