15 Best Things to Do in Oceanside (CA)

Nestled in sunny San Diego County in Southern California is the city of Oceanside and as the name suggests, this city is also located next to the sea.

As such, you will find over six miles of beaches here as well as a range of beach attractions like a boardwalk and pier that dates back to 1888.

Much of the city has been preserved, including as the original town square, and if you like to visit period attractions then you will love the working museum in Oceanside where you will feel as if you have been transported back to an earlier time.

That’s not to say that the city doesn’t have modern touches however, and you will find bustling beach life here and you can take a tour of the area either by walking around the various idyllic parks in Oceanside, or by boat on a trip around the gorgeous harbor.

There are also museums and galleries to enjoy as well as a vibrant dining and nightlife scene, so whatever your preferences, you will be sure to find something to pique your interest in Oceanside.

Lets explore the best things to do in Oceanside:

1. Harbor Beach

Harbor Beach, OceansideSource: Tony Savino / shutterstock
Harbor Beach, Oceanside

Harbor Beach stretches for a quarter of a mile in Oceanside and is made up of sandy beach as well as a walkway.

The beach has a huge array of amenities for visitors such as a playground, volleyball courts, and picnic areas, and there is also a jetty where you can go fishing if you want to try catching some of the local species that are teeming in the waters here.

You can also swim at Harbor Beach in a dedicated zone for swimmers, or you can surf in another special area in order to keep all visitors safe.

2. Beach House Winery

Beach House WinerySource: beachhousewinery
Beach House Winery

Situated within easy access of the beach is the Beach House Winery where you will find gorgeous views that stretch out over the magnificent Pacific Ocean.

If you make the trip here then you can try some of the signature blends for which the winery is famous such as the Grenache, Syrah, and Chardonnays on offer.

There is a tasting room here as well as a number of wine tasting events held here during the week.

3. Oceanside Pier

Oceanside Pier, CaliforniaSource: Zhukova Valentyna / shutterstock
Oceanside Pier, California

Oceanside Pier is an icon in Oceanside and skirts along the coastline and offers an array of activities for visitors.

The pier is one of the top places to come if you want to fish and spans an amazing 1,600 feet, so you will be sure to find a top spot where you can try to catch some local species.

If you want to go out on the water yourself, you can also rent and launch a boat here from one of the many boat ramps located along the pier.

There are also picnic areas to enjoy or you can dine in one of the restaurants that also dot the area.

Bird watching is a common pastime from the pier, or you can just enjoy a leisurely stroll along it to admire the sunset.

4. Oceanside Museum of Art

Oceanside Museum of ArtSource: JoeInSouthernCA / Flickr
Oceanside Museum of Art

First opened in 1997, the Oceanside Museum of Art makes the ideal location to check out some of the art scene in California when you are in town.

The museum showcases the work of a range of local artists and to that end there are exhibitions held throughout the year that focus on different art works and mediums.

5. Guajome County Park

Guajome County ParkSource: visitoceanside.org
Guajome County Park

If you are looking for some adventure in Oceanside then consider a trip to the Guajome County Park where you can take in the best of the countryside firsthand.

Camping is common in the park and you can sleep in a tent where you will truly get close to nature and can take in the stunning nighttime vistas in this area, complete with twinkling stars and an abundance of fresh air.

As well as camping, there are 4.5 miles of trails here and the area is also a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife aficionados thanks to the huge number of species that call the park home.

6. Oceanside Farmer’s Market

Oceanside Farmer’s MarketSource: JoeInSouthernCA / Flickr
Oceanside Farmer’s Market

For some of the best produce in the region head to the Oceanside Farmer’s Market where you will find local residents and growers selling their wares.

Some of the items on offer here include baked goods and organic products like honey, as well as sauces and dips.

You can also buy fresh California produce as well as flowers and oils.

The farmer’s market also makes a great place to pick up some souvenirs or presents like homemade soaps and candles.

If you get hungry at the market, you can also visit one of the hot food booths that sells delicious bites like toasted sandwiches and crepes.

7. Buena Vista Audubon Society & Nature Center

Buena Vista AudubonSource: Natalie Shapiro / bvaudubon.org
Buena Vista Audubon

Nestled on the side of the spectacular Buena Vista Lagoon is the Buena Vista Audubon Society and Nature Center.

Here you will find a number of exhibitions that will tell you all about the flora and fauna of this area of the United States and you can also get hands on with a series of galleries that feature real plants and flowers.

You can go for a walk in the area and take in the plant and wildlife firsthand and there are several trails that skirt around the center which will also take you up to the lagoon.

If you love nature and want to see some of the local landscape at its best then this is an excellent place to come.

8. California Surf Museum

California Surf MuseumSource: Roman Königshofer / flickr
California Surf Museum

First opened in 1986, the California Surf Museum is not to be missed by anyone who is a surf aficionado.

The museum aims to take you through the history of surf heritage by going back to the beginning through a series of exhibitions.

You can read all about the life stories of various surfing legends and you can also find period surfing memorabilia on display such as antique boards.

There is also information on how surfing evolved as well as how this amazing sport influenced pop culture.

9. Prince of Peace Abbey

Prince Of Peace AbbeySource: Randy OHC / Flickr
Prince Of Peace Abbey

Situated on top of the stunning Benet Hill sits the charmingly named Prince of Peace Abbey, a Benedictine monastery that is still in working order.

Up to twenty Benedictine monks still live here and you can explore certain areas of the building such as the Prayer Walk and the cemetery.

If you are looking for some peace and time to contemplate in Oceanside, then this is the perfect place to come, and you can even stay here for a retreat if you wish.

10. Sailing Blue Water Charters

Sailing Blue Water ChartersSource: sailingbluewatercharters
Sailing Blue Water Charters

If you want to explore Oceanside from a different perspective then why not take to the water with Sailing Blue Water Charters? The company operates a yacht that stretches for over 35 feet and is called the Breath of An Angel.

You can take a customized tour of the waterways in this area and there are harbor cruises as well as excursions that will take you whale watching.

You can also cruise to neighboring Catalina Island and hopefully you will catch some dolphins swimming alongside the yacht as well as other local aquatic life like seals.

11. Heritage Park Village and Museum

Heritage Park Village and Museum, Oceanside, CASource: visitoceanside.org
Heritage Park Village And Museum

Heritage Park Village and Museum used to be the town center of Oceanside before it grew in size and is now looked on as the historical heart of the city.

The village now operates as a memorial and working museum and you will find a period General Store, set of stables, jail, and blacksmith’s studio here.

You can visit the buildings as well as wander around the town center which features a village green and a pavilion.

12. Old Mission San Luis Rey

Old Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, CASource: Mikhail Pogosov / shutterstock
Old Mission San Luis Rey

First established in 1798, Old Mission San Luis Rey belonged to the Luiseno Indians as well as being both a Spanish and Mexican mission.

It was also occupied by the American military before being restored in the 20th century and is now the home of a group of Franciscan Friars.

The mission offers an amazing look at the history of the area and how it evolved, and you will find a museum here that has pieces that showcase the best of Luiseno Indian culture.

13. Tyson Street Beach

Tyson Street Beach, Oceanside, CaliforniaSource: Ana Phelps / shutterstock
Tyson Street Beach

Nestled close to the iconic Oceanside Pier is Tyson Street Beach and Park which is known for its gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape.

You can look out over both the city and the ocean and as well as a beach there is also an area of parkland here for visitors to enjoy.

The sea is known for its small waves which mean that families flock here and there are also playgrounds and grassy picnic areas which will be a hit with younger visitors.

14. Breakwater

Breakwater Brewing, OceansideSource: breakwaterbrewing.com
Breakwater Brewing, Oceanside

Come to Breakwater if you want to sample some great food and tasty beers in the same spot.

This brewery serves 18 different kinds of beers which are all made in house and you can also taste up to 25 other beers from around the region.

If you want something to accompany the drinks, then the onsite restaurant serves pizzas and other snacks like grilled sandwiches and chicken wings and there are also arcade games like a pinball machine.

15. The Coaster

The CoasterSource: THE Holy Hand Grenade! / Flickr
The Coaster

If you want to experience Oceanside like a local then you need to take a trip on the Coaster, a commuter train that runs all the way to sunny San Diego.

The aim of the Coaster is to improve traffic congestion and offer a greener alternative to travelling in these parts, and to that end this is a great environmentally friendly way to see some of the local landscape without having to get in a car.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Oceanside, California (CA)
Lowest Price Guarantee


15 Best Things to Do in Oceanside (CA):

  • Harbor Beach
  • Beach House Winery
  • Oceanside Pier
  • Oceanside Museum of Art
  • Guajome County Park
  • Oceanside Farmer’s Market
  • Buena Vista Audubon Society & Nature Center
  • California Surf Museum
  • Prince of Peace Abbey
  • Sailing Blue Water Charters
  • Heritage Park Village and Museum
  • Old Mission San Luis Rey
  • Tyson Street Beach
  • Breakwater
  • The Coaster