OCEANSIDE, CALIFORNIA DELIGHTS BEYOND THE BEACHES
A Two-Day Getaway for Adults
By Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’
Yes, you can ride the waves, swim till you turn into a prune, create magnificent sand castles, try your hand at fishing or just chill out on the sand – but trust me there is a whole other world to see taste and experience for the adult traveler off the beaches.
Considered the Gateway to San Diego, Oceanside’s mild sunny climate and average temperature of 70 degrees gets this SoCal beauty rated by USA Today as the second most ideal climate in the United States, and the fifth most ideal weather in the world. That’s got to catch your attention.
If you dislike crowds, try visiting in spring or fall. Summer is A-Mazing, but so are the crowds, just saying.
If you haven’t been to O’side in the past couple of years, you will not know it has morphed into a true destination of its own in terms of food, wine and unique activities. It’s not that military town you might have thought it was, or just a quick place to stop for gas off the freeway or a funky place to dip your toes into the ocean. It’s all grown up baby… and continuing to improve each and every day under the watchful eye of long-time residents, invested agencies and some extremely creative business owners. Don’t expect chains, do expect unique restaurants, bars, and activities based on farm to table principals. It’s a love fest of progress worthy of your attention.
Here’s my step-by-step recommendations for an overnight stay packed with activities for two adults. On your first trip, arrange a Thursday to Friday stay.
1 pm. Start with a wine tasting at Beach House Winery. Nestled up in the hills of Oceanside (right over the line from Fallbrook) this 1500 case boutique winery is putting out some notable wines. It’ll take you a bit of concentration to find this place, but it will be worth your while. Call ahead to check hours, there is a tasting fee and bring a picnic. The 360 degree views are exceptional, the owners focused and inspired and the wines worth trying – especially the Petite Sirah ($38) in the tasting, by the glass or buy a bottle.
3 pm. Check in to your lodging. Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort is my recommendation. Centrally located to your day of fun, it is located across from the pier, beaches and the Thursday market. Treat yourself to a suite with a view. Affordable luxury features a Jacuzzi, separate living room, kitchen and balcony. Weekday prices are easy on the wallet in spring and fall. Be sure to indulge in the 7th floor skyroom and lounge, 2nd floor outdoor pool with hot tub with exceptional views all around and the relaxing sauna. On-site spa services are a big plus in my book.
6 pm. Head off to a speakeasy adventure at 101 Proof Speakeasy. Somehow this small beach town delivers big on this distinctive activity. Call ahead for reservations as it is small – about 35 seats. This keeps the intimate factor up and the noise levels down. Come hungry, the small plates are delicious and beautifully presented. The food is reasonably priced, the drinks carry a larger price tag, although I doubt you will care as this is Disneyland for adults. The small intimate atmosphere features a killer cocktail line up. First time there, I suggest you sit at the bar so you can be part of the show. The bartenders are dedicated to their craft and sharing an “experience” with you. A great deal of time and effort have gone in to the creation of a handsome setting showcasing flamboyant drinks that will capture your palate as well as your imagination. If you’re a “basic” kind of drinker just looking for a shot of whiskey, you’ll find that there also but try some of their ultra-premium smooth, smooth, smooth brands. Nothing like it SoCal.
7:30- 9pm. Take a Sunset Market Stroll. I am going to guess this is the kick-starter activity that re-energized the area. A food heavy, 125 vendor presentation of global yum, this is a foodies paradise that can easily bring in 6,000 people. You’re going to find cuisines here that you will not see in any other market in SoCal – perhaps the nation. The organizing committee gets The Smart Cookie Award for lovingly putting this activity together. How they found so many different cuisines is only half the story. How they help make them a combined success week after week is the other half. The organizers keep a watchful eye out for new entrepreneurs they can help incubate into successful businesses. The vendor comes into the market with a vision, the organizers help take that theory into practice. So what you are actually watching, eating and being a part of is a journey to success.
You’ll need a plan and a handful of cash to get through the market. Expect to spend about $6 -12 per booth per person. Here’s my suggestions for the gastronomic blow out tour of the year. Bites people – bites – not full dinners or you’ll be “over it” after stop two.
- Garlic Noodles: Owner Antoine Phan. Vietnamese / French Fusion.
- Taste of Poland: Owner Alicja Miechowski. Perogies – any kind.
- Belgium Street Fries: Owner Serge/ Libioulle. Belgium-style fries w/ garlic Aioli.
- Wicked Maine Lobster: Owner Alex Howard. Maine lobster roll or taco.
- Olivia’s Kitchen: Owner Olivia Laryea. West African / Ghana-style tamale.
- Flamin’ Salmon: Owner Michael Bossle. Northern European Plank fresh, wild caught, fire roasted salmon on greens.
- Awafee: Owner Amy Cao. Small cup Crème Brulee.
- Beignet Belly: Owners Derrick & Maria Boykins. New Orleans-style Beignets.
- Atsukos: Owners Atsuko & Larry Lavitt. Stunning Japanese-style Cakes.
Get up for Breakfast at Petite Madeline. Just a two block easy stroll from your hotel your choices include mouth-watering pastries or full breakfast menu in a coffee shop atmosphere. It’s all good and affordable, seriously. I had the crepes. To-die-for. Enough said.
Don’t forget to stroll the Pier after breakfast on your way back to the hotel. Just steps from your hotel, it’s was built in 1888 and has gone through numerous re-builds. The concrete approach to the present pier was built in 1925; the wooden portion in 1988. At 1,954 feet, it is the longest wooden pier on the west coast. Half way down the well-maintained pier are restrooms and a bait and tackle shop, with snacks, postcards and drinks for sale. At the end is a restaurant – Ruby’s Diner. You’ll see many people fishing (no permit required) and get an expansive view of the surfers, beach and coastline with the mountains as a backdrop. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see La Jolla, the Coronado Islands, and Catalina Island.
10 am. Take a Cyclops Farm Tour. Owner Luke Girling has created a 2-acre pocket garden in the middle of an Oceanside neighborhood on a lot he leased by knocking on a door and asking to create an empty view lot into a garden that would come to supply local chefs and consumers. It’s Americana at its best and reminds all of us where our food actually comes from. Call for a guided tour that will inspire and strengthen your inner farm to table commitment.
Noon. Try a Lunch Time Dine-Around. Rather than sit in one place for two hours, try a lunch crawl. Have a small menu item at each of these places. It’s a wonderful way to get to know the trendy O’side restaurant scene.
– Stop 1: The Millers Table: A drop in sport with a community attitude. Focusing on unique wines, beers, lemonades, flavors and sandwiches you will absolutely not find anywhere else, this small eatery is a true local find.
– Stop 2: Local Tap House (LTH): A fun tap house atmosphere housed in a former butchers shop. The food is beautifully chef driven and the brews are far reaching. Hard not to want to linger…but move on.
– Stop 3: 608: A great place to wind up your mini vacay. This is where pure food indulgence lives. Expect the unexpected in internationally and seasonally inspired small plates. Lots of different foods creates a locally Asian fusion driven menu all its own. This is one of those places you have to taste to understand just how brilliant it is.
Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit www.AllInGoodTaste.info.