It has been 20 years since Oceanside helped lead the efforts to designate California’s Highway 101 a historic route. This notable anniversary coincides with a renaissance in Oceanside that has witnessed its three-mile stretch of 101 roadway blossom into a treasure trove for visitors seeking a modern-day getaway with a taste of yesteryear. A hip historic hotel, dining venues in classic buildings and attractions that celebrate the past are all part of Oceanside’s “new” vintage 101 vibe.
“Nearly 100 years-old, Historic Highway 101 is one of the most beautiful highways in the world and is a vacationer’s delight,” said John Daley of Oceanside Historical Society. “As the birthplace of the movement to establish the highway’s historic designation, Oceanside takes a lot of pride in its Highway 101 experience, which continues to evolve and grow in exciting ways. A day on the 101 in Oceanside includes legendary surf beaches, architectural wonders and of course, endless classic food stops.”
Visitors can experience Oceanside’s history through numerous activities along the highway’s route. Oceanside Historical Society offers seasonal guided walking tours and maps for self-guided tours that include noteworthy architectural sights including the Oceanside Pier and Junior Seau Beach Amphitheater, Top Gun House, Roberts Cottages, Oceanside Civic Center and the Brooks and Star Theaters. At the Thursday evening Sunset Market in downtown Oceanside, a popular year-round activity due to the nearly 200 gourmet food vendors, there will be a special booth featuring rare photos of Highway 101 for visitors to enjoy during fall months. South O, a quaint Coast Highway neighborhood and shopping district, offers an Oceanside twist on retro 101 with unique maker spaces, vintage-inspired shops and a variety of popular local dining options including a prohibition-era inspired speakeasy. The California Surf Museum is a great stop for visitors seeking a glimpse into the history of Southern California’s surf culture, while the Oceanside Museum of Art, which played a key factor in Oceanside being named one of just 14 California Cultural Districts by the California Arts Council in 2017, offers visitors a great example of 1929 Irving Gill architecture as well as a renowned venue for discovering cultural and contemporary art.
About Historic Highway 101
A favorite drive for locals and visitors alike, the Historic Highway 101 is a 935-mile highway that runs the length of California and was once the main street of many California cities and towns along the coast. In San Diego, the route links a string of charming beach communities from Oceanside, where it is also known as Coast Highway, to La Jolla and hugs the Pacific Ocean providing a taste of Southern California’s fervent surf culture. Although no longer a formal Highway Route, in 1998, the City of Oceanside was instrumental in securing a historic designation for the roadway, so that it would be recognized for its outstanding natural, historic, cultural and scenic qualities as well as its significant contribution to the development of California in the 20thcentury. Today, remaining portions of the original US Highway Route 101 are recognized by highway markers and signs that highlight the special designation.