Several years ago, I wrote a little review about a trip we took to Oceanside, California. The funny thing was that we just sort of accidentally ended up there when my husband was looking for hotels near Legoland. We had a great time, but didn't make our way back for several years. Turns out that family friends of ours have a vacation rental in Oceanside. My parents rent the house once or twice a year, and when we can, we tag along for a few days. We went this past year over Labor Day weekend, and had a wonderful time.
Oceanside is a laid-back, casual beach town, not nearly as pretentious of some of its ritzy Southern California neighbors. In my book that makes it perfect for a relaxed family getaway. While we love Tucson, the east coast girl in me misses the beach and needs to see the ocean every now and then. This trip to the coast helped us to regroup and breathe a little before we jumped into a jam-packed fall full of school, homework, sports, work, and activities.
Because the house we rent is right on the beach, we spend 90% of our time there. We drink our coffee in the morning, watching the surfers until the kids decide to change into bathing suits and begin their day - digging in the sand, jumping waves, collecting shells, and meeting other kids on the beach. Notice I said nothing about watching TV or playing video games - that's the beauty of this vacation; they can keep themselves busy for hours at the beach!
At night we sometimes grill out - Fish House Vera Cruz in Carlsbad has a beautiful selection of fresh fish; this year we picked up some swordfish and threw that on the grill, baked some potatoes, and had a fantastic meal while we watched the sun set. Food really does taste better at the beach!
We also ate at Hello Betty Fish House for the first time. I loved the casual concept with the big open windows and nice selection of Baja-inspired food. I had fish tacos that were great. After dinner we took a walk on the Oceanside Pier. The pier was pretty crowded in the evening, unlike the times we'd walked it during the day.
This year we decided to revisit Jake's Del Mar, a restaurant we had eaten at once before, for another dinner. It's a little drive down the coast from Oceanside, but it's fun to see the scenery down the Pacific Coast Highway if you choose not to take the freeway. The views are spectacular and the servers are very attentive despite the crowds, so all in all it was a nice evening.
One of our days was spent at Legoland, just a few minutes down the road in Carlsbad. Truthfully, at 8 and 10, my kids are getting to be a little old for Legoland as they're starting to enjoy more daring rides at other theme parks, but my son is still a die-hard Lego fan and my daughter actually won the tickets in a coloring contest by our local TV station, so why not?! The kids found out about their MiniFigure trading program (How did we not know about this before? You can bring your MiniFigures and trade them with park employees.) so they were excited to do that, and it was fun to see the actual set of The Lego Movie in person. My son is still dreaming of the day when he can get the Lego Death Star, so he enjoyed seeing that on the Lego Movie set too. We enjoyed the gorgeous weather and fun family day, so it was a nice outing and added a little variety to the trip.
One of our favorite traditions is to end the trip with a big breakfast at Beachbreak Cafe before we load up the car for the long drive back to Tucson. This is a great local place with tons of delicious breakfast options - bring your appetite!
That's it for this trip, but we're definitely hoping a return visit to Oceanside is in the cards for 2015.