Credit: Luis Garcia

15 Reasons Oceanside Should Be on Your Travel Bucket List This Summer

This San Diego Town Is Buzzing With Hip Hangouts and Beachy Vibes

With its surf and skateboard roots, historic wooden pier, tucked-away harbor and nearby former Spanish mission, the coastal city of Oceanside has something for every type of traveler. Between downtown O’Side (as the locals affectionately call it) and its hipper adjoining neighborhood, South O, you’ll find local boutiques, craft coffee shops, stellar restaurants and museums, including one dedicated entirely to surf culture. With summer quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to explore this laid-back Southern California beach town. From where to stay and shop to the best places to grab pastries, brews, bites and more, here are 15 must-visit places when exploring the up-and-coming city of Oceanside.

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Cococabana

Oceanside Itinerary
Credit: Huy Hoang

Stroll through downtown Oceanside and pop up to Caribbean-style cocktail bar, Cococabana. Located on the rooftop of The Brick Hotel, this umbrella-clad, flamingo-flaunting watering hole is a must-add to your Oceanside summer bucket list. Pouring up an array of unique cocktail options, such as the Pablo Discobar and the O’Side Rider, guests can expect good-time island vibes as they soak in the beats and tunes from local DJs. Fun dishes include the shareable plantain chips and guac with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime, salt and cotija cheese. Another favorite is the Cuban Sandwich: mojo pork, ham, dill pickle, mustard aioli and swiss cheese on a pressed roll. And to add an extra layer of fun, all you brunch lovers will be happy to hear that they host The Brick Hotel Brunch with a mix of Caribbean and Creole entrees on Saturday and Sundays until 3 p.m.!

 

Plantology Café 

On the prowl for plants and pastries? Plantology Café is the perfect pit stop if you love to sip your coffee in style. Perhaps you’ll even walk out with a new plant pal or two! Reflecting the flavors of their hometown in Oaxaca, the owners pour a whole “latte” love into their business, so get ready when you pop into this mural-dressed, foliage-filled paradise. Chug their Chaga Matcha, made with ceremonial grade matcha, wild-foraged chaga, cacao, cinnamon, monk fruit sweetener and your choice of milk—and chomp on the torta Oaxaqueña for a little something different than your average sandwich or panini.

  

Little Fox

One of South Oceanside’s most exciting recent additions is Little Fox, which is already a trailblazer in the ice cream world. Offering flavors such as the Spruce It Up, which features pine tree and ginger toffee notes, they sure know what they’re doing when it comes to branching out of the box. Whether you’re buying your goods in pint or cake form, this spot is the place to satisfy your summer sweet teeth.

Local Insight: Bring the flavor fun to your next event when you book their private ice cream bike!

 

The Brick Hotel

Harboring a rich history since 1888, The Brick Hotel’s building has seen a lot in its lifetime. Previously housing a hardware store, grocery store, other hotels and more, many changes have been made over the years. The property’s renovations restored much of its original integrity, including bringing back the exterior brick and utilizing age-old lumber for luggage racks in the closets. With a restaurant downstairs and Cococabana Rooftop Bar upstairs (where yoga is hosted multiple times a week during the day), this Oceanside hotel is popping off with fun things to experience.

 

Oceanside Sunset Market

Experience a mosaic of sights, sounds and flavors from around the world at the Oceanside Sunset Market. Hosted from 5-9 p.m. all year round and considered “San Diego’s top weekly food and music street fair,” this hub knocks it out of the park when it comes to shopping for treasures and trinkets from across the globe, listening to live music and discovering foods that will transport you to another country. Bring your boo or grab your gaggle of girls and stroll under the market lights as you browse.

 

Mission Pacific Hotel

With its rooftop pool, see-and-be-seen eateries (including “Top Gun House” turned dessert bar, Charlie’s) and bohemian-chic design, Oceanside’s Mission Pacific Hotel instantly made an impression after swinging open its doors in 2021. From the vibey rooftop pool and bar to its 161 stylish guest rooms, the wow factor here never stops. Artwork curated by the Oceanside Museum of Art is featured throughout the hotel, and Mission Pacific even partners with several local brands and vendors, such as Brixton and Pacific Coast Spirits. Pro tip: book the top-floor Ethereal Suite for those sand, surf and dreamy sunset views.

 

Oceanside Pottery Club 

Oceanside Pottery Club’s wheel and hand-building classes are the perfect opportunity to unleash creativity, whether you’re a first-time clay-thrower or you’re looking to hone your skills even more. The Oceanside studio offers private lessons and group events, as well as summer camps for the kiddos. These camps focus on the power of positivity and allow for a good amount of connection time with the kids in order to truly give them the attention needed to grow.

 

Sound By The Sea

Oceanside Itinerary
Credit: Credit: @Evenography

Established by musician and audio expert Dominique Vanhecke, Sound By The Sea puts music at the forefront, serving as a listening bar enhanced by a refined selection of beverages and small plates. Delighting your ears with eclectic sounds from around the world, rotating DJs fix up a fusion of hip-hop, jazz and funk with some soul speckled throughout. Check out @soundbythesea.listen on Instagram and keep an eye on their feed as they announce their upcoming line-ups of artists and upcoming special events!

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Parlor Doughnuts

Oceanside Itinerary
Credit: Parlor Doughnuts

Sandy toes and sweet treats along the shore? Say less! Parlor Doughnuts in Oceanside is steeped in the rich history and timeless combo of doughnuts, coffee and vintage American design. This craft doughnut and coffee shop is known for its layering process, which couples a divine crispiness with a fluffy center. Fall in love with their rotation of flavors, including Campfire, Bourbon Caramel and Raspberry Pistachio…and if you have dietary restrictions, you’re in luck. Keto-friendly and vegan/gluten-friendly options await you, as well as doggie doughnuts for your canine companion!

 

Sea Hive Marketplace

Find the perfect, preloved pair of cowboy boots or that must-have piece of midcentury modern furniture at this charming communal thrift shop. More than 100 vendors have packed their respective booths with treasures for every taste and price pointthink California-inspired home goods at Collective Chic Decor, turquoise squash blossom necklaces at Laurel’s Fine Vintage Jewelry and vacation threads at Our Travels. Swing by Golden Wood Studio for candles, plants and locally-made botanical body products. Feeling more rock ‘n’ roll? Oldfield Vintage has everything from ‘80s skater gear and vintage band tees to Western boots and belt buckles.

 

California Surf Museum

Credit: Lacie Slezak

With a nod from the Encyclopedia of Surfing as “one of Southern California’s most consistent surf spots,” it makes sense that there’s a museum dedicated to the sport of wave riding in Oceanside. Permanent exhibits feature an Al Merrick-shaped board of 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, plus the one Bethany Hamilton rode when a shark attacked her on Kauai. Visitors can geek out over the evolution of the boogie board, the science behind swell direction or the surf memorabilia and artifacts that chronicle the early days of surfing to the present day. Exit through the gift shop for souvenir tees, totes, mugs and pins.

Tremont Collective

Hop in the car (or borrow an e-bike from Mission Pacific) and zip down to the mixed-use lifestyle destination Tremont Collective. Shop apparel and accessories by Oceanside’s homegrown streetwear brand, Brixton (most famous for their fedoras and on-trend-again ‘90s-style bucket hats), or pick up a new pair of Raen shades at Atacama Surf Shop. Also home to cafe-meets-curated home goods store Communal Coffee and Bottlecraft (purveyors of fine brews), visitors can sit down with a caffeinated beverage or grab some craft beers and bar bites for later at this buzzy small business co-op.

 

The Rising Co.

Credit: Mary Carol Fitzgerald

Oceanside’s The Rising Co. is a coastal community hub, retail concept, coffee shop and coworking loft all wrapped into one communal space. “The versatility of the space works because it reflects the community,” says co-owner Julie Ellis. Here, you can shop swoon-worthy goodies from designers and makers, including bags by Rais Case, homewares by ADOBE by Jess Vargas and jewelry by Wild Habit

Local Insight: Check their events and workshops page to see what’s on the calendar this summer!

 

Landmark Plant Co.

Everything from Insta-worthy monstera to fiddle leaf figs and ficus share space with candles, art prints and artisan ceramics at Landmark Plant Co.—a boutique nursery-meets-modish gift shop. The space also holds events like plant swaps and provides on-the-spot advice to newbie plant parents. Shop their lush collection of greenery and prepare to take home some new foliage!

 

Lagree + Versa Fit

Oceanside Itinerary
Credit: @amigasocial

Oceanside is a town blessed with an abundance of boutique fitness studios, and Lagree + Versa Fit is a favorite. This is the place for all your cardio, lengthening and strengthening needs, as the Versa climber format perfectly complements the Lagree Pilates classes. Forty-five-minute workouts mean you’re able to get in, get your sweat on and get out in a reasonable time frame. To top it all off, this studio even houses a cold plunge and infrared sauna, which offer combined health benefits such as improved sleep, decreased inflammation and more.

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Keri Bridgwater is a freelance writer covering travel and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in Fodor’s Travel, Marie Claire, Matador Network and InsideHook, among other outlets and publications.

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