Educational Travel Experiences

Connecting learning curriculum to adventures in Oceanside

“Back to school” this year calls for creativity and ingenuity! As you tailor your student’s curriculum to keep them engaged and excited, we invite you to consider O’side as an extension of your classroom. Make the most of the city’s incredible natural landscape featuring beautiful marine life and aquatic lessons, in addition to the rich historical gems and artistic offerings your student can experience firsthand. Whether you’re schooling with a designated pod, roadschooling, worldschooling, unschooling, or classic homeschooling, Oceanside has activities that will enrich your program and be the perfect supplement to your curriculum.

Candid Classroom Captures

We want to see your students learning in O’side! Be sure to tag @VisitOceanside in your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #VisitOceanside for a chance to have your image featured!

One For The History Books

Seeing a historical landmark in person truly 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 discovered by the Spanish Explorer Portola in 1769 and led to the founding of the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in 1798. The Mission, known for its vast fruit orchards and cattle raising, 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 Mission San Luis Rey, which became 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. 

Mission San Luis Rey

Mission San Luis Rey is the largest of the 21 missions on the California Mission Trail. As the current home to a community of Franciscan Friars, the Mission 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 self-guided tour to 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 archaeological site and local geology.

Scavenger Hunt: Find the El Camino Real bell at the Mission. What’s its significance to the rest of the California Missions?

Historic Pier

Standing 1,942 feet long, the historical Oceanside Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks in our city! Loved by visitors and locals alike, the wooden pier is the perfect location to take a leisurely stroll, go fishing, watch surfers or grab a bite to eat at the charming restaurant located at the very end.

Since it’s original construction in 1888, the Pier continues to serve as the backdrop for signature O’side events, including concerts and performances at the outdoor amphitheater, surf competitions, the IRONMAN triathlon and more. From morning until evening, the Pier is also a great spot to enjoy our coastline’s natural beauty while taking in views of wildlife, the glistening Pacific Ocean and of course those breathtaking Oceanside sunsets!

History Lesson: Learn more about the most popular historical landmark in Oceanside in our blog!


Heritage Park 

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 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 9am to 4pm.

Rancho Guajome Adobe

The Guajome Ranch House, an authentic 1850’s 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. Self-Guided House Tours: Wednesday – Sunday from 9:30am to 4pm.

Fun Fact: 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 and the great horned owl.

Historical Self-Guided Walk

The Oceanside Historical Society serves the community through its museum, website, publications and walking tours. Their mission is to gather, preserve and share the history of beautiful Oceanside. Although the museum and walking tours are on hold, they have created a self-guided walking tour map to experience the historical sites of Oceanside! 

Tip: Make a pit stop on your walk at the former Oceanside-Blade Tribune building for a historic dining experience. The newspaper building is now a new modern Italian kitchen, Blade 1936

Experience California Culture

Experiencing a different culture 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 you’re 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 surf pro. 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.

Trivia: What country did Europeans first observe surfing?

California Surf Museum

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.

Farmer’s Market

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 to 1pm. Enjoy ocean views as you browse the selection of gourmet baked goods, fresh seafood and arts and crafts. With a variety of vendors, the farmer’s market is a wonderful place to eat lunch and relax.

Project idea: See how many country’s cuisines are represented at the market and find those countries on a world map.


Cultural Arts District

As one of California’s designated cultural districts, Oceanside is home to an emerging art scene. Oceanside Museum of Art is a premier regional art museum and a leader of arts and culture. Artist Alley is also a vibrant walkway full of interactive experiences for artists and artisans to enjoy. The historical Sunshine Brooks and Star Theatre provide opportunities for all ages and introduces professional theatrical expression to thousands of schoolchildren each year. Restaurants, wineries and breweries also spotlight local artists and musicians. Keep an eye on our event calendar for cultural events like the upcoming Oceanside Culture Festival

Project idea: Discuss ways in which you’re connected to local cultural landmarks in your community or in what ways various traditions are similar or different from yours.

Flora and Fauna

Grab those field guides and journal about the incredible diversity of Oceanside wildlife. Learn why native and drought tolerant 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 offer valuable learning opportunities in science, geology, geography and animal studies!.

Project idea: Older students 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.

Bird Watching

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. Their nature trail is open and perfect for exploring nature in their wetlands. Bring your binoculars!

Learn more about seasonal birding in Oceanside and what to see when

Trivia: What is the name of our famous pelican and where can he usually be found?

Whale Watching

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 two hours long and are great options for families with children of all ages and abilities. 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.

Trivia: What whale sprays a heart shape from its blow hole?


Cast your line out in the beautiful Pacific Ocean during your next trip to Oceanside. With a variety of locations available for fun and unique fishing experiences, O’side offers prime conditions for everyone, whether you’re a family of first-timers or experienced sport fisherman! Off our shores you can expect to catch a wide array of species, including croakers, surf perch, halibut, sand bass, stingrays, bonito and even sand sharks, just to name a few.
Homework: Try to identify the fish spotted from the Pacific Ocean when you catch one!

Go on a Grunion Run

In the Southern California and Northern Baja region, thousands of grunion, a small 5-6″ silvery fish, annually ride the waves onto the shore to spawn. 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 learn more about these fascinating fish and their unique behavior visit Oceanside Grunion Run.

Trivia: How many eggs does a female grunion lay in one season?

Wild Wonders

Wild Wonders is located in Bonsall, a bordering city to Oceanside, and provides 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.

All Animal Experience tours are by appointment only and must be booked through their Wild Wonders website

Time To Get Creative

Get up close and personal to a variety of visual, performing, fine, modern, photographic and folk arts in Oceanside. With so much inspiration accessible at every corner of the city, it’s the perfect place to get inspired and spark creativity!

Oceanside Museum of Art

The Oceanside Museum of Art programming includes films, virtual art experiences, art classes, lectures and modern art exhibitions every year. With a mission to celebrate art through engagement, education and innovation, OMA engages visitors and members of all ages, interests and occupations when they visit. Check their online calendar for artist experiences and current exhibits.

Studio ACE

Studio ACE has been serving the Oceanside community with art classes for a diverse range of skill levels and ages since 2018. Their studio space has transitioned into the virtual world, where the sky is the limit! ACE now offers fantastic sessions of Virtual Summer Art Camp, with online classes starting September 2020. They will also be bringing popular classes back starting in mid-September, including All About Art for Kids & Teens. Stay tuned on Studio ACE’s website for more details on clay and sewing classes as well as virtual home studio school classes! 


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 neighborhood, 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 and journal what you think the artist was trying to convey. In what ways does the mural reflect the Oceanside culture that you’ve observed?

Oceanside Public Library

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 being hosted.

Learn More

Bring your homeschooling group!

If interested in traveling with your homeschooling group to Oceanside, contact our Group Travel Department to assist you in finding the best lodging based on your needs and budget.


Family Travel

Looking for more fun experiences that your whole family will enjoy? Beyond a classic beach day, there’s a lot that kids love about O’side, making it the perfect family getaway destination!


Published: September 17, 2020

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