Top 5 educational attractions in Oceanside Blog Post

“Back to school” looked very different for most students this year. A lot of kids are learning from home and if they are attending school in person, most extracurriculars and field trips have been cut or postponed. So you may be looking at how to add a little more hands-on and in-person educational experiences to your student’s schedule to break up the day to day grind. Whether your kids are homeschooling, E-learning, or in a more traditional environment, Oceanside makes the perfect extension to their classroom. We’ve compiled a list of the top educational attractions in Oceanside that will help to supplement their curriculum or simply add a little educational fun to your family vacation.

1. Oceanside Museum of Art

Located within blocks from the beach, the Oceanside Museum of Art is a perfect afternoon stop in Downtown Oceanside. With a mission to educate and inspire the public through a diverse range of engaging exhibitions and programs, it is one of the top educational attractions in Oceanside.

However, the Oceanside Museum of Art is not your traditional museum. The OMA is funky, dynamic, and supportive of local artists. Not only do they have a large range of exhibitions from landscape paintings to studio furniture, neon sculpture, and more, but the OMA also offers fun interactive activities, concerts, films, lectures, and classes to keep patrons engaged. It’s a magical space to fire up your brain, heart, and creativity!

Moreover, General admission for adults is only $8 and FREE for students and children under 18, making it a terrific educational attraction for very little cost.

Kids enjoying the Oceanside Museum of Art

2. Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center

Blink and you might miss this hidden gem along Coast highway. If you do, go back because it is certainly worth the stop.

The Audubon Center is easily one of the best local experiences for viewing animals and nature. If you are a birder or like to learn about animals in the area, this is a must! Great for little kids, and adults alike.

Above all, the location directly on the lagoon makes it special. The short ¼ of a mile walk through the reeds is quiet and provides a great opportunity to see various birds and reptiles. Walk the nature trail ready to take pictures. Go early in the morning for the best bird-watching. The vegetation next to the nature center is all native and maintained by the local plant club.

BVAS has created an 8 Stop Trail Guide for those exploring the lagoon trail. It’s a perfect way for individuals and families to learn more about the plants around the lagoon. They also have a birding and animal checklist which makes for a fun scavenger hunt like experience. After a short time exploring you’ll see why it’s one of the top educational attractions in Oceanside

Inside the center there are displays and exhibits which showcase local birds and animals in their natural habitats. These displays are very realistic, using taxidermy birds and animals and actual plants.

In addition, one of the wonderful features of this particular attraction is the fact that the BVAS teaches over 3,000 children annually on native plants and animals, and the importance of preservation. Make sure you take the time to stop by. It’s interesting for everyone, a wonderful visit whether you are a local or a tourist passing through the area.

Bird watching at the BVAS Nature Center in Oceanside, CA
Nature Center lookout, photo by Visit Oceanside

3. California Surf Museum

It’s close to impossible to visit Oceanside beach and not see someone surfing the waves near the pier. So after enjoying watching surfers at the beach, there’s no better time to learn more about surfing and the California Surf Museum is the perfect place for it.

The California Surf Museum is probably one of the most well-known and popular educational attractions in Oceanside. The museum is the perfect balance between fun and education. You’ll be impressed at how well the exhibits tell a story, often untold. There is everything from the history of surfboards, to the inspirational story of Bethany Hamilton, to an interactive exhibit showing how wind, temperature, and tides contribute to predicting the best time to hit the surf. The staff is also very friendly and knowledgeable and are eager to answer any questions you may have.

The museum has acquired a rare set of archives and collections gathered over more than 30 years, comprising one of the world’s richest troves of surf history, making this stop worth the effort.

History of Surfboards at California Surf Museum in Oceanside, CA
History of Surf Boards at the California Surf Museum

4. Oceanside SEA Center

The best kind of field trip is one that includes hands-on, real-life experiences. That’s exactly what you get on a tour with the Oceanside SEA Center. The Oceanside SEA Center is a locally owned and operated marine adventure experience that offers sportfishing and whale watching, along with a marine science learning experience for “student explorers.”

You won’t have to travel far to enjoy this educational attraction either. Their office and dock are located just north of North Coast Village in the picturesque Oceanside Harbor Village. Adults, teens, children, and all will enjoy getting out on the open ocean. Learn more about marine life, sustainable fishing, ocean eco systems, and more. The Captains at the SEA Center are knowledgeable, funny, entertaining, and the perfect guides to marry fun and education in one experience.

No experience required! You will learn, laugh, and have a blast.

Floating Marine Biology science lab with Oceanside Sea Center
Captain Joe Cacciola aboard the Sea Star on one of his floating marine biology science labs showing some of the students the catches made from the otter trawl net.

5. Mission San Luis Rey

Seeing a historical landmark in person truly makes history come alive. Mission San Luisy Rey is the largest of the 21 missions on the California Mission Trail. Currently home to a community of Franciscan Friars, the Mission is open daily to the public to tour the rooms and grounds.

Take a self-guided tour to learn why the missions are so important to California and get a sense of what life was like in the 1800s. You’ll be amazed at the rich history and beautiful grounds. Don’t miss the accompanying museum with its collection of beautiful art and artifacts, including a document from Abraham Lincoln.

You will not be disappointed with the beauty and history of it all. A worthwhile educational visit. Mission San Luis Rey is a must-see cultural and educational attraction in Oceanside California.

Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, CA
About On-The-Sand:
On-The-Sand Vacation Rentals has been family owned and operated since 1997. It all started when Scott & Vickie Warr fell in love with North Coast Village and bought their own condo for family getaways then decided to rent it out over two decades ago. Scott & Vickie founded On-The-Sand upon the core principles of genuine and personable service, honesty, and going the extra mile. We have grown quite a bit since then and On-The-Sand has even been passed down a generation, but we still stand behind our core principles and take great pride in the quality of customer service we’ve given over the years. Our goal is that once you rent from us you will feel at home and make it a yearly tradition. Join the fun and let us help you plan your Oceanside beach vacation today!