Things to do in Oceanside, CA by a Local: The Ultimate Guide
Beautiful beaches, delicious food, and great beer are all available at the tip of your fingers in this cute up-and-coming seaside town! This city is situated along the Pacific Ocean and has a diverse neighborhood with many attractions and amenities for residents and visitors.
Oceanside, California is such an underrated place that I highly recommend you visit. In this article, I will give you. my complete guide to Oceanside along with a list of all the best things to do in Oceanside, California!
WHERE IS OCEANSIDE?
Oceanside is becoming more and more of a popular tourist destination as this town keeps building cuter places to eat and sleep at.
Located about 45 minutes north of downtown San Diego, 80 miles south of LA, and just 50 miles from the Mexican border you will find Oceanside! This city is actually part of the “tri-city” area which consists of Oceanside, Carlsbad, and Vista.
WEATHER IN OCEANSIDE
Oceanside consists of a 6-mile stretch of beaches, so as you can imagine it gets some pretty amazing weather. The weather is actually much like a Mediterranean climate, meaning it has warm, dry summers and some wet winters.
Now when I say wet winters, don’t forget that it is still San Diego, so the rainfall is nothing compared to the east coast or even Washington for that fact.
Due to the fact that it is a beach town located on the coast, the temperatures are generally moderate and pretty consistent throughout the year.
In the summer months, from June to September, Oceanside experiences warm and dry weather with average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit (18-24°C).
August is typically the warmest month, with an average high temperature of 76°F (24°C). However, temperatures can occasionally reach into the 80s and 90s°F (27-32°C) during heat waves.
During the winter months, from December to March, the temperatures are cooler with average high temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s°F (17-21°C). The nights can be chilly with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing, but this is rare.
HOW TO GET AROUND OCEANSIDE
There are several options available for getting around Oceanside, California. One of the best things to do is actually take a train ride down from LA or up from SD to get some amazing views.
Of course, if you take the train, this will limit you on what you can do; however, the regional coaster, sprinter, and Amtrak all drop you off directly in downtown Oceanside, so there is still quite a bit you can do via train access.
However, personally, I think the best way to get around Oceanside, California is by car. Oceanside has a well-connected network of roads and highways, making it easy to navigate around the city.
There are also several car rental companies located in the city, providing visitors with the opportunity to rent a car and explore the city at their own pace.
Another popular way to get around Oceanside is by bicycle. The city has several bike lanes and routes, making it easy to cycle around the city. There are also several bike rental companies located in the city, providing visitors with the opportunity to rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels
WHERE TO STAY IN OCEANSIDE
Oceanside has recently built some of the cutest hotels around, so these are my personal favorite hotels to stay at. There are many options for accommodations that cater to different budgets and preferences.
For those seeking luxury accommodation, there are several beachfront hotels that offer stunning ocean views, upscale amenities, and world-class dining options.
The Seabird Resort
The Seabird Resort is a luxury oceanfront hotel located in Oceanside, California. Situated on a picturesque stretch of beach, the resort offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and easy access to a variety of local attractions.
The resort boasts 226 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, each featuring modern amenities and stylish decor. Guests can choose from a range of room types, including standard guest rooms, suites, and cottages.
On-site dining options include the Shoreline Kitchen, which serves farm-to-table cuisine and features an outdoor patio with ocean views, and the Topside Terrace Kitchen & Bar, which offers panoramic views of the coastline and a menu of artisan cocktails and light bites as well as Piper which offers decadent brunch options.
Other resort amenities include a full-service spa, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool and hot tub. The Seabird also features over 20,000 square feet of event space, making it an ideal destination for weddings, conferences, and other special events.
Mission Pacific Hotel
The Mission Pacific Hotel is a newly opened luxury hotel located in the heart of Oceanside, California. The hotel is situated on a stunning beachfront property with beautiful ocean views and easy access to local attractions.
The hotel features 161 elegantly designed guest rooms and suites, each with its own private balcony or patio. Rooms are equipped with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, and plush bedding.
The hotel also boasts an outdoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and a full-service spa. Guests can enjoy complimentary beach cruiser rentals, as well as a variety of water sports activities such as surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The Mission Pacific Hotel also offers over 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, making it an ideal venue for weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions.
The Mission Pacific Hotel is known for its rooftop bar. Reservations are definitely recommended as this place can get busy, especially on weekends during the sunset hour.
Oceanside Marina Suites
The Oceanside Marina Suites is a waterfront hotel that is situated on a private marina, offering stunning views of the harbor and easy access to a variety of water-based activities.
The hotel features 57 spacious and well-appointed guest rooms and suites, each with a private balcony or patio overlooking the marina. Guest rooms are equipped with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, and mini-fridges.
On-site dining options include the Blue Water Grill, a seafood restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the marina, and the Blue Whale Market & Deli, which offers a selection of snacks, sandwiches, and beverages.
The hotel’s outdoor amenities include a heated pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and a waterfront park with picnic tables, barbecue grills, and a playground. Guests can also rent kayaks, paddleboards, and bicycles to explore the surrounding area.
The Oceanside Marina Suites is located within walking distance of the Oceanside Pier, the beach, and a variety of shops and restaurants.
The Green Room
The Green Room is a newer boutique hotel in Oceanside. This boutique hotel was fully renovated prior to opening in the summer of 2021. Each of the twelve guest suites is uniquely appointed with bohemian accents and plush interiors.
When staying at this hotel, you are provided with grab ‘n go foam surfboards, beach cruisers and you are located just minutes away from north county’s beaches.
Have no fear though, there are also plenty of places to stay for those more on a budget. Many of these accommodations are located a little further inland and not right in front of the beach. You can find multiple budget-friendly accommodations and hotels here.
For those who prefer a more local experience, there are also several vacation rentals, such as condos and apartments, available for short-term rentals. These vacation rentals offer the opportunity to experience the city like a local, with fully equipped kitchens and living spaces, and are often located in residential neighborhoods.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN OCEANSIDE
The city is known for its beautiful beaches, including Oceanside Beach, Harbor Beach, and Buccaneer Beach. These beaches offer a variety of activities, such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and fishing. The Oceanside Pier is also a popular spot for fishing and sightseeing.
In addition to the beaches, Oceanside has many parks and outdoor recreational areas. Some of the most popular parks include the Guajome Regional Park, Buddy Todd Park, and the Heritage Park. These parks offer a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, and playing sports.
Oceanside also has a bustling downtown area, which is home to many restaurants, shops, and galleries. The California Surf Museum is also located downtown, showcasing the history of surfing in California.
The neighborhoods of Oceanside are diverse and range from quiet residential areas to more urban areas with apartment complexes and mixed-use developments. Some of the most popular neighborhoods include Fire Mountain, Arrowood, and Mission San Luis Rey.
Things to do in Oceanside
Top Gun House
The Top Gun House, located in Oceanside, California, is a famous landmark that draws visitors from all over the world. The house was featured in the classic 1986 movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise, and has since become an iconic destination for fans of the film.
Visiting the Top Gun House is a unique experience that allows you to step back in time to the 1980s and immerse yourself in the world of the movie. The house itself is a charming beachfront cottage that sits right in front of the Mission Pacific Hotel.
As you approach the house, you’ll notice a plaque that commemorates the filming of Top Gun at the location. You’ll also see a replica of the famous “Maverick’s Motorcycle” parked out front, which was ridden by Tom Cruise’s character in the film.
Once inside the house, you’ll find a cozy and inviting interior that feels like stepping onto the set of the movie. The walls are adorned with Top Gun memorabilia, including posters, photos, and other items related to the film. YOu can also grab yourself a cute little piece of pie and eat it outside in their nice outdoor seating area.
Mission San Luis Rey
Visiting the Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California, is a fascinating journey through history and a wonderful opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of the region. The mission was founded in 1798 and is one of the most significant historical landmarks in California.
As you enter the mission grounds, you’ll be struck by the stunning architecture of the main church and surrounding buildings. The church’s façade features intricate carvings and a bell tower that stands over 70 feet tall, while the surrounding gardens and fountains provide a peaceful and serene atmosphere.
Inside the church, you’ll find beautiful artwork, including a stunning altar and ornate decorations throughout the sanctuary. The quiet and reflective atmosphere of the church creates a feeling of reverence and respect for the history and tradition of the mission.
Outside, you can explore the mission’s grounds, which include a museum, a cemetery, and a reconstructed adobe building that provides insight into what life was like for the mission’s inhabitants in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum showcases a collection of artifacts, artwork, and historical information about the mission’s founding and its impact on the local community.
As you stroll through the gardens and grounds, you’ll notice the peaceful sound of water flowing from the mission’s fountains and the fragrance of flowers and trees. It’s a perfect place to reflect and connect with the region’s history and culture.
Walk the Oceanside Pier
Walking the pier in Oceanside, California is a wonderful experience that combines stunning ocean views with a lively atmosphere. As you stroll along the pier, you will feel the gentle sea breeze blowing through your hair and the sun shining down on your face. The pier extends out into the ocean for almost a quarter of a mile, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean.
Along the pier, you’ll find a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean. You may see fishermen casting their lines, trying to catch a fresh fish or two, while others take in the view, soaking up the sun on the benches lining the pier. The sound of waves crashing against the pilings provides a soothing background soundtrack as you take in the scene.
As you walk further out onto the pier, you’ll reach the end, there used to be a Ruby’s Diner, a classic American diner, but unfortunately, it shut down during COVID.
Oceanside Mural Walk
The Oceanside Mural Walk is a unique and vibrant art installation that covers the walls of buildings and other structures throughout the city of Oceanside, California. The mural walk is a self-guided tour that allows visitors to explore the city’s rich cultural heritage and history while enjoying stunning works of art.
The mural walk features over 20 murals, each with its own unique style and theme. The murals range in size from small, intricate works to massive, sprawling pieces that cover entire walls. The murals are located throughout the city, so visitors can explore different neighborhoods and districts while taking in the art.
One of the most notable murals on the walk is “We Rise,” which features a powerful image of a woman with her arms outstretched, surrounded by symbols of strength and resilience. The mural is a tribute to the resilience of the Oceanside community and its ability to overcome adversity.
Another popular mural is “Oceanside Wave,” which features a stunning image of a wave crashing against the shore. The mural captures the energy and beauty of the ocean, which is a defining feature of the Oceanside community.
Check out Oceanside Harbor
The harbor area in Oceanside, California, is a bustling and lively district that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors. At the heart of the harbor is the historic Oceanside Harbor Lighthouse, a beloved landmark that has been guiding ships into the harbor since 1891.
The lighthouse stands tall and proud, with its distinctive white and black stripes visible from miles away. Visitors can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower for breathtaking views of the harbor and the surrounding coastline. Inside the lighthouse, you’ll find a small museum that showcases the history of the area and the lighthouse itself.
Around the harbor, you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. The harbor is home to several fishing charters, where you can take a guided tour and try your hand at catching fresh fish. You’ll also find boat rentals, whale-watching tours, and other water-based activities.
On the harbor’s west side, you’ll find a long stretch of sandy beach, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. The beach is a popular destination for families, and there are plenty of amenities, including restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.
Along the harbor’s boardwalk, you’ll find a variety of shops and restaurants, many of which offer outdoor seating with beautiful views of the harbor. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat, do some shopping, or simply take a leisurely stroll.
The Sunset Market is a popular weekly outdoor market that takes place every Thursday evening from 5 pm-9 pm in downtown Oceanside, California. The market features a variety of vendors selling everything from fresh produce and artisanal foods to handmade crafts and jewelry.
The market is set up along Pier View Way, with booths lining the street for several blocks. In addition to the vendors, there are also several live music performers, street performers, and other entertainment options throughout the market.
One of the highlights of the Sunset Market is the food vendors, which offer a wide range of international cuisine, including Mexican, Italian, Thai, and more. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, tacos, BBQ, pizza, sushi, and a variety of other dishes, all served up by local food trucks and restaurants.
In addition to the food and craft vendors, the Sunset Market also features a beer garden, where visitors can enjoy local craft beers and wines. The market is a popular gathering spot for locals and visitors alike, and it’s a great place to grab dinner, listen to live music, and soak up the lively atmosphere of downtown Oceanside.
Insider’s tip! If you are having a hard time finding street parking there is a parking garage right next to parlour donuts that is only $5.
Rent a Surrey Bike
Renting a Surrey bike is a fun and popular activity to do in Oceanside, California. A Surrey bike is a four-wheeled pedal-powered vehicle that is perfect for groups or families who want to explore the area together.
There are several rental shops located near the beach and harbor area in Oceanside where you can rent a Surrey bike. These bikes typically come in a variety of sizes, ranging from two-seaters to larger six-seater models, so you can choose the one that best fits your group size.
Once you have rented your Surrey bike, you can pedal along the beach or the nearby bike paths, taking in the beautiful scenery and fresh ocean air. The bike paths in Oceanside are well-maintained and relatively flat, making them perfect for all ages and fitness levels.
One popular route for Surrey bike rentals in Oceanside is along the strand, a paved bike path that stretches along the coast for several miles. Along the way, you can stop at various points of interest, such as the Oceanside Pier or the Harbor Village, to take in the views and grab a bite to eat.
Visit the Beach
Let’s talk about the best beaches in Oceanside.
Oceanside, California is home to several beautiful beaches, each with its own unique features and attractions. Here are some of the most popular beaches in Oceanside:
- Oceanside Beach: This beach is the main beach in Oceanside and is known for its wide, sandy shore and iconic pier. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, and there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby.
- Harbor Beach: Located near the Oceanside Harbor, this beach is a popular spot for families with children due to its calm waters and playground area. It’s also a great spot for fishing, with several fishing spots located along the shore.
- Buccaneer Beach: This beach is located just south of Oceanside Beach and is a popular spot for surfing and boogie boarding due to its consistent waves. There’s also a grassy park area with picnic tables and a playground.
- Tyson Street Beach: This small beach is located just north of the Oceanside Pier and is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. It’s a quieter beach compared to some of the others in the area, making it a great spot to relax and unwind.
- North Jetty Beach: This beach is located on the south side of the Oceanside Harbor and is a popular spot for surfing and fishing. It’s also a great spot to watch the boats come in and out of the harbor.
All of these beaches are public and free to access, and they offer a variety of amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or a lively beach with plenty of activities, Oceanside has a beach that will suit your needs.
Where to eat and drink in Oceanside
Best Coffee shops in Oceanside
Oceanside, California, is home to a vibrant coffee culture, with a variety of coffee shops that offer unique flavors and atmospheres. Here are some of the best coffee shops in Oceanside:
- Revolution Roasters – This coffee shop offers artisanal, small-batch roasted coffee that is full of flavor and character. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with plenty of comfortable seating, and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly.
- Banana Dang! – This quirky and colorful coffee shop offers delicious coffee and smoothies, as well as a selection of healthy snacks and baked goods. The atmosphere is fun and lighthearted, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
- The Loose Leaf Tea Bar – While this coffee shop specializes in tea, they also offer a delicious selection of coffee drinks. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed, with a focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness.
- Captain’s Grounds Coffee – This coffee shop is located in the historic Oceanside Harbor, offering stunning views of the water and harbor. They serve delicious coffee and baked goods, and the atmosphere is cozy and comfortable.
- The Cup – This popular coffee shop is located in the heart of downtown Oceanside and offers a wide selection of coffee drinks and delicious baked goods. The atmosphere is hip and trendy, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
- Camp Coffee-Camp Coffee is a popular coffee shop located in the heart of downtown Oceanside, California. The shop is known for its unique outdoor setting, which features a cozy seating area that’s surrounded by trees and greenery, giving it a laid-back and rustic vibe. They also offer vegan pastries here.
- The Rising Co.-The Rising Co is a trendy coffee shop and restaurant located in the heart of Oceanside, California. This cafe prides itself on serving fresh, healthy, and delicious food and drinks made with locally-sourced and organic ingredients.
Best Brunch Spots in Oceanside
Oceanside, California has a variety of great brunch spots to choose from. Here are some of my favorite brunch spots in the area.
- Piper: Piper is a popular brunch spot in Oceanside that features a rotating menu of creative dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Their menu includes items such as chilaquiles, avocado toast, and eggs benedict, as well as craft cocktails and local beers. It is located at the base of the Seabird Hotel.
- Beach Break Cafe: Beach Break Cafe is a super popular, but laid-back breakfast and brunch spot located near the Oceanside Pier. They offer classic breakfast dishes such as pancakes, omelets, and breakfast burritos, as well as unique items like their popular breakfast pizza.
- Petite Madeline Bakery & Bistro: This French-inspired bakery and bistro is known for its delicious pastries, quiches, and sandwiches. Their brunch menu includes items such as croissant sandwiches, eggs florentine, and french toast, as well as bottomless mimosas.
- Local Tap House & Kitchen: Local Tap House & Kitchen is a gastropub located in downtown Oceanside that serves up a brunch menu with a twist. Their menu includes items such as fried chicken and waffles, breakfast poutine, and a chorizo breakfast burrito, as well as a variety of craft beers and cocktails.
- Hill Street Cafe: Hill Street Cafe is a cozy, family-owned cafe that serves up classic breakfast and brunch dishes such as pancakes, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches. They are known for their friendly service and affordable prices.
Lunch/Dinner Options in Oceanside
A cool new area in Oceanside is the Tremont Collective. This is An inspired warehouse conversion located in the heart of coastal Oceanside, CA.
The Collective houses lifestyle retail, artistic offices, fitness, events, and delicious eating and drinking establishments. Come here for a beer or for lunch on the outside patio. It is dog friendly too. There are quite a few shops here, but my favorite is communal coffee, because I love how cute it is inside, and who doesn’t love a good coffee and flower shop. You can also rent this space out for events.
A popular spot for fish and chips would be the Harbor Fish and chips restaurant or if you want some oysters then head to the top of the lighthouse in the Oceanside Harbor for some great views while eating oysters.
Lastly, if you are looking for good tacos I recommend checking out Shootz. The restaurant is known for its creative and flavorful menu, which features a variety of unique taco combinations and fresh ingredients. In addition to their tasty tacos, Shootz Tacos also offers a variety of sides and appetizers, including chips and guacamole, elote (grilled Mexican street corn), and crispy churros for dessert. The restaurant has a casual and laid-back atmosphere, with outdoor seating available for those who want to enjoy their meal in the California sunshine.
Best spot for a Cocktail in Oceanside
Oceanside, California is a great destination for those looking to enjoy a cocktail in a stunning coastal setting. There are many fantastic places to grab a drink in town, ranging from cozy bars to stylish restaurants with rooftop views.
Some of my favorite places to grab a drink include the rooftop bar areas of Hello Betty’s Fish House and the Rooftop bar at the Mission Pacific Hotel. You can expect both of these spots to be quite busy though at sunset tie.
If you are looking for a more intimate experience then check out Orfilia’s Wine Bar for a good glass of wine and yummy food.
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