Oceanside, California is sea breeze, tacos, and ice cream. It’s the sound of the ocean rushing in your ears, the feel of sand between your toes, and the taste of salsa on your tongue. It’s the perfect place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and catch a wave or two.
It’s no secret that I love California — from the first time I stepped off the plane in San Francisco to the time I took a sound bath in Joshua Tree, I jump at any chance to visit The Golden State — my recent visit to Oceanside being no exception. After a full day of travel from Regina, Saskatchewan, I landed in the San Diego airport just before the clock struck midnight. In a daze, I plugged the address of my destination into my phone and hailed a car to take me to Oceanside.
45 minutes later, after learning all about the area from my informative driver, I reached my friend’s house, climbed into bed, and slept hard. I awoke bright and early the next morning to the sight of palm trees swaying and that familiar ocean scent in the air.
I had arrived, and I was ready to explore.
How to Plan a Day Trip to Oceanside, California
How to Get to Oceanside
There are a few ways to get to Oceanside, but the easiest is to fly into San Diego and then take the Coaster train north. The Coaster runs every hour or two and hits up a few seaside stops along the way. In my experience, this route cost about $10 round trip and takes an hour each direction. Alternatively, you can take a Lyft or an Uber from San Deigo as I did from the airport (my flight times were really wonky and the Coaster wasn’t running).
If you’re traveling from Los Angeles, then your travel time is going to be a little longer at about two hours. The simplest and fastest way to get from LA to Oceanside is by taking the Amtrak, which at the time of writing this costs anywhere from $15 to $30 one way, depending on the time of day. However, if that’s a little pricey for you and you’re not in a hurry, then there’s always the Greyhound.
Best Restaurants in Oceanside
Hello Betty Fish Lounge
Hello Betty Fish Lounge has all the seafood staples but with a bit of an edgier twist. With contemporary hipster decor and a rooftop lounge, you don’t want to miss this place.
The Whet Noodle
If you’re looking for a locally-sourced, sustainable seafood/ramen place, then the Whet Noodle is for you. This cute restaurant prioritizes reducing waste and finding innovative ways to use all the parts of the animals that they create with.
Urge Gastropub and Whiskeybank
If you’re keen on a pub setting where you can get your craft beer on, then check out Urge Gastropub and Whiskeybank. Not only do they have an extensive beer list, but they also have hundreds of whiskeys on the menu.
This was my favorite place to grab fish tacos in Oceanside. Tin Fish is located right at the base of the Oceanside Pier, is incredibly casual, and is a great way to refuel before heading on to more adventures.
Things to do in Oceanside
Stroll the Oceanside Pier
The pier is iconic Oceanside, California. By walking it, you’ll get excellent views of the shore, see fishermen doing their thing, and the chance to check out the cute shops and restaurants along the way. Oh, and make sure you get a photo underneath it too!
California Surf Museum
Surf’s up! Located at 312 Pier View Way, the California Surf Museum is the quintessential stop for any surf lover. This funky place has all kinds of surfing memorabilia — including surfboards, equipment, photos, videos and so much more. Learn everything you need to know about the history of California surfing here.
When I was in Oceanside, I had the opportunity to watch some semi-professional surfers do their thing next to a panel of judges. It was super interesting to learn about what constitutes a good wave and good surf, even if I probably only understood half of what was going on. There are similar surfing competitions happening all the time in Oceanside, so it’s definitely something to look into!
Of course, you can also use your time in Oceanside to actually go surfing too. Just an idea.
Oceanside Harbor Village
Harbor Village in Oceanside is an awesome place to go to walk around, do a little shopping, grab some grub, and eat lots of melty ice cream. It’s a super cute town and you’ll be certain to have tons of great photo opportunities.
Buccaneer Beach was the first spot I hit up in Oceanside, and I loved being able to just chill out, take off my shoes, open my journal and meditate on the beach for a while. There weren’t a lot of people on the beach while I was there, but of course, it depends when you go and if there are any events going on.
Another thing to keep in mind that while Buccanner is great, there are literally miles upon miles of coastline to explore, all with great beach spots.
Roberts Cottages on the Beach
If you’re looking to get some great Instagram shots, then be sure to check out Roberts Cottages on the Beach. These cute cottages were originally constructed in the 1920s and are a representation of historic Oceanside. They’re each individually owned, but together create for a colorful scene that is right out of a magazine.
On the off chance it’s a rainy day or if you just want to spend some time indoors, then check out the Regal theatre in Oceanside. They feature a lot of the latest film releases, and it’s a cool setting to boot.