Oceanside Hidden Gems
Our biggest Hidden Gem is hidden in plain sight! “Welcome to Oceanside!” is what you will hear as you enter the California Welcome Center. Our visitor center receives more than 60,000 visitors each year and has a fantastic group of volunteers that are friendly and eager to provide helpful information and tips to you and your group when exploring Oceanside and the greater San Diego County. Additionally, the visitor center sells discount attraction tickets, local gifts, and souvenirs!
Points of Interest
Have you stood in the center of the locally-coined ‘Clapping Circle’?👏 As you visit the Oceanside Harbor, you’ll be greeted by a roundabout with a little mystery… Many locals claim that if you clap while standing in the middle of the circle, you’ll hear an odd squeak instead of a normal clapping sound.👂❗ Have you heard it? 🧐
Heritage Park Village
Have you visited Heritage Park Village and Museum in O’side? Located a short walk from Mission San Luis Rey, this spot was first established in 1970! While there, enjoy a picturesque gazebo that has historically served as the centerpiece for countless Oceanside events, the old Blade Citizen (newspaper) building, the Libby School House dating back to the mid-1800s and more historic treasures!
Photo by: @carlitaxyz
Sea Lion Island
Sea Lion Island is a sight you won’t want to miss at the Oceanside Harbor! Say ‘hello’ to these vocal locals sunbathing and barking just beyond the Small Craft Harbor Fishing Pier on N. Harbor Drive.📍 Whether you pass them on a walk or pack a picnic to enjoy their company, the Oceanside sea lions are a must-see in the city. ✔️
*PRO TIP* Be sure to keep a safe distance to respect these harbor neighbors when you visit.😉
Oceanside's First Post Office
This hidden gem is a historical landmark in O’side! Located at 517 Seagaze Drive is Oceanside’s first ever post office! According to the Oceanside Historical Society the building was first dedicated as a permanent post office in January 1936. The building features two Works Progress Administration (WPA) elements, including a mural of the San Luis Rey Valley on the interior of the building and a wooden Coat of Arms above the doorway. Have you noticed this historical landmark before? ✉️ 👀
St. Mary's Star of the Sea
Have you noticed St. Mary Star of the Sea Church on Pier View Way before? This hidden O’side gem features Mission Revival architecture and was originally built in 1927! In the early ’20s, Oceanside’s population was around 3,500 residents and St. Mary Star of the Sea was constructed to serve the growing community. You may even hear the glorious bell tower chiming as you enjoy the downtown area.
Have you discovered Artist Alley🎨 located between Mission Avenue and Pier View Way in downtown O’side? This colorful alleyway lined with vibrant murals is the perfect spot to take a fun photo with a unique background and to enjoy Oceanside’s Art Walk – a first Friday of the month street market featuring pop-up art galleries and handcrafted artisan goods for purchase. As one of California’s first 14 designated cultural districts, Oceanside’s Artist Alley is a fun hidden gem to explore in a city that celebrates innovation and art for everyone to enjoy!
Buccaneer Beach Park
Visit Buccaneer Beach Park located in South Oceanside for a little park escape in O’side!☀️ The park offers a grassy area, jungle gym, basketball court, gazebo and picnic tables for the public to enjoy. Plus, you can grab a bite to eat Buccaneer Cafe serving up breakfast burritos and lattes for you to enjoy in the park.
Oceanside Civic Center
This hidden gem can be found under the arched gateway of the Oceanside Civic Center.📍This bright courtyard was designed by Charles Moore in 1990, and emulates the style of renowned architect Irving Gill. Just beyond the Civic Center Pathway, you can enjoy a unique water feature situated under a golden fountain sculpture decorated with 22 colors of tile. 🎨
Mission San Luis Rey
Skull and Crossbones
Have you seen the “Skull and Crossbones” at the entrance of Mission San Luis Rey‘s cemetery in Oceanside?⛪ ☠️ This historical landmark was featured as a backdrop in the popular “Zorro” television series starring Guy Williams. The episode “Zorro Rides to the Mission”, which aired on October 24, 1957, was where the entrance to the cemetery made its Hollywood debut. Pretty cool, right?! You can still see some of the original Disney props at the Mission today – such as the original cemetery gate set pieces!
Photo by Oceanside Historical Society
The Blade-Tribune Newspaper Building
The Blade-Tribune Newspaper Building located at 401 Seagaze Drive was built in 1936, designed by renowned architect Irving Gill. The notable motif in the front of this building was recently uncovered revealing Gill’s design and the name of Oceanside’s longest published newspaper.
The building is now home to the Blade 1936 restaurant, a name given as an ode to its history. You’ll still find many of the original elements to this 6,000 sq. ft. structure including the Modern and Art Deco architecture, second-floor offices and newspapers printed from the 1930s to 1960s. Be sure to check out this historical spot the next time you Visit Oceanside!
Photo by Oceanside Historical Society
Pier View Way Scuplture
This sculpture located on the west side of Pier View Way, at Myers Street, was created by Steven L. Rieman in 2004. Crafted from stainless steel, corten steel and cast concrete panels, it is fittingly named “The Last Wave of the Day”. It honors Oceanside’s surf history and welcomes all to the downtown beach region. 🌊
Be sure to check out this unique sculpture the next time you Visit Oceanside!
Photo by Holly Culberson
El Camino Real Bells
Have you noticed the El Camino Real bells around Oceanside and wondered the meaning behind them?
El Camino Real is Spanish for “The Royal Road” and appropriately the name for the historic California Mission Trail that connects all 21 missions.
The bells were established in 1904 by Mrs. Armitage Forbes to mark the original route of El Camino Real from San Diego to Sonoma. Each bell is inscribed, “El Camino Real 1769-1906.” The dates reflect the founding of the first Mission in 1769 and the dedication of the first bell in Los Angeles in 1906.
Photo by Mission San Luis Rey
Harbor Tiki Sculptures
Pass the Harbor Playground and take a loop around the infamous Clapping Circle to find these unique tikis! 🗿 Two carved sculptures by local Tikiman Artist, Anthony Senvisky, are fixtures to the Oceanside Harbor. These in-ground Mexican fan palm tikis have been donated for the love of the city and the water. 💙
Behind these fun finds around the city, Oceanside’s vibrant history is perhaps the greatest gem of them all! With such unique city roots dating back to the early days of Mission San Luis Rey’s earliest settlers, Oceanside is a city built on ingenuity, creativity and a lust for coastal retreats that date back to the 1800s. With a vibrant tourism history and beautifully preserved downtown historical landmarks that can still be viewed today, there is so much to learn about when it comes to understanding the heart and soul of Oceanside. If you’re interested in a deep dive of a few hot historical topics, check out the history of one of Oceanside’s most historically exclusive neighborhoods: St. Malo or the popular vacation rental: Roberts Cottages, loved for its epic location along The Strand. You can even become an expert on our iconic Oceanside Pier and its many iterations that led to the structure we know and love today or get up to speed with the history of our Oceanside Harbor – a beautiful escape that remains an important part of the city’s outdoor recreation landscape!