Unique and Unexpected Things to do in Oceanside
Known for its iconic wooden pier, wide sandy beaches, picturesque harbor, bustling 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!
Ultimate Selfie Helicopter Experience
Riding a helicopter over the scenic coastline is something to behold, and Waverider Helicopter Tours in Oceanside takes it one step further with a distinct package that is sure to give you pictures that are both unforgettable and completely unique!
This ‘Ultimate Selfie Package’ gives riders the chance to not only fly with the doors off but also take pictures with their feet hanging out over the edge giving an incredible visual to share with your friends and followers! The 10 minute trip flies over the iconic Oceanside Harbor and Pier so that you have the perfect backdrop to your ultimate selfie photographs. These flights are available for up to three riders at the same time, and can be booked at Waverider Helicopter Tour Packages.
iFLY Oceanside is the newest indoor skydiving facility to land in North County San Diego. Experience the feeling of weightlessness in a safe and controlled environment inside their state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnel. iFLY is fun for the whole family, with children as young as 3 years of age to adults as old as 103 able to fly!
While planning your visit to iFLY Oceanside, you can book a soaring team building event, experience a birthday party that takes flight, go on a STEM field trip or begin your bodyflight skills with flight school!
For an un-matched 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!
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 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!
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
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! So gather up your friends, family and co-workers to embark on a race against time to escape. Will your group have what it takes to make it out? There’s only one way to find out!
Fat Tire Electric Scooter Rentals
Want to ride in style along Oceanside’s beautiful coastline and downtown area? Look no further than Ride O’side‘s electric fat tire scooters! Permitted in bike lanes and along bike trails, the scooters top out at 20 miles per hour and thanks to their large tires ride smooth and stable! Rentals are available by the hour or by the day to fit your needs and schedule.
BONUS: Riders can pick up Visit Oceanside’s new 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.
For those that love music and don’t mind getting a little out of their comfort zone, Oceanside Broiler located in Oceanside Harbor, hosts weekly ukulele meetups every Thursday from 6pm-8:30pm. Organized by the Ukulele Society of America, this weekly gathering is a fun and quirky way to spend a Thursday night, and visitors are more than welcome to join in the fun! Pat Soares, a volunteer at the California Welcome Center and regular attendee of the Ukulele Nights, had this to say about the gatherings. “Our Thursday nights playing ukulele and singing along are lots of fun and very uplifting!! We play Hawaiian music, Beatle tunes, a little country, show tunes, and good ol’ rock n’ roll!! Our Hula Dancers always make us smile.”
No prior experience or skill level is required to take part in the festivities, and if you have any questions or need help this friendly group will be more than happy to give assistance. Regular attendees pay $3 per week, but there is no fee for your first visit and there is no sign-up required; all you have to do is show up! Don’t have a ukulele with you? No problem! The Ukulele Society has loaner ukuleles available, and the songs are projected on a large monitor so that you can follow along.
For the extra adventurous there are also hula lessons offered for $3 from 4:45pm to 5:45pm to dance along with the music being played.
Sumo Surf Tubes
One of the best things about Oceanside is of course the beach! Whether you are a surfer, a casual swimmer, a boogie-boarder, or a body surfer the ocean offers the opportunity to have hours of fun in the waves. If you’re craving a new sensation out in the water, and don’t take yourself too seriously, Up Sports offers the perfect rental option for you!
‘Sumo Surf Tubes’ turn your body into a gliding body-surfing machine, capable of riding the biggest waves Oceanside has to offer! “You definitely can’t take yourself too seriously and not be shy about how much attention you’ll get from the curious onlookers!” said Eric Alden of Up Sports Oceanside Surf Shop. Three are available for rent in Oceanside, so it is a good idea to call ahead and reserve them in advance. The minimum height requirement is about 5 feet due to the length of the tube itself, and for the more serious body surfers it is recommended you wear fins to help you get out to the bigger waves. Eric went on to say that “kids and adults alike come back with big grins laughing about how much fun they had rolling around in the waves wearing the Sumo Tube.”
To see them in action visit Sumo Tube Party.
Thursday Market Day
Thursday’s are some of the best days in Oceanside, with people coming from far and wide to participate and experience the wonderfully diverse Farmers and Sunset Markets taking place every week, year round. 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!
Going from 9am to 1pm, the Farmers Market kicks off the festivities. This market is the perfect place to pick up fresh local produce, blooming and fragrant flowers, gourmet treats, freshly baked goods, organic honey and more. The Farmers Market doesn’t stop there, unlike other similar markets this one also features 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.
Fast forward to 5pm and the larger Sunset Market begins. Featuring 200 merchants every week, this market spans four city blocks and is a constant year-round draw that brings people from all walks of life together. With over 40 food fenders making up the International Food Court, choose from numerous fantastic options for American Classics, Asian and Pacific Cuisine, Exotic Island Specialties, Classic European, Latin American, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and finally African fare. As you walk down the rows of booths the mouthwatering smells are sure to make you hungry so come with an empty stomach! If you’re having trouble deciding which food to try check out our blog on What to Eat at the Oceanside Sunset Market.
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. 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, visit Oceanside Grunion Run.