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How to Celebrate the Holiday Season in Oceanside

The holiday spirit is already in abundance at The Seabird Resort and our sister hotel Mission Pacific. We’ve cooked up an impressive calendar of events, food experiences and activities for guests of all ages to enjoy the special season. But the festivities aren’t limited to what’s happening at the hotels. We’ve cooked up a list of fun ways the Oceanside community and surrounding areas will put their sunny stamp on the holidays. 

Local Shopping

Oceanside’s collection of fashion boutiques, hip surf and skate shops, and inviting art galleries are part of what gives the town its unique character. This independent spirit is being promoted through the efforts of Shop Local Oceanside, which has launched a ’Tis the Season to Shop Local program, which includes a scavenger hunt, craft beer and wine tasting event, and a tree lighting party. Naturally, holiday shoppers will find unique gift ideas and bargains along the way. Saturday Nov. 27 through Sunday, Dec. 12.

Merry Makers Fair

For one-of-a-kind gifts that showcase the Oceanside spirit of artistry, come to this annual two-day market in downtown Oceanside. While the crafts, artworks, and singular curios are a reason to visit in their own right, you’ll find live music, beverage tastings, and other festive goings-on to sweeten the deal. Saturday, Nov. 27, 10–4, and Sunday, Nov. 27, 11–3, Pier View Way and North Tremont Street. 

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

A highlight of Oceanside’s holiday calendar, Oceanside’s famous sunset market will become a yuletide fantasia for the annual tree lighting ceremony. Among the many activities: coconut tree climbing, kids zip-lining, an obstacle course, holiday train, jump houses, and inflatable slides. Adults will appreciate the live music and gourmet street eats, and the market itself will be in high gear as its eclectic vendors offer a dizzying range of gifts. Thursday, Dec. 2, 5-9pm (Santa arrival and tree lighting at 6pm).

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

A dazzling spectacle featuring vessels of all shapes and sizes festooned in holiday lights and ornaments, this annual boat parade is a nautical twist on Christmas traditions. The free event appeals to all and features entertainment and prizes for the best sailboat, powerboat, and small craft. Bring a blanket and warm clothing. Saturday, Dec. 11, 7pm, Oceanside Marina.

Taste of Art: A Holiday Feast with Georgia O’Keeffe

The recently reopened Oceanside Museum of Art is bridging food and art in this singular holiday event. Led by art professor and curator Robin Douglas, the ticketed evening blends elements of a painting workshop with a Southwestern-inspired holiday fête, with shared insights on the life of the iconoclastic painter. Reservations essential. Thursday, Dec. 16, 6-8pm, visitors $50, members $40. 

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Celebrate the Season at The Seabird

We’re marking our first holiday in Oceanside — come join the fun!

Get ready for some holiday cheer, SoCal-style. We’re delighted to spend our first holiday season in Oceanside with Jingle on the Beach, a festive collection of celebrations and family-friendly activities ranging from delectable dining offers to seasonal workshops. Whether you’re a visitor, a staycationer, or a proud O’side local, we can’t wait to ring in the holiday season with you! 

Reservations are strongly recommended for all holiday events. See what’s going on at our sister resort, Mission Pacific, hereHere’s what’s in store:

CELEBRATORY MEALS AT PIPER

Piper, the resort’s signature restaurant, is offering a range of special prix fixe menus throughout the season, all prepared with the best organic and locally sourced ingredients. As always, our delicious cuisine is family-friendly (our kid-focused menu will also be available throughout the season), served in a convivial and relaxed atmosphere. 

  • Farm-to-Table Thanksgiving Feast: Indulge in Thanksgiving favorites, plus our beloved pastas and vegetarian fare, all sourced from our favorite local purveyors. Thursday, November 25, 3-9 p.m.; $95 per person (four-course menu). 
  • Christmas Eve: Savor the Season Dinner: Come together with family and friends over a festive menu that focuses on organic, seasonal fare, including prime rib, vegetable cassoulet, and so much more. Friday, December 24, 4-9 p.m.; $95 per person (four-course menu).
  • Christmas Day: All is Bright Brunch: Start the special day with homemade artisanal breads, a hot oatmeal station, apple-stuffed French toast, and more brunch favorites. Saturday, December 25, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.; $45 per adult, $28 per child 5-12.
  • New Year’s Eve: Pop the Cork Dinner: Bid adieu to 2021 and get ready to ring in a new year full of promise with a special four-course feast. Friday, December 31, 5:30-8 p.m.; $110 per person.

COUNT DOWN IN STYLE 

With the ocean just outside, there’s no better venue in Oceanside than the Shore Room to celebrate the New Year. Celebrate in style with an elegant evening, featuring live jazz music along with plenty of champagne and caviar. Friday, December 31, 8 p.m.–midnight; $250 per couple, including reserved seating, a bottle of champagne, and caviar tasting.

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS WITH A BEACHFRONT TWIST 

Our special program of holiday-themed activities is designed to ignite the imaginations of kids of all ages. 

Holiday Workshop

Celebrate the season with fun crafts, including snowman building, cookie decorating, writing letters to Santa, and creating Christmas and Hanukkah ornaments. Saturdays from Nov. 27 to Dec. 25 and Friday, Dec. 24; 12-2 p.m.

Gingerbread House Decorating

Grab the entire family and show off your gingerbread house decorating skills. Make it a Top Gun Gingerbread House for a chance to win a $100 hotel gift certificate. Are you up for the challenge? Nov. 11, 4 p.m.; $35 per kit | Recommend one per family of 4-6; limited availability.

Caramel Apple Dipping

Create your own sweet treat by dipping apples in creamy caramel and then tailoring them to your liking with a range of toppings, including chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbles, sprinkles, and crushed cookies. Nov. 24, 6 p.m. and Nov. 25 and Dec. 21, 11 a.m.; $10 per apple

Story Time With Elves

The spirited Elves of Seabird are standing by to lend a hand and narrate a fun holiday story. Younger guests are invited to wear their favorite holiday pajamas. Thursdays from Dec. 2 to Dec. 23; 5:30 p.m. 

Holiday Movie by the Pool

Get cozy at Shelter Club, enjoying hot chocolate, cider, and popcorn while watching a classic holiday film. Add an extra dash of holiday magic to the experience by renting a portable fire pit and getting all the ingredients for tasty s’mores. Saturdays from Nov. 27 to Dec. 25; 6-8 p.m. 

How to Spend Halloween in Oceanside

By Aaron Peasley

The weather may still be balmy here, but Oceanside is no slouch when it comes to celebrating fall and, especially, Halloween. Buildings are festooned with chilling decor, residential streets turn into mini haunted villages, and even the surfers get their freak on, swapping board shorts for skeleton-print wetsuits. Here are a few ways to get into this year’s fun, Oceanside-style.

GET SPOOKY AT THE SEABIRD

You won’t have to leave the resort to experience Oceanside’s ghoulish side. Our ever-popular Little Seabirds program includes creative and memorable ways for younger guests to have a beachside Halloween. Throughout October, our curated activities include rock monster painting, spooky scavenger hunts, pumpkin painting, and creepy sand art. On Halloween night, trick-or-treaters are unleashed at 4:30 pm. 

HAUNTED SUNSET MARKET

Just three blocks away from The Seabird, Oceanside’s year-round market gets wicked and weird for this once-a-year party the Thursday before Halloween. Ghosts and goblins of all ages are welcome: The costume parade commences at 6pm, and the main stage will showcase local performers and sets by DJ Steve O as well as a contest in search of Oceanside’s “most blood-curdling scream.” BYO earplugs. Thursday, Oct. 28.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS FESTIVAL

Given our proximity to Mexico, it’s no surprise that O’siders are accustomed to the unique traditions of Día de los Muertos, from papel picado (paper banners) and marigold garlands (traditional spirit offerings) to the ubiquitous skull iconography. Celebrating its 20th year, our local festival, held downtown at the corner of Pier View Way and South Tremont, attracts people of all ages. Kids can have their face painted in their favorite colors and learn about the chalk cemetery ritual, while parents delight in the culinary treats and vendors selling handmade arts and crafts. Sunday, Oct. 24. 

BALBOA PARK’S HAUNTED TRAIL

Transportation (it’s a 30-minute drive from the resort), an entry fee ($25 and up), and a little courage are the prerequisites to enter this hugely popular attraction in San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park. Designed for kids 10 and up and adults, the mile-long track runs through the historic gardens, with some unexpected sights along the way. An uber-theatrical homage to the old school hayride, the one of a kind experience begins once you make your way out of the “eXperiment Maze,” a portal to an underworld where futuristic special effects and professional actors create a ghoulish, intriguing and often hilarious experience. You’ve been warned. Through Oct. 31.

LEGOLAND CALIFORNIA

Locally in Carlsbad around 15 minutes from Oceanside, Legoland pulls out all the spooky stops during October. As well as Brick-or-Treat, which sees the perennially popular park open after dark, weekend ticket holders will be able to experience the park in a new light. Kids are invited to come dressed in costumes for (safely distanced) character meet-n-greets, and the entire family will appreciate the seasonal eating options and popular scavenger hunt. Through Oct. 31.

AROUND OCEANSIDE

With its profusion of wineries, small farms and orchards, the San Diego area is set up for outdoor fall delights — no picnic basket required. Drop by Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkin Patch in La Jolla to scout organic produce, take on the maze, or learn the basics of pumpkin carving. Temecula Terror, which attracts an older crowd as well as families, is a new attraction featuring wine tastings, live music, and a series of themed pop-ups serving seasonal cocktails, local wines, and microbrews.

Duran Barr’s Guide to Making the Most of Your Surf Lessons

By Liz Sheldon

Surfing is in Duran Barr’s blood. His family has been riding SoCal waves for generations, and his father was a pro who now sells his own custom boards. Barr, a Carlsbad native, was on the pro tour himself for over a decade, traveling the world to compete on the best waves. He’s also the founder of North County Surf Academy, the area’s best surf school. Barr and his team offer 90-minute lessons daily at The Seabird Resort (and our sister hotel, Mission Pacific), which can be tailored for students of any age or skill level. We asked Barr to share the inside scoop on his career as a pro, Oceanside surf culture, and how to make the most of your lessons. 

On His Surfing Bona Fides

I grew up immersed in the surfing lifestyle. The culture and the business of it was always there. Getting to surf at a professional level is incredible, but it doesn’t last forever. I always want to be in the water, and I figured opening my own school would be an amazing opportunity to share the knowledge and traditions of surfing. There’s a great local scene in Oceanside — surfing and action sports are a small world, and everyone is sort of connected. There’s a lot of mutual respect.

 

surf lessons in Oceanside

The Important Differences Between Surf Schools

What makes us different from other schools is our learn-from-a-pro experience. Our staff has been born and raised surfing their whole lives, which you won’t find everywhere. You’re being taught by people who know the conditions and techniques better than anyone. That also allows us to teach all levels, from true beginners to much more advanced surfers looking to hone their skills.

When — and Where — to Get Started

Definitely check in with the surf school to find your ideal weather. If you’re looking for bigger or stronger conditions, maybe later in the day will be better. If you’re a beginner, tomorrow might be more gentle. We’re here to put you at ease. We also make sure to match the location to your skills. I like to surf the pier, but I’d say that’s for advanced surfers. Tell us about your (or your kid’s) experience level and we’ll let you know the best spot for your lesson. 

What Beginners Can Expect

 

Our beginner lessons cover the basics of finding your position and getting into the water. We have different size boards for kids of different ages. We also offer both one-on-one private lesson and group classes, but we have 3-to-1 max ratio of clients to instructors, depending on surf conditions. Our goal is to help you feel confident and catch that first wave. 

Advice for More Experience Surfers

 

If you’ve had lessons and practice before, we can help you improve, and if you’re in town to surf for a few days, we can guide you to our favorite local spots. Call us after you book and share what you’re looking for, and we’ll assess what you need. We’ve worked with everyone from couples who have been surfing for years just for fun to aspiring pros trying to learn high-level techniques and surf under pressure — we understand firsthand what that’s like. We can even work with my family’s company, Barr Surfboards, to shape a custom board or help you transition from a soft board to a hard one. 

 

Want to surf with Duran and his team? Mission Pacific offers lessons daily. 

LEARN MORE

 

 

Your Guide to Pet-Friendly Oceanside

By Liz Sheldon

Beaches, sunshine, hiking trails —  if you’re a dog there’s plenty to love about Oceanside. (It’s pretty awesome for humans, too!) Our hometown is especially friendly to pets, with plenty of outdoor activities and businesses that welcome furry friends. The Seabird Resort is happy to have your dogs stay with us; just let us know in advance (our dog policy allows up to two well-behaved pets per room for a $150 fee). We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite things to do with dogs around town. 

 

Guide to the best pet friendly areas in Oceanside

Stroll the Farmers Market

Just steps from our front door, the Oceanside Farmers Market takes place every Thursday and is open to on-leash dogs. Stroll between produce and food vendors (maybe pick up an apple or carrot — they make tasty pooch treats), shop local goods, and listen to live music right on Main Street. 

 

Stroll the Beach

From the market, you can continue right onto The Strand, a stretch of road that parallels the shoreline. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach itself (or the pier), so this is a great way for both people and pets to enjoy the stellar views (and fascinating smells) of the ocean without breaking any rules. Got a swimmer? Dog-friendly North Beach (aka Dog Beach) in Del Mar is just a short drive away. A bit further afield, Bluffs Beaches at San Onofre State Park has a couple of dog-friendly spots (Beaches 1 and 6 specifically) — though they require a bit of a hike.

 

Grab a Bite or a Sip

Most of Oceanside’s restaurants, cafés, and bars with outdoor seating are open to on-leash dogs, including our own Piper and Shelter Club. Other Fido favorites around town include Pacific Coast Spirits, Pier View Coffee, Beach Break Cafe, and our brewery partner, Bagby. Parlor Doughnuts even offers a special doggie donut. No begging! 

 

Hit the Trail

The San Luis Rey Trail is already one of our favorite walks, whether or not you have a canine companion (it’s also great for biking). The full nine-mile length might be a bit tough on doggie paws, but even a short section offers glimpses of local plants and wildlife (squirrel!), not to mention plenty of exercise. Because as we pet doggie parents all know, a well exercised pup is a sleepy pup.

Explore the iconic Oceanside pier

 

The historic Oceanside Pier has survived storms, thefts, and hard times to become the town’s beating heart — and a magnet for locals and visitors alike. 

 

By Liz Sheldon

Wooden piers have become a classic symbol of California beach culture, but they were initially intended for practical purposes. Built to make it possible for large ships to unload heavy cargo, wharves, as they were originally known, could cement a small city’s future as a commercial hub. That’s exactly what the Oceanside Board of Trustees promised when it began raising funds for a 1,505-foot pier back in 1887. While things didn’t necessarily go according to plan, the pier you see here today has been a favorite fishing and leisure site for over a century, and stands out as one of Oceanside’s most iconic landmarks. Read on for the story of how the pier came to be, and the best ways to make the most of your visit to this picturesque symbol of Oceanside. 

 

A Short History of Our Long Pier

 

After scaling back from a design proposal that included a railroad track, the first piling for what would eventually become the Oceanside Pier was hammered into the sand in May of 1888. Relying on $28,000 pledged by local citizens, by June the city watched as shipments of lumber began arriving through the high seas (delivered, fittingly, by a captain named Starbuck). To them, it would be only a matter of months until Oceanside’s economic boom skyrocketed them to great wealth. 

 

By August 1888, the pier extended 1,304 feet, nearly its full length, and had already become a popular local fishing spot. Unfortunately, construction halted due to a nail shortage. Then, in December, disaster struck as a winter storm swept away much of the progress.

 

By 1889 citizens had begun to lose faith, referring to the battered pier as “a barnacle roost.” Bad weather and theft of construction materials slowed progress, and then, in December of 1890, a winter storm washed the remaining 300 feet of pier out to sea. (You can sometimes see the remains of this first pier at the end of Wisconsin Street at low tide; the Visit Oceanside site has more detailed history and photographs.)

 

It wasn’t until 1894 that Oceanside’s first pier was officially completed, in a new site at the end of Pier Way (then called Third Street). The Oceanside Pier still stands there today, having been replaced six times, most recently in 1987. Today it draws fishermen and visitors from far and wide, and its timeless image has come to represent leisurely days spent at the SoCal shore.

 

 

6 Great Ways to Spend a Day at the Pier

 

GO FISHING Follow in the footsteps of centuries of O’siders and drop a line off the pier. Anyone is welcome to fish, but you must obtain a license first (it’s fast and easy). A charming built-in bait and tackle shop partway down the pier supplies everything you need to cast off and collect your catch, which could be croakers near the shore, larger halibut and sea bass further out, and even mackerel and bonito. 

 

WATCH THE SUNSET The pier is a beloved place to watch the sun sink behind the waves, offering an epic array of colors to capture on camera. Many visitors take shots of the pier itself from shore, but walk out a bit to find unique vantage points of the horizon. 

 

VISIT CHARLIE THE PELICAN Cheeky, prehistoric-looking brown pelicans are a common sight on the pier, but one special pelican has earned a role as Oceanside’s unofficial mascot: Charlie is a fixture outside the Pier Bait Shop, where he and his pals — whom locals have dubbed Mike, Three Toes, Chompers, and Boo — hang out to clean up after the fishermen. Remember the birds are part of Oceanside’s precious ecosystem, so please treat them with respect. 

 

WATCH A SURF COMPETITION Many of Oceanside’s major surf events take place directly beside the pier, including August’s family-friendly Oceanside Longboard Surfing Club Contest and its accompanying beach festival. Later in the month, you can watch athletes do incredible tricks sans boards during the World Bodysurfing Championships. September brings the Super Girl Surf Pro, the only women’s Association of Professional Surfing (ASP) qualifying event in North America.

 

PAINT THE PIER While it’s not technically on the pier, you’ll get the best view in town from Mission Pacific’s rooftop, where Paint, Sip, and Gaze happens every Friday from 5:30–7:30pm. Our art expert provides all the supplies and instruction you need to create your own portrait of the pier — not to mention a glass of wine or cocktail for creative inspiration. 

 

EXPLORE THE SUNSET MARKET Just steps from the foot of the pier, the Oceanside Sunset Market takes place every Thursday from 5 to 9pm. International food vendors dish up everything from El Salvadoran pupusas to fresh sashimi and Belgian waffles. There’s also a marketplace for local crafts and live music, plus a kid-friendly play area with games.