TRAVEL: San Diego’s Oceanside is worth pulling over for

The idea of the PhotowalksTV series is to take you along with me to great places, show you around and offer tips on how to best capture the location with your smartphone.

When I do it right, I hopefully inspire you to visit places you either haven’t been before, or might consider revisiting, wowing you with great scenery (amazing world we live in!) introducing you to some interesting local folks, and giving you some cool tips you’ll be able to use in your travels and photography.

The recent Venice Beach episode, and the new one from San Diego’s Oceanside hit all the right notes, I believe, and I’m really proud of both of them.

The North San Diego city of Oceanside has a paved Strand for joggers, cyclists and the like to enjoy Beach Life. By Jefferson Graham for the PhotowalksTV series.

So today I thought I’d tell you a little more about Oceanside, why you might consider pulling off to spend some time there, and the tips you can learn in the episode. (Because as all of us in the South Bay know, when we drive to San Diego, traffic always, always, always comes to a snarl when we reach Oceanside, that is, unless we leave really early.)

—Logistics: the San Diego beach cities (from L.A.) begin in Oceanside, and continue down the road to Carlsbad (where Photowalks is going next week!) Encinitas, Del Mar, La Jolla and onto Mission Beach and Ocean Beach in San Diego.

—The skinny on Oceanside: it’s 40 minutes to the north of San Diego, a quiet beach town known for its surf history and culture, historic downtown with fantastic murals all over, a classic former movie theater on the national registry and a big military influence, since Camp Pendleton is 10 minutes away. There’s a cute Harbor Village, home to boating, a lighthouse replica, sea lions, pelicans and back downtown, a recent wave of investment to bring O’side as locals call it, into the modern era, with fab rooftop hotel views and new upscale restaurants, breweries and the like.

—If you visit Oceanside and want to join me on the virtual photowalk that I showed off in the episode, we begin on Mission Street, in the heart of downtown and end at the Harbor, a 2.6 mile walk.

We visit:

Artists Alley, a fun collection of murals (and there are way more in town as well,) where I discuss how to best photograph them. Best tip: Shoot straight on, at an angle, and if people join your shot, shift to Portrait Mode on your iPhone or Galaxy.

Star Theater: A mega classic from days gone by, the likes of which are disappearing too fast from our downtowns. Tip: how to ditch the distracting streetlight in the middle of the marquee.

Historic downtown: How many barber shops are there in Oceanside? Would you believe that one local barber told me there are over 100? (All those marines!)

Mission Pacific Beach Resort: The best overhead view in town at this hotel’s Rooftop Bar. But as with many places like this, there are huge windows you have to deal with that block your view with reflections and such. Tip: watch the video for the workaround.

Oceanside Pier: One of the longest in the state, and perfect for a Hyperlapse, which is a walking timelapse. I’ll show you how to do that in the video, and have tips on shooting the many surfers who come to Oceanside for the consistent waves.

Note: the best waves are in the early morning, making it much easier to get shots of the surf pros, because the waves practically extend to the shore.

Roberts Cottages: These cute beachside bungalows were built in the 1920s and are available as weekly rentals today. You can get a great shot of the row of homes by walking up the stairs, nearby.

Harbor: Do you enjoy watching Sea Lions bark and pelicans hang around fisherman? This is a great place to do it, as well as renting a boat for a sea excursion and getting a bite to eat. Tip on shooting the marine life: walk slowly when approaching pelicans before he decides to fly away, and keep your distance around sea lions. They can attack. Just ask the folks in nearby La Jolla about it.

The San Luis Rey Mission is the largest of the 21 California missions, and one of the most stunning. It’s a four mile trek from downtown, (after the walk) but worth it.


I stayed at the fabulous Brick Hotel, one of three buildings in Oceanside still standing that date back over 100 years, (circa 1888) a former rooming house and hardware store that’s been lovingly restored as a small hotel. There’s also an oyster bar restaurant, rooftop bar with a killer view and a morning coffee shop on premises.


I enjoyed a wonderful Salsiccia (sausage) pizza at the Blade 1936, a cool Italian restaurant housed in the former newsroom and pressing plant of the now defunct Oceanside Blade Tribune newspaper, which left the building in 1963 and stopped printing back in 1989. I also stopped by the historic 101 Cafe, a family restaurant that opened in 1928 and is still being operated by the fourth generation of the original owners. I ordered—say it aloud with me—a fabulous Grilled Cheese sandwich. (Longtime readers know this is my all-time favorite and that I still eat like a kid.) For desert, you can’t top the Handel’s Ice Cream across the street from the Brick!

Big thanks to Visit Oceanside for the hospitality and guidance in putting this episode together!

Next week’s episode is in Northern California, as we visit Pacifica, the last coastal beach town stop on Highway 1 before you hit San Francisco. I’ll also have a LIVE Q&A SHOW Friday (note different time, due to a scheduling conflict) at noon PT offering tips on shooting photos and videos with a Samsung Galaxy.


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