When planning a trip with the family, whether it’s just for the day or an extended vacation, the most common question parents ask themselves before hitting the road is: “Will the kids have fun?” We totally get it! Creating new and memorable experiences are key factors for any family vacation. Rest assured Oceanside is the perfect family destination for your kiddos to enjoy some time away from home just as much as you will. The city is full of wide-open spaces for little ones to run out their energy, wildlife adventures to keep them engaged and educational experiences to incorporate a little learning into that upcoming trip. Plus, you can always count on hanging out at the beach, exploring the area on bicycles, or even renting kayaks as great outdoor activities as well. We put together a list of fun and unique hands-on activities that are perfect for kids of all ages!
If you are traveling in a group for a special family reunion or holiday trip and are looking for room blocks or special accommodations, please contact the Visit Oceanside Group Travel Department.


A trip to Oceanside wouldn’t be complete without spending time at the beach and sticking your toes in the water! Throughout the year you will find local O’siders and visitors alike enjoying the beach, surfing the waves and basking in the year-round beautiful weather. Make it a hands-on experience by creating a sandcastle village, using your imagination to create moats and homes for the entire family.  As the sun begins to set, cozy-up with some beach blankets and watch the stars begin to appear. Don’t forget to pack a couple of snacks and treats for everyone!

Explore the markets

Get out and about in O’side and visit the Thursday Farmer’s Market. Market Day is a delightful way to mingle with the locals and purchase fresh, organic produce, flowers and scrumptious baked goods. Shop through the evening too at the Sunset Market! Every Thursday from 5-9pm, you can shop from hundreds of merchants, tastemakers, food vendors and more to enjoy cultural influences from around the world right in the heart of Downtown Oceanside. Located in the Inland Valley neighborhood of Oceanside, is a locally owned and operated farm stand. Check out Mellano Farm Stand if you’re looking for a family friendly day spent out in the sun. Enjoy their robust calendar of events including Community Block Parties and holiday festivals with live music and food trucks available to enjoy. You can ride along on a fun tractor ride, have the kiddos experience some curated crafts, go strawberry picking at their U-Pick or shop the local farm stand with a fresh selection of produce and seasonal flowers!

Visit The Museums

Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) is a cultural jewel located in downtown Oceanside. The museum is housed within a classic Irving Gill designed building that represents the flavor of Southern California in the 1930s. The museum hosts a variety of events and programs throughout the year including hands-on events for kids, camps and museum tours with a child’s perspective. Just down the road from OMA is the California Surf Museum (CSM). Founded in 1986, CSM showcases an incredible collection of memorabilia chronicling the history of surfboards in addition to featuring revolving exhibits throughout the year sharing the richest troves of wave-riding history . The museum is also the permanent location of the infamous Bethany Hamilton shark bitten surfboard, as depicted in the movie Soul Surfer.


Getting out on the water and seeing animals in their natural environment is an amazing experience that will definitely be a long-lasting memory for children of all ages. Year-round whale watching cruises leave daily from Oceanside Harbor giving visitors the chance to see blue or gray whales (depending on the season), dolphins, sea lions, pelagic birds and more during a trip.  With our coastline directly in the path of the annual whale migrations, Oceanside is an ideal destination to go whale watching!


Oceanside has an incredible history within the action sports industry. As the birthplace of the famous Transworld SKATEboarding magazine, local North County skaters have been setting trends and leading the skateboarding movement from the very beginning. As a result, many surf and skate manufacturing and retail suppliers call Oceanside home. Complimenting the surf and skate lifestyle, the City of Oceanside has built and currently maintains five local skateboard parks including Prince Memorial Skate Park, John Landes Park, Libby Lake Park, Martin Luther King Park, and Melba Bishop Park. These local resources attract skaters of all ages and all skill levels, inviting them to develop and refine their skills and to express themselves through the physical activity of skateboarding. Our own California Welcome Center has a new exhibition, The History of Skateboarding, which showcases the progression of skating over the years through changing board styles and even includes boards from legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk and his professional skateboarder son Riley.

Skaters must wear appropriate protective gear at all times. Riders who do not follow this and any other posted rules may be asked to leave the park.

Experience Guajome Park

Guajome Regional Park offers its visitors a unique blend of history and outdoor experiences! At one end of the park stands a historic adobe ranch house built in the 1850s. From there the park stretches two miles westward and encompasses some of the most diverse habitats to be found in any county park. You’ll enjoy opportunities to hike, picnic, ride horses, fish and camp. It’s the perfect spot to spend a day with the fam!


Renting bikes and exploring a new city is exciting!  While on bike, you are free to look around and spot the details within a community easily missed when traveling in a car. While in Oceanside, compliment your biking adventure with a history lesson and ride to Mission San Luis Rey! If you are staying in downtown Oceanside, you can rent a motorized or traditional bicycle and hop on the San Luis Rey Bike Trail for approximately 7 miles until you reach this historic landmark. Mission San Luis Rey was built in 1798 and is one of the 21 California Missions. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour or visit the Mission Museum for a nominal fee. 

More: Fun on the San Luis Rey Bike Trail


Stretch your legs and get inspired! Take the kids on a colorful mural walk throughout the city. Oceanside has an impressive collection of public art painting the streets, many of which were executed by local artists and SoCal natives. View the map with a snapshot of murals throughout the city to decide the walking path you’ll take. On the way, you’ll pass by local cafes and lunch spots – perfect pit stops to make a fun day out of the mural adventure!

BVAS Nature Center

The Buena Vista Audubon Society (BVAS) Nature Center rests along the shores of the Buena Vista Lagoon, which is the only freshwater lagoon in Southern California.  The Nature Center is a wonderful resource for those that are curious about the birds, mammals and insects that call the lagoon home.  Throughout the year, the community is invited to the Nature Center to participate in guided bird walks and educational events. There are special children’s events including storytimes and art days.


The Oceanside Pier is one of the most visited locations in our beautiful city.  It is a fun spot to just hang out during the day and even grab your camera to take a photo as the sun sets below the horizon. Walking along the pier is a fun activity for the entire family.  As you walk down, count the birds flying by, see dolphins jumping out of the water and cheer on the surfers as they catch a wave.  If you bring some extra change, you can even use the coin operated binoculars to spot sailboats in the distance. Whether you’re a family of first-timers or an adventurous sport fisherman, O’side is the perfect spot to reel in your next catch. Fishing with the family from the Oceanside Pier is a memorable outdoor adventure! 

Published: May 18, 2023

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