7 Best Hidden Gems In Oceanside, California (2024)

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Want to know all the best hidden gems in Oceanside, California? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

We recently took a weekend getaway to Oceanside, and let me tell you, we had the best time exploring it’s best hidden gems.

For this trip we didn’t have any plans set in stone.

But we did have a few different ideas of things to do just in case.

Oceanside Pier, California

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Best Hidden Gems In Oceanside

Oceanside is a small coastal town between San Diego and Orange County.

Being near a Marine Corps base (Camp Pendleton), it’s a popular place for families to visit their loved ones stationed here and a popular place for those temporarily stationed here to venture out and explore the area.

Oceanside has a little bit of everything from wine tasting rooms, to whale watching, to historic Missions, and more.

You can see our full trip itinerary in this video on our YouTube Channel.

1. Oceanside Pier

Start your day with a morning stroll along the Oceanside Pier before it gets too crowded with beachgoers.

The sun rise is so pretty along the calm water.

We had the pier all to ourselves except for the occasional fishermen.

Once we made our loop around the pier, we decided to walk over to the harbor village to schedule a whale watching tour with Oceanside Adventures and get some breakfast.

By the time we made it over there and had our tour booked, it was about 10 am.

Oceanside Adventures Whale Watching Tour - Oceanside, CA
Oceanside Adventures Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours

2. Stratford at the Harbor

We had a 10% off coupon for breakfast at Stratford at the Harbor in the village, which looked pretty busy.

So we figured it had to be good, so we stopped in.

bacon cheese and avocado omelette with hashbrowns - Stratford at the Harbor - Oceanside, California
bacon cheese and avocado omelette with hashbrowns

Breakfast has never really been my favorite meal, but occasionally the mood strikes me to have a huge breakfast feast.

Today we decided to each go with our own omelette.

Macho Omelette With Potatoes - Stratford at the Harbor - Oceanside, California
Macho Omelette with Potatoes

We also were each able to pick 2 extra sides so we went with hashbrowns, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and coffee cake.

side of coffee cake - Stratford at the Harbor - Oceanside, California
side of coffee cake

It was a very delicious, filling, and well priced breakfast!

side of biscuits and gravy - Stratford at the Harbor - Oceanside, California
side of biscuits and gravy

3. Rockin’ Baja Lobster Bar and Grille

After breakfast we still had about 45 minutes to kill before our whale watching tour, so we went next door to the cantina at Rockin’ Baja Lobster Bar and Grille (yes, at 11 am).

Rockin' Baja Lobster - Oceanside, California
Rockin’ Baja Lobster

We decided on a fish bowl to share between the two of us because why not.

shipwreck fish bowl - Rockin' Baja Lobster - Oceanside, California
Shipwreck Fish Bowl

What we didn’t know we would find is the best (and only) chips and salsa self-serve bar we’ve ever had.

We weren’t planning on eating anymore but we figured we could still snack on some chips so we got a little bit of every type of salsa they have.

Did I say that this was all FREE? Because it IS!

chips and salsa bar - Rockin' Baja Lobster - Oceanside, California
chips and salsa bar

4. Whale Watching in Oceanside

Now it’s finally time for our whale watching tour!

We had checked online to see if they had spotted any whales recently and our chances were not looking good, but there had been plenty of dolphin sightings which was good enough for us.

I just wanted to get out on the water.

It was nice and sunny and warm enough with a light jacket.

We bought a small baja blanket like the one below at the harbor village before boarding the boat because I didn’t want to get cold from the wind and I’m so glad I did!

It was perfect for keeping my legs and feet warm.

For the first half we didn’t see a whole lot, but once we were all the way out there, we saw tons of dolphins!

Harbor Village - Oceanside, California

Click Here To Book Your Oceanside Whale Watching Tour Today!

5. Mission San Luis Rey

After the tour, we walked back to the hotel.

We used that time to figure out what we wanted to do next.

We decided to check out Mission San Luis Rey since it was only about a 20 minute drive.

Mission San Luis Rey - Oceanside, California

Over the years, we’ve visited several other missions in California and hope to eventually see them all.

Each one has so many unique qualities.

I recommend checking out any of them if you ever have the time.

Mission San Luis Rey - Oceanside, California

This one didn’t have as many places to walk through since it is active, but it had a museum and you could walk through the church and the cemetery.

After the mission, we drove back to the hotel so we could leave our car there before going out for the night.

Mission San Luis Rey - Oceanside, California

Click Here To Purchase Your Admission To Mission San Luis Rey Today!

6. Coomber Craft Wines

Once we got back we decided to walk into Downtown Oceanside to check out a new wine bar the front desk had recommended called Coomber Craft Wines.

We also had a 2 for 1 tasting coupon that definitely influenced our decision to go.

This wine bar was so good!

It was a little pricier than places we usually go to, but with the coupon it made it reasonably affordable for us.

I decided to go with a mix of whites and reds for my flight and JP went with all reds which is generally what we both opt for when we go wine tasting.

We also like to buy a bottle of our favorite wine from each place we visit so we can keep enjoying it once we’re back home.

Coomber Wine Bar - Oceanside, California
From Left to Right:
Coomber Family Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Lemoncake Chardonnay 2014
Vintner’s Collection Riesling 2014
Surfer Girl Pinot Noir 2017
Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Coomber Family Zinfandel 2017

This wine bar, like many others offer deals when you buy their wine.

If you buy 2 bottles, your tasting fee is waived!

Since we had our 2 for 1 coupon, we ended up paying for just the 2 bottles we purchased so both of our tastings were FREE!

The two best in our opinions were the Private Reserve Pinot Noir and the Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.

We liked them so much we even kept the bottles as a reminder!

Coomber Wine Bar - Oceanside, California
From Left to Right:
Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir 2016
Signature Collection Pinot Noir 2013
Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
Surfer Girl Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Signature Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Coomber Family Zinfandel 2017

7. Local Tap House and Kitchen

After the wine bar we were finally ready for dinner.

I had scoped out some dinner places before the trip and my first choice was validated from the front desk at Wyndham, so we checked out Local Tap House and Kitchen.

We love deviled eggs so of course we had to get those an appetizer.

They have different ones each day and when we happened to go it was something spicy but we don’t remember what.

We each decided to go with our own entree this time because we couldn’t decide on a sandwich to share.

I went with the Short Rib French Dip sandwich and JP went with the Crabby Patty sandwich and both were delicious.

We took pictures of our sandwiches, but they turned out blurry, so you can check out the Local Tap House and Kitchen website to see a full menu with pictures.

We ended up taking home leftovers and it was all just as good the second time around.

Deviled Eggs - Local Tap House and Kitchen - Oceanside, California
Deviled Eggs, Local Tap House and Kitchen

There’s lots more we want to do around Oceanside, so we’ll definitely be back and we’ll give you more tips!

Where to Stay in Oceanside

Due to some of our amazing work perks we were able to stay at Wyndham Oceanside at the Pier for 2 nights for less than $100!

This resort is the perfect location for doing anything in Oceanside.

It is literally right at the pier, walking distance to the harbor village, and walking distance to all of the bars and restaurants downtown.

When we checked in they gave us a whole run down of everything the resort offers and brochures of things to do in the area (with additional discounts!).

It gave us some inspiration to make plans for the next day.

Once we got up to the room we were in love!

The bathroom had a HUGE jacuzzi (once again).

I was so bummed I didn’t bring a bath bomb with me.

What a missed opportunity!

I still was able to enjoy it anyway though with just the jets and some snacks.

At this point in the evening it was already 9 or 10 pm.

So we decided not to venture out anywhere and just rest up for the next day.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Club Wyndham Oceanside Pier Today!

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More Fun Destinations To Visit Near Oceanside

Oceanside is right in the middle of other popular destinations in Southern California like San Diego, Orange County, and some unique small towns.

Here are some of our favorite destinations within a couple hours of Oceanside.

☀️ Temecula

The Temecula Valley Wine Region is situated just Northeast of Oceanside.

It’s a perfect day trip or weekend getaway for wine tasting, hot air balloons, spas, and spending time outdoors.

We’ve compiled a list of all of our favorite Temecula Wineries you should try to visit when you go!

Briar Rose Winery in Temecula

☀️ San Diego

A great place to start is our San Diego Weekend Itinerary which is a general overview of the highlights of visiting San Diego.

The San Diego Zoo and La Jolla are popular spots for animal watching and are great activities whether it’s your first visit to San Diego or you’ve been multiple times.

We also have guides on different neighborhoods throughout San Diego including The Best Things To Do In North Park and The Best Things To Do In Ocean Beach.

San Diego is also home to a variety of wine tasting rooms and we’ve compiled our San Diego Urban Wineries Ultimate Guide to help you plan out which ones are worth visiting.

Throughout the year, San Diego also hosts a variety of seasonal activities.

Fall in particular is a great time to visit with Halloween and Christmas events going on from September and into October and November.

If you’re visiting in the Winter months to escape the cold weather in the rest of the country, be sure to check out our guide on “Does It Snow In San Diego?“, so you can plan accordingly.

When planning your trip to this area of Southern California, you’ll also want to explore some of the hotels and resorts in the areas you want to visit.

I highly recommend the Welk Resorts San Diego One Bedroom villa if you’re looking to stay outside of town or in close proximity to more than one of the destinations mentioned in this post.

Last but not least, you’ve got to eat while you’re in San Diego.

Check out our guides for the best Birthday Restaurants, Best Restaurants With A View, Best Italian Restaurants, and the Best Seafood Restaurants.

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

☀️ Ramona

Ramona is a small town East of San Diego.

It’s known for being a budding wine region, one of the youngest in California.

But they have been performing very well in wine competitions despite this.

Check out our Wine Tasting In Ramona Guide featuring the 5 best wineries to visit in this area.

Ramona Wine Tasting

☀️ Julian

Julian is a historic gold rush mining town just past Ramona.

Today it’s best known for its apples, especially all the mom and pop bakeries serving the very best apple pies.

It’s a great place to visit all year round, but in Fall is when they really shine.

Check out our post highlighting all the best Things To Do In Julian In The Fall.

julian california town hall

Conclusion: Best Hidden Gems In Oceanside

As you can see, there are a variety of activities for enjoying an amazing weekend in Oceanside.

Due to it’s location, it’s a destination that can be enjoyed all year long.

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How to Have the Best Weekend in Oceanside California