The first time I visited the “Golden State” was eight years ago, when my son graduated Boot Camp at MCRD in San Diego. It was a wonderful event held over three days, but there was still time for sightseeing. I was overwhelmed at the beauty of the place. Perfect weather with palm trees silhouetted against the blue of the Pacific Ocean was the icing on the cake for me. I’d been raised by the ocean and always wanted to return to it.
Three years later I came back, this time to celebrate my wedding anniversary. My husband had fallen in love with San Diego too, declaring he didn’t want to retire in Texas, so why didn’t we take a look at some properties here? After a lot of searching we settled for a place in Oceanside. Just minutes from the ocean with excellent access to a train service to take us up or down the coast if we wanted to explore further. Within minutes of arriving at our new home the neighbors came out and welcomed us, asking if they could help us move in. I have never known such friendliness.
Since arriving in Oceanside five years ago the area has changed quite a bit — the Wyndham Hotel was built along the seafront and a beautification project has been funded. Recently my husband met a guy who lives further north and he asked where we lived. When my husband told him he laughed and said, “Oceanside has a bad reputation. It’s full of drunks, prostitutes, vagrants and ‘rowdy Marines’ from Camp Pendleton causing all sorts of trouble. Not somewhere you’d choose to live.” Of course I bristled at this — for one thing, my son is a U.S. Marine who has served two terms in Iraq and the Marines will always have a special place in my heart. And, I have news for him. In my opinion, Oceanside is the best kept secret in North County.
Why is this, you might ask? Well the name for a start. “Oceanside” conjures up images of azure seas, sun, sand and relaxation. Then there’s just so much to do here. On Thursday mornings you have the farmers market with all sorts of organic produce, honey, eggs, cakes, bread, flowers — the list is endless. And later in the evening you can promenade with your dog at the Sunset Market — even the dogs love to socialize there!
If you have to buy a gift there are many unusual things to choose from, including antique clothing, purses, jewelry, hand-made baskets, and many types of artwork. And of course the smells alone compel you to dine there also. You can sample Greek food, or Thai, Russian, Chinese, or many other options, or if you have a hankering for a good ole American steak, you can eat while bopping to the band playing on the Sunset Market stage.
Where are the “rowdy Marines” you might ask? The only ones I see are patiently waiting in line to pick up their clothes at the dry cleaners. The rest of them are in Iraq and Afghanistan, keeping our nation safe.
Oceanside Library is another happening place. Everything from guitar recitals to author readings to flamenco dancing on the patio, to name but a few events. There’s something to suit all tastes. I recently walked away from their book sale with enough books to read for a year — all for a little more than $20! Then there’s Ruby’s on the Pier with its 1950s theme. Sitting there with a glass of wine watching the sun go down over the Pacific is a truly magical experience. And Oceanside Harbor with fishing, sailing and of course there’s surfing too!
I’ve touched on just a few of the things you can do in Oceanside, but it’s the diversity and the friendliness of the people that make it a magical place. All types and all ages, and yes, as elsewhere, sadly there are vagrants, who are polite as they ask if you can you spare them a dollar.
But for me, just strolling along Oceanside Beach at the edge of the Pacific Ocean is enough — it calms me and restores my soul!
Filed Under: Community Commentary