The City of Oceanside feels relaxed while simultaneously evolving toward a metropolitan city in San Diego County. I remember riding the train into Oceanside on my way down south from Orange County. It was a casual beach town, not quite as pricy as other San Diego County beach towns like Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, La Jolla, or Pacific Beach. It was known for its laidback, lowkey vibes like the rock n roll hairstylist dude. Have fun in Oceanside CA North County with lots of family friendly and fun things to do. Go to Oceanside Harbor, Tyson Street Beach, The Oceanside Museum of Art, Harbor Beach, the Surf Museum, Sunset Market on Pier View Way, Heritage Park Village and Museum. It's a great place year-round.

Top destinations include Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside Pier, Guajome Regional Park, & more. There's a bit of something for everyone, from surfing & sea lions to live music. You might also want to check out Things to Do in North County San Diego, California as well as 8 Things to Do in Encinitas, Ca. Only an hour from San Diego, Oceanside is an exciting city to visit, full of things to do and fun places to enjoy. Have you visited or lived in Oceanside California? What is your favorite restaurant, surf spots, sandy beach location, nightlife spot, nearby town?

About Carmen

Thanks for finding my blog! I'm a San Diego blogger who has lived in Southern California for most of my life. I write about travel, food, drinks. I've worked with tourism boards such as Visit Long Beach, Visit El Paso, The French Ministry of Agriculture, Visit Reno Tahoe, & Discover Torrance. Read my Press + Media for more campaigns I've been a part of. Click here to learn out more about me & my travel history. Or you can follow me on Instagram. Scroll down for all things Oceanside CA. Southern California has a lot to offer.

Artist's Alley  Things to Do in Oceanside California Restaurants Coffee Shops Downtown  Restaurants, Coffee Shops, What to See
Take a look at the murals at Artist's Alley in Downtown Oceanside, California.

History of Oceanside California

O'side has a long history! Its history begins in San Luis Rey Valley, which was rich in agriculture-rich. It was first explored by the Spanish Explorer Portola in 1769. By 1882, they laid a railroad from Los Angeles to San Diego through Colton, Temecula, Fallbrook, and down the coast.  

Downtown Oceanside

Oh, Oceanside CA. I used to walk along Downtown Oceanside to the beach from my social media internship office. There was an acupuncture place, a health food store, a burrito shop. They're all still there. Now the city of Oceanside feels as though it's geared to become the next hotspot for San Diego bloggers. A new oceanview apartment pops up blocking the view of previous apartments. There's a coworking destination. A tequileria replaces a craft beer gastropub that wasn't even 4 years old. Oceanside CA is growing.

Whether you're looking for Oceanside restaurants, coffee shops, outdoor activities, or a unique activity, you'll find many things to do in Oceanside CA as it becomes a bustling part of North County San Diego.

Jalapeno & cauliflower mac & cheese from Local Tap House & Kitchen, Oceanside restaurants to try.  Things to Do in Oceanside, California: Restaurants, Coffee Shops, What to See
Jalapeno & cauliflower mac & cheese from Local Tap House & Kitchen, Oceanside restaurants to try.

Downtown Oceanside Restaurants 

Take notes for some of my favorite downtown Oceanside restaurants. Oceanside CA has no shortage of food options and wine tasting. Adventures galore await in Oceanside, from day trips to San Diego to craft beers to cultural events. You can find paid parking and free parking, depending on where you're at. This coastal town features stunning views throughout the year, from summer to winter. 

Beach Break Cafe Beach Break Cafe's coffee cake is next level, bonkers delicious.

Masters Kitchen and Cocktail - Spice up your Mondays; Masters Kitchen and Cocktail has happy hour all Monday!

Local Tap House & Kitchen - The jalapeno & cauliflower mac & cheese from Local Tap House & Kitchen (also known as LTH) tastes incredible.

Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie - Fred & I went to Panca Peruvian Cuisine & Rotisserie years ago when I worked nearby by during my first social media job.

There's no shortage of Oceanside restaurants. Browse Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google if you have specific needs: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, keto, etc.

Oceanside Coffee Shops

These are some of my personal favorite Oceanside coffee shops but there are even more that I haven't listed.

Banana Dang CoffeeBanana Dang Coffee has coffee, a solid smoothie bar, & Wi-Fi so you can sip n work.

Revolution Roasters Revolution Roasters is one of the most popular of the Oceanside coffee shops; the steady arrival & departure of people feels regular like an airport. Good coffee, tasty pastries, nice space.

Steel Mill Coffee Steel Mill Coffee is one of the newer Oceanside coffee shops. My sister says her friend's friend owns the place. ~*~So Kewl~*~


A trip to Oceanside wouldn't be complete without a pint of craft beer. There are over 200 breweries in  San Diego County. In the city of Oceanside, there's Black Plague Brewing, Belching Beaver Oceanside, Oceanside Brewing Company, Legacy Brewing Company. If you head to Tijuana, Mexico, read my mini-guide to Tijuana's breweries. What your favorite brewery in Oceanside CA?

Oceanside Sunset Market

Farmer's markets are one of life's simple joys. The Oceanside Sunset Market takes place Thursday evenings from 5 pm - 9 pm. It's the destination to be. You'll find food, shopping, entertainment. The place gets packed. People bring their babies, kids, strollers, dogs. Teens hang out amongst friends. Couples walk around on a date night. It's one of the most quintessential things to do in Oceanside CA. There's also the Oceanside Farmers Market which happens in the day time!

Oceanside Fishing Pier Things to Do in Oceanside California Restaurants Coffee Shops Downtown Carmen Varner travel writer San Diego Blogger Things to Do in Oceanside, California: Restaurants, Coffee Shops, What to See
Enjoy the ocean view from the Oceanside Fishing Pier.

Oceanside Fishing Pier

You can't visit the city of Oceanside, California without walking the near the Oceanside pier. This is one of the most classic things to do in Oceanside. You used to be able to eat at Ruby's Diner at the end of the pier; Ruby's was a 40s-style diner with American classics like fries, burgers, & milkshakes. So sad to see it close, it was such a great destination. Oceanside Pier is iconic. The Oceanside Pier is extremely popular amongst both locals & tourists. Once it opened back up after COVID, people enjoy walking & fishing on the wooden pier. 

Mission San Luis Rey

The Mission San Luis Rey has self-guided museum tours, a mission gift shop. They even host workshops & retreats. The historic Mission Church is a National Historic Landmark, built in 1815. If you like missions, check out La Purisima Mission State Historic Park in Lompoc, California. Have you been to Mission San Luis Rey?

Ride the Coaster or Amtrak

You can take public transportation from or to the city of Oceanside; you can also ride it down to San Diego. These are excellent modes of transportation near the pier if you don't have a car. As I mentioned earlier, I used to take the train up & down quite frequently. You can take Amtrak all the way up to San Francisco if you're looking for a trip idea. 

Things to Do in Oceanside, California: Restaurants, Coffee Shops, What to See
A cool mural by BB Bastidas in Oceanside, CA by Pour House.

City of Oceanside Street Art, Murals, & Graffiti

Both downtown & the City of Oceanside have street art, murals, & graffiti to view. While you're near town, be sure to check out Artist Alley to support local San Diego businesses & artists. Learn more Artist Alley Oceanside on their Facebook page. Pictured above is a mural by BB Bastidas at the Pour House Oceanside; there's a different mural there now. Experience some Oceanside street art, click here.

Go to the Beach

It should go without saying, but you should check out the beach & ocean views whilst visiting a city literally named Oceanside. Popular beaches include Oceanside City Beach, Tyson Street Beach, Oceanside Harbor Beach, South Oceanside Beach. I could spend the day by Oceanside Pier, soaking in the melodic sound of the waves, reading a good book, & sticking my feet in the sand. Tyson Street Beach, also known as Tyson Street Park, is within walking distance of the Oceanside Pier. Enjoy the wildlife, cruise the sandy beaches, dine at a nearby restaurant.

Traveling to San Clemente? Learn more here for things to do in San Clemente, CA.

Oceanside Harbor Village

After Oceanside Pier, you can always head on over to Oceanside Harbor Village to get a true sense of the seaside town. You can just stroll along the harbor, browse the little shops, or even grab a bite to eat from one of the local restaurants. Obviously, fresh seafood is a good option if you're up for it. It's a small community but worth a visit if you're looking for things to do in Oceanside, California.

Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center

The Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center, located at 2202 S. Coast Highway Oceanside, CA 92054 is a popular spot. Their programs help foster knowledge and appreciation for the plants and animals that make up the natural ecosystem of our community.

Going on a trip to Lompoc, CA? Click here for things to do in Lompoc.

Other Activities and Things to do in Oceanside, CA

The city of Oceanside contains a range of things to do. It all depends on your mood & your budget. Do you want to be outside? Are you hungry for some grub from popular Oceanside restaurants? It's your call. There are outdoor activities like whale watching tours, indoor skydiving, surf lessons. It is a destination spot! You could head to the museums such as the California Surf Museum & Oceanside Museum of Art. Oceanside CA has a lot of beach activity too. Go to Oceanside Harbor, Harbor Beach, the Surf Museum, Sunset Market on Pier View Way. Drive Coast Highway. You can rent a bike and spend the morning enjoying the view of the ocean, beaches, people fishing or surfing. There are skate parks, trampoline parks, and plenty more. From wine to events to art galleries to trails to picnic views, visitors could spend a lot of time exploring Oceanside's wonder.

San Diego County is huge. What are your favorite Oceanside restaurants? Can you recommend any cool Oceanside coffee shops, either in downtown or anywhere within the city of Oceanside? What's your favorite thing to do in Oceanside CA? Leave a comment! :] Lots of family friendly and fun things to do in North County.

There are plenty of tourism attractions, hotels, and fun ways to spend a weekend trip. One of the best things to do in Oceanside CA is to take it easy. You could eat some tasty food for fish, stroll the farmers market, or head over to the Pacific Ocean to walk around the Oceanside Harbor. Really, you can make your own self-guided tour filled with art, local fun, walking the coast, surfing, fishing, and plenty of places to watch the sunset views.

More recently I am constantly impressed how this city is growing toward more metropolitan status but without losing what makes it Oceanside (and North County).