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Hit the Road: a 40-mile getaway to Oceanside

This beach city is roughly 45 minutes from downtown San Diego and is perfect for a nearby getaway.

Oceanside Harbor Village | Photo via Canva

Oceanside Harbor Village. | Photo via Canva

Table of Contents

Have you checked out our summer road trip series, Hit the Road? It features an outdoor adventure to San Clemente and a wine and food tour in Temecula.

This month, we’re continuing the series with a 40-mile trip to Oceanside for a quick getaway. From the Oceanside Pier to movie memorabilia, this city in San Diego’s North County offers a little bit of everything — making it the perfect mid-summer vacay.

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area + our insider recommendations.

Drive time: ~45 minutes from downtown San Diego
Est. population: 172,199
Avg. temp in August: 73°

Oceanside, CA Pier

Sunsets + the Pacific Ocean, what an epic pier. | Photo via @ddpho_to

🌊 Things to do

Hit the Beach, The Strand
It’s a no-brainer. You can surf, swim, stroll, kayak, or paddleboard through the city’s three miles of coastline and stop to catch some rays or for marshmallows by a nighttime bonfire.

Oceanside Harbor Village, 280 Harbor Dr. S.
Enjoy some shopping and dining with your ocean views. You’ll also find picture-perfect sights, like the lighthouse + Oceanside sign.

Oceanside Pier, Pier View Way
Nestled between the appropriately-named Pier View South + Pier View North beaches, you can get stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and coastline from this landmark. The 1,942-ft long pier is the perfect place to walk, watch the sunset, or go fishing.

California Surf Museum, 312 Pier View Way
Wave hello to some local history. It’s no secret that surfers love Oceanside, but you don’t need a board to get stoked for this surf lesson.

High-Pie Oceanside

We’re sweet for this pie shop with a side of “Top Gun.” | Photo via @piloting_career_2.0

🍔 Grub to eat

Lighthouse Oyster Bar & Grill, 262 S. Harbor Dr. #201
You’re going to get hungry on your road trip, and we seafood in your future. This restaurant in Oceanside Harbor Village will give tastes and views of the ocean. Check out the menu — walk-in + reservations welcome.

Beach Break Cafe, 1802 S. Coast Highway
All beach days start with breakfast, and this community eatery has all the classics + some new favorites on its menu.

High-Pie, 250 N. Pacific St.
Grab a box of pies at this famous shop. This Victorian bungalow — actually used as a filming location in the original “Top Gun” — has a menu full of pies + plenty of memorabilia.

Cafe 101, 631 S. Coast Highway
This historic cafe has been flipping pancakes and scrambling eggs since 1928. It’s gone through many changes throughout its life and maintains many historic elements in its modern restaurant.

A Vrbo overlooking Oceanside beaches

Beach views and easy beach access. | Photo via VRBO

🏨 Overnight accommodations

If all the fun wears you out and you decide to turn this quick day trip into an overnighter, here are some spots to stay.

Garden Oasis, 999 N. Pacific St.
Fall asleep by the beach in this 2 BD, 2 BA that sleeps up to six people.

The Seabird Resort, 101 Mission Ave.
Experience everything Oceanside has to offer — except the beach traffic — at this beachfront resort. It even lets you get a peek of the experience with its surf cam.

The Green Room, 2020 S. Coast Hwy.
This comfortable + fashionable hotel is perfect for surfing, beach days + date nights.

"Love the O" heart-shaped lock sculpture in Oceanside Harbor.

O yes, we love O’side.

Photo via @casadekona

👀 What to do in 2023

Want to see something new during your trip? There are several additions in Oceanside since we first Hit the Road last summer.

  • Enjoy fresh seafood on the Oceanside Pier from Brine Box, a takeout stand that opened in July.
  • Plan a trip to the theater. “Matilda” comes to the Star Theatre Company this September and the Sunshine Brooks Theater will host its production of “Welcome to Sleepy Hollow” this October.
  • The city unveiled its “Love the O” lock sculpture late last year. Check out the free, public art piece at Oceanside Harbor Beach.
  • Check out Valle, the Baja California-inspired restaurant helmed by acclaimed Chef Roberto Alcocer that opened in the Mission Pacific Hotel in 2021. This July, it was awarded a Michelin star.
  • The city has plenty of music on shuffle, including its ongoing Summer Jam Sessions and free Concerts in the Park series.

Pro trip: Don’t want to drive through downtown Oceanside? Take a ride on the gO’side shuttle this summer or fall.

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