Oceanside, California is situated along the Pacific Ocean, just a short distance from San Diego. True to its name, at Oceanside, you can look forward to beautiful beaches dotted with palm trees. Enjoy visiting landmarks such as Mission San Luis Rey, the California Surf Museum, and Oceanside Pier. Don’t forget to embark on vintage biplane rides. Book a stay at one of many unforgettable vacation rentals in Oceanside. Set your course for great fun and adventure in Oceanside with these top 15 attractions.
1. Mission San Luis Rey
Called the “King of the Missions,” Mission San Luis Rey reflects the tradition of hospitality and heritage of the Franciscan Friars who live there. Designated a National Historic Landmark, this mission founded in 1798 is open for public tours. A spiritual retreat center, interpretive museum, historic church, cemetery, and gift shop are among the features that place this location among the top-rated attractions in Oceanside.
2. California Surf Museum
Who can say “California” and not think of surfing? At the California Surf Museum, it’s all about the waves. Presentations such as the China Beach exhibit and how wave riding can heal will inspire you. Full of local history and surfboards, this downtown Oceanside attraction helps you understand the California surf culture.
3. Oceanside Pier
Want to see some surf? Take a stroll on Oceanside Pier, which extends 1,942 feet out over the Pacific Ocean. This wooden pier is one of the longest on the West Coast, and it’s a great place to watch people surf, fish, and enjoy the sun. If you want to fish from the pier, Oceanside Pier Bait Store has rods, tackle, bait, and snacks. For a sit-down meal, try Ruby’s Diner, a 1940s-style family restaurant at the pier’s end, before returning to your vacation rental.
4. Oceanside Harbor and Harbor Village
Close to Oceanside Pier, Oceanside Harbor lets you view all of the boats from an asphalt drive that circles its shoreline. Enjoy a harbor picnic or use your gear from Oceanside Pier Bait Store to do some dockside sports fishing. Harbor Village features restaurants and shops including Wave Original, where you can get authentic Southern California beachwear. Buy fresh local fish at Lighthouse Seafood Market to cook at your vacation rental.
5. Oceanside Adventures Luxury Whale and Dolphin Tours
Treat the family to whale and dolphin watching with Oceanside Adventures on their luxury vessel. On your tour, you may see whales such as humpbacks and fin whales, or sea lions, dolphins, birds, and other exciting sights.
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6. Harbor Beach
When your family is ready to get some sand between their toes, take them to Harbor Beach. Sixteen acres of clean sand grace this beach adjacent to Oceanside Harbor. Handicap sand wheelchairs at each lifeguard tower help make this level beach accessible to everyone. Rent stand-up paddle boards and kayaks from Oceanside Boat Rentals and have some fun in the water, or just lay back and listen to the soothing surf.
7. Coastal Aero Scenic Vintage Bi-Plane Flight
Take an amazing flight and see the sights of Oceanside from the air in a vintage WACO UPF-7 bi-plane with Coastal Aero Scenic. This FAA-authorized air tour operator flies from the Oceanside Municipal Airport in North San Diego County. Feel the wind in your face in the open-air plane as you and one passenger view the San Diego coastline and surrounding areas. You’ll talk about this experience long after you’re back on the ground.
8. COASTER Commuter Train
For stunning views of the California coastline by rail, ride the COASTER commuter train north or south through San Diego County. You can board the ADA-accessible train at SANDAG, the Oceanside station, and ride to downtown San Diego. The total trip time takes about an hour for the eight-stop ride, and connects with other transit options including buses and trolleys along the way.
9. Oceanside Museum of Art
The Oceanside Museum of Art in downtown Oceanside promotes regional art and culture. Open since 1997, the facility features contemporary art exhibitions, films, unique exhibits, lectures, and culinary events. Children under 18 years old get in free.
10. Heritage Park Village and Museum
Oceanside’s Heritage Park Village and Museum, a two-acre park in the original town center, honors the community’s heritage and history. Walk through buildings including the old town jail, a blacksmith shop, and the original General Store. A grassy area and pavilion give your family a relaxing place to sit and talk about what you’ve learned.
11. North County Model Railroad Society
The North County Model Railroad Society features model train displays of life in the Oceanside area, including a room with a layout of what the area looked like in the 1940s. Up to four young people at a time can run model trains in the layout. If you use your GPS to locate this unique attraction, the address that gets you to the entrance is 230 Peyri Road, Oceanside, California.
12. Buena Vista Audubon Society and Nature Center at Buena Vista Lagoon
The northern edge of Buena Vista Lagoon in Oceanside features the Buena Vista Audubon Society and Nature Center. Using taxidermy specimens, living plants, exhibits, and interpretive displays, the nature center recreates San Diego-area plant and wildlife habitats. Enjoy free nature education programs and other family-friendly activities, and stop at the gift shop during your visit.
13. Guajome Regional Park
Work up an appetite with a hike on the trails of Guajome Regional Park in Oceanside. Various trails offer views of willow trees, a lake, pond, marsh, and other relaxing scenery. Eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, this family-friendly county park includes playgrounds, a basketball court, two fishing ponds, and lots of greenspace. Pack some hoagies and fat deli sandwiches from Harbor Pelican Deli and Mart before you hit the trails and treat the family to a picnic lunch afterward.
14. The Alex Road Skate Park
Skateboard fans flock to the Alex Road Skate Park, Oceanside’s largest facility for skateboarding. Located at Alex Road and Fousset Road, this 22,700-square-foot concrete park offers areas for beginners and experienced skateboarders to have fun safely. Helmets are required and there are no water fountains, so bring your own water. If you need a skateboard, helmet, or other gear, the experts at Grind Skateboard Shop are ready to help.
15. Sunset Market
Celebrate life on the West Coast with music, food, and a California sunset at the weekly outdoor Sunset Market on Pier View Way and Coast Highway. Since 2007, visitors and locals have enjoyed the 170 booths of local flowers and produce, fresh gourmet baked goods, international food court, and great shopping opportunities. Sponsored by MainStreet Oceanside, this family-friendly street fair offers live entertainment, activities for kids, arts and crafts, and more. It’s a great way to close out your day or vacation stay.
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