It doesn’t get much sweeter than this; sun most days of the year, easy to get to and choices for every budget. Oceanside is full of surprises. It’s one California beach city that is too often overlooked, but that’s changing.
Perched between the military base of Camp Pendelton, and San Diego proper, Oceanside’s too often just a blip on the GPS for drivers going north or south, but they’re missing out. I love spending a day or two walking downtown, playing in the waves, exploring the museums, and discovering new restaurants and happy hours. The north harbor area is worth exploring too.
A pair of gorgeous hotels have risen near the pier. The collection completes downtown’s revitalization the final touches on a beach-side canvas and it’s a masterpiece.
New Hotels Transform the California Beach City Into A Major Vacation Destination.
I spent an afternoon investigating these sibling hotels and each has its own personality. The Seabird design team invited artists to embellish nautical themes. A sweeping shell mural twists above the concierge desk. Macrame lamps dangle from the ceiling adjacent to the ballroom, each hand crafted from t-shirts. The Oceanside Museum of Art has curated a gallery full of Southern California artists. There’s a whimsy throughout including a childlike mascot in retro swim gear whose image pops up in hallways, prints and statues. From the lounges to the lobby, glowing natural light overflows in flattering tones.
Visitors can choose from three dining experiences. The Piper with its open-kitchen design, California-inspired cuisine and local ingredients. The Shelter Club near the pool is exclusively for guests. My favorite spot faces the beach. The Shore Room is a spacious lounge and prime real estate for sunset lovers.
The Mission Pacific
A serene and classy addition to the bluff, the Mission Pacific makes the California beach city dream a reality. The indoor-outdoor lobby features woody touches and burnished artwork. An Oceanside icon, the Top Gun house from the 1980’s film has been restored to its 1887 beach cottage glory across from the pier. The crown jewel however is the ‘Rooftop Bar’ with far-flung views of the coast to one side and rolling hills to the east. Inviting alcoves and sitting areas beckon and guests splash in a long pool far above the beach. This bar concept is a destination in itself.
Diners have plenty to enjoy as well. High/Low is open from sunrise to sunset off the lobby. Every menu item is made from scratch with brunch classics and remixes of lunch favorites.
Most inspired and a reservation worth waiting for is the Valle Restaurant. One of the Guadalupe Valley’s most celebrated chefs, Roberto Alocer, was lured north to render the traditions from Mexico’s wine region with California culinary notes. The space itself is sumptuous and filling with beautiful people.
Where else to stay for your California beach adventure?
There are several BnB’s in the area and a number of hotels. The fresh, Springhill Suites Marriott, just a block from the water, is one choice. . The space is fresh with cozy spots for pictures, for cuddling, or working. Rooms face the ocean and overflow with buttery light at sunset. The pool is guest only and on the third-floor deck you can stroll over to the stairway into Baja Betty’s, bright with surf-chic charm and great grub.
The city rolls out its best for events year round. There are multiple charity runs and organized bike rides. Cultural events abound from the Oceanside museum, the Surf museum, the Starlight theater and galleries. The craft brew and gastropub scenes are percolating. Stellar sushi and seafood joints are making names for themselves. From downtown to South O hungry visitors will find foodie hangouts from luxury rooftop bars to bakeries, casual pizza, health foods, and taco stands.
What draws us all is the beach. The pier is long and worth a stroll whether it’s stormy or the sky is bright. Along the waterfront quaint bungalows line the sea wall. The wide open sand makes dipping into the water a must. If you love surfing or boogie boarding, these waves will make you delirious and draw huge surfing competitions yearly.
Enjoy the Rooftop Bar views
Where to eat in Oceanside:
- Valle on the northwest corner of the Mission Pacific Hotel
- Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub is a culinary adventure you’ll savor long after the plate’s clean. Award-winning, Chef Davin Waite features local seafood, produce, and chef-picked ingredients.
- Zig Zag Pizza Pie lets you pick your ingredients, your drinks out of the cooler and chops salads just steps from the Oceanside pier.
- Hello Betty Fish House has a California beach theme and fresh eats inside or out.
- Masters Kitchen and Cocktail is a few blocks from downtown on South Coast Highway. It’s one of many innovative brew pubs / casual dining spots in the area. (Of course I had to include my namesake!)
- Living Tea Brewing Company serves fresh, organic Kombucha in their taproom at 302 Wisconsin Avenue.
Getting to your California beach adventure in Oceanside:
Drive: The beach is just west of the Interstate 5 freeway and Pacific Coast Highway off Mission Boulevard.
Ride: The Amtrak station is close to downtown and the beach. Oceanside is also the southern terminus for the coastal route on Metrolink. Check for passes to travel anywhere Metrolink goes. It makes visiting Oceanside even easier with the terminus there and access to the Coaster and Amtrak lines throughout San Diego County (a separate ticket.) More info check the Metrolink Oceanside Schedule.
Whether it’s a short vacation or a swim stop between destinations, there’s lots to do and explore on a California beach adventure in Oceanside.
I hope that you enjoyed this brief California beach adventure and will share these pins.
It is one of the best posts for this topic and I really appreciate your great efforts. Thanks for sharing this information.
Thank you. I appreciate the feedback and hope you can visit Oceanside soon.
Oceanside was always our the end of our bike ride and then we would take the Coaster back to Old Town. We have been watching Animal Kingdom lately. It’s kind of like a surfing Sons of Anarchy that’s set in Oceanside so we have been seeing a lot of the sites on TV. I hear that Top Gun II is coming out soon. Tom Cruise is back in San Diego and all of the old locations are being revamped. I wonder if the Top Gun house looks the same or if it has gotten a fresh coat of paint. Sounds like a “top gun sites” blog post is in order.
I think you’re onto something with a Top Gun post. Admire your long distance riding skills.
Love seeing Oceanside featured here. I’ve lived in Oceanside for almost 15 years and have seen the downtown transformation into such a cool area to hang out. Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub and Hello Betty are awesome choices. We’re loving all the other breweries popping up. A walk along the pier is always a wonderful too. One of these days soon, I’ll write about this awesome beach town so thanks for the inspiration .
I can see it transforming too. Wonderful that great food, brews and drink is becoming popular there. That coupled with its affordability and natural charm make it interesting and a fun choice for a get away.
I’m visiting California later this year and trying to get ideas together of where to go. I would like to fit in some of the great beaches and maybe some less well known. Oceanside could be a good option. The photos look beautiful and its well connected. Thanks for sharing
I hope you enjoy your visit, Katie. Oceanside is worth exploring.
Oceanside gives the feel of a comfortable, easygoing town. You just can’t go wrong with a stroll on the beach and some tasty food. Hope the changes to the town build on this vibe!
I think the growth is coming along in measured doses. There’s still a bit of a rough edge and room for creativity. Sandwiched as it is next to the military base and the tourist attractions further south, I don’t see gentrification getting carried away.
Beach adventures are the best.. n this one looks like a trip worthwhile! 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard
Thanks, Aditi, it was a special get away. Nice meeting you at the Weekly Postcard too.
This place looks so familiar, I feel like I visited Oceanside when I worked at a summer camp over a a decade ago. Memories galore. Looks like I need to get back!
That’s pretty cool about re-kindling old memories! I hope you can stop by sometime again.
Isn’t Southern California beautiful, Elaine? I think we are so blessed to live close to the ocean. I’ve been at Laguna Beach yesterday and enjoyed the same kind of heavenly weather like you did in Oceanside.
Anda, we are so blessed! I love Laguna too. A very different, more sophisticated vibe than O’side but that’s you! I was at the Hotel Del Coronado yesterday and kept marveling at how warm and lovely it was.
Elaine, I am really exciting about your post. I have been to Oceanside only once. It was cold and foggy, so, we weren’t able to appreciate the town appropriately. I have been wanting to return fro ages. Your guide will help me to plan a full day in the city. It would be fun to find the same spots you have presented in here.
Lovely, Ruth. There’s so much more to explore. Check out bike paths, other brew pubs on the Coastal Highway….
Great tips. I love San Diego but haven’t been here yet. Oceanside looks like a wonderful place to explore that I didn’t know about before. Now I know 🙂
The city has a few rough edges but that’s a big part of its charm. Other beach cities in the SD area are more polished and expensive as you head towards downtown. Lots to explore in this ‘neck-o-the-woods.’
Oh so many tempting places to explore in this ol’ world and you’ve just added another to my list. Since childhood daydreams (so many decades ago) there has always been something magical to me about a California beach. . .maybe the Beach Boys helped foster that belief, but whatever the case, I’ve added this as a stop the next time I head south!
I hope you get to reconnect with those memories and longings in O’side one day.
It’s cool to see they have a kombucha brewer there. I’m in love with kombucha. I’m also interested in the craft breweries. Sounds like a great day trip.
Laura, being a fellow foodie, I can say that you’d love what’s going on in the area.
Thanks for the heads up! I’d never heard of Oceanside before, unlike other more famous neighbours such as San Diego.
Definitely worth a gander. It’s not as glitzy, with a mix of rough edges and new chic happening. Then there’s that beach!
Good tip on the Metroline on Sundays $10. I’ve never been to California but it would definitely be on my USA list.
That weekend rate is one great deal and is available from late Friday through Sunday wherever the Metroline runs. I hope you can try it one day.
I haven’t been to Oceanside in about a decade. Looks like I need to get back and explore. Thanks for sharing.
The area has grown up over the last few years and there’s so much more going on than I could add in the post. Keep an eye on the Chamber events page online for tips.
Never been to California 🙁 And of my best friends lives there!! So gotta visit – it looks amazing!
I hope you get a chance to come play with your bestie sometime soon.
We are going to be in LA in October and this sounds great! I didn’t know about it so thanks for the heads up!
It’s a fine trip by train going south along the beach. I hope you try it.
I’ve passed by Oceanside when I lived and worked in San Diego, but never got the opportunity to visit. Many people raved about it and after seeing your post with such great photos, I’m convinced I need to add it to my bucket list!
Glad the photos inspired you to visit!
I don’t know when I will next be in California, but you really sold Oceanside well. Looks like there are a lot of great restaurant options and we love Kambucha!
I’m a new Kombucha devotee! Lots of places are brewing it locally now. Oceanside is a sweet stop along the coast between San Diego and stops north.
Some great tips. Fancy Tom Cruise house from Top Gun still standing!
I know that house is still there! Hope you can visit the beach soon, Roma.
I’ve never been to California…but it’s definitely on my wish list!
Great and useful post for future travellers
Thanks, Fiona. I hope you’ll come visit one day.
The views in that video are incredible. Definitely worth checking out in our big road trip in the US. Thanks for the heads up 🙂
Take the train, the Surfliner, if you get the chance. The views are worth it, there are plugs in seats too.
I love Oceanside. I recently stopped in to the surf museum there. Such a beautiful spot.
Glad to hear you know about Oceanside. It has a few rough edges but the downtown area is such fun.
I’m sold, I will visit in March!
Nice to hear! Have fun and may your skies be sunny.