California : Safety by City
- Chino Hills
- Chula Vista
- Costa Mesa
- Daly City
- El Cajon
- El Monte
- Garden Grove
- Huntington Beach
- Lake Forest
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Mission Viejo
- Moreno Valley
- Mountain View
- Newport Beach
- Palm Springs
- Rancho Cucamonga
- Redondo Beach
- Redwood City
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- San Leandro
- San Luis Obispo
- San Mateo
- Santa Ana
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Clara
- Santa Clarita
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Monica
- Santa Rosa
- Simi Valley
- South Gate
- Thousand Oaks
- Union City
- West Covina
The surf is definitely up in Oceanside, California, known as O-side to locals.
This beachfront city is the quintessential Southern California beach town with a twist of a New England-style harbor town.
While technically in San Diego County, this beautiful town sits nearly midway between Los Angeles and San Diego.
There’s as much fun on the water as off the water and you can also get a great history lesson while you’re there.
Some of the hottest dining spots will fill the hunger for foodies and shoppers can go luxury or thrift shopping through a wide variety of options.
This is a city that’s always evolving with trends, so the hot spots at the time of this writing could change by the time you arrive.
The city also hosts the largest women’s surfing competition each year and the water’s ready for you to learn surfing strategies.
A trip to San Diego County isn’t complete without checking out the local Spanish mission, which is always filled with wonders.
This one is the biggest in all of California.
There’s going to be a strong military presence here with Camp Pendleton in the area.
Warnings & Dangers in Oceanside
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Oceanside. It comes with the safety concerns a traveler should have at a tourist destination, but it also comes with all the amenities.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You have a public bus and a light rail option to get in and out of Oceanside. The Coaster Commuter Rail has incredible views along the way to San Diego. Getting around Oceanside is best done on foot or by bicycle, but there are taxis and rideshares available. The beachfront harbor area is very walkable. Any selection you choose comes with low risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
18 purse snatchings were reported in 2020 and one pickpocket. While it's not an overwhelming risk, we're going to go with medium so you keep your guard up and your eyes on your belongings.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
There is always going to be a concern about tsunamis or earthquakes on the oceanfront of Southern California, but those are pretty rare. The bigger concern, and not quite as rare, is mudslides and flash flooding. On an average day, there's a low risk of a natural disaster.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Since 2015, robberies have plummeted in Oceanside. There were 139 robberies in 2020 and 56 were highway robberies. There's a low risk it's going to happen to you.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of terrorism but the city and county are very prepared if it does happen. To read all about their terrorism preparedness plan, check out the city's website. It's very informative and one of the best I've seen in my travel research.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The scams reported in this area target local residents, and even the common rental scams in some beachside communities seem to be more focused on people renting a home to live in, not for a visit. There's a low risk, but never put a deposit down on a rental via wire transfer. That's the first sign of a scam.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This city caters to women with spas and shopping galore. There's a low risk here.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Don't believe everything you read about the water quality in Oceanside. A report of poor water quality sent the city seething to get a retraction. You can review the annual water quality report to see for yourself that there is a low risk in tap water and it meets all standards.
Safest Places to Visit in Oceanside
It’s a great idea to start at Oceanside Harbor to get a lay of the beautiful land.
Here you’ll find a New England-reminiscent harbor village with food, dining, and activities.
This leads to the Oceanside Pier, one of the longest in the country.
Don’t forget to get the Instagram shot at the “OCEANSIDE” sign on the east side.
If just sitting on the sandy beach isn’t your style, you can take a surf lesson or go on a whale-watching charter.
There are luxury cruise options as well for those who want their vacation to be a little fancier.
Bikes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards are also available for rent.
Add a little culture to your trip with a visit to the Cultural Arts District and immerse yourself in fantastic art around every corner.
This is where you’ll find the California Surfing Museum.
The largest mission in California sits on the north side of town.
Mission San Luis Rey, meaning “King of the Missions”.
There’s a museum on the property and self-guided tours are offered.
You can go behind the scenes on weekends with a special tour.
Places to Avoid in Oceanside
Oceanside is beautiful on the surface but has a little bit of grit to it when you look underneath.
There are a lot of homeless people here who aren’t afraid to ask for money.
The entire oceanfront area is listed on crime maps as the most likely area for crime, but that’s not a surprise since it’s where most people go.
The neighborhoods are really hit or miss.
You could have a million-dollar home on one street and a trailer park two blocks over.
This is not a place to go walking around at night alone.
Even some locals on social review boards say they wouldn’t walk to the pier at night alone but feel safe in a group of people.
Camp Pendleton means there are a lot of military people in this town, so take that for what it’s worth.
Some people love having it nearby, others say the area is nothing but Marines and avoid the area because of that.
The police department does offer crime mapping on its website.
Check your hotel or rental home and see what crimes have been happening nearby before you book.
They also list monthly crime reports.
At the writing of this article, monthly there have been the most thefts in the Fire Mountain neighborhood.
Remember, call it “O’Side” if you want to speak like the locals.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Oceanside
- Only bring what you need to the beach. I’ve researched a lot of beach towns and this city by far has the most purse snatchings. Wear a crossbody bag or, better yet, use a backpack for your stuff. If you go on a boat ride or rent water equipment, make sure your belongings are locked up and not just stored in the open.
- Know where you can swim and where you can surf. They are not in the same areas. Different parts of the beach are designated for different activities. You can review this on the city website or ask a lifeguard when you arrive. Swimming areas generally have a black and white checkered flag.
- Breakwater Way and Buccaneer Beach are the best spots for families looking for a quieter beach experience.
- If you see graffiti in Oceanside, help the local police out by reporting it to (760) 435-4500. The city works to clean up graffiti as soon as possible. Graffiti can include gang markings, so it’s important to get it down quickly.
- There are a lot of parking guidelines you can read about on the city website, but I can summarize them quickly. There’s no app to use to pay. You will park in a spot and then go pay a meter. The parking is most expensive closer to the beach and gets less expensive as you go east. The parking lots close overnight, so if you don’t leave on time, your car will be stuck there until morning. Always read the parking rules of your chosen spot in Oceanside to make sure you don’t get a ticket.
- Watching the incredible sunsets here is a great way to get distracted. A thief looking for a crime of opportunity could grab your bag before you’ve even seen the sun go below the horizon. Always keep your bags secured to your body or in your hands.
- As Katy Perry sang, “Nothing comes close to the Golden Coast.” If you have a car, it’s a great idea to drive the Pacific Coast Highway as far as you’d like. Remember to pull over before taking pictures, as distracted driving can lead to accidents.
- Mission San Luis Rey has a place where you can go to meditate or pray. If you choose to do this, be quiet and respect other people in their meditative states. No distractions or loud noises are appropriate.
- Fishing from the pier in Oceanside does not require a license. That’s a nice benefit because anywhere else you fish you’ll need a license from the California Department of Wildlife.
So... How Safe Is Oceanside Really?
It’s interesting to read reviews of Oceanside because they are so different.
Here’s the gist — Oceanside is a beach town with an edge and criminals here aren’t worried about ruining the reputation of the town to get a quick score.
Some reviewers say it depends where you’re from as to how dangerous you’ll think Oceanside is.
For example, people from South Los Angeles think this is safe as heaven, while people who are used to Orange County beaches think this is too dangerous to visit.
The violent crime rate is slightly lower than the California average.
There’s a 1 in 242 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.
There’s a 1 in 3018 chance of being a victim of highway robbery.
Are you going to see homeless people asking for money?
Just say “No” firmly and keep walking.
It’s best not to go spouting negative military comments in the earshot of others as this is a military town.
If you keep your belongings close to your body and lock up your car with no belongings in plain sight, you should be just fine.
How Does Oceanside Compare?
- Visas - You'll take care of the Visas at the airport and need nothing else for a visit to Oceanside.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the currency here and the best practice is to pay for everything you can with a credit card or book ahead of time. This prevents you from having to pull out a wallet all the time.
- Weather - The weather is pretty consistent year-round, just getting a few degrees warmer in the summer. You can expect highs in the 60s or 70s and lows in the 40s to 50s. You'll need a jacket no matter when you come, and bring it for a walk on the pier as it can get chilly out there. There's not a lot of rain in Oceanside, so if you're tight on packing space, you can leave rain gear behind.
- Airports - The San Diego Airport is the closest and just 34 miles to the south. The Orange County Airport is 44 miles north. If you need to fly out of LAX, you should plan at least two hours for that drive.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance is a great idea for a trip to Oceanside, California, just in case any delays happen at the larger airports.
Oceanside Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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