When you’re visiting the West Coast, one of the best views of the Pacific Ocean lies in a charming San Diego beach town known as Oceanside, California. This North County city is home to top-notch water sports, an iconic wooden pier, a harbor, marina, and it’s only a 45-minute drive from downtown San Diego.
I’m an area local and I’m here to help you discover the most fun things to do in Oceanside!
I’ve spent the better half of my life growing up here so you’ll want to keep reading for the unique mix of iconic, hidden gems, and new attractions I’ve sprinkled in that you won’t find anywhere else!
Table of Contents
- 35 Best Things to Do in Oceanside
- Oceanside Pier
- Wheel Fun Rentals
- Oceanside Harbor
- Oceanside Farmer’s Market
- California Surf Museum
- Tyson Street Beach & Park
- San Luis Rey Mission
- Heritage Park Village & Museum
- Buccaneer Beach
- Seaside Flowers
- Arrowood Golf Course
- Rais Case
- Craft Coffee Hopping
- Bliss Tea & Treats
- Living Tea Kombucha
- Guajome Regional Park
- Oceanside Museum of Art
- Watch the Sunset
- Self-Guided Mural Tour
- Tremont Collective
- Oceanside’s Foodie Scene
- Drink Local
- The Grid VR
- Pedego Electric Bikes
- The Beach Genie
- iFLY Indoor Skydiving
- Buena Vista Audubon Society & Nature Center
- Sailing Blue Water Charters
- Scavenger Hunt
- Mellano Farm Stand
- Surf Competitions
- See Bioluminescent Waves
- Boat Parade of Lights
- Whale Watch
- Grunion Run
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35 Best Things to Do in Oceanside
Leisurely stroll Oceanside’s historic wooden pier
If you’re looking for things to do in downtown Oceanside CA, the Oceanside Pier should be first on your sightseeing list. At all hours of the day, this landmark is bustling with tourist attractions including fishermen, marathons, surfers, and concerts down. Plus, you won’t want to miss the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
🛏️ Need an Oceanside Hotel? Book the new Seabird Resort which overlooks the Oceanside Pier so you can view the Pier throughout your stay. The sunset is a killer view from their oceanfront rooms and the Pier lights up at night. It’s definitely one of the best places to stay in Oceanside!
Wheel Fun Rentals
Pedal the Oceanside strand boardwalk
📍 Map It: Street Address on Google Maps | Phone: (760) 828-0166 | Website | Hours: 9 am – sunset daily, Last rental goes out 1-hour before close; Closed 4th of July | Surrey Rentals: $28-38/hourly | Bikes & Paddleboards: ~$30/hourly
Do you love trying new things? Have you ever ridden a Surrey? Now you can with Wheel Fun Rentals, fit 3-6 people on a single or double Surrey cart and pedal down the strand of the Oceanside City sandy beach.
You can also rent a deuce coupe, chopper, quad sport, cruiser, tandem, or electric bikes, along with stand-up paddleboards right below the Oceanside pier. It’s first-come, first-served, so get there early and you’ll have no problem renting with plenty of choices.
📚 Related Reading: 47 Best Things to Do and See in San Diego (By a Local)
Sail your way around the harbor
The Oceanside Harbor and Oceanside Harbor Beach are a 25-minute walking distance from the Pier and boast a range of outdoor activities perfect for all ages. Bring your binoculars on the harbor cruises for spotting marine life including whales, dolphins, and sea lions.
Rent a charter, go sport fishing, paddleboarding or kayaking. When you’ve worked up an appetite Harbor Beach has shower facilities and barbecue grills. Or you can meander on over to the Oceanside Harbor Village for fresh seafood dining with breathtaking views.
📚 Related Reading: Looking to stay overnight but not sure what part of Oceanside? Check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in Oceanside.
Oceanside Farmer’s Market
Shop small and taste local with farm to beach produce and more
Right in the heart of downtown Oceanside on pier view way is where the weekly farmer’s market and Oceanside sunset market collide. Thursday mornings’ offer a fresh certified farmer’s market for amazing seasonal produce, flowers, handmade baskets, and local music.
The market is dog-friendly, and when it’s not a health crisis, you are free to sample many of the vendor’s treats. When the sun sets, local residents flock to the streets for the sunset evening market which converts into hot food booths, beverages, desserts, a variety of cuisines, live music, and artisan crafts. You’ll find plenty of seating to hang and socialize.
🍎Pro Tip: Go towards the end of the market and get better prices from vendors packing up.
California Surf Museum
Dive face-first into the history of Surfing
It’s no secret that Oceanside has some of the best surfing breaks on the California Coast. Surfing legends like the famous Phil Edwards grew up riding the waves right here in Oceanside, Ca who inspired Hobie Surfboards’ first signature model board. Learn more about Edwards, the history of the sport, and the rest of Surf culture when you visit the California Surf Museum.
🏄 Surfs Up: After a day at the California Surf Museum, try it for yourself with a hands-on surfing lesson.
Tyson Street Beach & Park
Hang beachside at a grassy park and playground
Tyson Street Beach & Park is the perfect pit stop along the boardwalk. It is a well-maintained green space with some shady trees, a playground for kids, picnic tables, restrooms, Aqua’s grab n’ go cafe shack, and more.
Tyson Street Beach has everything you need to enjoy a little rest and relaxation with the backdrop of crashing waves overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
San Luis Rey Mission
Soak up history and culture at Mission San Luis Rey
Mission San Luis Rey is King to the Missions of California. If you’re a museum lover, be sure to visit San Luis Rey Valley during your stop or stay in Oceanside. Immerse yourself in the Luiseno Indian Culture.
Enjoy a self-guided tour by pre-purchasing your admission or if you’re feeling spontaneous, you can purchase the day of. They also have lots of hands-on events and workshops so be sure to check their event calendar before you go.
👉 Pro Tip: Heritage Park is very close to Mission San Luis Rey. Find easy parking at Heritage Park Village and knock out both museums in one afternoon. If you have time, bike or view the San Luis Rey River Trail.
Heritage Park Village & Museum
Go back in time and see what Oceanside was like in the early 1900s
Be transported back to the old Pioneer days with a walk in a park full of historic buildings and an iconic garden gazebo in the middle of Heritage Park.
The park’s attraction is free to enter. It is also great for kids and it’s dog-friendly. Whether you’re doubling up on your history and museums nearby or looking to explore some unique San Diego landmarks for a short spell, Heritage Park is a great stop.
👉 Read Next: 17 Best Museums in San Diego
Go shell hunting and hike the rocks at South Oceanside’s prime seashore
Buccaneer Beach is the best-underrated beach in South Oceanside. It’s lined with huge rocks and is native to loads of seashells and sand dollars if you know where to look. Hint: Slightly beneath the wet sand. It’s also a great place to walk with its spread-out sands and a lot less busy than other nearby beaches.
Oh, and if you’re a beach connoisseur, be sure to check out our article on the best beaches around San Diego.
🚌Transportation Tip: Take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Coaster for easy transport to and from other coastal towns, not to mention one of the best transportation options on the west coast with an amazing oceanfront view.
Build-your-own bouquet at a local flower shop
Seaside Flowers has been around for over 20 years with the owner’s passionate community ties seeing repeat customers grow up into adults. They are well-known for their rare and iconic blue orchid flowers, as well as the seashells they add to each and every bouquet. The shop is also home to local artist items and gifts with a variety of workshops and planter box events. Be sure to stop by for a specially designed arrangement or pick your stems and design your bouquet.
Arrowood Golf Course
Challenge yourself at an unconfined and scenic hilltop course
Arrowood Golf Course is technically located in Oceanside but is about 10 miles inland of the water. If you’re looking for some diversity in the beach activities, you’ll find solace with a day on the green with 18-holes and 6,721-yards of course.
Arrowood is uniquely a dog-friendly golf course, where your furry friend can ride around on the golf carts that come with your reservation. And if you happen to visit in October, they have a seasonal glow ball that lights up at night and is quite unique.
👉 Pro Tip: After your tee time, wine down nearby at Beach House Winery!
Make a DIY leather keychain at Rais Case inside Rising Co’s coastal community hub
The Rising Co. is home to many residents’ favorite O’side coffee, flowers, gifts, leather handbags, candles, jewelry, and a nice place to hang out. Rais Case premium handmade leather bags are located inside the Rising Co. where they offer a fun DIY craft in leatherwork.
Stop by Seaborne Coffee on the other side and make your way to the DIY station to indulge in a morning of arts & crafts. Check out Landmark Plant Co. across the street if you want to keep crafting and pot a plant to take home.
Craft Coffee Hopping
Taste your way through every artisanal coffee shop in Oceanside
If you’re looking for caffeinated things to do in Oceanside, hop around the artisanal coffee shops that make Oceanside a mecca for coffee lovers.
Enjoy the artistic feel at Seaborne Coffee. Grab flowers and coffee at Communal. Follow the smell of the newest beans on the block at Vigilante. Get fueled and enjoy the mural at Jet Fuel Coffee Co, located inside The Lab Collaborative. Let your tastebuds be transported to roasting marshmallows over an outdoor fireplace at Camp Coffee.
Bliss Tea & Treats
Sip on communitea with a unique tea experience to nourish the kid-at-heart
Bliss Tea & Treats is a fairly new establishment in Oceanside. What’s most exciting is from the moment you step inside, you won’t know where you are. At Bliss, you can have tea time with finger sandwiches, scones, and other delectable desserts in an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed environment.
The owner left her Corporate career to make her dream a reality and open up a tea shop. Every major season, she even changes up the decor for Winter Wonderland, you name it, just to keep things interesting and a one-of-a-kind activity.
Living Tea Kombucha
Move over wine tasting, sample every Kombucha
If you’re vegan, then this is a must-stop on your trip. You’ll notice Living Tea Brewing from far away with its exterior neon painted murals. This is a locals’ hot spot for organic and fresh kombucha, tea, vegan eats, and events. You are free to sample a variety of kombucha flavors on tap, all handmade with love. One of their unique items that are especially refreshing in the warmer months is their vegan coconut ice cream kombucha float.
You might even see a celebrity here, such as John Mayer or Rob Machado. If you’re an avocado or passionfruit lover, make sure to buy some of the fruit they sell that comes straight from Jason Mraz’s farm in Fallbrook.
Guajome Regional Park
Breathe in fresh air while hiking Oceanside’s Regional Park
Oceanside is home to Guajome County Park Campground, nestled around a lake, playground, and plenty of great hiking trails. Less than 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Guajome is perfect for all ages, plus a great place to enjoy a picnic and take in the sights and sounds of the birds, ducks, fish, and other wildlife that make this park worth visiting.
Oceanside Museum of Art
Spark your curiosity with a collection of artwork masterpieces.
📍 Map It: Street Address on Google Maps | Website | (760) 435-3720 | Open to public 12pm – 5pm Thursday-Saturday and until 4pm on Sunday | Admission General $10, Seniors $5, Free for Military/Students/Kids 18 and under | Street parking
For contemporary art, check out the OMA, Oceanside Museum of Art. If you’re a Museum lover, check out the Oceanside Museum of Art’s unique collection of artist paintings, sculptures, glass, light installations, & textile-woven wearable art. They also have a handful of workshops and rotating exhibitions you won’t want to miss.
Watch the Sunset
Take in the unforgettable views of an Oceanside Sunset
An Oceanside sunset is a perfect way to end your day, but let me tell you, there are some spots around town where you can enjoy the view to its fullest. The two new hotel offerings have taken over the oceanfront property that overlooks the iconic wooden pier.
I recommend going to The Rooftop Bar and restaurant on the top floor of the Mission Pacific Hotel for a nice aerial view. For a more up-close sight of the sunset, enjoy Sunday live music amidst a fireplace, complimentary blankets, and free sunset champagne at the Seabird Resort’s Shore Room patio bar and restaurant.
👉 Pro Tip: For the best local-style and affordable sunset viewing, bring a portable hammock to the two slanted palm trees for the most unforgettable spot in town. (located at Oceanside City Beach, 361 The Strand N, near the Sportfisher public restrooms and before Lifeguard Tower 4).
Self-Guided Mural Tour
Discover local artist murals in, out, and around Oceanside.
There are a ton of murals and street art all around town, just keep your eyes open. A few favorites include the Plot restaurant and the two mural houses, one on the corner of Ditmar St. & Stanley St. and the other a few steps back at Ditmar St. & Eucalyptus St.
You’ll want to stop by the side of the SpringHill Suites hotel, Revolution Roasters, Masters Kitchen and Cocktail, Living Tea, Ikigai Artifacts Co, Artist Alley, and many more.
See this Google Map for a handy listing of murals. Checking them all off is definitely one of the best things to do in Oceanside!
Immerse yourself in the newest mix of coastal lifestyle shopping, eating, drinking, and fitness.
The newest area of Oceanside opened at the end of 2021 called “Tremont Collective” which is a great new walkabout. You’ll find a curated mix of craft coffee, floral arrangements, trendy restaurants, picnic items, specialty shopping, and an outdoor cycling studio.
Tremont Collective is nestled right in the heart of residential living so if you’re looking to take in the local culture, this is a great place to go in Oceanside.
Oceanside’s Foodie Scene
Dine out on a variety of cuisines and locally sourced ingredients
There are a ton of restaurants to try depending on your preference of cuisine and if you want touristy, local, or newer spots. If you’re looking for more old-school Oceanside, stick with Beach Break Café and Hello Betty Fish House.
For tourist spots, head to Joe’s Crab shack right on the pier, as well as Ruby’s Diner, located all the way at the end of the Pier, but keep in mind Ruby’s is currently closed. New restaurants to try include Le Citron, MOPA Lounge, The Plot (sustainable, vegan, eco-friendly), The Lab Collaborative, Carte Blanche Bistro & Bar, Dija Mara, and Craft Coast Beer & Tacos.
Taste crafted cocktails, beer, and spirits unique to Oceanside, CA
If you’re looking for things to do in Oceanside, CA that involve the best places to get an adult beverage, you won’t have to look far for artisanal cocktails, small-batch breweries, and wine tasting. Head to Frankie’s (new craft cocktail bar), Pacific Coast Spirits, Shore Room, Bunker House, The Rooftop Bar (dog-friendly), Bagby Beer Co, South O Brewing, & Local Tap House.
The Grid VR
Transport yourself into a game of virtual reality
As of early 2022, this Oceanside attraction is temporarily closed. But, when it reopens (hopefully soon), The Grid VR eSports Arean is a great activity in Oceanside for a rainy day. From laser tag to fitness games, arcades, a blacklight lounge, art, and painting, there is a handful of VR games to enjoy. Multi-player games all in virtual reality mean an ultimate thrill for your whole group.
👉 Read Next: 15 Best Hotels in Oceanside, CA
Pedego Electric Bikes
Bike the boardwalk and experience the city from a different angle
With Pedego’s bike rentals, you can go fast in half the time with Pedego’s 20mph electric bikes. Pedal when you want to or cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway making stops along the way and taking in the sights of Oceanside. They have other locations in nearby beach towns in case you lose charge. Pedego bikes make for a perfect day riding around town or up and down the coast while beach town hopping.
The Beach Genie
Book an ultimate luxury beach day with everything provided without lifting a finger
A very new and popular thing to do in Oceanside amongst locals and travelers involves a beach day with a luxury setup. When you arrive at your spot, everything is already set up for you and your group. No tear down needed, The Beach Genie service does it all.
The variety of setups available is endless. Choose from cabanas, reclining lounge chairs, tables, drinks, food, decor, tablecloths, pillows, umbrellas, firepits, toys, towels, blankets, boogie boards and so much more.
👉 Read Next: Is San Diego Safe to Visit Right Now?
iFLY Indoor Skydiving
Seek greater heights with a freefall
From surfing the waves to getting the chance to fly like a seagull, there are plenty of things to do in Oceanside. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to try indoor skydiving inside of a wind tunnel, now is your chance to try something new on your trip to Oceanside.
Make sure to book your indoor skydiving experience in advance to secure your flight time and prepare for takeoff to a much-needed dose of exhilaration!
Buena Vista Audubon Society & Nature Center
Walk in the wild and feel as free as a bird
The Buena Vista Audubon Society & Nature Center is San Diego’s local chapter of the National Audobon Society. Their mission in conservation allows visitors to walk or hike the many trails around the lagoon and check out the preserved land, native birds, and indigenous plants. Feel free to enter as you wish and if you desire to learn more, they have great nature guides.
Sailing Blue Water Charters
Come sail aboard a private yacht.
Sailing Blue Water Charters lets you set to embark on a sailing adventure with a Master Captain, known as David “Skully” Mora. Your captain is a US Coast Guard vet, offering charters for over 17 years, and loves to share his passion for sailing and the ocean with guests aboard.
If you’re lucky, you might experience dolphins swimming right next to the boat. This private charter is perfect for a more intimate day on the sea compared to much larger public tours elsewhere.
🏄 Read Next: When is the Best Time to Visit San Diego?
Explore Oceanside through a curated app
Operation City Quest brings you a local scavenger hunt as a fun and unique way to explore the town. Hunt for items and accomplish tasks to win points along the way.
The Scavenger Hunt is around 2 hours and the app will guide you from start to finish. All you’ll need to bring is a smartphone to play with. For more information or to check availability, book your Scavenger Hunt here.
Mellano Farm Stand
Taste fresh watermelons, pick-your-own sunflowers, & ride a tractor through the fields
📍 Map It: Street Address on Google Maps | (760) 517-8383 | Open Thursday-Sunday, 10:30am – 5pm | Parking lot
Visit Mellano Farm Stand for fresh produce and flowers from a long-standing family farm. The farmstand is year-round plus they have a ton of events to attend including their seasonal Watermelon festival, live music, food trucks, tractor rides, DIY strawberry, and sunflower picking. If you visit in the summer, make sure to try their watermelon honey!
Learn from the best and see some of the best surfers take over the waves
Catch a thrilling day of watching talented surfers for Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro, USA Surfing Prime, USA Surfing Championships, and other competitions right in the heart of Oceanside, CA.
While surfers compete across the year here, especially in January, March, June, and September, the best time to watch is in late summer. The competitions are a fun outing for everyone and include vendors, live music, entertainment, and other surprises.
See Bioluminescent Waves
Spot illuminated sea plankton during the annual red tide
There are spectacular bioluminescent waves around August/September/October when the smell and water is a reddish-brown color, during the dark hours of the night the tide will light up bright blue from the illuminated plankton! Photography lovers catch the perfect long exposure shots during this time.
Boat Parade of Lights
Wrap yourself in winter cheer.
December marks the Oceanside Harbor Boat Parade of Lights. If you happen to visit in December and you’re looking for free activities, check out Oceanside Yacht Club’s annual Parade of Lights for a fantastic night. The captains’ deck out their boats’ in so many decorations and lights, it is quite a sight to see floating on top of the water.
🌴 Read Next: 33 Best Things to Do in Encinitas, CA
Set sail on a harbor cruise, you never know what you might encounter
San Diego is ranked one of the best places to whale watch (in fact, it’s definitely one of the most popular things to do in San Diego).
This is a place where you can witness the Winter and Spring Gray whales and spot the Summer and Fall Blue whales. Dolphin migration is seen on our coastline more around October – January.
To get as close as possible to these magnificent creatures, make sure you book a whale watching & dolphin adventure, located right in Oceanside Harbor.
Watch Southern California fish spawn on Oceanside beaches
A Grunion fish is known for leaving water and coming to our shores at night for the spawning season. This special time in SoCal is better known as the California Grunion Run during the Spring and Summer months, especially around April, May, and June.
There are certain beaches up and down the coast of San Diego to San Luis Obispo that have the best grunion runs and lucky for you, Oceanside City Beach, Oceanside Harbor Beach, and Oceanside Pier View North Beach are all hotspots!
If you’ve skimmed all the way here, you can see there are so many must-see places and spaces in Oceanside, California.
Bookmark our Ultimate San Diego Travel Guide and keep planning!
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