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California Surf Museum
Ranked #7 of 64 things to do in Oceanside
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Founded in 1986, the California Surf Museum mission is to preserve surfing heritage. The museum hosts a variety of cultural events from book signings to lectures, to movie nights to concerts. But the museum is most known for the wonderful rotating exhibits about surf and skateboard culture, art, and history. The whole family is welcome and you don't have to surf or skateboard to enjoy the museum.The California Surf Museum has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, the BBC, the American Pickers "California Dreamin'", Hawaiian Airlines commercial, PBS "Getting Away Together" and many more. Don't miss the outdoor Secret Spot and Bethany Hamilton's surfboard while you are here. Also, shop the Museum Store for unique gifts and souvenirs. Joining as a member is a great way to get involved in volunteer opportunities and to support the museum on an annual basis. Hope to see you soon!
Oceanside, California
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed May 9, 2014

Excellent. I liked it all and didn't like not having more money on me that day. Everything in Oside can appear to be pricey. BUT, there are so many great bargains if you walk around on Coast Hwy.

Visited April 2014
Thank robert w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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154 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Polish first
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English first
United States
Level 6 Contributor
251 reviews
95 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 463 helpful votes
“Like, It Was Totally Rad Dude!”
Reviewed March 6, 2014

So, you know dude, this isn't like one of those giant So-Cal attractions you're gonna visit like SeaWorld, LegoLand or Disney, but if you have the extra time or you're a local dude or dudette, then totally check it out...

Alright, you may not come out talking like a surfer, but after the two hours we spent there, we certainly felt like we'd learned a great deal more about surfing history and it's cultural impact on Southern California than we knew before.

We were lucky enough to park right outside the museum on the street in a 2-hour parking zone. There is a small check-in desk and then you wander into the 'San Onofre' exhibit that they have currently. (Admission is $5 for adults). The museum is on the small side, but if you're like me and you like to read just about every sign and placard and look at the gift shop, it takes about the 2-hour parking time.

Besides the current San Onofre exhibit there is also an exhibit about the progression of surf board design, as well as a display about Bethany Hamilton, including her surf board with the shark bite out of it.

Before you leave is a gift shop with quality gifts, cards, books, magnets, clothing, etc.

If you're so inclined, afterward you can walk around Oceanside and out on the pier and maybe have lunch or dinner in a local restaurant.

This museum may not make the list for most tourists, but if you're looking to do San Diego area a little more 'in-depth', the California Surf Museum combined with a wander around Oceanside and lunch or dinner makes for a fun day out!

Note: I probably wouldn't recommend this museum for children younger than 13. There are restrooms at the museum.

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Visited March 2014
4 Thank lwew
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oceanside, California
Level 5 Contributor
52 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“A must do”
Reviewed December 12, 2013 via mobile

If your in the area of the pier or in Oceanside, hit the Surf museum. The staff is awesome and incredibly knowledgable about the surf seen and the history of surf in the area. Great job guys.

Visited December 2013
1 Thank David D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oceanside, California
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Surfing Safari”
Reviewed November 26, 2013

If you are old enough to remember the 60's surfing music, or if you are young enough to want to understand this "culture", this is a must stop place. Located on Pacific coast Highway in Oceanside, it really is a "blast from the past".

Visited June 2013
Thank Hunter003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oceanside, California, United States
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“A must”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

Best place to learn about surf history. Great, knowledgeable staff. Nice selection of gifts. Keep an eye out for special events, especially during the summer.

Visited November 2013
1 Thank NativeOside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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