The Southern Californian Beach Town of Oceanside Recently Got Cool — Here’s Where You Should Stay

If you told a Southern Californian 15 years ago that Oceanside would become one of the region’s coolest beach towns, they wouldn’t believe you.

Just 40 minutes north of San Diego, Oceanside’s rise to the top has seen its streets blossom with new beachy boutiques, surf shops, trendy restaurants, and hipster-heavy coffee shops. But in addition to these culture drivers, a crop of new boutique stays have opened their doors, including the Mission Pacific hotel: a 161-key outpost for “sophisticated travelers who can splurge on five-star experiences but appreciate the unpretentious vibe of Oceanside.”

The hotel is replete with a gentle coastal-style aesthetic brimming with earthy textures and neutral tones. In the lobby common space, beachy rattan lamps hang above soothing-shaded furniture, coffee-table books plus small-size sculptures fill the inlets of wooden cabinetry lining the walls, and at one end, a check-in desk appears in glistening wood and fronts a monochromatic gray wall. There’s nothing flashy or overwhelming about the design: it’s relaxed artisanship that pays homage to the softness of Southern Californian nautical energy.

The hotel’s food & drink options are watering holes for the community and visitors, each one with views of the sea. There is a California-style cuisine restaurant helmed by illustrious Chef Roberto Alocer and a laid-back cocktail bar called High-Low on the ground level. While every space has a different and unique vantage point of the Pacific, the Rooftop Bar comes in first place (we love the fish tacos here).

We bet you didn’t see this coming: The hotel just revamped the on-site “Graves House,” which is famous for its appearance in the 1986 film, “Top Gun.” Officially called the Top Gun House, Home of the famous HIGH-Pie, the haunt is a dessert bar that’s complete with a signature hand pie. 

If you’re not relaxing at the hotel’s pool & jacuzzi, look to do so at its next-door sister hotel, The Seabird, specifically undergoing pampering at their spa.

Rooms mirror Oceanside’s laid-back ethos and boast sea views, starting at $319/night.

Top Takeaways

  • Location: Oceanside, CA (40 mins north of San Diego)
  • The Vibe: Southern Californian beachside flair that’s both trendy and laid-back.
  • Food + Drink: There are four restaurants/bars! We love the Rooftop Bar, which is fabulous for cocktails and a view of the beach. There’s also High/Low and Valle on the ground level (Valle is run by one of our favorite Mexican chefs, Roberto Alcocer — farm-fresh ingredients are at the forefront of this California-style cuisine restaurant).
  • Amenities: Outdoor swimming pool; fitness center & yoga classes; three restaurants/bars; free Wi-Fi; pet-friendly accommodations; and an on-site boutique selling chic beachy accouterments.
  • Our favorite thing about the hotel: It’s right across from the beach (having your summer playground be a few steps away is a major plus). Also, and we know we were only supposed to pick one thing here, they have this cute 1940s vintage Rambler selling all your beach day needs, from surfboard rentals to sunscreen bottles.
  • 5 Nearby Attractions: Oceanside City Beach, Oceanside Pier, Downtown Oceanside, Witch Creek Winery, and The California Surf Museum.
  • Any personal neighborhood recs? Yes, Oceanside has gotten super cool these past couple of years. For brunch, hit up Beach Break Cafe in the hip, five-minutes-by-car South Oceanside area (their Banana Crunch French Toast is to die for). If not attempting to surf in the actual ocean itself, delve into all things surfing at the nearby California Surf Museum (it’s “rad,” to say the least). 
  • Rooms: There are 161 rooms here. Definitely get one that overlooks the ocean because when in Southern California. 
  • Pricing: Rates start at $319/night.
  • Closest Airport: San Diego International Airport (or, if flying from LA, McClellan-Palomar Airport is 15 mins away).

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