From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Located on the coast of California, bordering the Pacific Ocean, is the aptly-named city of Oceanside. This stunning coastal city is known for its palm-lined Harbor Beach and Oceanside Harbor, which is home to plenty of fun attractions.
With its laid back, beachy vibes and influx of tourists during the warmer months, time spent in Oceanside feels like a holiday, and you can’t help but want to sit back, kick up your flip-flops, and relax.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Oceanside has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Oceanside, California? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Oceanside isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
If you enjoy historical experiences, look no further than the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which allows visitors to step back in time to Mexican and American life in the mid-19th century. Visitors can explore the numerous museums, restaurants, and five original adobe buildings.
After exploring the exciting things San Diego and downtown Oceanside have to offer, Crystal Cove State Park will serve as a peaceful contrast to city activities. With ocean views, sandy beaches, and wooded canyons, you can explore, camp, or simply lay out in the sun.
Chino Hills State Park boasts rolling hill and scenic views on its extensive trails, perfect for a long hike, bike ride, or horse ride. The park also offers museums and guided tours for the family, and camping sites, although you’ll have to reserve your campsite and lodging six months before visiting.
Torrey Pines State Reserve provides visitors with a beautiful reserve, differing from a state park in that its goal is to protect the 1,500 acres of land that has remained relatively untouched since the San Diego area’s inception. You can explore the rocky overlooks or spend time on the pristine beaches.
If you’re searching for forest hikes along beautiful creeks, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park can provide you with a day trip or camping trip to fulfill your needs. With over 100 miles of trails, you and your family can explore different areas of the park, all while enjoying the stunning views.
Still need to get your nature fix? If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Oceanside, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.
Guajome Regional Park Trail is a 4.3-mile loop that provides an easy hike for all levels. You, your family, and your dog can explore the variety of habitats that California offers, including the two peaceful ponds. Additionally, you can enjoy the playgrounds and basketball courts for an active day of fun.
If you’re looking for a slightly more challenging hike, the trail at Lake Calvera is a 3.9 mile, moderate loop. The trail loops around Calavera Lake and is mostly used for walks, biking, and running.
Oceanside is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!
Beach Break Cafe, a local hotspot, has been a fixture of the Oceanside community since 1988. While you wait for their famous Banana Crunch French Toast or coffee cake, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and take in the beach-themed decor. A perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, you’ll be fueled for wherever your day takes you.
Felix’s BBQ with Soul is a little piece of Southern comfort on the West Coast. The artful combination of Cajun and BBQ foods all stem from owner Felix Berry’s Alabama upbringing. The lovingly prepared gumbo, ribs, fried chicken, and more will make your breakfast, lunch, or dinner a hit!
With a waterfront location, Harbor Fish and Chips is a local favorite in the Oceanside Harbor community, offering quality food and views. For over 50 years, Harbor Fish and Chips have served authentic fish and chips and various other seafood.
Rockin Baja Lobster is the perfect setting for a fun end of the day with its unique food selection. You can enjoy the salsa bar, margaritas, and seafood by the bucket. Enjoy live music, patio dining with ocean views at this Oceanside location.
A beautiful and trendy space, Swami’s Cafe serves delicious breakfast and lunch, only blocks from the ocean. Due to their focus on family and community, they are dedicated to providing you with fresh and quality food.
A beloved neighborhood market that’s best known for its takeout window, Primo Foods is a great place to stock up on groceries and grab a few tacos. Open for over 20 years, this hole in the wall usually has a line around lunch and dinner. Even if you’re just popping in to refill the fridge, I recommend trying the carne asada. You won’t be disappointed.
Oceanside's original craft coffeehouse and the world's first all-banana smoothie bar is another neighborhood favorite that’s found mainstream success. Opened in 2015, Banana Dang serves some of Southern California’s best coffee drinks and smoothies alongside toasts (avocado, duh) and other baked goods. Being a short walk from the pier, Banana Dang is a great place to stop on your way to the beach.
After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Oceanside’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
The Oceanside Museum of Art is an excellent and affordable resource within Oceanside. With children under 18 and the first Sundays of the month free of charge, the museum can be an outing for the whole family. The museum is located blocks from the beach and can add a little something different to your Oceanside trip.
Located just 15 minutes west of Oceanside, The Wave Waterpark can provide a fun-filled day for the whole family. From the El Rio Loco (or “Crazy River”) to the Slide Tower, you’ll have endless attractions to keep you and your family busy and entertained.
What should you do in Oceanside once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
If you’re feeling lucky, Ocean’s Eleven Casino can offer a night of heart-racing entertainment. You can try your hand at Black Jack, Texas Hold ‘Em, or poker before enjoying the excellent customer service as you wine and dine on this night out on the town.
Oceanside Harbor Village, a local gem, offers quaint dining and entertainment experiences in a string of restaurants, shops, and other local businesses. Nestled around the South Harbor, you can select from various dining establishments, from fine dining to more casual grub. Take advantage of the Oceanside Boat Rentals or Sportfishing before choosing from one of the many spots from which you can relax and enjoy the view.
What can you do in or around Oceanside that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, King of the Missions, provides visitors with a unique glimpse at the fabric of the greater San Diego area. The museum allows visitors to take self-guided tours of the mission founded in 1798 by Father Fermin Lasuen. The mission, the largest of the Spanish missions developed in Alta California (or “Upper California”), offers visitors a view into the influence of the various peoples that occupied the region.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Oceanside? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Oceanside that won’t cost you a cent.
A local landmark, the Oceanside Pier stretches 1,942 feet long and has served as a fixture of the Oceanside community since its inception in 1888. The Pier offers breathtaking views of the ocean that you can enjoy while fishing, watching the surfers surf, or the vivid sunsets. Enjoy a bite to eat at the lovely restaurant located at the very end of the pier, with unparalleled ocean views.
Oceanside Harbor Beach is the perfect oasis to soak up the sun and escape the city’s bustle. Serving as the longest beach in the area, Harbor Beach offers plenty of space for swimming, playing beach volleyball, or laying out in the sunshine.
You can’t spend much time in Oceanside without thinking of surfing. That’s why it’s the perfect place for the California Surf Museum, the state’s biggest collection of surfing history and memorabilia. Check out Bethany Hamilton’s infamous, shark-bitten board along with wave riders from decades past. Then, when you’re sufficiently stoked, head back outside and hit the ocean!
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Oceanside has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
If you’re looking unwind after exploring the surrounding area, look no further than the restful oasis that is the Oceanside Salon & Day Spa. With its dedication to the customer experience, you can experience any of its services, designed to refresh and relax.
Royal Thai Healthy Body seeks to provide customers with a stress-relieving and soothing atmosphere. It’s owned by Supreeya Paenseethong, who was trained at one of Thailand’s most distinguished schools for massage therapy, and is an expert in both Thai and Western styles of massage.
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Oceanside is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Driven by the desire to help all members to achieve their goals, Metroflex Gym Oceanside offers the right equipment for all levels. Access their free-weights, personal training services, or cardio machines. With an encouraging and judgmental-free environment, you can be sure to leave feeling stronger and more confident than when you arrived.
Yoga Wild offers unique, upbeat yoga classes at this Oceanside location. With classes ranging from “Inferno 45” and “Hot 26 Yoga 75,” you can be sure you’ll leave both centered and sweating. Your experience is designed to suit all levels while also challenging its members and guests.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Oceanside without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
A scenic 1-hour drive from Oceanside, you can explore the legendary city of Los Angeles, with endless activities and places to visit. Check out the iconic Hollywood sign, take a tour of your favorite film studios, or visit one of the countless museums. You’ll never run out of things to do in the City of Angels.
Located about 2-hours west of Oceanside, Joshua Tree National Park serves as an incredible juxtaposition of two desert ecosystems: the high Mojave and the low Colorado Deserts. Named after the distinctive Joshua Tree (a type of yucca), this national park offers stunning and unparalleled surroundings as you hike, rock climb, or experience a spectacular sunset at Keys View.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Oceanside that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Oceanside? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.