Oceanside: Southern California’s Best Kept Secret

What was once a sleepy military town is now wide awake. Oceanside is a booming beach town brimming with activity, approximately 45 minutes up the coast from San Diego. The community, once known as a “honky-tonk” tough town, has shaken its reputation.  “The stigma is now gone,” says Douglas Elliman broker and longtime San Diego County resident, Ruth Pugh.  “This is a thriving community and it’s exciting to see change,” agrees Elliman broker Anna Sick. “Oceanside values its community, and is putting money into it.”

A new farm to table movement, artist alliances, legacy brewing, surf championships, and more are enticing potential homebuyers. The first Friday of every month is the Art Walk, Farmer’s Markets pop up every Thursday, delicious dining options from barbecue to fine dining are plentiful, and the beach is steps away. “Walkability is huge in real estate right now. People want to walk to the farmer’s market or the library. People love walking the pier. They are looking for that lifestyle,” says Sick. “The South Coast is quickly becoming popular as one of the last affordable beach communities. There are more restrictions against Airbnb and VRBO. Locals want to be vested in their community.”

Oceanside ticks all the boxes: convenience, quality of life, upscale dining, and more. Whatever your pleasure, from sunset cocktails or eco-friendly shopping, check out what locals in this up-and-coming enclave are loving.

Hello Betty Fish House

Hello Betty’s seaside restaurant is a spacious, beachside stop that prides itself on local ingredients and fish. Staples like indulgent fish tacos and craft beers are paired with an inviting ocean and pier view. The rooftop is the perfect stop for a sunset margarita, but bring a sweater, as the ocean breezes pick up when dusk falls.


Swami’s surf break in nearby Encinitas is so legendary, the Beach Boys sung about it. Its sister café shares the same degree of significance, known as a pit stop for surfers with a hankering for a well-portioned brunch. The café has opened a new outpost in Oceanside, complete with its popular breakfast burritos, berry smoothies and crowd-pleasing açai bowls.

Bagby Beer Company

Known for its effervescent staff, naming themselves the “dork squad,” this cheery brewpub is a must-visit. With plentiful outdoor space, this spot has great pub fare like corndogs and the best poutine south of Montreal. But, don’t let the casual setting fool you. The varied menu offers upscale options like grilled octopus and roasted pumpkin pancakes.

Captain’s Grounds Coffee

This popular coffee shop is part of the infusion of first-rate experiences in Oceanside, recently reaching its 5-year anniversary. Regulars who visit after a class at nearby Black Sheep Yoga are greeted with solid service, “Dirty Soy Chais,” and vegan donuts. The stand is part of the vintage shop Captain’s Helm, so visitors can shop for clothes while they wait for the coffee line to die down.

Farmer’s Market

Oceanside boasts two separate Farmer’s Markets on Thursdays. The Mainstreet Farmer’s Market is held every Thursday morning from 9am to 1pm, year round. The market offers some of the best produce in the region in addition to flowers, soaps, candles, apparel, jewelry and baked goods.

The Sunset Market features almost 200 vendors and spans four city blocks, offering food and live entertainment on Thursdays from 5-9pm.

Rais Case

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This co-op shop boasts a close relationship with its Oceanside community, offering local, ethically sourced items. Each bag is built with love, ensuring human hands touch every stage of the production process. The gorgeous leather goods are high-quality, and fashionable, making buying local an easy choice.

Salud Shoppe

Located in nearby Vista, this shop is dedicated to ethical fashion and organic skin care. The owner, Alison Metcalfe, believes that her products are “a toast to your health, from skin to style.” These light, nontoxic products are the perfect gift choice when supporting the local community.

Hill Street Country Club & The Oceanside Museum of Art

No, the former isn’t a country club filled with golf carts and tennis whites. The Hill Street Country Club is an innovative art gallery in Oceanside that believes “art is for everyone.” The gallery is a perfect example of the new shape the neighborhood has taken, striving to create a diverse atmosphere that reflects its community.

The Oceanside Museum of Art highlights the work of various local artists with exhibitions held throughout the year focusing on multiple art works and mediums. The museum also hosts an array of parties, culinary events, live music, and lectures, making it a popular stop in the Oceanside social scene.

View coastal listings in charming San Diego County.

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