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29 Jan, 2010

California’s Road Stops: Oceanside Pier in San Diego County

Posted by: Beach Reporter In: world

Road trip recommendation: Exit Interstate Hwy 5 between Los Angeles and San Diego for a stroll on the Oceanside Pier, California’s 4th longest ocean pier.

Are you looking for a bit more than a Burger King break? When traveling between San Diego (or Mexico) and L.A., do check out Oceanside, and its friendly pier. It isn’t the longest, but it certainly ranks among the friendliest.

While Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is the longest ‘over the ocean pier’ in California at 2,754 feet in length, two San Diego piers rank in the top four for distance. Ocean Beach Pier in the city of San Diego holds title as the 2nd longest CA pier, and the longest concrete pier at 1971 feet.

The Oceanside Pier in San Diego County is the fourth longest pier in California, just eight feet short of Stearn’s Wharf’s commanding 1950 feet  in Santa Barbara.   Oceanside Pier, which stretches 1942 feet into the Pacific, is less commercialized than the three longest piers, and as such, provides a place where you can make great strides for workouts and much needed exercise after sitting and driving.

Oceanside is that Classic California town that we consider the gateway to “Classic”–classic surfing, classic cafes, and classic cars, all provide the genuine beach experience that modern beach cities lose once they tear down their old buildings and create Mediterranean villages with shops & hotels on the oceanfront–boring.  Oceanside could be heading in that direction, so it’s best you visit and experience it now.

On my recent visit as a tourist, I met the most incredible and friendly people who work on the pier and seem to genuinely enjoy helping us tourists find our way or learn a bit more. A lady at the Bait Shop which sells fishing goods, souvenirs, and rents rods & reels,  gave me a map and told me how to drive along the tricky coastline in the neighborhood surrounding the pier.

I wandered down to the end of the pier and ventured into Ruby’s Diner. The manager there invited me to wander upstairs to see the great views from the 2nd floor indoor and outdoor patio dining. You would never know what a great spot it is unless someone was kind enough to tell you.

With some quarters pumped into the meter next to the pier, and a parking enforcement car circling about, I didn’t push my luck but took a brisk walk along the pier, returning to my car with five minutes to spare. Back on the road and heading out of town, I made the pledge that I will return. On the next trip I want to dine in Oceanside, either at Ruby’s or the 101 Cafe.  And should I have time, the hotel you can see from the pier, the Wyndham, is on my list of places to stay. I can’t wait!

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