Oceanside is having a resurgence thanks to new development that’s happened over the past few years. The growth has brought in game-changing beachfront staycation hotels, kid-friendly eateries, markets, art walks, and an influx of cute retail shops. What you expect to find from the North County city, like the pier and the beachside playground, is still there, but it’s the unexpected that will make you eager to plan a special trip to the once isolated military town. Whether you check out the old or the new spots (or mix in a little of both), spending a day or weekend in Oceanside is an adventure. Read on for everything you need to plan your next day (or weekend!) trip.
Hop in the family car and head all the way to the northern shore of San Diego, you can’t miss it! If you don’t want to drive, there are other fun ways to get there. Make it a day trip or heck stay for the weekend when you take the train or the bus. The Oceanside Transit Center is only ½ mile away from the pier; it’s an easy 12-minute walk and you can bring strollers on board. There are bathrooms and lockers at the Oceanside Transit Station too.
Coaster Train: starts at the downtown Santa Fe station and stops along the coast
Sprinter Train: starts from Escondido and stops along the way
Breeze Bus Transit: catch it anywhere in North County and ride it all the way west
Oceanside Transit Station
235 S Tremont St., Oceanside
Playtime has always been a blast walking along the beach and pier, but most people overlook the nearby harbor or storytimes and books from the public library. There’s also a little-known chocolate escape room for kids and an indoor playground or if you’re feeling gutsy go indoor skydiving. Support local and shop at one of the many neighborhood stores. You’ll find everything from succulents and shells, to gifts and souvenirs.
Grab some coffee from Nautical Bean and stroll two miles all around the harbor for epic harbor and ocean views with boats coming and going. Grab a bite to eat and watch the ocean at one of the many restaurants: Joe’s Crab Shack, Rockin’ Baja Lobster, Oceanside Broiler, Harbor Fish & Chips just to name a few.
300 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Oceanside Fishing Pier
Stroll all 1942 feet along this iconic wooden pier that was built in1888. This is a great spot to fish, watch the surfers or just enjoy the beautiful California coast. Let your kids play at one of the few playgrounds that are actually on the beach! (Ruby’s restaurant at the end of this pier recently closed, but there will be a new restaurant coming in soon.)
The Strand N, Oceanside
Wheel Fun Rentals
Rent some wheels for a spin on the boardwalk in a surrey, bikes, (tandem, electric), or four wheel “car” like bike, kid’s bike and even kid’s trailer bike attachments. No reservations needed, helmets, locks and baskets are included.
300 The Strand N, Oceanside
Oceanside Boat Rentals
Rent the electric Duffy boat (psst…it’s shaded!) for a one-hour tour of the Oceanside Harbor. You can also rent kayaks and powerboats for in-harbor touring only.
256 S Harbor Dr., Oceanside
Kids will play hard at this indoor playground with climbing, sliding, jumping, car tracks and more. They have a coffee shop inside just for parents with free Wi-Fi and comfy seats so you can relax while the kiddos play.
3985 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Boss Play Escape Rooms – The Chocolate Factory
Put your kids’ reasoning skills to the test inside this Chocolate Factory themed escape room where they’ll either steal the top-secret recipe or find the golden ticket.
2216 El Camino Real, Oceanside
Suit up and fly around the vertical air tunnel at this indoor skydiving hang-out. If you don’t want to fly, they have seating all around which is still fun to sit and watch everyone else. Kids ages 3+ are allowed to fly!
3178 Vista Way, Oceanside
Every Thursday from 5-9 pm is the Sunset Market so plan ahead for this one. It’s an outdoor style festival with shopping from arts & craft vendors, live music and good food.
Corner of Coast Hwy + Pier View Way, Oceanside
Every month on the First Friday head to Artist Alley from 5-9 pm where you’ll find local artists featuring their pottery, crafts, jewelry, art, music and more! It’s a free event and local restaurants participate too.
Between Pier View Way + Mission Blvd. at Pacific Coast Hwy
Little Louie’s Gift Shop
Stop in to grab last-minute beach supplies like shovels, buckets, hats and beach blankets or just some souvenirs like a seashell wind chime, to remind you of your wonderful beach staycation.
312 Mission Ave., Oceanside
One of the largest selections of glazed Mexican pottery and succulents here to spice up your front entrance.
309 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Bring home some nature from this really cute plant café. You’ll find lots of indoor/outdoor plants and succulents to keep you company at home. Or give some to a friend when you pick up their gift-giving supplies to make it easy. You might even want to take a selfie in front of their beautiful insta-worthy hand-painted walls outside.
913 South Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Check out more than just books at this popular library. Out front, you can find ducks swimming in the gorgeous fountain, where kids will be mesmerized by the fountain jets spraying. Sign up for the summer reading program and, when they return, attend one of the kids’ storytimes.
330 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside
California Surf Museum
It wouldn’t be a trip to Oceanside without learning a little about its surfing history. You’ll find chronicles of famous surfers and a surfboard exhibit featuring Bethany Hamilton’s board with the shark bite.
312 Pier View Way, Oceanside
Mission San Luis Rey
Steeped in history, you’ll learn all about how this Mission came to be and what life was like here on this working Mission.
Pro Tip: Walk next door to the San Luis Rey Bakery & Restaurant that’s been around for over 52 years.
4050 Mission Ave., Oceanside
North County Model Railroad Society
Tucked behind the Mission San Luis Rey next to Heritage Park, you’ll find this model railroad club. They offer tours every half hour on Saturdays and Sundays to see their running model train tracks and elaborate scenes.
230 Peyri Dr., Oceanside
Restaurants with games, activities and kid-friendly menus are amazing finds for parents to enjoy a meal out together and since Oceanside has become a local foodie destination with high-quality sourced ingredients in a casual setting, it’s the perfect place to grab a bite with the whole family. These family favorites are only minutes to the ocean so consider grabbing takeout and hit the beach.
Build your own pizzas and salads, even with dairy-free cheese and gluten-free crusts too. Eat it there with over 150 craft beers to choose from or take it with you for your beach day. You’ll find it inside the Club Wyndham Oceanside Resort, but anyone can walk in and order up.
333 N Myers St., Oceanside
Head up to the rooftop deck at this casual seafood spot with a beachy vibe for some fish tacos, beer, ocean views and sunset thrills. Their seafood menu is too good not to stop in here for some ceviche, poke, fish and chips, seafood plates and more.
211 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Tin Fish Oceanside
This classic walk-up fish and chips bar also serves fish tacos, oyster po’ boys, fried seafood baskets, burgers, chicken and more. You’ll find patio tables and chairs nearby to enjoy as you watch the waves roll in.
302 The Strand N, Oceanside
That Boy Good BBQ
This is hands down the best Southern and BBQ food in the area. Pulled pork, brisket sandwiches, gumbo, chicken and waffles, catfish, sweet tea and even a bloody mary with ribs on top.
207 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Swami’s Café Oceanside
You’ll be glad you stopped in for a bite at this popular locals’ spot for some healthy breakfast, lunch, acai bowls, smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices.
202 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Not your average sushi restaurant with a live DJ it’s hip and lively and their unique sushi rolls are what bring locals back for more.
301 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Zzang Hot Dogs
Experience this Korean crispy rice corndogs either plane or covered with cubes of potatoes or cheese. For a truly unique flavor try their squid ink battered corn dogs or their cereal-covered cheese and sausage hot dogs.
409 Mission Ave. Oceanside
From breakfast, lunch and dinner you’ll have a fiesta in this fun and colorful setting. With low prices, live music, great food and drinks you’ll be coming back here for years to come like so many others do.
308 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Ty’s Burger House
This is a burger joint like no other! Relax on their back patio in this family-friendly restaurant serving up unique burgers. You’ll find grass-fed beef and vegetarian patties, but also some exotics like kangaroo, buffalo and venison.
515 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Fat Joe’s O’side
Food, fun, arcades and games are what this place is all about!
424 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Local Tap House
Craft beers, cocktails and global-inspired dishes with friendly and fast service in their outdoor patio dining.
308 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside
photo: Revolution Roasters
Get fuel and stay energized at one of these local coffee houses.
Small batch house-roasted beans that are grown responsibly and sustainably.
1836 S Coast Hwy 101, Oceanside
Pier View Coffee Co.
Sidewalk seating to enjoy your brew, tea, bagels, sandwiches or gelato.
300 Pier View Way, Oceanside
Camp Coffee Company
Organic local roasted beans and vegan pastries. Try their creative seasonal flavors like the popular molasses latte.
101 N Cleveland St., Oceanside
Steel Mill Coffee
Friendly staff and in-house-made flavors like the fresh orange mocha set this place apart.
605 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Banana Dang Coffee
This colorful artsy café serves up more than just coffee and golden chai lattes. They’re known for smoothies and toasts like the honey crunch on rosemary bread.
115 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Brown Cup Café & Lounge
Relax in their plush living room-style furniture and use their free Wi-Fi while you sip on a banana nut or raspberry latte or go for something exotic like Thai tea. Grab some avo toast to tide you over until lunchtime.
401 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside
photo: Parlor Doughnuts
Plan accordingly for a sweet snack in between the fun or as a little motivation to get the kids headed back out at the end of a long day.
This trendy donut shop has tourists and locals alike wrapped around their light and fluffy layered donuts. Their commitment to small-batch made in-house all day long is what shines through in all of their crafty flavors like french toast, Sandy Beach, maple pecan, strawberry shortcake, and more. The drive and line out the door are worth the wait.
331 N Cleveland St., Oceanside
Petite Madeline Bakery
Delectable French pastries and cakes using locally grown ingredients with fruits from nearby farms.
223 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Just a stone’s throw from the beachside playground, this local ice cream chain is always hit with the kids.
202 The Strand N, Oceanside
San Luis Rey Bakery & Restaurant
An Oceanside institution for over 52 years, you’ll find gorgeous and delicious cakes, cookies, breads and more tucked behind their equally delicious Mexican restaurant. Great place to stop for a bite and a treat before or after walking the grounds of the old Mission San Luis Rey next door.
490 N El Camino Real, Oceanside
Mission Donut House
Friendly service, great selection and good coffee.
1502 Mission Ave., Oceanside
La Michoacana Plus
A funky colorful shop with bins full of Mexican paletas, or fruit popsicles, ice cream, tostiloco, agua frescas and more to choose from. There are over 20 flavors to choose from, like Oreos, watermelon, coconut, peach, kiwi and you can further choose to have it coated with chocolate, sprinkles or even gummy bears. You might be able to choose from all the flavors, but everything will melt in your mouth.
1060 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Nana’s & Pop’s Sweet Shop
One of the best sweet shops in O’side, but you’ll have to head to the harbor to find them. Lots of sweet-tooth tastes to choose from, like ice cream cones & sandwiches, candies, saltwater taffy and even a treat for your pup.
280 S Harbor Dr., Oceanside Harbor
Staycations are the best when you find a kid-friendly hotel with pools and views! Even better when they’re walkable to everything you need for a full day of fun and food.
The Seabird Resort
Brand new oceanfront rooms just a three-minute walk to the beach can’t be beat! Suites have separate living rooms, terraces, room service, pool, spa and an on-site restaurant are just some of the amenities you’ll find to help you relax here.
101 Mission Ave., Oceanside
Mission Pacific Hotel by Hyatt
A rooftop pool with oceanfront views is enough to make anyone feel like they’re on vacation. They’ll even set up complimentary chairs, towels and sunbrellas for you on the beach. Other ways to enjoy your time here include two on-site restaurants with room service, bring your dog to this pet-friendly resort, workout in the gym or walk to the beach every morning.
201 N Myers St., Oceanside
Club Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort
This highly rated family-friendly ocean view hotel has everything you need to escape your mid-week grind. Book a one or two-bedroom condo that comes with a separate living room, full kitchen and even a washer and dryer inside. Or you can book standard hotel rooms and all have access to their kid activities like crafting, contests and game room; swimming pool, the 7th-floor Skyroom library and lounge, free parking and all just a three-minute walk to the beach.
333 N Myers St., Oceanside
The Fin Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Walk two blocks from the Oceanside Transit Center and 10 minutes to the beach and pier. This boutique Hilton hotel has a zen garden and updated rooms. It’s walkable to some great foodie destinations like the Switchboard Restaurant and Banana Dang Coffee down the street.
133 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside
Why Big Bear Is a Favorite Family Vacation Destination
It’s a Date! 14 Spots for Your Next Family Date Night
9 San Diego Resorts for Your End-of-Summer Staycation