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The Osider Guide to the Oceanside Harbor

Oceanside Harbor Guide

A perfect family destination awaits you.

The word “harbor” as a verb means to give refuge or shelter.

My two children, husband, dog, and I live within walking distance of the Oceanside Harbor and we take “refuge” there on an almost daily basis. The harbor has become our family’s playground and daily escape. We’re fortunate to have this unique place in our own backyard. I’ve come to realize that the harbor isn’t just any sandy playground dotted with coolers and umbrellas—it’s a friendly, full-service family destination. Here’s an overview of what makes Oceanside Harbor an ideal, local family destination:

Sea Life
On any given day, sea lions, pelicans, dolphins, Garibaldi, and gray whales (during migration season) can be spotted. The most entertaining aquatic visitor is the California Sea Lion, distinguished by its external ears. However, pelicans are my children’s favorite. Bonus: Bright orange Garibaldi along the rocks of the inner harbor.

Free Parking Oceanside Harbor has a huge, FREE parking lot east of the railroad tracks off South Harbor Drive. There’re also metered parking spots, pay lots, and a two-hour free parking area near the shops. However, the free all-day parking lot is rare amongst San Diego beach cities, so take advantage!

Long, Sandy beaches
Long and wide white sand beaches provide plenty of room to spread your beach towel and avoid shoulder-to-shoulder crowding with fellow beachgoers. Families have nearly a half-mile stretch of beach to explore from North to South jetties. Bonus: With the expansive beach, the rising tides won’t soak your beach set-up.

Oceanside Harbor has two adjacent playgrounds on the beach: one is for children 5 and older, while the other is for 2-5 year-olds. The playgrounds have conveniently located picnic tables, benches, and a bathroom. Bonus: Harbor Pelican Deli & Mart is nearby to satisfy any convenience store needs.

Boat/Kayak/Paddleboard Rentals
Want to try a new sport, go for a paddle, or just get out on the water and see the harbor from a different perspective? Rentals are available at Oceanside Harbor at a reasonable price through U-Drive Boat Rentals.

Fishing/Whale Watching
There’s a fishing pier at Oceanside Harbor (on North Harbor Drive) to teach your child to fish, or to cast a line for fun. If you’re more serious about fishing, Helgren’s Sportfishing offers a wide variety of trips and tours—including Whale Watching and Sea Life tours.

    1. Aries Sportsfishing
      (760) 207-3911

    2. Fish Taxi Sportsfishing
      (800) 593-1234

    3. Helgren’s Sportsfishing
      315 Harbor Drive South
      (760) 722-2133

    4. Pacific Venture Sports Fishing
      315 Harbor Drive South
      (760) 518-5148

    5. Sea Star Sports Fishing
      (760) 966-0111

    6. Oceanside Adventures
      315 Harbor Drive
      (760) 277-3737

Summer Camps
Oceanside Harbor offers a variety of summer camps for children: junior lifeguards, surf, sailing, and volleyball. There’re two surf camps at Oceanside Harbor through Surfride and Surf Camps USA. For adults, sailing lessons are available through Oceanside Yacht Club, and private surf lessons are available through Surfride and Surf Camps USA.

Camping & Fire Rings
There’s year-round camping available at Oceanside Harbor. The camping and fire rings are at the north end of Harbor Beach. A daily camping pass is $28 and spots are on a first-come, first-serve basis. There’s a five night maximum stay. Bonus: The fire rings have no curfew.

Charming Shops
The charming gift shops at the Oceanside Harbor Village offer something for both locals and tourists alike. All the shops are locally owned, so it’s the perfect place to pick up a gift or souvenir and support the local economy while enjoying the harbor at the same time.

    1. Harbor Gift Shop
      278 South Harbor Drive #178
      (760) 722-6131

    2. Lighthouse Shop
      Oceanside Harbor Lighthouse
      (866) 251-4252

    3. San Diego Tees
      278 South Harbor Drive

    4. Urban Wave
      282 Harbor Drive
      (866) 251-4252

    5. Ye Old Hawaiian Hut
      270 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-6000

Restaurants/Coffee Shop/Ice Cream
Finally, you’ll find an array of quaint seaside restaurants and treats ranging from breakfast eateries to formal dining. Nana & Pop Pop’s Sweet Shop offers yummy ice cream. Harbor Fish & Chips is a long-standing local lunchtime favorite. The Lighthouse Oyster Bar and Grill, Dominic’s, and the Oceanside Broiler are just a few of the many amazing dinner restaurants you’ll find at the Harbor. Bonus: Nautical Bean Coffee Shop’s mocha with chocolate whipped cream.

    1. Stratford By The Harbor
      280 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-7837

    2. Dominic’s at the Harbor
      268 Harbor Drive South
      (760) 754-1881

    3. D’Vino’s Cafe & Wine Bar
      262 Harbor Drive South
      (760) 754-1881

    4. Harbor Fish & Chips
      276 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-4977

    5. Lighthouse Oyster Bar & Grill
      262 Harbor Drive Suite 201
      (760) 433-1900

    6. Nana’s and Pop Pops Sweet Shop
      280 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-1723

    7. Nautical Bean Coffee Co.
      240 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-4851

    8. Rockin’ Baja
      258 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 967-6199

    9. Tony’s Sports Bar and Grill
      274 South Harbor Drive
      (760) 433-8466

    10. Jolly Roger
      1900 North Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-1831

    11. Oceanside Broiler
      1325 North Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-3474

    12. Joe’s Crab Shack
      314 Harbor Drive
      (760) 722-1345

Words by: Elizabeth Schwartze / Photos by: Zach Cordner
Article comes from The Osider Magazine, Vol. 1 Issue 2