There’s so much to do here in O’side, you could stay busy for a lifetime. But if your vacay wish list includes discovering the pleasures and attractions of San Diego and Orange County, you can make O’side your home base for exploring, too. The OC is less than an hour’s drive north of us, or heading south, you can be in the heart of San Diego in under 45 minutes. For your day-trip planning purposes, here are some of the region’s don’t-miss attractions.
O’side is perched on the edge of San Diego County’s winemaking region, which sprawls inland from the San Pasqual Valley up to Temecula in Riverside County. And San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours curates tours of some of the region’s top producers. Small groups can arrange for a chauffeured visit to three local wineries and taste up to 18 wines, (with food pairings), plus enjoy a behind the scenes tour, paired small bites to go with the tasting, and lavish in a special winery dinner. Or larger groups can book seats on their Wine Train Tour and ride the rails up and down the coast, visiting urban wineries and wine bars, tasting up to 15 local wines, going behind the scenes, and having a light Italian lunch before heading back to O’side.
O’side is located at the northernmost end of what locals call “North County” San Diego. There is no South County, however – everything south of North County is just San Diego (well, except for the South Bay, home of Chula Vista and the border region). All of San Diego County is famed for its beer, but how different are the beer scenes in North County versus San Diego? Climb aboard one of Scavengers’ rugged vintage Swiss safari vehicles for a guided tour and find out. The open-air excursions depart from the Carlsbad Village Train Station (for North County) and the Old Town Transit Center (for San Diego), both reachable by taking the train from the Oceanside Transit Center.
It’s less about thrills and more about observing all the thoughtful minute details at this theme park celebrating those itty-bitty building bricks your kids leave all over the floor for you to step on. That being said, Legoland has its share of rides and roller coasters, plus charming shows and attractions all geared toward families and kids between ages 2 and 12. Kids can even drive their own cars at the Driving School. And if you wondered whether there was a shop with exclusive Legoland building sets so you can step on even more of those itty-bitty blocks in your hotel room, spoiler alert: yup! (You can get discount tickets for Legoland at the California Welcome Center).
Located in Balboa Park (like a West Coast version of Central Park), the San Diego Zoo stretches across 100 acres of tree-covered hillsides and provides naturalistic habitats for more than 4,000 animals representing more than 600 species. Globally renowned for its conservation programs and boasting one of the largest zoological association memberships in the world, its sister park in inland North County, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, has 1,800 acres of open space recreating African habitats and animals roaming unencumbered to stimulate behaviors usually only observed in the wild. Each locale deserves its own day trip, with discount tickets available at the California Welcome Center.
On Mission Bay, find this nearly 200-acre marine mammal SeaWorld park boasting animal attractions, outdoor aquariums, some of the most famed orcas in the world, and a slew of roller coasters and other thrill rides. Visitors can book a dolphin encounter and interact in the water with the charismatic creatures, or journey through a submerged passage passing through the park’s famed shark encounter. Throughout the year, various themed shows and festivals bring music, fireworks, and live performers to the park. Plan a day trip and book discount tickets through the California Welcome Center.
Inarguably the famous theme park on Earth is located just under an hour north of O’side in Anaheim. The Disneyland California Resort comprises both Disneyland and the California Adventure theme park—buy a Park Hopper ticket and visit both on the same or successive days. In 2019, Star Wars Land premiered at Disneyland, expanding the park’s reach into yet another cinematic universe while California Adventure includes the Avengers Campus celebrating the Marvel franchise. Classic Disney fans still thrill over original attractions like the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matterhorn, and the G-rated Fantasyland rides. Book discounted tickets for your day trip through the California Welcome Center.