Oceanside is a beautiful beach town in north San Diego County where you can discover the timeless joy of a perfect family-friendly seaside resort getaway. This up-and-coming city certainly merits a couple of days' attention on your Southern California itinerary.
The destination has often been overlooked as a SoCal destination, but now all of that is changing. Once it was considered a sleepy little town existing in Camp Pendleton's shadow, but in recent years an impressive array of upscale restaurants, trendy cafes and craft breweries have opened their doors downtown. In addition, two new stylish beachfront resorts have put Oceanside on the travel map -- together. The Seabird Resort and the Mission Pacific Hotel provide the perfect recipe for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Oceanside is easily accessible by train from Los Angeles and San Diego, making it the perfect anchor town for a revive vacation before exploring the rest of Southern California. Another part of Oceanside's allure is that everything you need for a family vacation is within a four-block radius of these two new beachfront resorts, making it unnecessary to drive during the entire trip. Our weekend was ultimately so effortless precisely because everything was within walking distance. You can't do any better for a family-friendly plop-and-drop experience.
Spending a weekend at The Seabird Resort was like hitting the reset button with all of the right ingredients for a perfect coastal break: a prime location just steps away from Oceanside beaches, Oceanside Pier Playground and the city's historic pier. The ambience is cozy and evocative of a favorite family beach house with myriad amenities. The hotel even has a "Little Seabirds" program with an entire roster of year-round activities designed to keep children entertained and engaged during their stay. The simplicity of The Seabird's entire setup was such an easy, breezy treat -- from the pool to the beach and back again.
After we checked in, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner in Piper at The Seabird, an open kitchen designed so you can view your made-to-order pasta -- a literal pasta theater. Our family savored all of the inventive, ingredient-driven, handmade pasta dishes. For dessert with a dash of pop culture, we headed next door to the Mission Pacific Hotel's beachfront courtyard and grabbed some sweet treats at High-Pie, which operates in the fully restored oceanfront residence of Tom Cruise's co-star, Kelly McGillis, in the 1986 movie "Top Gun."
The next morning, we strolled over to the Mission Pacific Hotel for a scrumptious breakfast at High/Low, an outdoor oceanfront cafe where we enjoyed watching all the surfers go by during our meal.
After our leisurely Saturday morning, we rented a pool cabana overlooking the ocean at our hotel and spent the whole day there. I would highly recommend doing this because it makes for a more fun day. Even if the pool area is crowded, you'll still feel like you have your own personal lounge area that's yours to keep coming back to for respite all day. Lounging there with our cocktails was glorious vacation bliss.
In the evening we had a sunset cocktail celebration next door at Mission Pacific Hotel's Rooftop Bar, which is the very definition of chic. And since it's such an exceptional spot for sunset viewing, this is the perfect place to celebrate any special occasion. The hotel is also home to a gift shop, The Ozone, that's full of stylish little details that will make for memories back at home.
On Sunday, we had a lazy brunch buffet at Piper with an abundant variety of foods to satisfy everyone's personal palates. After that I checked into Sunny's Spa at The Seabird for a massage -- a little pampering time for this mom on vacation.
The spa has a breathtaking lounge area, and the view overlooking the glistening California coast was tranquility reimagined. Every view was an integral part of the seaside resort experience. From the coastal vistas outside to the magnificent artwork on display inside both resorts, there was visual delight at every turn. I left the spa feeling tremendously calm, refreshed and ready to go again.