It’s not San Diego, with its flamboyant parks and Gas Lamp District. It’s not Los Angeles which boasts its film stars and Ferraris paid for by movie contract advances. It’s Oceanside or O’side as the proud locals call it and our home away from home. Part nature preserve, part surfers paradise and part gritty determination to be more like it’s southern cousin Carlsbad, this up and coming suburb north of San Diego has a little of everything.
It wasn’t too long ago, though that its reputation preceded itself. With a population of over 100,000 people, the few areas that were known for gang activity and crime got all the notoriety. But In the last 18 to 24 month, things have begun to change. Instead of some of the more seedier establishments you may have seen along Highway 101, you now see many craft breweries, coffee houses and surf shops. With Camp Pendleton neighboring the quaint Oceanside Harbor, their is also an ere of patriotism you might not find elsewhere. Flanking the boutiques and t-shirt shops there are a few army surplus stores to peruse as well.
Oceanside does not disappoint when it come to things to do. There are various activities to participate in this city that will keep you occupied. Here are a few…
Biking-Oceanside is a very bike friendly community. The San Luis Rey River Trail is a 10.7 mile relatively flat trail that follows the river from East to West. On this trail bicyclists can experience a variety of birds and a path free of auto traffic. The Coastal Rail Trail is a bike path that runs north and south along the railroad tracks and will eventually connect Oceanside with San Diego. My family and I have biked this trail and love the views of the ocean, the parks and playgrounds that dot its path and the quaint beach houses that are along the route. It makes for a fantastic leisurely ride.
The Surf Museum-A famous Hawaiian Lifeguard/Surfer and a preteen shark bite victim are the stars of this stop on the O’side scene. We learned a little about the science of measuring waves and how they form, the history of surfing and the athletes that made the sport a famous California pastime. The fact that they have the actual surfboard that Bethany Hamilton was surfing on when she was attacked by a tiger shark was pretty thrilling to my crew.
Buena Vista Nature Center-The lagoon which is the home to nearly 200 species of birds and countless other wildlife acts as a border between Oceanside and Carlsbad and was a sweet find. At the nature enter we found a 70 million year old sea shell from extinct aquatic life, a model of about every owl on earth complete with there pellets for viewing under a microscope, a children’s book nook and a real living tarantula. After touring through the nature center there is also an easy 1/4 mile walk through one of the only remaining lagoons in California.
Whale Watching-If you are willing to brave the rocky ride seven miles out in the ocean to see the largest living mammal on Earth then this is the activity for you. As I have mentioned before, my family tends to lean on the queasier than normal side so I don’t know if this will be something we will be able to do in the near future. But from the reviews I have read it can be a trip of a lifetime. In fact, many times you can see babies with their mothers as they make the trek down to warmer Baja waters.
Oceanside Pier-If you’re going to the O’side, you would be remiss in ditching a visit to the pier. Watch surfers catch a wave, take in the sites and smells of the numerous fisherman bringing in dinner and watch the sunset at Ruby’s Diner teetering at the edge of America. You’re on the Pacific and the pier pays up in sensory overload.
Oceanside is quite representative of it’s mother state of California. With all it has to offer and its ambition for the future, put this one on your destination list when visiting the far west.