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Find exceptional restaurants, inventive breweries, and a thriving local art scene in Northern San Diego County

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It doesn’t take an etymologist to figure out how Oceanside got its name: The city is tucked up against the shore, 40 miles north of downtown San Diego. But don’t be fooled by its easy, beachy vibe, because there’s plenty of hustle in this up-and-coming city. Over the last few years, inspired creators of food, brews, art, and music have made Oceanside a more exciting destination than ever before.

With sandy beaches and consistent waves, Oceanside has long been a favorite spot for surfers, swimmers, and stand-up paddleboarders. Rent your vehicle of choice at Asylum Board Shop before hitting the swells at Pier View North or Harbor Beach. Even land-lovers can enjoy the views on Oceanside Pier: Watch for dolphins outside Ruby’s Diner or try your hand at fishing with the help of the Pier Bait Shop. For thrill-seekers, there’s GoJump Oceanside, Southern California’s only coastal skydiving operator.

Head slightly inland to visit the institutions that helped Oceanside earn the distinction of a designated California Cultural District in 2017. A visit to the California Welcome Center Oceanside is a great place to get a comprehensive rundown and locals’ recommendations of all there is to do. But here’s a short list: See the exceptional collection at the Oceanside Museum of Art, fascinating historical artifacts at the California Surf Museum, or catch a live performance at The Brooks Theatre or The Star Theatre. Take home an art piece for yourself at the outdoor Sunset Market held on Main Street every Thursday night.

A strong agricultural tradition combined with bright young minds has catapulted Oside to the forefront of the Southern California food scene. Downtown shines with expertly crafted seafood at 333 Pacific and Harney Sushi. For something off the beaten path, head to funky South Oceanside for inventive sushi at Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub or authentic Peruvian cuisine at Panca.

Of course, you’ll need something to wash down all those oysters and fries. Grab a flight at one of the popular local craft breweries, such as Breakwater Brewing Co., Legacy Brewing, which offers an unusual favorite with its That Guava Beer, flavored with fresh white guava, or Bagby Beer Company, where a variety of European brewing styles provide the inspiration behind its beer menu. Coomber Craft Wines and Beach House Winery will please any oenophile, and there’s even a spot to try home-brewed honey wine at Golden Coast Mead, which leverages the efforts of local honeybees. 

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