From Whale-Watching to Wave-Riding in Oceanside
Five miles off the coast of Oceanside, we ride nature’s roller coaster. Aboard a 50-foot catamaran, we rock gently side to side and roll over one liquid hill after another, capturing more thrills than could ever be obtained in an amusement park.
While seeing a blue whale was likely just a, er, fluke for our family of first-time whale-watchers, it was the pinnacle of a handful of memories we collected in Oceanside, an authentic SoCal beach town sitting on San Diego’s North Shore. Steeped in character and seaside charm, O’side (as the locals call it) boasts broad sandy beaches, palm-tree-fringed streets, a laid-back surf culture and an entrepreneurial spirit that’s reflected in everything from its burgeoning local food and craft beer scene to a sprinkling of independently owned shops and businesses.
With 3.5 miles of shoreline, beach play dominated our family’s mornings in Oceanside as we watched the waves crash into the sand and surfers bob patiently on their boards, ready to ride them by sunrise. Our kids ping-ponged between splashing in the chilly waves, building sandcastles and climbing on the beachfront playground at Oceanside Pier Beach across the street from our hotel. When we had enough sand in our toes, we slipped back into our shoes and rented a double surrey bicycle large enough to fit five from Wheel Fun Rentals (wheelfunrentals.com) and cruised up and down the beach strand. Bikers who aren’t towing several kids in a surrey can pedal along Oceanside’s popular 10.7-mile San Luis Rey Bike Trail or zoom along the Coastal Rail Trail, a 44-mile regional bike trail running from Oceanside to San Diego.