Educational Travel Experiences
Connecting learning curriculum to adventures in Oceanside
There is a large variety of “homeschooling” methods and models. Some follow a traditional school approach with the standard curriculum, including assignments and tests, while others are more free-flowing and teach through hands on experiences with learning through immersion. Whichever you are following, there is an agreement that homeschooling lends itself to the freedom of being able to travel and exposes students to different lifestyles, places, and people. Whether you’re roadschooling, worldschooling, unschooling, or classic homeschooling, Oceanside has activities that will enrich your program and be the perfect supplement to your curriculum.
Seeing the land, the fields, the mountains, and the actual objects makes history come alive in a way that reading a book never can.
Oceanside’s history begins in the agriculture-rich San Luis Rey Valley, which was first explored by the Spanish Explorer Portola in 1769, followed by the founding of the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in 1798. The Mission, with its vast fruit orchards and cattle raising activities included a large population of Native Americans. The Indians who were gathered at the Mission were called “San Luisenos” by the Franciscans, later shortened to “Luisenos.” Indians were instrumental in building the Mission compound as they provided the labor. Mission San Luis Rey was the largest building in California when completed and was the most prosperous of the missions, earning the name “King of the Missions.”
Explore the Mission and these other historic points in Oceanside.
Part of the California Mission Trail, Mission San Luis Rey is the largest of the 21 missions, home to a community of Franciscan Friars and is open daily to the public in the Franciscan tradition of heritage and hospitality. Click here to see a map of all of the California Missions. When visiting, take a behind the scenes guided tour on the weekends or a self-guided tour anytime. Learn why the missions are so important to California, its origins, and how we’re connected to them today. Don’t miss the accompanying museum with its collection of beautiful art and artifacts. In the area in front of the Mission you’ll find the partially excavated “lavanderia”. Originally known as the Sunken Gardens, the elaborate “laundry” is where Mission members bathed and washed their clothes. In addition to getting a sense of what life was like in the 1800s, it’s also a fascinating look into an active archaeology site and local geology.
The Mission also offers retreats and events that are open to the public as well as quiet days which are a great time to unplug and be still.
Scavenger Hunt: Find the El Camino Real bell at the Mission. What’s its significance to the rest of the California Missions?
Founded in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration, Heritage Park Village Museum provides a look into the history and culture of Oceanside in the mid-1890’s. When you first enter the beautifully landscaped park, you’ll be greeted by the large, lovely gazebo sitting front and center. You’ll also encounter historical Oceanside landmarks, such as Libby Schoolhouse, “The Blade” newspaper printing office, and the train depot, where an impressively detailed model of 1950’s Oceanside awaits you. Daily Park Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For a more in-depth look into Oceanside’s past, be sure to take a guided tour offered weekends during the summer months.
Tip: For your budding engineer be sure to visit the North County Model Railroad Society onsite.
The Guajome Ranch House, an authentic 1850s adobe hacienda is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The 22-room, 7,000-square-foot historic adobe served as the headquarters of Rancho Guajome, a Mexican land grant. The large rambling Spanish Colonial style hacienda has two courtyards, an arcaded veranda, and a chapel in a former small house. Museum Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday, Guided Adobe House Tours: 12 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday and 2 p.m., Saturday – Sunday, Self-Guided House Tours: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday – Sunday
Tip: While this home is rich in history and artifacts, the adobe is surrounded by wetland open space that is home to a variety of wildlife such as raccoons, ring-necked pheasants, white-tailed kites, least Bell’s vireo and the great horned owl.
Experiencing a different culture firsthand can open doors to a deeper understanding of an unfamiliar place. Learn a little bit about life in Oceanside and California through these local experiences. If following a formal curriculum, these activities fit within history, social studies, and anthropology units.
Nothing says Southern California like surfing! At any point during the day, no matter the time of year, there’s a good chance surfers will be out enjoying the water waiting to catch their next wave, and Oceanside is no different.
One of the best ways to experience the local surf culture is to get your toes wet and take a surf lesson with a local surfer. There are a variety of aficionados who specialize in all things surf that would be happy to teach you the ins-and-outs of the local surf scene.
For those that don’t want to get wet, check out the exhibits at the iconic California Surf Museum in downtown Oceanside. This family-friendly museum has a stunning collection of surfboards showcasing the progression of materials used by surfers from around the world. Additionally, the California Surf Museum has the permanent exhibit featuring the infamous Bethany Hamilton shark bitten surfboard.
The museum actively collects, documents and preserves surfing related artifacts and memorabilia. Through a series of rotating exhibits, the California Surf Museum presents the many facets of this dynamic local culture.
With our world-class waves, chances are there will be a surf contest happening when you’re in town. Check out our calendar of surfing events to see how you can catch the action.
Homework: What country did Europeans first observe surfing?
Farmers and Sunset Markets
Thursday is Market Day in Oceanside! Mingle with the locals and experience Southern California’s cornucopia of fresh produce and flowers at the Farmer’s Market from 9am-1pm. Enjoy ocean views as you browse the selection of gourmet baked goods, fresh seafood, plus arts and crafts. With a variety of vendors, the farmer’s market is a wonderful place to eat lunch and relax. From 5pm-9pm, the sun begins to set and the family-friendly Sunset Market comes alive. This outdoor style festival brings together international food vendors, live entertainment and a children’s area – make an evening of it, stay and eat dinner! The market also includes over 100 arts and crafts vendors, making it a wonderful place to purchase the perfect gift or souvenir.
Project idea: See how many country’s cuisines are represented at the Sunset Market and find those countries on a world map.
Oceanside has a wide ethnic diversity and many cultures are celebrated, including Filipino, Samoan, Hispanic, as well as our indigenous people, the Luiseńo Indians. The largest of these festivals include Dia De Los Muertos which happens annually at the end of October. Learn why this day is so important to Hispanic families and in what ways you can incorporate some of their ways to remember family members who have passed.
Be sure to check our online event calendar to see what festivals are happening when you’re in town.
Project idea: Discuss ways in which you’re connected to these cultures or in what ways their traditions are similar or different from yours.
Flora and Fauna
Grab those field guides and journal the incredible diversity of the Oceanside wildlife. Learn why native and drought intolerant plants are important to Californians and why we take water so seriously. Hear from our local experts on conservation efforts to preserve our biodiversity. These excursions easily meet any science, geology and geography curriculum and animal unit studies.
Project idea: Slightly older kids might enjoy doing a unit study on one particular animal, a group of animals in a specific part of the world, or a certain habitat featured in an enclosure.
The Buena Vista Audubon Society was chartered in 1951 as the coastal North San Diego County chapter of the National Audubon Society and has approximately 2,000 members. Their programs help foster a knowledge and appreciation for the plants and animals that make up the natural ecosystem of our community.
They host regular guided birding walks, field trips and counts for all ages all throughout North County. Check out their calendar to see the next available event.
Trivia: What is the name of our famous pelican and where can he usually be found?
Join one of the daily whale watching trips out of Oceanside Harbor for an AWE inspiring adventure of Dolphin and Whale Watching. Their trips are 2 hours and are great for families and children of all ages and abilities who love the ocean or the wildlife! Get up-close and personal with the marine life you may see minutes away from Oceanside Harbor. Not only will you experience sea life in its natural habitat, but you’ll also get acquainted with a wide variety of seabirds that are special to our climate. The captains, crew, and onboard naturalists of the Oceanside Adventures share more than 20 years of on the water marine life experience.
Homework: What whale sprays a heart shape from its blow hole?
At the absolute southern edge of Oceanside, you’ll find the Buena Vista Audubon Society’s Nature Center. Sited on the Buena Vista Lagoon, the Center offers a variety of natural history experiences. In the course of an afternoon, you can walk amid native plants to see views of the lagoon and its bird life, discover tracks along the shore that reveal the night’s animal visitors, tour the garden of native plants, find the world’s tiniest mammals in one of the exhibits of local habitat, learn what endangered species live in the lagoon and challenge your children with nature games. The Nature Center hosts a variety of programs for all ages.
Enjoy their 1/4 mile nature trail that features a variety of native plants and habitats are represented, which are planted and maintained by the Native Plant Club. They even supply you with an interactive map that helps you identify plants and features along the trail.
Only in Southern Calfornia and Northern Baja, every year hundreds to sometimes thousands of grunion, a small 5-6″ silvery fish, ride the waves onto the shore purposefully beaching themselves as part of their remarkable spawning behavior. This momentous event occurs March through August for three to four days at a time, following a full or new moon and immediately after the tide has reached its highest point. The grunion run schedule is split into two parts, open season and observation only. During open season kids under 16 years old, and those 16+ with a California Sport Fishing License are allowed to catch the grunion. The catch? You must use your bare hands only, no traps or nets are permitted so expect to get a little wet and sandy! Because this is a natural phenomenon there is no guarantee you will see the grunion on any given night. To help increase your chances however, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have put together a schedule of expected grunion runs to maximize your chances of seeing this incredible spectacle. To learn more about these fascinating fish and this bizarre behavior, as well as when to go out to see them, visit Oceanside Grunion Run.
Homework: How many eggs does a female grunion lay in one season?
Wild Wonders is located in Bonsall on the Oceanside border and features a unique way to connect with animals from all over the world. Through live tours and interactive programs, their 120 animal ambassadors and educators will take you on a dynamic adventure you won’t forget. Their motto is “Rescue. Educate. Conserve”, and their educators will share the stories behind the animals, the adaptations they have to help them survive in the wild, and what conservation challenges they face. Their goal is to excite the public and foster a desire to preserve and learn about wildlife, and the important role they play in the planet we share.
All Animal Experience tours are by appointment only and must be booked through their Wild Wonders website.
Oceanside is one the first 14 inaugural California Art Districts designated by the California Arts Council for the State of California, highlighting thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities within the state.. A cultural district, as outlined by the program, is a well-defined geographic area with a high concentration of cultural resources and activities. The 14 districts that comprise the program’s first cohort were selected with variety in mind, intended to help tailor the program to meet the complex needs of a state kaleidoscopic in nature. Get up close and personal to a variety of arts including visual, performing, fine, modern, photography, and folk and everything in between as Oceanside’s art district includes theater, music, art, and makers. You’ll have so many choices on what to do and to see to satisfy all aspects of the art curriculum.
The Oceanside Museum of Art programming includes concerts, films, interactive art experiences, culinary events, art classes and lectures, evening events, docent tours, and chartered travel to other local, national, and international cultural art venues and destinations in addition to more than 15 highly-praised contemporary and modern art exhibitions per year. With a mission to celebrate art through engagement, education, and innovation, OMA engages visitors and members of all ages, interests, occupations, and cultural backgrounds. Check their online calendar for artists talks and current exhibits.
Hill Street Country Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to shaping the growing arts and culture scene in Oceanside and the surrounding North Country region. It strives to create an inclusive and diverse atmosphere that reflects the socioeconomic landscape of our community. To complement the traditional gallery space, they organize pop-up art shops, cultural events and art workshops around our community. Local artists, business and residents all benefit from the interaction that The Hill Street Country Club facilitates.
Artist Alley in Downtown Oceanside is an artistic hub with colorful murals and fun shops and is home to the Artist Alley Interactive and the quarterly First Friday Art Walk supporting our vibrant art community showcasing pop-up art galleries, custom jewelry, dance performances, live music and more.
The historic Brooks Theatre and the Star Theater are both located downtown, and produce a broad range of can’t-miss productions, live music events, educational theatre and outreach programs to the community and more. Additionally, Star Theater has the Star Academy which offers classes in dance, music and drama and houses their show choirs – Star Kids! and Star Glee Club.
Project Idea: Find out what productions are showing when you’re in town and read the script or story in advance.
Oceanside’s passion for art is most obviously portrayed on the exterior of many downtown buildings, both new and old, which often feature vibrant colored murals that seem to almost pop off the walls. With over two dozen murals within the coastal neighborhoods, the best way to experience them is to take a self-guided tour. No need to aimlessly search however, we’ve done the hard work for you by compiling the location and a picture of each mural so that you can create your own route and stop by all of your favorites for that perfect urban selfie!
Project Idea: Choose your favorite Oceanside mural. After taking the obligatory selfie, journal the reasons why you like the mural. What do you think the artist was trying to convey? In what ways does the mural reflect the Oceanside culture that you’ve observed.
The Oceanside Public Library is the cultural heart of Oceanside, empowering the community by promoting literacy, information access, civic engagement, cultural inclusiveness, and openness to new ideas. You’ll find their ideals reflected in its diverse programming. View their calendar to see what events are happening when you’re in town.
Take a look at these unique things to do in Oceanside and how you can incorporate them into your curriculum including the science of flying. These attractions are so much fun for the entire family, they’ll forget that there are lessons involved.
iFLY is the experiential entertainment company that created modern indoor skydiving…they make the dream of flight a reality by giving their customers “wings” in a safe and reliable environment. iFly uses a vertical wind tunnel (VWT) which is a wind tunnel that moves air up in a vertical column. Unlike standard wind tunnels which have test sections that are oriented horizontally, as experienced in level flight, a vertical orientation enables gravity to be countered by drag instead of lift, as experienced in an aircraft spin or by a skydiver at terminal velocity.
The two-hour experience includes hands on training with a professional coach, flight gear rental, and two or more flight rotations. No experience necessary, and its safe for practically anyone from 3 years old and up!
Project: Break out those a math skills to calculate the amount of lift that will be needed in order for you to fly. Below is a great video about the physics behind the flight and how the wind in the wind tunnel is generated.
The fun and challenging experience of an escape room has come to Oceanside! With themes ranging from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to a Prohibition Ransom at Boss-Play Escape Rooms, to 1970’s time capsules at School of Hard Locks, to a time machine or Atlantis theme at Codebreakers Escape Room, there’s sure to be something for everyone! These real-life room escapes are an immersive adventure game in which people are locked in a room with other participants and have to use their wits, persistence and collaboration skills to within a set time limit. Your group works together to escape the locked room in under 60 minutes. Escape rooms are valuable experiences for homeschoolers as they are a great way to develop problem solving, team building, collaboration, and time management skills. The ability to think creatively, critically, and to collaborate under high pressure are skills that will be put to the test.
Project: Build your own escape room. Here is a tutorial to get you started: https://lockpaperscissors.co/escape-room-design-blueprint