Things to do in Oceanside

Show Notes for Episode 3 – Have the Best Day Ever in Oceanside – Things to Do San Diego Podcast

Show notes for the Things to Do in San Diego Podcast on Oceanside, CA episode #3 are partial a transcript of the show as well as extra research and thoughts. 

My goal is to help you have the best day ever in San Diego County. 

Today’s guest is Gina Sharpe, a local Realtor, who lives in Oceanside. O’side as the locals call it, is San Diego County’s north most coastal town and boasts to having the longest beach in San Diego County. 

If you’ve been to Oceanside before but it has been over 4 years, you’ll find it very different now and it will continue to change as a few very large hotels go up by the pier. A lot of old abandoned stores are being replaced by either new buildings or being completely renovated. You’ll find far more restaurants with very talented chefs now.

What is the Vibe of Oceanside?

Gina’s family has been coming here for years from Arizona and relocated here a few years ago. In the last few years, Oceanside has been become even more family friendly. You will find Oceanside a bit quieter than Carlsbad. It is bigger and more beach. People in San Diego tend to dress very casual but Oceanside is probably even more relaxed and you’ll find a lot of locals wearing jeans, shorts, flip flops. It does get chilly in the morning and night at all times of the year so bring a sweater or jacket

How Does Oceanside Compare to La Jolla or Del Mar?

Oceanside is quite different than La Jolla and Del Mar as those areas would be considered very posh. Oceanside is more for working class and since it borders Camp Pendleton. You’ll find a lot of military here as well. It is best described as the most casual of all the coastal towns in north county. 

By the way, if you are looking to live by the beach, it is one of the last of the most affordable places near the beach in San Diego County. 

Transportation / Parking in Oceanside

Parking can be busy downtown especially between 6-8pm so you may want to either go early, take an Uber or take the train (which is only a 10 min walk).  There is a parking garage by the civic center. 

The Coaster train makes downtown Oceanside easily accessible from downtown San Diego and several other coastal towns to the South. If you are coming from Los Angeles or the north you will arrive on the Pacific Surfliner.

On holidays in the summer parking for the beaches will be a nightmare so if you aren’t planning on getting their early, find an Uber or Lyft.

Staying in Oceanside

There are a few hotels and there will be a few more hotels going up in 2020. Gina used to stay near Tremont and Cleveland in an Airbnb rentals because it was only a 5-10 min walk to the beach. There are plenty of Airbnb rentals of apartments and houses. She also liked to stay far north in Oceanside near the harbor.

Beach in Oceanside

Oceanside has a very long as well as deep beach. Enjoy walking down the great pier with Ruby’s at the end of the pier. A local pelican is fed by local merchant and hangs out at the pier. 

Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day (4th of July) weekend and Labor Day weekends are the busiest time of the year. That is the time to take an Uber, Lyft or Train. It is insane to try to find parking at the beach. 

Thursdays in Oceanside

Oceanside Farmer’s Market – 316 MISSION AVE, OCEANSIDE, CA 92054

The Oceanside Farmer’s Market is held every Thursday morning and is next to the Oceanside Library.  Every Thursday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. year around.

At the Mainstreet Farmers Market not only will you find fresh local fruits and vegetables, but you’ll find flowers, plants, artisan baked goods, eggs, honey, salsa, olives, olive oil, dips, sauces and more.  

You can shop at all sorts of craft booths for clothing, jewelry, soap, lotions, seashells, sundresses, purses, art, etc. 

I love eating at the local farmers markets because of the diversity of foods such as tamales, gyros, panini’s, crepes just to name just a few. I find some very talented local chefs cooking up great food at every San Diego’s farmers market.

Oceanside Sunset Market – Pier View Way west of Coast Highway in Downtown Oceanside, California. Every Thursday from 5-9 p.m.

This weekly street fair is a Foodie Heaven! I could easily go every week for a few years and still not try everything. You’ll find over 80 food vendors with every kind of food imaginable at the night market. The desserts were one whole street unto themselves. I especially love to eat while listening to the live band. 

If you have kids, you’ll appreciate Dorothy’s KidZone. 

In total, you’ll find up to 200 vendors. Vendors not selling food have all sorts of things to offer from hats to art to plants to Egyptian cotton bedsheets. 

You’ll find locals and tourists really enjoying the pleasant nights outside with good food, music and shopping. 

If I had one criticism it would be that it is somewhat difficult to find parking. If you can manage it, I’d recommend either getting there as they open at 5 pm or perhaps finding an Uber. It is close to the train station so you might want to take the Coaster if coming up the coast. 


On Mission and El Camino Real is a place called Oceanside Bakery. Their desert case is huge. The workmanship is incredible. They go all the time. They also like the coffee drinks. 

Petite Madeline – They do an excellent job. 

Beach Break Café serves breakfast and also lunch. It is super crowded. If you have a large number of people, would be a good place to go because you can get seated together.

Swami’s Cafe – They do breakfast, brunch and lunch. Queue out the door but don’t worry just order at front and go find a place to sit. Huge place. Sit on street to people watch. 


Black Rock – chain but excellent

Banana Dang – smoothies, cofee’s and teas

Pier View Coffee – great choice. 


Local Tap House– 308 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054 
Sunday 9am-10pm, Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm Friday 11am-12am, Saturday 9am-12am

Local Tap House (LTH) is fun and trendy but not too trendy where you feel out of place. You can sit at the bar and watch sports without the sound / noise so that you can still have easy conversations with friends. With 32 beers on tap, The LTH likely has the most beers on tap out of any other place in Oceanside.  Gina also mentions that they do lovely cocktails.

As they say on their website their goal is, “Great food, great service, great cocktails, and of course, great beer.” In an interview by Visit Oceanside, the chef mentions that they try to locally source as much of the food as possible. It is Farm to Table.

They do have really great food (check out the brunch, lunch and dinner menus) however I don’t think I can recommend it for children or teenagers or at least mine. My kids do not have sophisticated palates and the food is upscale so I wouldn’t want to waste my money on kids who couldn’t appreciate it. 

However, if you’re dog can appreciate chilling with you at a restaurant, you can bring him with and sit on the patio. 

Senior Grubbies – on Cleveland. Tacos and Salsa bar. They turn up the volume on the TVs during game so great place to watch. But you can get outside to get away the noise. 

Flying Pig-  626 S Tremont St, Oceanside, CA 92054.
Open 4:30 every day closes at 9 on S-Th and 10 on Friday, Saturday

Foodie Alert! Despite the name sounding like a bbq joint, Flying pig is sustainable farm to table restaurant offering artisanal cuisine with a southern twist. Edible San Diego Magazine does a great job of describing more of the feeling of this restaurant. 

This gastropub is best described as quirky, fun and eclectic. It Is really small. Even the menu cover made from 50 year old record albums is fun and unexpected. Gina mentioned in the podcast that you’ll find Flying Pig to be a bit on the pricier side with a small menu – maybe 5-7 main entrees. 

The restaurant and bar are pretty small so expect a long wait unless you come early. It is a great place to sit and talk as there are no TVs. Great wine list as the owners are both Sommeliers. 

By the way, there is a second location in Vista, California. 

Masters Kitchen and Cocktail– 208 South Coast Highway. Oceanside
Monday-Thursday : 3PM – 10PM, Friday: 11AM-midnight, Saturday: 10AM-midnight, Sunday: 10AM-10PM

Built in 1938, the classic, historic building was originally Masters Automotive and Machine Shop. It is absolutely amazing to see how an automotive and machine shop can be transformed into a posh, beautiful and amazing restaurant that you’d be happy to hang out at. 

Masters has more of a polished feel then LTH – lots of wood and plants. A nice long bar and at an open kitchen surrounded by glass if you want to peek in and watch the chefs do their magic. This would be a great place to have a date night and the good news is that you can make reservations. The food is fantastic.

As they say on their website, they serve craft cocktails that sip and smell of the 1920s. 

Gina mentions that the Happy hour is phenomenal as these normally expensive appetizer and drinks are half price. Happy hour all day Monday and 3-6 Tuesday-Friday. At brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 2:00pm you can enjoy bottomless mimosas for $15 

You can enjoy live music Thursday – Sunday 7-10pm. 

Bagby Beer – 601 South Coast Highway, Oceanside Opens Monday-Saturday 11am and Sunday at 10am. Per their website, “We are open as late as business dictates; our kitchen is open until at least 9PM nightly (later on Fridays & Saturdays), and the bar is open at least an hour after the kitchen closes.”

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Bagby Beer is the sheer size of the place at 8500 sq feet. Even though it is so large, they have managed to make it feel comfortable with the different rooms and patios. This would be a good place to bring kids if you have them as it is casual and friendly. The brewery serves 24 of their own beers plus guest beers bringing their total to over 30 taps. Check out the review from Craft Beer of San Diego of their beer. 

Bagby’s has several unique things going for it besides the number of beers. First, their food is amazing, and they offer an almost entirely full-scratch kitchen. Nearly everything on the menu is made in house (except for bread and tortillas – which are both made in San Diego). Second, instead of your typical Sunday brunch, they do a breakfast burrito bar (10am-12 noon). Third they have a Tuesday Trivia night starting at 7pm with specials and also prizes. 

Super busy on weekends but you can make a reservation 

Ethnic Food

Dija mara – Dija Mara is Indonesia food.

On coast Highway is Priveteer pizza. They have open mike night with Comedians and sometimes like music. 

Yummy Pho – 4225 Oceanside Blvd, Oceanside 760-631-1800
Open 10am-9:30pm daily

Yummy Pho service traditional Vietnamese food such as Pho Noodle Soup, Spring Rolls, Egg Rolls, and Bahn Mi Sandwiches

Gina especially loves the Pho Noodle Soup when we do get the occasional cold and rainy day in San Diego. The owners are very helpful. They will ask you a few questions about how spicy you want the broth, the kind of meat (or not), and how many veggies. The soup is really inexpensive (around $10) for how much you get. She mentioned that they get spring rolls with chicken or prawns first as appetizers. 

Wine Tasting

Orfila – The Orfila vineyard is in Escondido but the tasting room is in Oceanside off of Cleveland and Gina claims that the wine is exceptional.

Coomber. Great winery on Oceanside Blvd with a nice outdoor area in back. 

Oceanside Harbor Area

Harbor Area – The Harbor area is super touristy year around but not super crowded except 4th of July. She mentioned that there are a bunch of restaurants that are really good. 

Whale and Dolphin tours. Gina loves the tours given by this company. She mentioned that they are very reasonable and very knowledgeable.

There are lots of airbnb rental areas near the Harbor. Gina used to rent the Marina del Rey condos when she was still living in Arizona. She says it is easy to walk to the harbor from Marina del Rey.

Surfing, Jet ski, paddleboard rentals. Great flat place to bike ride as it is nice and flat.  

Bike the Coast Event – Bike the coast is the 1st weekend in November in Oceanside.

Oceanside Turkey Trot 5K Run – The Turkey Trot is one of the largest running events in San Diego.

Hiking in Oceanside

Guajome Regional Park Trail is a lovely hike with long, big wide paths. You’ll find lots of hiking trails here. 

Buena Vista Audubon – The audobon is a cute 2 story educational center where you can learn about birds and from the second story, you can borrow the binoculars and bird watch. You might want to take a nice stroll through the trails for more bird watching.

Shopping in Oceanside

If you are looking to do a lot of serious shopping. Oceanside is not the place to go although they do have some little shops on main street.  For serious shopping go south to Del Mar, La Jolla or Solana Beach as you will find that Oceanside is more of a beach town.

The closest mall, The Shoppes at Carlsbad, is officially in Carlsbad but it is on the border of Oceanside. You’ll find a lot of great restaurants going in but the mall is being rebuilt so not a lot of shopping yet.

Learn more about Sheri Menelli and the Things to Do in San Diego Podcast