What to do in Oceanside California with kids

We all know San Diego and Carlsbad are great for kids, but if you’re overlooking Oceanside, you’re missing the opportunity for a prime vacation that includes beachfront, a funky town, and easy access to the best of San Diego county. They say Oceanfront is ‘rising’ for a reason. Here’s what not to miss with kids or without:

Around town:

Surf lessons: Oceanside has a long surfing history (be sure to stop in at the small surf museum downtown). Whitlock Surf Experience has surf lessons for all abilities, or if you already know how to surf, you can hire a surf guide to show you local favorite spots! Tip: be sure to check out the small but thorough surf museum a few blocks inland, too.

Scooters: Ride Oside offers fat tire electric scooter bikes, the way to see Oceanside for parents and older kids and teens. You can rent them on your own or opt for a guided tour. They’re located just up from the beach at 306 N. Cleveland Street.

Helicopter rides: Waverider Helicopter Tours is a two-person operation out at the Oceanside airport, just three miles from the pier. Their prices are per ride, not per person, making them a really good value for up to three passengers at a time. We tried out their 10-minute scenic tour of the Pacific, but there are a range of options that work well for both families and date night. If you have more than three people, no worries: for the shorter flights, everyone just takes turns. For date night, they offer tours that stop in wine country or at sunset or night.

Pier and harbor fun:

Beach time: California has public beaches galore, and in Oceanside, the Strand stretches multiple blocks, with beach access. Children’s playgrounds dot this pedestrian and car promenade, and there are public lifeguard stands all throughout. Head out on the pier for a meal at Ruby’s, and rent beach gear, bikes, and surreys right below the pier area (where you’ll also find shave ice and other snacks).

Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding: boards and kayaks can be rented at the harbor (about one mile from the pier). You can either use them in the calm water right at the harbor or go outside the wall to enjoy some swells, too.

Where to stay: Springhill Suites Marriott

Located one block from the beach, this Marriott hotel is far from cookie-cutter. It features a fun, modern design with a 2nd floor outdoor deck space for lounging, a rooftop pool and hot tub, a nicely appointed fitness room, WiFi, and complimentary breakfast. The rooms are spacious with balconies and bathtubs, and while only valet parking is available, several city lots are within a block or two.

Note: there is construction currently in the works in front of the hotel (which will eventually result in another hotel going up on the beach), so right now, there is some construction noise. The Marriott is very nicely sound-proofed, however; once I closed my balcony door, I could hardly hear the construction, and of course, it’s absent at night. There are ear plugs and white noise machine in the rooms for you, however. 

Read our guide to dining in Oceanside.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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