Unique and unexpected things to do in Oceanside

Unique & Unexpected Things To Do In O'side

Known for its iconic wooden pierwide sandy beachespicturesque harborbustling downtown and a growing reputation as the leading destination for foodies in San Diego County, Oceanside certainly has a lot to offer! But what about those that are interested in doing something a little more off the beaten path, a little quirky, and most certainly unique? Look no further, Oceanside has you covered with these awesome activities you might not have ever expected!

Oceanside Harbor Excursions

Enjoy Oceanside’s quaint New-England style Harbor Village, complete with shops, restaurants and a lighthouse! The harbor is a charming spot to go on an ocean adventure by chartering a relaxing sailboat at sunset with Pacific Coast Sail Charters, embarking on a thrilling whale-watching expedition with Oceanside Adventures, getting up close with the most incredible marine mammals with an Oceanside Coastal Expeditions dolphin tour, or joining a sport fishing excursion hosted by Oceanside Sea Center or Helgren’s Sportfishing! While visiting the harbor, you can embrace a chill vibe by packing a picnic and taking in the picturesque view of docked sailboats while listening to our O’riginal sea lions barking and playing in the water.

Fun Ways To Ride

Cruise the beach in style with these fun rental options in Oceanside! Looking for some two-wheel motorized fun? Ride O’side’s fat tire electric scooters offer a smooth yet exciting way to ride around our beautiful coastal town. For groups that like to take things at a slower pace, look no further than Wheel Fun Rentals and their fun two or four person surreys which can be rented right on The Strand, just below the Oceanside Pier. This is a “must-do” with kids for an afternoon of laughter and fun.

Have you ever been in a motorcycle sidecar? Experience this unique tour through Oceanside with Pegasus Sidecar Tours. Your personal driver and guide will take you on a tour around our stunning coastline and wine country in their top-of-the-line 2-person sidecar rigs. Go for a 1-hour cruise through all of the major O’side hotspots including The Strand, Oceanside Harbor and Mission San Luis Rey. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, the 3-hour Winery and Classic Automotive Museum tour will include an O’side tour and then an excursion out to the local Deer Park Winery and Deer Park Automotive Museum. 

BONUS: Riders can pick up Visit Oceanside’s bike map for tips on where to ride and sites to see along the way. Available at Oceanside’s California Welcome Center, the pocket-sized map features handy information such as route descriptions and rate of difficulty, unique sightseeing opportunities and even places to fuel up before, during and after a ride.

Sunset Helicopter Experience

Take to the sky! Riding a helicopter over the scenic coastline is something to behold, and Waverider Helicopter Tours in Oceanside allows you to get those sunset pictures that are both unforgettable and completely unique!

This ‘Sunset Tour’ gives riders the chance to capture the beautiful coastline, waves and historical Oceanside Pier from a unique vantage point that would otherwise be unavailable. The 30 minute trip leaves just before sunset and flies over the iconic pier giving you breathtaking views of the sun setting over the ocean. These flights are available for up to three riders at the same time, and can be booked at Waverider Helicopter Tour Packages – perfect for a special date night, family adventure or solo excursion.


Visit A Local Farm Stand

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!

Arrowood Golf Course

Experience the new additions to Arrowood Golf Course! You now have the opportunity to play the same ball-tracking technology that traces the golf shots of the game’s best golf pros with their Toptracer Range. Toptracer Range offers instant shot replies and statistical feedback on interactive screens so you can improve your golf game and have fun while doing it.

Looking for a new nighttime activity? Glow Ball contests offer a fun spin on your classic golf game, with a set up of lights on the course, glowing LED golf balls and more!

Outdoor Skydiving

For an unmatched view of the coast, the adventurous types can partake in a truly unique skydiving experience. The only one of its type on Southern California’s coast, GoJump Oceanside offers skydivers 13,000 feet in the air views that not only include the ocean and beaches below, but even San Diego to the south, Catalina Island to the west, and Dana Point to the north! This experience will truly take you breath away.

Self Guided Mural Tour

If you’ve ever driven through Downtown or South Oceanside, there’s a good chance you spotted a few colorful murals along the way. The love of the arts runs deep in Oceanside. So much so our city is defined by the California Arts Council as one of fourteen state-recognized cultural districts! This passion 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 our coastal neighborhood, the best way to view them all 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!

Click on the top, left map icon to expand specific mural location information
Click on the top, right icon to open in Google Maps application


Paddle Board and Kayak Experiences

The waves along the beach in Oceanside Harbor are legendary! Don’t miss an opportunity to hang ten and take a surf lesson from Learn to Rip. If you prefer to stay in the Harbor area, you can still get out on the water and have some serious fun when you rent kayaks, stand up paddleboards or pedal boats from Oceanside Boat Rentals!


Thursday Market Day

Thursdays are some of the best days in Oceanside, with people coming from far and wide to participate and experience the wonderfully diverse Farmers Market taking place every week, year round. Then return for the evening Sunset Market featuring endless rows of food and craft vendors, as well as live music! Located centrally in Downtown Oceanside, visitors will be treated to an expansive sea of pop-up tents filling the streets, each with their own unique sights and smells that contribute to a visceral experience that will have your senses firing on all cylinders!  


Operating from 9am to 1pm, the Farmers Market is the perfect place to pick up fresh local produce, blooming and fragrant flowers, gourmet treats, freshly baked goods, organic honey and more. Operating from 5pm to 9pm, the Sunset Market enhances the market experience featuring dozens of craft booths that offer jewelry, clothing, soap and lotions, local photography and more in addition to food booths for those craving a ready-made meal such as panini sandwiches, gyros, and crepes.

Grunion Run

There is no shortage of fishing opportunities in Oceanside! With long expansive shores and jetties, two fishing piers that allow for license-free fishing and a number of sports fishing charters in the harbor ready to help you catch the big one, you’re sure to find a great spot to reel in your next catch. For those that want an entirely different experience, one that requires no fishing rod, no lures and has to be seen to be believed, look no further than Southern California’s famous Grunion Run!

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, click here.

Published: March 31, 2023

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