We discovered Oceanside, California on a bit of a fluke day trip further up the coast. We stopped for a quick lunch and decided we needed to stay for a chilled out beach vacation. Our family of 3 loved every minute of this relaxing beach town trip.
Beach time. We had the best boogie boarding experience of our trip in Oceanside. The waves were manageable for our little guy and it wasn’t too packed with surfers. By mid-day the surfboarders were definitely starting to take over, but the waves were also getting larger. There were great and free public change rooms. The outdoor showers also accommodated little swimmers and really got the sand off everything.
Boardwalk and pier. We planted ourselves on the beach right by the pier. After we’d had our fun swimming, we popped our little guy in the stroller and he promptly fell asleep. The paved sidewalk along the beach was perfect for us to walk along and enjoy the view. The pier has a ramp (or stairs), which made it easy for us to get the stroller up and down. We walked out on the pier and got a little surfboard necklace for our surfer-tot (very inexpensive trinkets). I personally loved being able to look down on the surfers below. There was also a great playground on the beach just beside the pier.
Farmer’s market and shopping. On Thursday there is a market just up the road from the beach/pier. We wandered around and took in local wares and fresh produce. There are lots of surf shops around Oceanside too. We discovered Surf Ride on our drive out of town. The upstairs was full of surfboards of all sizes, colours and designs. The Oceanside Harbour Village was also a fun little excursion. We enjoyed ice cream, looking at the boats in the harbour and the smell of fresh caught fish – well, maybe enjoyment on the last one is a stretch. 🙂
Tin Fish. Located right on the beach and underneath the pier, this location was perfect. The shade from the mid-day sun made it a great spot for lunch. They had a great kids menu that delighted our son, and their adult menu was great. As creatures of habit we didn’t venture too far off from the fish tacos once we tried them. So delicious. They were big enough that we could split an order and splurge on the prawns.
Beach Break Café. We fell in love with this place for breakfast. Our hotel was inland a bit, but this was worth the drive. Our trip was in the off season so we were seated right away each time we arrived. But with a waiting room as large as their’s its clear that during the busiest tourist season you need to arrive early. The food was great and the atmosphere was very surfer-inspired. (Not to spoil too much, but the bathroom is worth a visit!) The restaurant is family-owned and operated and we had a great chat about our little guy’s love of baseball with one of the owners.
We decided we wanted to explore the coast and found a great hotel in San Marcos, a twenty minute drive from Oceanside (check out the Lakehouse if you’re interested in a similar arrangement). There were several big hotel chains and vacation rentals on the beach that we might think about if we go again.
We flew in and out of San Diego and had a rental car. It was the easiest way for us to get there and back for our family. While you could certainly fly into LA, the drive from San Diego is less than an hour.
We found parking near the beach very easily. The whole day parking was $8. There is a large parking lot and street parking by the pier, as well as limited parking below right on the beach.
This time we didn’t have a chance, but there were four person bike rentals right by the pier that looked fun and are on our list for next time.
Beach times & tides schedule. Pay attention to the lifeguard flags and station information boards to ensure you’re not going into rough or dangerous waters.
Mainstreet Oceanside. There are events on year-round and you can find information that changes here.
Oceanside Harbor Village. Make a stop for ice cream or lunch and find the beach nearby.
City of Oceanside beaches. Information on parking and beaches available.