Got a minute? Or an afternoon? Consider spending it in the fabulous Oceanside, California.

Oceanside — often overshadowed by its bigger brother down the beach known as San Diego — is the ultimate California Surf Town.


As someone who spent many a family vacation out in Pismo Beach, I had always claimed that as my favorite beach town. Nothing, to me, could ever compare.

Until I took a stroll around Oceanside and discovered its upgraded counterpart.

So many things to do and see, and always so little time. That being said, if you’ve got a few hours for a lunch or some sightseeing in O’side, here are a few places to be sure to add to your agenda.

Oceanside Visitor’s Center

Where better to kick off your journey than the Oceanside Visitor’s Center?

Here, you’ll find access to multiple things to do, with plenty of brochures to choose from to help you. Some of those brochures also include discounted tickets for things to do in Oceanside and the greater San Diego area, so it’s well worth a visit.

Oceanside Visitor's Center

There’s also various bits of history about O’Side, including some pictures of how it looked in the good old days. It’s always interesting to compare the then-and-now town photos to see how much has changed, and Oceanside has certainly seen its fair share of growth.

The gift shop is a perfect place for Oceanside souvenirs, and everything in there is made from local artisans. If there’s any questions on anything, no worries. The staff there are incredibly helpful, informative, and welcoming, so don’t be afraid to speak up. You can feel the laid-back energy emanating from the parking lot, so get used to that as you carry it throughout the city.

California Surf Museum

California Surf Museum

Anyone who’s ever heard a Beach Boys song (see: Surfin’ U.S.A.) knows that Californians know how to surf. Especially those in the Southern California region where bright skies and a happy sun are almost always present.

Whether you’ve only got a few hours or a few days in Oceanside, be sure to stop at the California Surf Museum.

Seriously, who knew there were so many different types of surfboards?

Highlights in here include the Abstraction in Symmetry and the Bethany Hamilton display.

That name may ring a bell. If it doesn’t, well, she’s a pretty big deal. When she was 13, she was attacked by a shark and lost her arm. She’s gone on to be quite the inspiration these days, with both a book and a movie about what happened. Her surfboard and the bathing suit she wore during the attack are both on display.

Bethany Hamilton Surfboard

As to the Abstraction in Symmetry, you’ve got to see these photos for yourself. Photographer Russell Spencer used a complex, frame-by-frame method to photograph various fins from his favorite surfboards. The end result is a colorful, geometrical display of shapes that landed him a cover on The Surfer’s Journal.

Those are, of course, but two of the many exhibits found here. If you catch them on a slow day, the staff is also more than happy to show you around and answer any questions you have about the many different surfboards on display.

Craft Coast Beer and Tacos

Craft Coast Beer and Tacos

They say it best themselves: With a blending of iconic California staples, Craft Coast Beer and Tacos takes craft beer and meets it with Baja-inspired street tacos.

Personally, I’m a fan of nachos, so I had to give the Birria nachos a go. Fortunately, even as someone standing at 6’5, I was well-fed for the rest of the day off a plate of these.

Which is no easy feat.

Craft Coast Beer and Tacos Nachos

Oceanside also has a focus on O’side sips, which showcases some of the local breweries. I had a great time checking out breweries in Bend, Oregon, so I knew I had to make it to at least one out here.

On the beer side of things, I went with the Too Much Sauce. This hazy triple IPA came as a collaboration done with another local brewery, Belching Beaver. This way, I figured I could “try out” two different breweries since I only really had time for the one.

Now I just need to go back and get a straight-up Craft Coast Beer, and pay the Belching Beavers a visit for a deeper taste of their beer, too.

Especially since, you know… beer is engrained in human culture.

Oceanside Pier

Since 1888, the Oceanside Pier has been one of the most visited locations in all of Oceanside.

And for good reason.

The first construction of the pier came not long after the creation of the city, so it has been a landmark in the city for… basically the entire time.

Oceanside Pier

If you’re fresh out of the California Surf Museum, the pier is a great place to watch surfers try and catch a wave of their own. Cast a line and see if you can remove a fish or two for them, and enjoy some awesome views of the downtown area.

Have you ever had the fortune of visiting Oceanside? Where was your favorite place, or where would you like to go? Let me know down in the comments, and be sure to check for more California adventures!

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