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Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

Davenpor,IA
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Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

Hello, we are visiting the area for the first time! We are a family of older teenagers, youngest is 14. Any suggestions for the area? We do like outdoor adventures. Deep sea fishing? Sea Kayaking? Also, I heard the restaurants/stores in the area only take cash. Is that correct or do restaurants take credit/debit cards? Thanks for your help! PS we are staying in a condo. Any grocery store recommendations that are a bit cheaper? Thanks again!

San Diego...
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1. Re: Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

I'm wondering why you chose Oceanside instead of San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles. There is a nice beach and pier in Oceanside, but that's about it as far as general attractions. Inland, there is Palomar Mountain State Park, and further inland the San Diego Wild Animal Park (now called Safari Park), and much further inland the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and off-roading areas. The San Diego Botanical Gardens (formerly called Quail Botanical Gardens) is in Encinitas, and of course, in Carlsbad, just south of Oceanside, there is Legoland, though your kids are too old for it now unless they are Lego fanatics. Yes, you could probably arrange for deep sea fishing, kayaking or whale-watching, but you might have to travel to San Diego or Orange County for those. The La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego has kayaking, there are whale-watching cruises out of San Diego and there are deep sea fishing cruises offered out of Dana Point in Orange County, though Dana Point is maybe a 30-to-45 minute drive north of Oceanside. I'm not sure which of those is offered in Oceanside itself. You might be able to find surfing lessons in Oceanside. Maybe people more familiar with Oceanside will post suggestions and recommendations for activities in Oceanside itself.

Whoever told you that all restaurants/stores accept cash only is making a blanket statement that is not correct. There may be some smaller restaurants that accept cash only, but those are rare. Most places will accept credit and debit cards. Some very small places may accept a debit or credit card only if the purchase is larger than a specified minimum such as $5 or $10. Grocery stores will accept cards. Some small businesses will have a small fee for using a card, such as 45 cents or whatever. Almost all ATMs will charge a fee for using the ATM if your bank is not the same bank that owns the ATM, and that fee can even be $2 or $3 per transaction, so watch out for that. The food court at Costco accepts cash only. You don't have to be a Costco member to buy food at the window at the food court. There is no Costco in Oceanside yet, but there are in Carlsbad and Vista.

The whale-watching season in southern California is generally December through March, so you will be there at the right time for that. March is in our rainy season so you may encounter a rain storm, though the day after it will be spectacular. There will likely be snow in the mountains of southern California, so you may want to consider a day trip for skiing or snowboarding in one of the mountain resorts north and east of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, such as Mountain High in Wrightwood, or Mount Baldy, or Snow Valley, Snow Summit or Bear Mountain near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. Any of those are going to be about a 3-hour drive up there from Oceanside and a 3-hour drive back. Snowboarder Shaun White is from Encinitas, near Oceanside, so that proves that the distance to the snow is not prohibitive. The desert areas east of San Diego county, particularly Glamis, California, are popular for dirt bikes, dune buggies and all manner of ATVs and off-roading fun, with thousands of people there every weekend except in the summer.

Davenpor,IA
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2. Re: Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

Thanks so much for your response! I choose it because I don't know what I am doing! ha! What beach do you feel is the best in terms of things to do, but not too crazy! We are family and looking for a family atmosphere, but my kids are older teenagers and looking for fun activities, too. I did also find a place in Solano Beach. Is that closer to San Diego? Or should I just start over and take your recommendation on a beach area? I would very much appreciate it! Rebecca

San Diego...
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3. Re: Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

Solana Beach is closer to San Diego than Oceanside is, and there are nice beaches there, many of them uncrowded. There are a lot of staircases down to the beaches in Solana Beach. I think the prettiest beaches in San Diego are in La Jolla, but they are not the only beaches to choose from. You mentioned kayaking, and that is popular in the area of La Jolla Shores beach and around La Jolla Bay. La Jolla is crowded, but in March it won't have a crowded feel like it will in the summer months. La Jolla is expensive to stay at eat at and live at, compared to neighboring areas such as Pacific Beach. The ocean water in March may be as low as 55 F, possibly 60 F but not much higher. So it would be too cold for swimming without a wet suit. You might post a new question in the San Diego forum, explaining what types of adventures and activities appeal to your family and see what suggestions are offered in that forum.

Oceanside...
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4. Re: Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

I would strongly recommend using a map of Southern California to help you get your bearings. Have you tried using MapQuest or Google Maps? Oceanside is 45 miles north of San Diego and can be about an hour's drive, depending on traffic. If your intention is to visit San Diego, it does seem a little odd that you decided to stay in Oceanside since most of the major tourist activites/attractions are more in the actual San Diego area.

That being said, if you do stay in Oceanside, it does have some good points. There is a nice beach there, although in March it will be rather cool, and the harbor has some nice shops and restaurants. Helgren's Sportfishing offers fishing trips and whale watching trips. You can rent kayaks there, but about I've heard kayaking around La Jolla cove is the thing to do. Inland are more restaurant choices.....just depends on what you are looking for.

I am also curious where you heard that restaurants in the area only take cash. As bw said, that is a rare place that only takes cash.

The major grocery stores we have are Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons, but since I don't know where your condo is, I can't say which one will be closest to you. We also have a number of smaller chain stores and independent stores.

If you like outdoor activities, a place you might consider checking out is Anza-Borrego State Park. There is some great hiking out there and depending on when in March you are here, you may be in time for the wildflowers.

Oceanside, CA
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5. Re: Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

Oceanside is ideally situated for your vacation and offers unlimited outdoor activities. It is literally central to all the popular attractions yet has a small town charm to it. We have some of the widest, sandiest beaches in Southern California and have a great repuation for our surf. Lots of professional surfers are moving to the area because of the consistency of surf...making it a great place to catch this classic California experience. We also have the California Surf Museum which is a quality experience in itself. Right now they are featuring Women in surfing and how they have influenced the sport. You'll find great gifts that are hand-crafted from local artisans as well.

For outdoor adventure, you can whale watch, rent every boat/kayak/sea do imaginable from the Oceanside Harbor. Check out Boat Rentals of America. For sailing, Capt Les George is fantastic with kids of all ages. He is with Pacific Sail Charters. Helgrens Sportfishing does whale watching, Ocean cruises, and sportsfishing. The beaches at the harbor are wide with volleyball and fire pits, which are a lot fun. There are surf lesson as well by professional companies like SoCal Surf. We had my nieces from Missouri drop in for a day...it was great that they could go back and tell their friends they got to surf in California. OEX Kayak will do kayaking tours as well and they are knowledgable about the wildlife.

Oceanside is halfway between Sea World and Disneyland so you can get the major attractions in as well.

On Thursday nights, there are Sunset Markets with live entertainment, arts and crafts and food vendors in downtown Oceanside.

Grocery Stores..there is a Boney's Market, very convenient to the Beach Vacation Rentals. It is inexpensive and offers fresh organic foods. It's popular with the locals. We also have the typical chains nearby.

The restaurants do accept credit cards. It would be very rare if they didn't. There are tons of places to chose from including local favorites and fresh seafood places.

Enjoy your time in Oceanside and the surrounding area. You'll like being out of the hustle and bustle.

6. Re: Visiting Oceanside in March 2011

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