The city of Oceanside lies on the beautiful southern California coast. Its stunning beaches and warm sunshine make it a year-round family-friendly holiday destination. Popular activities include swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and surfing. You can enjoy cycling along the bike trails, shopping at open-air markets, and exploring unique and fascinating museums. Oceanside also offers convenient access to famous attractions at nearby San Diego. Book a stay at a vacation rental in Oceanside today. Check out the most exciting family-friendly activities in and around Oceanside.
1. Hit the Beach
In Oceanside, over 3 miles of wide beachfront face the clean blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. This vast expanse of white sand is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and building elaborate sandcastles. You can play beach volleyball or toss a Frisbee around with your kids. Different stretches of beach have various amenities. For instance, Harbor Beach, adjacent to Oceanside Harbor, has picnic tables, barbecue grills, fire rings, and showers. Breakwater Way, south of the Harbor, is mainly for surfers. Tyson Street Beach and Buccaneer Beach have nearby parks with picnic tables and grassy areas.
2. Learn to Surf
Oceanside is a world-famous destination for surfers. Your family can take surfing lessons and join in the fun. Rent boards and arrange for lessons at one of the many surf shops in Oceanside. Numerous beach breaks and swells along the oceanfront provide waves suitable for surfers of all levels. To learn more about the sport, visit the California Surf Museum in downtown Oceanside. There, you’ll find a fascinating collection of surfboards from around the world, and you can learn the history of surfboards and all about the materials used to make them. The museum also features displays of artifacts and various surfing memorabilia.
3. Watch for Whales
The Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oceanside is a hotspot of activity for marine mammals. Gray whales migrate along the California coast from December through April. During the other months of the year, you can see blue whales, dolphins, and sea lions. For an unforgettable experience for the whole family, join a whale watching tour, or charter a boat and head out to the open ocean to observe and photograph these magnificent creatures.
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4. Go Fishing
Oceanside offers diverse fishing opportunities. Rent tackle and buy bait at a local shop, and fish from the long Oceanside pier. There, you can catch many types of fish, including halibut, sand sharks, kelp bass, guitarfish, and stingrays. Additionally, Oceanside Harbor has a fishing pier where the most commonly caught species is bonitos. For a unique thrill, take the family deep sea fishing on the ocean, and try your luck at catching sharks, tuna, sea bass, halibut, and other large fish.
5. Ride a Bike
The League of American Cyclists recognizes Oceanside as an official bicycle-friendly community due to its numerous clearly marked cycling paths, regularly scheduled cycling events, and integration of cycling into the community infrastructure. Oceanside is a wonderful place to enjoy cycling excursions as a family. You can take a guided bike tour or strike out on your own. If you didn’t bring bikes from home, rent them from a local shop. You’ll find bike routes of various levels of difficulty in Oceanside Pier, Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside Harbor, Carlsbad Village, and San Onofre State Park.
6. Learn Local History
Besides the California Surf Museum, Oceanside has several other unique museums that offer insight into local history and culture, including the fascinating Heritage Park Village Museum. Heritage Park also houses the Model Train Museum, run by the North County Model Railroad Society, and the site includes a setup where children are allowed to operate the trains. The Oceanside Historical Museum features displays of memorabilia and photographs related to Oceanside’s history. The Museum of Making Music in nearby Carlsbad offers a look at musical history from 1900 to the present.
7. Shop the Outdoor Markets
It’s great family fun to go shopping at Oceanside’s colorful outdoor markets. On a Thursday morning, head to the farmers market at the corner of Pier View Way and Coast Highway. There, you can shop for flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, organic honey, baked goods, and many other local food items. You’ll also find booths with clothes, jewelry, seashells, artwork, and toiletries, as well as vendors offering hot sandwiches, international foods, and snacks. The Sunset Market takes place on Thursday evenings near the pier. It features an international food court, booths with multitudes of gift items, and live entertainment.
8. Visit Legoland
The kids will love visiting Legoland California, which is just a few miles south of Oceanside in Carlsbad. Based on the popular Lego toys, this vast amusement park has numerous areas with various themes. Enjoy the dinosaur-based Explorer Island, medieval-based Castle Hill, Pirate Shores, and Imagination Zone, which features rides and hands-on activities. Legoland also has an elaborate water park that has water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a water playground. The Legoland Sealife Aquarium has exhibits of marine and freshwater creatures as well as an interactive touch pool.
9. Have a Safari Adventure
Only a few minutes’ drive southeast of Oceanside is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, an enormous park housing African and Asian animals in environments similar to their natural habitats. You can enjoy exhibits of the African Plains, Asian Savanna, Gorilla Forest, Lion Camp, and Tiger Trail. Explore the park by truck, jeep, open electric cart, tethered hot air balloon, or zip line. For an amazing and unforgettable experience, join the Roar and Snore Safari, which allows you to spend all night at the safari park with your family.
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