Oceanside is, indeed, an ideal Southern California coastal beach town with lots of small-town charm. It has a beautiful coastline with 3.5 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, a quaint New England-style harbor and the longest wooden pier on the West Coast to go along with its stellar year-round climate. Vacationers have been coming here for years for its ideal outdoor pursuits including surfing, kayaking, boating, fishing, bike-riding and more.
The city boasts cultural attractions galore, the fascinating California Surf Museum and the impressive Oceanside Museum of Art, which is the cultural jewel of the city. Even the eye-catching building housing the art museum is a historic masterpiece.
Oceanside has also changed from being a military town on Interstate 5 to a vital, visitor destination offering a wide range of accommodations in all price ranges with ocean and bay views. Yes, Oceanside has a lot to offer including its average year-round temperature of 72 degrees.
Complementing the fascination of the bay and ocean activities are the many things to see and do east of Interstate 5. Yes, topping the list of major North San Diego County attractions is visiting the impressive Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, which is the largest of the 21 missions founded in 1798, but there is, even more, to see and do east of Interstate 5 including dining.
Another attraction getting rave reviews is Oceanside’s own award-winning microbrewery Oceanside Ale Works. They have won a Gold Medal at the San Diego International Beer Fest for their “DUDE” Double IPA, and also won a bronze medal for the “OAW” Orange Agave Wheat. With their beers now being sold nationally, it’s a special treat to visit the brewery and sample their latest brews and perhaps meeting the brewmaster himself.
RECREATION & ACTIVITIES
A great place to begin or conclude your discovery of Oceanside is the Oceanside Harbor and Marina (1) at 1540 N. Harbor Dr. (760-435-4000). This is the largest marina in the North County coastal area and is home to more than 950 boats. Enhancing this one-of-a-kind harbor setting is a small Cape Cod-style fishing village (4), complete with a lighthouse. The village is a fun place to explore and features several boutiques, unique kiosks, gift stores, cafés and restaurants. Just steps from the ocean, it’s the perfect place for a family outing.
The Oceanside Pier (22) is another must-see attraction (760-435-5041)! Measuring 1,954 feet in length, it is one of the longest wooden over-the-water fishing piers on the West Coast of the United States. It overlooks what is Oceanside’s greatest asset, a fantastic, broad, white sandy beach.
Not only is the pier a wonderful place to take a stroll, but it is a perfect place for taking photographs, watching the beach scene and the surfers. If you bring your rod and reel, you’re allowed to fish from the pier without a license.
Oceanside’s beautiful Pier Amphitheater (31) (760-435-5540) is where concerts, festivals and sporting events are held. The ocean is the backdrop here, so you can enjoy great music and a sparkling view at the same time.
Year-round there are always some festivities taking place in Oceanside. In December there is the popular Parade of Lights in the harbor. They also have a Christmas in July event sponsored by the Montessori School.
Another big event is the Labor Day Pier Swim, which draws large crowds. Then, during the third weekend in September, the harbor comes alive with Harbor Days. There are scores of booths, entertainment, boat races, crafts, a children’s area, beer garden, food galore, displays and periodic demonstrations by the Camp Pendleton Marines and the Navy. It’s the highlight of the year and loads of fun.
A cultural vision is also being realized in historic downtown Oceanside that will forever change the image of the city. The award-winning Oceanside Civic Center (21) is a focal point of this new vision. It’s located at 300 N. Coast Hwy. in Oceanside. The Civic Center is open Mon.–Thurs. 7:30 a.m.– 5 p.m. and Fri. till 4 p.m.
On Thursdays, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., check out the Farmer’s Market (21) on Pier View Way, which is on the south side of the Civic Center. Oceanside also has a Sunset Street Fair on Thursdays, 5 p.m.–9 p.m. It’s on Tremont Street between Mission Avenue and Civic Center Drive.
The Oceanside Museum of Art (21) located in the historic Gill Building at 704 Pier View Way (760-435-3720) [oma-online.org] is a must-see Oceanside attraction with its year-round calendar of 8–12 rotating new exhibits.
The museum is open Tues., Wed and Sat. 11 a.m.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and Thurs. and Fri. till 8 p.m. and Sun till 5 p.m. Admission for adults is ($8), Seniors 65 years of age and older ($5), and students and military are admitted FREE.
The surfing conditions have made Oceanside the premiere location for numerous surfing events including the US Pro Longboard Championships, the NNA Surf Completion, NSSA Surf Competition and World Bodying Surfing Championships. So quite naturally the California Surf Museum embodies the history of surfing through art, photography, film artifacts and special events.
EAST OF INTERSTATE 5 ATTRACTIONS
Oceanside and North County’s major historic attraction is the impressive Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia (14) at 4050 Mission Ave. (760-757-3651). Known as the King of the Missions, it is the largest of the 21 missions that flourished here in the 1700s and 1800s.
Tucked away in a quiet north San Diego County valley, it is just 4.6 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Here you will find this majestic jewel of early California history called Old Mission San Luis Rey.
The Mission provides both guided and self-guided tours. Discover the architectural beauty of the Missions museum, church, sunken gardens and cemetery. The museum features an extensive collection of early mission artifacts. The museum is open Mon.–Fri., 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. and Sat.–Sun., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.. Prices are ($7) for adults, ($5) seniors (65+) and ($3) for youth 6–18, and free for active military and their dependents and children 5 years of age and under. Be sure to stop by the gift shop featuring unique and delicate religious artifacts, mementos and books. Credit cards: AE, DISC, MC, VISA.
To the north of the city is Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base (3) (760-763-8435), which celebrates its 75th birthday this year. Although Camp Pendleton boasts of being the largest western amphibious training base, it is a safe and protected home to many historic landmarks and endangered species. Enter at the main gate off I-5. For security concerns, call before you go.
Oceanside is also the best transportation hub in North San Diego County. In fact you can step off of the train and literally walk to the beach, your hotel and dozens of restaurants. In fact, the Oceanside Transit Center (23) (760-966-6500) [gonctd.com] is conveniently located downtown at 205 S. Tremont St. It is home to Amtrak nationwide train service; Metrolink train service to Orange and Los Angeles counties; Coaster train service to points south of Oceanside; Greyhound nationwide bus service; and the Breeze, North County’s transit district bus service (760-966-6500) for North San Diego County.
The newest mode of transportation to get from Oceanside east to Escondido is via the new North County Transit District’s Sprinter (23). Its fast, convenient method of transportation will give you a new perspective of the sights and sounds that make North County such a nice place to live, work and play.
Golf enthusiasts will find the Ocean-side Golf Course (17) (760-433-1360) challenging. Located at 825 Douglas Dr. in the San Luis Rey River valley, this beautiful 18-hole, par 72 course is open daily. Another popular golf course is the Emerald Isle Golf Course (16) at 660 S. El Camino Real (760-721-4700).
WHERE TO DINE IN OCEANSIDE
Oceanside has a good selection of ocean and bay view restaurants to choose from. The hippest and trendiest sushi restaurant in all of San Diego County is Harney Sushi (19) at 301 Mission Ave. (760-967-1820) with two locations to serve you. One is in Oceanside and has an ocean view and the other is in Old Town. Both locations have an unbelievable selection of specialty rolls, and the atmosphere is what keeps people coming back again and again. See Restaurants.
The Oceanside Harbor boasts great restaurants. Oceanside Broiler (7) at 1325 N. Harbor Dr. (949-673-4633) serves lots of fresh seafood and overlooks the harbor. Their extensive menu has everything from fresh swordfish and shellfish skewers to steaks. Also popular is their oyster bar and their award winning Sunday Brunch, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
A great find east of the Interstate 5 Freeway is Fratelli’s Italian Kitchen (30) 3915 Mission Ave. (760-696-9007). It’s a mile from The Mission San Luis Rey and 4 miles from the Interstate 5 Freeway and only two miles from Super 8 Marty’s Valley Inn Oceanside. They are open for lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. and till 9 p.m on Fri. and Sat. Closed on Mondays. Great pastas, excellent seafood and their specialty pizzas are exceptional.
An awesome breakfast and lunch destination that had its roots in Pacific Beach is the Broken Yolk Restaurant (29) at 2434 Vista Way (760-967-9655). Broken Yolk has been serving home-style meals since 1979 and has expanded to 10 locations county wide.
Hard to beat, especially for their hand cut prime rib and fresh seafood is Hunter Steakhouse (13) at 1221 Vista Way (760-433-2633), which is celebrating 49 years in business. It’s just off of the Interstate 5 Freeway and Vista Way. They are the #1 in catering in Oceanside. See Restaurants.
WHERE TO STAY IN OCEANSIDE
Oceanside is a great summer retreat for the whole family with a broad selection of accommodations with oceanfront views for any budget. It’s also a great getaway for couples too. A stroll on the beach is always a popular choice for things to do.
Days Inn Oceanside (5) 1501 Carmelo Dr., Oceanside (760-722-7661). There are 80 rooms ($125–$185) and some have ocean views. A free continental breakfast is offered each morning. It’s the closest motel to Camp Pendleton’s main gate. It’s also only eight minutes from LEGOLAND California and four miles to Mission San Luis Rey! The comfortable rooms feature high-speed wireless Internet, refrigerators and microwaves, as well as in-room coffee, irons, ironing boards, hair dryers, guest laundry, daily newspaper and cable TV with HBO. They even have a heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Plus, there is a business center with computers and printers. The Inn overlooks the Harbor and is within walking distance to the beach, harbor and restaurants. Credit cards: AE, DC, DISC, MC, VISA.
Super 8 Marty’s Valley Inn Oceanside (12) 3240 Mission Ave., Oceanside (760-757-7700) or (800-747-3529). This very nice two-story hotel has 107 rooms with a conference and banquet center. Even better rates begin at a very reasonable ($55 plus tax) per night. They also offer lower rates for extended stay guests and a free breakfast daily with muffins, breads and waffles. While it’s not near the ocean, it’s ideally located between The Camp Pendleton Marine Base and Oceanside’s biggest attraction, the historic Mission San Luis Rey. Plus there are restaurants nearby. Amenities include high-speed Internet, HBO, ESPN, ironing boards, coffee maker, microwaves, refrigerators, heated pool and Jacuzzi. Credit cards: AE, DC, DISC, MC, VISA.
RELOCATION & INFORMATION
For relocation information, whether for residential or business opportunities, call the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce (8) (760-722-1534) or write them at 928 N. Coast Hwy., Oceanside, CA 92054. The chamber is open Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
For visitor information, call or visit the California Welcome Center-Oceanside (8), also at 928 N. Coast Hwy. (760-721-1101) or (800-350-7873). It’s conveniently located just off I-5 at the Coast Highway exit. Look for signs with a traveling bear logo on I-5. This is one of only 16 state-approved welcome centers. Here you’ll find clean restrooms, maps and travel information on California and the regional area. The center is open daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., except for major holidays. The California Welcome Center is worth a visit.