There is so much to do in the Oceanside, California area for the family, it would be tough to cram it all in over a weekend. Not only do you have Oceanside, but you can venture down into San Diego, up to Orange County, or inland to Temecula! We visit a lot to see family and to do Ironman races, so we have our favorite things to do. But, the area is probably most noted for the spectacular weather that is simply hard to beat at any time of the year.
Fun in Southern California
The Oceanside and San Diego area has to be one of the most family-friendly locations on earth. From the white sand beaches with tons of water sports to attractions such as LEGOLAND and the San Diego Zoo to fun, interactive museums, you can find something to make everyone in the family happy and entertained. It would seriously be tough to get bored in Oceanside. On our most recent visit, we stayed at the Park Hyatt Aviara, which was located a bit out of the area, but was a quiet respite.
Whether you’re coming to Oceanside via the San Diego airport or driving in, your first stop should be at the California Welcome Center – Oceanside at 928 North Coast Highway. Here you will learn what to see, do, and eat in the area and you can even buy discount tickets to the attractions, of which there are many.
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Once you’ve gotten your bearings, here’s what we’d recommend.
First, you have to take a stroll down the Oceanside Pier, the longest wooden pier on the Pacific Coast. Take in the views and smell the ocean. Vvisit the Oceanside Harbor, where you can find tons of water sports, including stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. You can even take a harbor boat tour. Then when you’re done, explore the more than three miles of white, sandy beaches. Take a run, learn to surf, build a sandcastle, or have a picnic on the beach and do nothing.
You really have some nice choices here. You can visit the Oceanside Museum of Modern Art. A recent exhibit featured Jean Wells, who does large-scale, eye-dazzling mosaic sculptures. The Museum of Making Music, which explores the history of the American musical product industry, is always fun. The California Surf Museum is the place to learn all about the sport and lifestyle of surfing. One of the recent exhibits was Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. The exhibit includes the shark-bitten surf board.
Extra Fun in Oceanside
Experience the beauty and tranquility of the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, which is the largest mission in California. You can marvel at the extraordinary architect, have a picnic, and then visit the museum. Do something wild and take a bi-plane ride along the San Diego Coast with Coastal Aero Scenic, then take a drive down historic Route 101, along the California coast. It doesn’t disappoint.
Shopping in Oceanside
You have several choices here. You can shop on Main Street in Oceanside or at the Oceanside Harbor Village, a Cape Cod-style group of shops and restaurants. Keep in mind that these are more casual, touristy shops.
SAN DIEGO AREA
San Diego Attractions
You have all the well-known attractions located here, such as the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, Scripp’s Aquarium, Knott’s Berry Farm, Wave Waterpark, and SeaWorld. In addition, you also have attractions such as the San Diego Air & Space Museum, where you can journey through the history of flight. If you have plans to visit any of these attractions, you should check out the Go San Diego Card. The card provides admission to 46 area attractions at a discount. You can buy online or at the Welcome Center.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, check out the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Located within the San Diego city limits, this Reserve has more than 2000 acres of stunning vistas, 8 miles of peaceful trails, and a visitor center.
Extra Fun in San Diego
For those wanting a bit more adventure, try the high-performance Italian karts at K1 Speed Indoor Racing in Carlsbad. Vroom.
Hit Old Town San Diego and of course, La Jolla, and Del Mar if you’re a serious shopper and want a bit more high-end merchandise.
ORANGE COUNTY AREA
If you want to venture up north a bit into Orange County, you can’t go wrong with Dana Point, Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, and Newport Beach. The Newport Beach area offers tons to do and see with Corona Del Mar. You can even take a fun ferry ride over to Balboa Island and walk around and enjoy the charming island.
Another really nice area and under an hour away is Temecula. It’s especially great if you’re into golfing, award-winning wineries, antiquing, and ballooning. The young kids will be totally in awe at the Pennypickles Children’s Museum, which is filled with hands-on inventions, gadgets, and science experiments.