Spring Break in Oceanside California sunset over the Pacific Ocean

7 Super Spring Break Ideas for Oceanside, CA

Update: 1/19/2023

Way back in December or January when my husband and I begin planning and looking for places to go for Spring Break in March, the question, “Where should we go this year?” inevitably pops up.

The answer from our girls is always, “Somewhere warm.”

We have vacationed in Florida and Texas and even went on a cruise to the Caribbean one year for Spring Break destinations.

7 Spring Break Ideas for Oceanside and San Diego

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How about some fun Spring Break ideas for San Diego and the surrounding area for this year? You can spend your days in San Diego or head up the coast in Oceanside to scout out the tourist shops for the perfect vacation memento, chill at the beach, or walk along the shore.

1. Rent A Sailboat

One of the fun Spring Break activities is to rent a sailboat? Obviously, this suggestion is only going to work if you know how to captain that sailboat. But there are certainly charters you can find if you want someone else to do the navigating for you.

Fortunately for our family, Chris’ dad is a captain of many crafts and knows how to sail boats and fly airplanes!

San Diego harbor for Spring Break

We all planned to spend the day sailing in San Diego Harbor and made a quick stop for lunch, snacks, and drinks before arriving at the marina.

The weather was perfect, and we had a fun day together on the water.

Sailing in San Diego

Following our day on the water, we spent the rest of the evening navigating the California freeway to Oceanside. When you are planning Spring Break ideas for Oceanside in California, be sure to take into account the drive time to and from your activities.

Traffic was fairly backed up for most of the drive, but we finally arrived at the Airbnb condo we had rented. Can’t beat being just a half a block from the ocean!

2. Soak Up the Sun at the Beach—It’s One of the Best Spring Break Ideas for Oceanside!

If you are like us Coloradans, any amount of sunshine and warmth in March after a long, cold winter is a welcome sight.

On our first full day in Oceanside, we walked along the beach to the Oceanside Pier; the girls were more than ready for lunch at Ruby’s on the Pier by the time we arrived.

Ruby’s was spendy and the service was slow, but it was a fun place to eat. (Unfortunately this location is now permanently closed.)

Rubys in Oceanside

Our rental condo was well stocked with beach chairs, sand toys, towels, and boogie boards. When you are booking a place to stay, especially in an Airbnb, beach “toys” are an important consideration.

No one complained about spending an afternoon relaxing at the beach. Could Spring Break get any better?

Misha spread out a towel and soaked up some sunshine while Amy and Kristen took a few tentative steps into the chilly Pacific Ocean. It didn’t take long for them to venture further out with their boogie boards into the bigger waves and have some fun riding the surf.

Chris and I sat on the beach with our fleece jackets on. Brrrr. It really wasn’t terrifically warm, but the girls were having too much fun to notice.  

Amy and Kristen retired their boogie boards after an hour in the water. Amy lay in the sun alongside Misha, though I don’t know that she ever warmed up as she had goosebumps all over every time I looked over at her. 

Kristen played in the sand but got bored after a while and headed back into the ocean. I don’t know how she handled being cold for so long, but she had a great time catching some waves.

We were all in agreement when I finally suggested we go back to sit in the hot tub at the condo complex.

3. Spring Break Ideas for Families—Visit San Diego SeaWorld

As we set out to explore the area around Oceanside, we planned for a day at San Diego SeaWorld. I recommend SeaWorld as one of the top Spring Break ideas for Oceanside. It is great for “kids” of all ages.

Depending on the day and time of year, you’ll want to plan into your schedule waiting in freeway traffic (especially if you go during morning rush hour to get a jump on your day at SeaWorld), finding parking at SeaWorld, and standing in line for tickets and rides.

Flamingos in California

You might even need to bring a Rain Jacket if, like Chris and Kristen, you choose to sit in the “Splash Zone” for the dolphin show. 

The weather during Spring Break at SeaWorld was fantastic. I can imagine it gets pretty hot in the summertime. And crowded. Our wait at most of the rides wasn’t terribly long either.

Now lunch… that WAS crazy. $110 for the five of us. It wasn’t even that good. I would recommend you pack a lunch and return to you car at lunch time to eat it.

4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Spring Break Day Four. After a day at sailing, time at the beach, and fun at San Diego SeaWorld, we spent the next day at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

We arrived a little after opening and still managed to find a relatively close parking spot.

I made sure to wear my Asics shoes as I was suffering from some foot problems and needed comfortable yet supportive shoes to get me through the day.

We still carried our Backpack into the park filled with water in a Camelbak Water Reservoir and Snacks to munch on throughout the day.

We saw goats, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, condors, birds of all kinds, lions, tigers, cheetahs, and koalas. If you are searching for fun Spring Break ideas for Oceanside, CA, we all recommend the Zoo Safari Park.

San Diego California zoo

The park itself was incredibly beautiful with it wide open ranges. It was a nice way to spend the day.

Be prepared to walk and walk and walk. We were really grateful for the half hour respite on the safari train later in the afternoon.

5. San Luis Rey Mission

On our last day of Spring Break in the San Diego area, we stopped at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. The grounds were peaceful, quiet and not terribly busy—perfect for taking some pictures.

As I always travel with my Canon Camera and my iPhone, I took advantage of the great opportunities to snap some photos.

Mission in Oceanside California

Founded by the Order of the Friars Minor, this designation of the Franciscan religious community still lives at the mission today.

Feel free to take a self-guided tour of the museum, walk through the cemetery, and peruse the museum gift shop.

6. Palomar Mountain Observatory

Chris really wanted to visit the Palomar Mountain Observatory in the hills outside of Oceanside before we ended our Spring Break trip. The Observatory is home to the 200-inch Hale Telescope.

The observatory sits on private land owned by CalTech.

Plan to visit the observatory, take a guided tour, and learn more at the observatory museum.

Check the Palomar Mountain Observatory website prior to your visit to make sure inclement weather hasn’t closed the facility. Oh, and make sure you fill up your vehicle with gas prior to your excursion as there are no gas stations nearby!

7. Old Town San Diego

Our girls have always loved Old Town San Diego right in the heart of San Diego, especially the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. I highly recommend it as one of the best Spring Break ideas for Oceanside and San Diego.

Stop in for a tour of the historic site and hear the intriguing story of the Mormon pioneer trek West and of their joining the US Army.

When our girls were younger, they especially loved the hands-on exhibit that taught them how to pan for gold. I think they had dreams of striking it rich!

Mormon Battalion in San Diego

Afterward, wander the street looking for mementos, eat a little ice cream, and find some great Mexican food for dinner! Old Town San Diego has a little bit of something for everyone—history, dining, lodging, shopping, and entertainment.

It is the site of California’s first settlement and was the perfect way to end our Spring Break before heading back to the airport for home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Oceanside, CA known for?

Beyond being one of the best family Spring Break destinations, Oceanside also features a miles of sandy beaches, a beautiful harbor, water adventures, and an iconic wooden pier. It is also gaining a reputation as a fantastic destination for foodies!

How far is Oceanside from San Diego?

It is 38 miles from Oceanside to San Diego. On a good day, it should take about 40 minutes to drive.

What is the average temperature in Oceanside in March?

The average temperature in March is 66°. Temps can range from 59° to 75°. When looking for Spring Break ideas in Oceanside, you will definitely want to check the weather first.

Are there great places to stay in Oceanside?

Yes. If you are looking for vacation rentals on or close to the beach, you can find options through Airbnb, Vrbo, as well as a variety of Marriott hotels and smaller chains.

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Final Thoughts on 7 Super Spring Break Ideas for Oceanside, CA

Whether you are traveling as a couple, with young kids, or with teens, you can always find something wonderful to experience in Oceanside and San Diego.

The sunshine in the Spring feels amazing as you visit popular sites such as the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Old Town San Diego, the beach, Sea World. In fact, you may love it so much you may never want to leave!

More great ideas for Spring Break destinations…

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1 year ago

I love San Diego! There’s so much to do, you could easily spend a week there! I’m so ready to travel and go places without masks and Covid restrictions. Can we please get back to normal??

Kelly Bolen
1 year ago

My hubby and I were in La Jolla and Oceanside about 2 weeks ago to see my son! We had a wonderful time! Great post!

1 year ago

I haven’t been to San Diego yet, but I love California. I’m Canadian but I always say that if I was to ever live somewhere in the US it would be California. I’ll be saving this info for a future trip. Thanks!

1 year ago

San Diego is one of my favorite places in California! We’re planning to go again in a few months to celebrate our anniversary.

1 year ago

The San Diego Zoo is a bucket list destination for me and my family.

1 year ago

Wow, there’s a lot to do in San Diego! I feel like I’d enjoy Old Town San Diego the best. I love places where you can just wander around and take in the history and culture. So fun!

1 year ago

I’ve never been to Southern California. TBH, given the choice of any SoCal spots, it would be San Diego (over say, LA). Saving for future travels!

1 year ago

One of these days, I’ll get off the East Coast and make my way to California. This year is definitely not the year for that haha! But I’m inspired because I’d love to see these spots in person eventually. I’ve saved it to Pinterest for the future 🙂

1 year ago

Love these 7 spring break ideas in Oceanside, CA. So ready for a beach getaway! And I’m a huge fan of San Diego.

1 year ago

These are some great spring break ideas for Oceanside. Renting a sail boat sounds like so much fun! I’d love to give that a try! Old Town San Diego looks so charming too! What a great place to spend spring break! Thanks for the great guide!

Linda (LD Holland)
1 year ago

We headed towards the San Diego area one year at spring break time and sure did enjoyer time in Oceanside. I had to smile at your comment of staying bundled in fleece jackets in the sunny south! I love the idea of renting a sailboat for a different experience on the water. And on our next visit we will have to check out the Palomar Mountain Observatory. 

Erin from Pina Travels
Erin from Pina Travels
1 year ago

Great guide! I’d love to visit the Palomar Mountain Observatory, it sounds like a fascinating place. Thanks for sharing, keeping this in mind for when I can visit San Diego in the future.

1 year ago

I love animals and both the zoo and the safari sound like so much fun! I would love to visit them. Thank you 😊

1 year ago

I have never been to San Diego, but I would love to visit it one day (I still need to explore many places in the US). Also, I totally relate to travelling to somewhere warm. I live in the UK, so I’m always looking for warm destinations.

1 year ago

I spent a weekend there years ago and didn’t get to see most of this stuff. Looks like I’ll have to go back! I’d love to see Old Towne, Sea World, and the rest of the Zoo.

Elena Presagio
Elena Presagio
1 year ago

I would love to visit San Diego SeaWorld. I think my daughter would love it!

1 year ago

I’ve spent a lot of time in San Diego, but haven’t explored Oceanside too much. Thanks for the ideas for next time!

6 days ago

Wow these ideas make we want to spend my next spring break in San Diego! I’ve never been there but it looks like so much and definitely somewhere I would enjoy going with my girlfriends

5 days ago

Oceanside is such a fun spot. I feel like it often gets overlooked for more popular spots on the coast, like San Diego, Santa Monica, and Huntington Beach, but it has so much to offer on its own. My husband and I used to go on retreats there for an organization we volunteered for and loved it. Thanks for this awesome guide!

Jennifer Record
5 days ago

Great recs- SD zoo is a must see… I don’t know much about Mission San Luis Rey but now I want to explore! Thanks for the inspiration!

4 days ago

I’d be interested in visiting the Safari park. It does looks very wide open.