Summer beach vacations are ideal for family getaways. Oceanside, California, centrally located between San Diego and Los Angeles, offers easy access to Southern California attractions, including the theme parks Legoland (10 minutes), SeaWorld (30 minutes) and Disneyland (45 minutes). If you are looking for free attractions, you have plenty to choose from.
1. Oceanside has 3.5 miles of wide sandy beaches, great for long beach walks, building sandcastles or spending long days lazing in the sun. Many of the beaches are outfitted with playgrounds, and beach campfire rings add to fun in the evening.
2. Oceanside has the longest wooden pier on the Pacific Coast. Travelers can drop a line and fish from the pier without a license or just take a long walk.
3. Stroll Oceanside’s Cape Cod-style harbor village, complete with boats, shops, a seaside park, restaurants and a lighthouse.
4. Oceanside’s downtown walking district has free street market every Thursday.
5. Oceanside, San Diego’s only designated “bike-friendly community,” is great for flat, family-friendly bike rides. Popular bike routes include the 7 mile San Luis Rey Bike Trail that begins at the harbor and follows the path of the San Luis Rey River, The Coastal Rail Trail, a 44 mile regional bike trail, runs from Oceanside to San Diego. The city’s Bike Program allows visitors and locals to rent bikes for a nominal fee for the day.
6. The Oceanside Museum of Art has Free Family Art Days and is always free for students and military families.
7. The California Surf Museum is free to all on Tuesdays. The museum collects, documents and preserves surfing related artifacts and memorabilia, including the shark-bit surfboard that Bethany Hamilton was riding when she was attacked by a tiger shark in Hawaii.