Category: Culture

Why This Locavore Chef Is So Excited About the Oceanside Food Scene

 

By Liz Sheldon

 

The Seabird Resort’s Executive Chef Kurtis Habecker is no stranger to the bounty of West Coast ingredients. An Orange County native, he’s spent years exploring the flavors of California. But even he has to admit that San Diego and the Oceanside area offer something truly special when it comes to locally sourced produce and proteins. As he puts it, “the number of farms in and around San Diego is shocking.”

Highlighting those farmers and producers is central to Habecker’s approach at the casual Shelter Club, lively pasta-focused Piper (opening for dinner October 21st), and  The Shore Room. For Habecker, the bounty of the region makes eating and cooking locally thrilling. “There are so many microclimates within San Diego, we have access to incredible seasonal ingredients much longer than most places,” he says. Here’s a Habecker primer on his favorite places to eat, the producers he can’t wait to share with diners, and an inside peek at the concept behind Piper. 

 

The Up-and-Coming Local Dining Scene

 

Oceanside is the Brooklyn of San Diego. In high school I would drive down and surf Oceanside Harbor, and I love to see how far it’s come since then. My chef de cuisine Jason Carter grew up in Oceanside, and he’s a part of this new generation that’s elevating these experiences. There are quite a few people who have just gone for it and created something really interesting.

Wrench and Rodent is always a fun stop. They have an amazing sushi program, and they’re actually dry-aging their own fish. Campfire, down in Carlsbad, is a wood-fired cooking concept; the food is solid and very seasonal. It’s different from Piper but a similar approach to seasonality and thoughtful design. Bagby Beer Company is making special brews just for us, and it’s a great place to hang out. 

 

Putting Farmers and Producers Front and Center

 

We’re trying to find people who are passionate about what they do and elevate them, and in turn they will elevate us. The Shore Room overlooks Oceanside Pier, so what could be better than eating the freshest seafood? We’re working with a few local fishermen to get the catch of the day, like some really beautiful black cod. 

Seed Greens grows living microgreens in a coconut shell pot. We’re keeping them right on the line at Piper, so if you’re sitting at the counter, you can see us clip them in front of you. 

Chrystal’s Pure Honey makes an amazing citrus blend honey. The gentleman who runs it timed the production process so the bees fed off orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees, and the flavor is so intense you would swear he puts citrus rind in the honey. 

 

Prager Brothers has a location in San Diego, and they work with all their own sourdoughs. When you taste them, you just fall in love. We’re showcasing some of their breads — we want to produce as much as we can in-house, but some people are making stuff that’s so good you just have to work with them. Prager Brothers get all their eggs from Schaner Farms, so they introduced us, and it turns out they grow great onions and garlic we’re going to use as well. As you meet people your network grows, and it’s wonderful to be a part of this larger community of people so committed to doing their own thing. 

 

Piper: An Ongoing Dinner Party

 

Piper is the embodiment of someone who is world-traveled, has their own garden, and loves to have people over for dinner. We’re trying to re-create that feeling of coming to someone’s home — it’s warm, it’s welcoming, and you’re eating what was picked fresh that day. 

There is a focus on pasta and noodles, but it’s not an Italian restaurant. San Diego cuisine borrows a lot from Baja California, and those ideas of freshness, acidity, and texture all  influence what we’re doing. There’s a center island with ten seats where we’re featuring a special menu and making pasta right in front of you. It’s elevated but still very approachable. There’s a wood-fired oven, so there’s also the excitement of live fire cooking. Things will change as we’re creating: Ingredients are always coming and going, so we’re going to be ready at any time for what’s coming up next and how we can tweak things to best serve the season. 

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Discovering Oceanside’s art scene

 

From a sculpture made from recycled t-shirts to Insta-worthy street murals, you’ll discover art at every turn.

 

By Liz Sheldon

Oceanside has an unmistakable sense of place, thanks to its strong local community and unique Southern California culture. That’s thanks not only to action sports like skating and surfing, but also a thriving arts scene powered by a diverse community of sculptors, weavers, painters, photographers, and muralists,. Their work includes something for everyone, and it’s easy to discover, from the walls of local shops to the Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) and The Seabird Resort’s own one-of-a-kind collection. 

“The art scene here is really eclectic and full of experimentation,” says Maria Mingalone, the Executive Director of OMA, which curated the collection shared by The Seabird and Mission Pacific. “There’s not a particular style, which is why the museum’s programming is diverse.The city is full of unexpected art at every turn — which means kids who roll their eyes at traditional museum trips will have plenty of exposure to the different forms creativity can take. Here’s a guide to some of our favorite places to discover art around town. 

 

EXPLORE THE SEABIRD’S OWN COLLECTION

 

Featuring ceramics, fiber arts, metal sculptures, prints, and paintings, the dozens of pieces in The Seabird and Mission Pacific’s collection were intentionally chosen to represent a diverse group of artists — and reflect the true spirit of the Oceanside area. “Our goal was to personalize the hotels, so they’re about this specific community,” says Mingalone. “I think people can really feel that,” 

Mingalone collaborated with the hotels as well as with Rebecca Webb, the museum’s Special Projects Director and Curator, to select the works. Right now, in the Grand Coastal Foyer, you’ll spot Michelle Montjoy’s Chorus, a 75-foot sculpture woven from recycled t-shirts sourced from local thrift shops. The lobby displays Elegantly Destroyed, a massive cyanotype by Andrea Chung, and Ben Wei (shortboard), a black-and-white boardwalk print by photographer Zach Cordner. In addition, the resort features its own gallery called OMA West at The Seabird, which will rotate exhibits three times a year. 

Webb sees the partnership between the hotels and the museum as part of a larger trend towards accessibility in the art world: “There’s a paradigm shift towards inviting guests and visitors to be able to access the art more easily. It’s private and public coming together. A lot of the spaces, like the lobby and the pool deck, are public access, so these pieces are available to everyone.”

 

TOUR OCEANSIDE’S FAMOUS MURALS

 

When we say art is everywhere you turn in Oceanside, we mean it literally. Throughout downtown, the walls have been transformed into a brilliant, eclectic, ever-changing collection of murals by local artists. They’re easy enough to stumble across, but this handy map will help you plan your own DIY tour. Some of the more celebrated works include prolific painter BB Bastida’s snake mural outside Coastal Market and his shark and ballerina piece outside Cadence Dance Project, plus the historic Cruisin’ mural by artist Larry Hill outside the classic 101 Cafe

To learn more about the murals and their history, sign up for the O’Side Murals Walking Tour, led by local arts activist Brigid Parsons (the $15 tour also includes entrance to OMA). To see the most pieces at once, head down to Artist Alley, located between Mission Avenue and Pier View Way, which features a high concentration of murals as well as artists’ studios. The alley is also the starting point for the monthly Art Walk event, when shops and small galleries open their doors and artists show their work outside. 

 

VISIT THE OCEANSIDE MUSEUM OF ART

 

Once you’ve explored our in-house collection, plan a trip to OMA, which offers rotating exhibitions as well as programming like the First Friday Art Walk starting at the museum. OMA helps new artists get discovered; unlike traditional museums, says Mingalone, “we work closely with the living artist community, so we often take a lot of risk in terms of the artists who we show. It might be their first exhibit, but we believe their work deserves to be seen. That is rare, since so often museums want to share the art of people who are already famous.” 

In practice, that means getting to discover artists you can follow throughout their careers — or even meet as part of the museum’s programming. Current exhibitions include Twenty Women Artists: NOW, which shows both current and older works that reflect the struggles women face today. OMA also hosts the annual Plein Air Arts Festival (July 24–31), which encourages artists of all skill levels to create a canvas in the great outdoors, and features artist talks, an art sale, and a juried exhibition that will be on view through October. 

Discovering Oceanside's art scene

Make the most of summer before school’s back

 

Endless beaches! Surf lessons! Scavenger hunts! Oceanside offers countless ways for families to make lasting memories under the sun.

 

By Liz Sheldon

Summer days seem to go on forever, but as we all (sadly) know, summer itself eventually has to end. If you’re a parent, chances are you’re already staring down a checklist of school supplies. That’s why now is the perfect time to plan some end-of-summer fun before class is officially back in session (especially for kids transitioning back to in-person classes). Oceanside is ideal for a family getaway: It’s an easy drive from the LA and San Diego metro areas (if you don’t want to drive, book a trip on the scenic Pacific Surfliner train!), small enough to find your way around, and filled with opportunities for sunlit adventures and beachside R&R. Here are eight ways to make lasting (and non-screen-time) summer memories with kids of all ages.

 

Go Deep on Surfing

 

Whether your kids are first-timers on a board or looking to level up their skills, The Seabird offers all-ages lessons every day by appointment. Book them a one-on-one class or bond over a family lesson that even teens can’t resist. Taught by North Country Surf Academy instructors,, featuring professional surfer Duran Barr, each 90-minute lesson includes pointers on body position, safety, and how to pop up — plus plenty of practice time in the waves. Our surf valet will deliver a wetsuit, board, and swag bag of surf goodies right to your lesson. Pro tip: Connect your kids’ newfound love of wave-riding to the sport’s history with a visit to the California Surf Museum, which traces the origins of surf culture in Southern California.

 

Go on a Good Old-Fashioned Scavenger Hunt

 

Of all the ways our Little Seabirds program keeps kids entertained,, the scavenger hunts might be our favorites. They’re a great way for younger kids to explore the resort, beachfront included. The Art Scavenger hunt is a cleverly disguised mini-gallery tour of our collection curated by the Oceanside Museum of Art, sending little ones searching the resort for original pieces by local artists. And the Treasure Hunt has pirate-obsessed boys and girls digging around the beachfront for some cleverly hidden prizes (see the full schedule of Little Seabird events here).

 

Let Loose at Legoland

 

A quick 10-mile drive from our doorstep, Legoland is a colorful way to blow any brick-obsessed kid’s mind. A blast for all ages, the resort includes a theme park with rides like the Coastersaurus, which flies past ginormous Lego dinosaurs; a new section devoted to The Lego Movie, with a thrilling virtual ride on Emmet’s triple-decker couch; building stations where kids can construct anything they dream up; a water park; and even an aquarium.

 

Spend a Whole Day Outside

 

Take advantage of the waning days of summer by planning a day-long itinerary in the fresh SoCal air. Fuel up with an alfresco breakfast at Piper (the bananas foster oatmeal is a hit with kids), then head down to the Beach Rambler to get set up with chairs and umbrellas for the day. If you’re staying with us midweek, join a kite flying lesson (Mon. & Fri. at 11am) or a sandcastle-building session (Wed. at 3pm). Make an advance reservation for one the fire pits over on our Coastal Terrace at The Seabird Resort, so you can surprise the kids with after-dinner s’mores under the stars.

 

Spot Whales Firsthand

 

Thrilling and educational, whale-watching tours give kids a chance to learn about — and get close to — local sea life. The expert guides at Oceanside Whale Watching will point out the incredible diversity of marine wildlife just minutes offshore. From May to October, that means humpbacks, minkes, blue whales, and fin whales, plus four different species of dolphins. You might also spot orcas, sharks, turtles, and sea lions. And the luxury 50-foot catamaran is designed to get close to the creatures for optimal viewing.

 

Get Crafty

 

Your kids (and you) are sure to be inspired by the local artworks spread around The Seabird and Mission Pacific. That’s why Little Seabirds offers a bunch of ways for them to express their own creativity, while creating an arts-and-crafts piece they can take home as a keepsake of a great summer getaway. Meet up in Wood Library to learn how to make stuffed animals, weave dream catchers, or create bead art. If the kids are itching to get outside, there’s DIY t-shirt tie-dying, mandala rock painting, and colorful sand art happening down on the beach. (Check the Little Seabirds schedule for times.)

 

Head Back in Time

 

Have some budding history buffs on your hands? Take the 5.5-mile drive to Mission San Luis Rey, built in 1798 and the largest of the 21 California missions. Book a behind-the-scenes tour or take a self-guided walk through the historic property, famous for its striking white church, Lavanderia (an open-air laundry — maybe the only time your kids will think doing laundry is cool), picturesque cemetery, and a pepper tree that’s nearly two centuries old.

 

Plan a Kid-Friendly Spa Day

 

Nothing says summer vacation more than a day of indulgence. Surprise them (and treat yourself) with room service breakfast in bed, then head to Sunny’s Spa & Beauty Lounge for a soothing experience tailored to the whole family. Teens can book styling appointments in the beauty lounge and explore fun add-ons like temporary hair paint, multi-masking and the braid bar options. After dinner at Piper’s unique Cali-Craft pasta experience, unwind with Sunny’s half-hour sound bath session in our sound space where kids can explore sound vibrations by listening and playing the singing sound bowls. During this time, they’ll learn how to be mindful and practice the importance of kindness towards ourselves and others—after which, everyone is guaranteed a good night’s sleep.