Crowds stroll Sunset Market along Pier View Way.
  • Crowds stroll Sunset Market along Pier View Way.
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Every Thursday night for the last eight years, starting at 5 p.m., Oceanside’s Sunset Market kicks off. Consuming four blocks down near the pier, this market’s more than your standard farmer’s fair. With live music on every corner, festive lights, spicy aromas and boisterous vendors, downtown becomes a family-friendly party.

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Oceanside's Sunset Market

Booths stocked with global and seasonal gifts as well as artisan crafts line the streets. And the Market’s International Food Court offers the gamut of culinary choices – Louisiana gumbo to Maine lobster rolls, Jamaican oxtail to West African braised goat, authentic Vietnamese pho to Chinese-Filipino fusion. (Though honestly, you’ve got to try the Thai Burger at Papaya Grill. YUM!)

On the patio at Succulent Café.

What else to do and see

I went early specifically to find the Succulent Café around the corner at 322 N. Cleveland St., directly across from the pier. Think of the café as a coffee shop in an art gallery, only the proprietor’s medium isn’t pigment on canvas or sculpted marble. It’s trash and plants. I had seen Peter Loyola’s artistry with succulents before and marveled at the outdoor space he’d created as I sipped my latte surrounded by draping repurposed doors and waterfalls.

His shop closes at 4:30, just before the Market opens, so the timing worked out wonderfully. The California Surf Museum along the main thoroughfare also closes at 4:30, so if you haven't been yet, plan on an early arrival.

Oceanside has ample downtown eateries, breweries, and coffee shops once the Market shuts down at 9 p.m. The waterfront shops and restaurants at Harbor Village on N. Harbor Dr. – a replica New England seaside town complete with lighthouse – offer more subdued afterparty options infused with quaint ambiance. I go there for an ice-cream stroll along the marina.

If you go

The Market is located on Pier View Way, west of Coast Highway. A little too late for this holiday season, but the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony (December 3rd in 2015) kickstarts the Holiday Gift Market that runs through the end of December.

Call the weather hotline for weather closures: (760) 967-7915. I always park at the pier, but I go early to do so.

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