15 Top Things to do in Oceanside as a Family


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Oceanside, is always a treasured memory to me when I think of it. Growing up our family spent many summers here.

So, from experience we got our top 15 things to do in Oceanside with your family.

What is Oceanside Known for?

You may be wondering what exactly is Oceanside known for? To most locals say the least it’s known as a city full of life.

From beaches to many indoor and outdoor activities you can sure find something to do for the family around here.

It’s also considered a surfing destination of Northern San Diego. It’s not uncommon to see many surfers flocking the beaches here.

To me Oceanside was a family get together. Often, exploring these blue beaches was our go to place.

My parents loved taking us to these waters afterall it was free and of course you had a lot of nearby attractions as well.

What is there to do in Oceanside?

You may be planning a trip here or even curious to find out what there is to do in Oceanside.

Well, it all comes down first I feel to your preferences. If you are on a budget then most likely you will be looking for free things to do.

On the other hand if money isn’t a factor then we recommend to make the most of your time here as a family.

But, don’t worry! We will give you some ideas to do both free and not as a family so read on.

Photo by Jude Beck 

Things to do in Oceanside as a Family

Here are our 15 top things to do in Oceanside as a family. This list is from our experience.

As my sister and I grew up later on we explored other things to do in Oceanside by ourselves. Things our parents didn’t get the chance to do with us.

See Mission San Luis Rey

There’s no better place to learn about the history of a city than seeing it through its mission.

Afterall, this California state carries so much history dating from Spain, Mexico to finally U.S rule.

But, well, save that history story for another time. There is a lot to see here as a family.

From the forming of the mission to the dormitories that once was home to the Native Americans to even the downfall of the soldiers barracks.

They offer self-guided tours and also special tours such as behind the scenes. There is an entrance fee of $7 for adults and kids is $3.

You can find out more on their homepage.

Photo by Tegan Mierle 

Go Camping in Oceanside as a Family

Why not camp as a family? This was one of my father’s favorite things to do as a family.

For my mom not so much her cup of tea. But, there were a few times my dad would win this one and we would all go camping together as a family.

You do have several options here if you are thinking of camping. There is:

Located: 3000 Guajome Lake Road, Oceanside, CA
Offers: 33 campsites, basketball court, playground
Rates: Night for a family cabin is $100
**For more information on pricing visit their site

Located: 1510 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA
Offers: Onsite laundry center, solared facility, pool
Rates: Daily rate for tents is $70 and Back-in less than 31 is $95
**For updated pricing check out their website

Located: 1510 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA
Offers: 102 campsites, onsite grocery store, fire pits
Allows: Dogs (must be leashed)
Rates: $59-$99
**For updated pricing see their homepage

whales in water
Photo by Dick Martin 

See the Wildlife

There’s no better way to observe wildlife than by the sea. When I was a kid, my parents would take us to the beach and I would often run in the water and put on my goggles and hunt for wildlife.

There are several places you can go as a family to see nature at it’s prime time. These are a few places:

Oceanside Adventures
Cost: Adults $39, Children $29

Pacific Marine Charters
Cost: Must call to get rates

Helgren’s Oceanside Sportfishing Trips Inc.
Cost: Adults $35, Children $25

These tours usually last around 2 hours. They are all located on the Oceanside Harbor Village. 

Photo by Denise Jans

Watch a show at the Star Theatre Company

If you are into performing arts then this place is worth checking out. This theater opened in the 50’s and is the last one standing of 17 theaters that were once designed by architect William Glenn Bach.

 They often have several performances here. Lend me a Tenor, Annie, and Anything Goes are a few shows mentioned that you will see here.

Tickets are $20 for adults and there is student discounts. But, for a more accurate price cost do check out their website.

Photo by Dan Gold

Eat at a Mom and Pop Shop Restaurant

It’s always recommended to try eating at mom and pop shops when you are exploring a new city to get a more authentic feel to the place your visiting.

This isn’t mandatory you are more than welcome to eat known franchise restaurants, but if you want to try some here are some places we highly recommend trying as a family are:

For Breakfast/Lunch:

Don’s Country Kitchen (1938 S Coast Hwy #6433, Oceanside, CA 92054)

This place is known for its biscuits and gravy. They are pet friendly so animals are welcomed here.

What they offer: Bob’s breakfast sandwich, country stuffed hash browns, omelets, burgers, sandwiches, and salads

Beach Break Cafe (1802 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054)

Founded in 1988 by couple Gary and Zell Dwelley it has become a well known spot amongst locals.

What they offer: Banana Crunch French Toast, Veggie Scramble, Huevos Rancheros, sandwiches, salads.

Mary’s Family Restaurant (307 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054)

Is famous for its fried style chicken. But, it also serves other American dishes as well. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

What they offer: fried chicken, pork chops and eggs, sandwiches, fish and chips 

Again, these are a few places mentioned that we have tried. But, feel free to eat not necessarily at these type of restaurants.

Stay at the Fin Hotel

This hotel is one of a kind. It is known as a boutique hotel. It’s beach inspired giving often visitors that nautical comfy feel.

In 1927 it was founded and still operates to this day. Unlike, the other early hotels that no longer exist in this city.

This hotel offers complimentary breakfast, and Free Wi-Fi. But, it doesn’t have a gym nor pool area.

The location of this hotel is convenient for those who don’t have a car. For you can walk to many restaurants and shops that are nearby here.

Photo by Deanna J 

Visit a Museum

There are several museums found here. One well known place is the California Surf Museum. Just as the name implies it is all about the surfing lifestyle.

They are often different types of exhibits here you can explore. You will find many interesting surfboards, and photographs.

And other artifacts that people have donated here. This museum attracts many surf enthusiasts.

The entrance cost is $5 for adults and kids under 11 can come in for free. But, check out their site for an updated listing price.

Another museum worth seeing for all art lovers is the Oceanside Museum of Art. Expect to be amazed from all the different type of artworks showcased. There is a $8 cost to visit this museum.

Rent a Scooter or a Beach Cruiser

There is no better way to cruise along this city’s beach coastline than on a scooter. My sister and I did this.

You have several options here. Ride Oside is common place that offers different type of rentals. You can rent bicycles, or scooters here. They rent per hour and you are looking at anything from $15 to $40. But, check out there website.

There is also Wheel Fun Rentals. This one is definitely more family orientated for they offer kid bikes along with a kid trailer. My sister and I rented the Surrey Beach Cruiser for $28 an hour here.

They offer self-guided tours too! That last about 4-5 hours. Be sure to check out their site for an update on pricing.

Photo by Linda Xu

Kayak, Paddleboard, or Rent a boat

There are many outdoor activities you can do as a family here besides, the previous one mentioned.

Kayaking, paddleboarding, or even renting a boat are some things you can do here in Oceanside as a family.

Places such as Oceanside Boat Rentals that is located on the Oceanside Harbor Village allows you to rent boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and even jet skis for the day.

Single kayaking is $20 starting, and for the pedal boat rentals it’s $23. Visit there website for their current prices.

Photo by Alex Holt 

BBQ or Roast Marshmallows on the Fire Pits

The nice thing about the beaches here is that they provide fire pits and have grills. So why not have a BBQ or roast marshmallows as a family?

Growing up my parents would sometimes bring hamburgers and hotdogs and we would use the grills here to have our own BBQ. Then we would watch the watch beautiful sunset together.

When the sun finally set we would carry on through the night with making smores and roasting marshmallows.

Though, I always got bite at night when those pesky mosquitoes came out it was still my favorite family activity to do.

Anything in Oceanside to do for free?

If you are traveling on a budget as a family we recommend the following things you can do as a family together that is free.

Afterall, sometimes you can’t afford it all. But, what matters the most is being all together and creating those memories even if it was as simple as walking the beach.


Explore Oceanside Harbor Village

This place is definitely worth checking out as a family!

We won’t go over much detail about this place, but if you are interested more about this place feel free to check out:

The Ultimate Guide to Oceanside Harbor Village and 10 Seafood Restaurants in Oceanside Harbor and Nearby.

A quite overview of this place is that it has restaurants, and shops.

There are many boats nestled on the bay here as well. For this place allows people to live in their boats here.

They have a laundry facility to accommodate the people living here.

Photo by Renee Fisher

Walk the Oceanside Pier

Nestled between the Pier View North and South Beach you can find this pier. Many people come here to walk and see the surfers from the top view.

People are allowed to fish here. So, if you are fisher don’t forget to bring your fishing rods. At the end of the pier you will come across the restaurant Ruby’s Diner.

Participate in a Downtown Walking Tour

There is no better way to learn about the history of this city than by participating in a downtown tour. You can catch a tour every second Saturday of the month.

The tours is put together by the Oceanside Historical Society. It’s a 2-hour tour on foot. Here you will learn about some of the historical landmarks along with other buildings.

It’s free, but you can donate if you like. The tour takes place in front of the Oceanside Public Library.

Photo by Renate Vanaga 

See Sunset Market in Downtown

If you are visiting Oceanside as a family on a Thursday then head on over to Sunset Market in downtown.

This place has become a get together amongst locals and takes place every Thursday from 5pm-9pm.

The street is filled with people selling all sorts of stuff. International foods, handmade crafts to even desserts.

You are sure to find something here. Not only can you find food here, but there is also live entertainment.

My sister and I enjoyed walking here and seeing all the crafts made from locals here.

Photo by Valentino Funghi 

Explore the Beaches

There are 7 beaches found here in this city:

  • Harbor Beach
  • Breakwater Way Beach
  • Pier View (broken up into North and South) Beach
  • Tyson Street Beach
  • Wisconsin Street Beach
  • Oceanside Boulevard Beach
  • Buccaneer Beach Park

You got plenty of coastlines to check out here as a family. We recommend checking out: What Everyone Must Know About Oceanside Beach San Diego for a more in-depth guide to these beaches.

Harbor Beach along with the Pier View South Beach was a common place for us in which our parents took us for vacation.

Things to do in Oceanside Pin 2


Oceanside offers many different things to do here as a family. Whether you are on a budget or not you can still get a feel of this city by participating on several indoor or outdoor activities it offers.

Let us know in the comments below if you get the chance to explore this city and what activities you tried as a family.


Jess & Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette, two sisters who founded Unseen Beaches, were inspired by their family’s beach vacations while growing up.

Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the U.S., while also protecting and preserving these beautiful coastal treasures! 🌊❤️

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