A short car ride from San Diego lands you in a town so easy to navigate that you’ll feel like an O-sider immediately. By the time you park your car, you’ll have the lay of the land, but you will still be pleasantly surprised by the hidden gems sprinkled on nearly every block of this vibrant easy-going community.

Image: Courtesy of The Brick.

Secure compact but mighty accommodations

When choosing a place to lay your head, the beach views and the modern contemporary decor of The Brick, a micro-hotel that is big on personality in the heart of the town’s center is a worthy selection that’s close to everything you’ll want to visit. It’s also in a building sandwiched between two enticing eateries that are not to be missed. The hotel offers old-world charm like handwritten welcome notes and literal brick-walled interiors, with elevated next-level amenities like a framed and matted touchscreen digital concierge. The hotel operates without a front desk, so guests receive a personal code for accessing the building and their room. Yes, you check in with the digital concierge in your room and the connected device will also provide information on the wealth of nearby attractions.

The Brick's rooftop Cococabana. Image: Courtesy of The Brick.

Bring an appetite

The Brick has two mouthwatering options for dining but you’ll want to pace yourself. On the ground floor, there is the Q&A Restaurant and Oyster Bar, a classic New Orleans restaurant where reservations are recommended. And on the rooftop, there is Cococabana, a hip Carribean-style cocktails and creative bites bar and grill. Q&A is bustling but has more of a date night cozy vibe. Conversely, Cococabana is livelier and could be a place to possibly find your next date. 

The Oceanside Sunset Market features over 200 vendors every Thursday night.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town before the weekend, don’t pass up the long-standing Oceanside Sunset Market from 5 to 9pm every Thursday. If you’re a fan of international foods, you’ll enjoy the surprisingly robust market. There’s a live music stage on the corner with a dance floor and seating that springs up like a holiday festival every week surrounded by more than 200 vendors of every variety, attracting thousands of people. Enjoy cuisine running the gamut—El Salvadorian pupusas, Japanese tempura, Greek gyros, Vietnamese Pho, West African sambusas, Jamaican ox tail, Belgium waffles, and classic Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.

Make your Q&A reservation on any other night and start with the biscuits and thin-cut catfish (thank us later). 

The biscuits at Q&A Restaurant and Oyster Bar are worth the carbs.

Stay a while

Oceanside is close enough to be a day trip from various corners of San Diego County, even Orange County and LA, but you’ll never get the full flavor of the place unless you devote a few days to roaming the streets and the beach. Every beach town along the Pacific has a slightly different vibe and Oceanside is picturesque, inviting, and decidedly unpretentious. Rent some wheels if you didn’t bring your own (two wheels, not four) and cruise the San Luis Rey River Trail. Wheel Fun Rentals is aptly named for this low-key adventure. The modest town has many deceptive elements, including that Oceanside has hosted the Beach Soccer Championships since 2007. It’s a rigorous three-day sports extravaganza with hundreds of teams that range from youth clinics to a US Pro Cup that is now televised in over 170 countries.

Take time for a long stroll to the end of the Oceanside Pier.

Walk, don’t run

Take the opportunity to slow down and savor your surroundings. You could rush around and see everything in a matter of hours but if you take your time, you’ll realize why Oceanside is such a treasure. Do yourself a favor and start with a walk along Pier View Way. If you’re a history buff, stop by for a self-guided tour map from the Oceanside Historical Society or simply download it on your phone. Pier View Way starts with Fire Station No. 1, built in 1929, and is said to be one of the oldest operating stations in the nation. The classic modern design by Irving Gill makes it unlike most utilitarian fire stations and it is a sight you’ll want to visit before the city relocates the station to a new facility later this year. The old station will remain but will likely be absorbed by the 25-year-old Oceanside Museum of Art designed by the same architect next door. Once you’ve finished a detour through the museum galleries, you’ll want to follow the street all the way down to the impressive wooden Oceanside Pier, about a half mile away. And we wouldn’t blame you for pausing at the next corner to choose a few scoops from over 50 flavors of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream to tide you over until dinner.

Detour into the Oceanside Museum of Art.
Image: Courtesy of the Brick.

Accommodations courtesy of The Brick.

About the Contributor
Debra Bass
Debra Bass became foodie famous with a story on savory oatmeal more than a decade ago that was published in a slew of US and international newspapers. She enjoys exploring the San Diego healthy food scene, but indulges in worthwhile guilty pleasures.