At Apotheque Lifestyle Spa, folks can create personal oil fragrances, and shop the on-site boutique. 322 N. Cleveland Street. 760-967-7727; apothequespa.com.
Learn about the evolution of surfboards—from wooden plank boards to fiberglass boards to the short-board revolution—at the California Surf Museum. Browse surfboard wax collected from the past 50 years, see Bethany Hamilton’s shark-bitten board, and shop the surf-themed gift shop. 312 Pier View Way. 760-721-6876; californiasurfmuseum.com.
Take a two-hour whale-watching excursion on Oceanside Adventure’s 50-foot catamaran while tour operators share their extensive knowledge of whales and whale-migration habits. 256 Harbor Drive S. 888-507-1130; oceansidewhalewatching.com.
Located a few blocks from the pier, Sunset Market draws both tourists and locals for its specialty foods, shopping, and live music. Pick up a colorful handwoven basket from Ghana or sample such treats as Polish pierogi, Maine lobster rolls, German-style plank-roasted salmon, Brazilian stuffed hash browns, and house-made fudge. Thursday evenings. Pier View Way and Tremont Street. 760-754-4512; mainstreetoceanside.com.
In Oceanside’s rapidly gentrifying downtown, newcomer Jalisco Cantina honors one of Mexico’s principal tequila-producing regions both in its name and on its bar list, which offers tasting flights of tequila and mescal. In a small space dominated by a copper-topped bar, Jalisco presents a menu of traditional specialties such as posole (a lavishly garnished stew of pork and hominy, $9.50) and contemporary dishes such as yellowtail in a spiced miso called “sea broth,” with roasted tomatoes, green chiles, and red jalapeño ($17).
Jaliso Cantina's kitchen delights in frank spiciness most of the time, and even the suavely stuffed vegan burrito ($14) is served with hot sauce. For something different, try the boldly seasoned beef birria rellano ($16.50), an intriguing dish with a variety of delicious garnishes. The dessert Jalisco Jericalla ($7.50), a better-than-most crème brûlée, follows spicy dishes very nicely. 213 N. Coast Highway; 760-429-1679; thejaliscocantina.com.
Top photo by Stephanie Hager