shopping in oceanside

An Insider’s Guide to Shopping in Oceanside

A new crop of indie boutiques is making the SoCal surf town a must-stop for anyone interested in creative retail therapy.


By Andrew Bender

Over the last few years, shopping in Oceanside has evolved from an afterthought to a magnet, as a new crop of independent boutiques draws in locals and visitors alike. Collectively, they represent the easy-breezy O’side vibe that the SoCal destination is gaining a reputation for.


You don’t have to go very far from The Seabird to catch some of that style, thanks to The Ozone, a lifestyle shop located at our sister resort next door, Mission Pacific. The shop’s creative director/buyer Karen Meena calls it “an eclectically designed space to discover art, vintage objects, adornments, and one-of-a-kind creations unique to SoCal.” The shop’s wares include fashion, beauty, home design, jewelry, accessories, books, and gifts. It also hosts events for local designers and artists. 



Bikini, dress and colorful clothes store in oceanside
The Ozone at Mission Pacific.


Meena has a bead on the rest of the Oceanside shopping scene, and she shared some recommendations with us. Most shops are located on or just off Coast Highway, the city’s (and California’s) main drag, making navigating a snap whether you’re exploring by car, rental bike, or on foot. You might start a couple miles away in the South Oceanside neighborhood (“South O” to its many friends), working back toward the resort. 


In South O, Captain’s Helm blends vintage and modern, both with an aesthetic of undeniable cool. It has you covered with both substance and style, whether your tastes run to a throwback leather or jean jacket, little black dress, rock tour T-shirt, or contemporary design items you didn’t know you needed — knit shopping bags, berry bowls, wooden whisk brooms, or eye-catching wall art. While there, get fortified for your retail therapy adventure at the onsite coffee shop, Captain’s Grounds. 


Nearby, Meena says, “Reap & Sow stocks local wellness brands and keeps locals tuned into the best in eco-beauty, health, and wellness.” This family business and self-proclaimed “lifestyle apothecary” is also ahead of its time, having offered natural, sustainable, toxin-free, and zero-waste products since 2014, well before those became everyday watchwords. From beauty products to essential oils, handmade jewelry to teas and herbal remedies, it’s all good for you — and the environment. 


Heading back toward town, Sea Hive Marketplace is where “locals shop weekly to add to their vintage clothing, jewelry and design collections,” Meena says. Sea Hive calls itself a “massive mall o’ vintage,” and its 13,000 square feet house some 100 vendors.


A repurposed 1930s-era gasoline station is now home to Rising Co. “It’s a community collective of local designers and artists and one of our favorite places to feel the local vibe,” Meena exclaims. Case in point: handmade handbags by Rais Case, personalized jewelry from Tessa Lane, and Feather 4 Arrow, a kids’ clothing and lifestyle brand imbued with an attitude that’s pure Southern California. Meena also recommends the in-house coffee and tea shop and weekend events in Rising Co.’s parking lot. 



black hats, panama hats, white hats and a couple tying them on
Brixton started in Oceanside before taking Instagram by storm. The Oceanside retail location is just as picture-worthy as the cool apparel.


Another go-to hub is Tremont Collective, home to a local coffee shop, surf shop, bottle shop, and wildly popular hat and apparel brand Brixton, which was started by a group of friends way back when in an Oceanside garage. If you need a new sun hat, you won’t want to miss stopping by here.  


Surfing and skateboarding culture are woven into the very fabric of San Diego County. Experience them at Surf Ride, which has won Retailer of the Year from the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association. It offers a dizzying selection of boards for gnarly waves or the perfect Ollie, plus the right gear and clothing to rock the look. Never surfed? Take a lesson from one of their experienced instructors. 


And speaking of water, even humble H2O gets its place in the sun here in Oceanside. Urbn Wtr Company sells its own alkaline water, treated via a 13-step process that helps the body both hydrate and detoxify (Urbn Wtr also supplies the drinking water for The Seabird), alongside bottles and flasks to make the folks back home go “Where’dja get that?” 


Back downtown, the Oceanside Museum of Art is one of the region’s hidden gems. Meena calls it “small but amazing, with exciting exhibits highlighting California artists.” Its Museum Store is like a gallery of Southern California-based makers of painting and photography, textile and fiber arts, ceramics, mixed media, timeless jewelry, and even elegant basketry. The result: one-of-a-kind pieces with a real sense of place. 


And if your visit coincides with one of Oceanside’s popular street markets, you’re in luck. Thursdays, downtown streets are closed off for the morning Farmer’s Market — for California’s bounty from produce to prepared foods — and the evening Sunset Market featuring eclectic crafts, an international food court, and live music. At the monthly First Friday Art Walk, the focus turns to dozens of local creators showing their paintings, sculptures, home décor, and jewelry; it’s along Artist Alley, a side street well worth a visit anytime for its Instagrammable collection of murals.