See where popular new TV show is filmedIf you got hooked on TNT's new show, Animal Kingdom, you'll be happy to know the show has been renewed for a second season. That means a trip to Oceanside, California, may be in order -- everywhere you look it seems you come across scenes used in the crime drama that was filmed on location in Oceanside.
The drama is about a family of criminals who might be your every-day average Oceanside neighbors, except that they rob banks and do other unscrupulous things to support their active North San Diego County lifestyle.
Ellen Barkin is the star of the show and plays the mother of several sons she has enlisted in her criminal enterprise. Barkin's teenage grandson comes to live with the criminals after his mother dies of a drug overdose. The major story line is how the seemingly innocent grandson adapts to life with his family of criminals.
In addition to Oceanside scenery, there are lots of local people in the show, too -- a casting call saw more than 1,000 people sign up to be extras in the TV show.
You'll get a kick out of seeing such locations as the Oceanside Pier and various Oceanside neighborhoods depicted in the show. Many of the brothers surf, often at nearby San Onofre, and many of the scenes are shot down on the beach at Oceanside. The crew films in many different local neighborhoods and business areas.
In recent years, Oceanside has become quite a tourist destination. The city is dressing up the city's three and a half miles of wide, sandy beaches by bringing in new waterfront hotels, trendy restaurants and expensive homes and condos that all combine to beckon tourists from literally around the world.
The city also is proud of nearby Camp Pendleton, the massive Marine Corps training center and the only thing that keeps the Southern California coastline from being one big city. Without the 20 miles of shoreline set aside for Pendleton, the city no doubt would begin in Santa Monica and end in San Diego.
The old rap on Oceanside was that it was a military town and not the place to invest millions in your new beachfront home. All of that has changed as the tiny beach bungalows have given way to lavish new homes while the city has attracted businesses and resort infrastructure so inviting that 17 percent of visitors come from Europe. Visitors have long enjoyed the robust selection of vacation rentals in Oceanside, but now hotel and resort-goers are finding many more hotel options with a good selection of restaurants and tourist attractions sprinkled into the mix.
And, while you're sure to see young members of the military enjoying those incredible beaches and Oceanside's many other attributes, this is not your Grandpa's 'military town.' Today's military is made up of bright, hard-working 20- and 30-somethings who chose to join up for all sorts of good reasons. Having these people around is a big plus, not a negative.
Oceanside also is close enough to San Diego—about 38 miles—to make it a viable base of operations for visitors who want to be a little ways out of the city congestion, but close enough to get in and visit SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and other San Diego attractions.
Just a short jog up the beach is another popular recreation area—Oceanside Harbor. This is where local boaters keep their private craft and where the public can get out on the water in any of several different ways. Fishing charters are available. Or you can paddle a kayak around the harbor on tours offered by OEX Kayak. The colorful lighthouse at the harbor now houses Old Skull Rentals, where you can rent a surf board, body board, wet suit or anything else you need to take advantage of the Pacific Ocean. When, you've worked up an appetite, there are several harbor-front restaurants that are ideal for fish and chips with an ocean view.
Another point of interest is Oceanside Museum of Art, with a two-story 16,000-square-foot central pavilion that hosts art exhibitions and special events. The museum was designed by modern architect Frederick Fisher, known for his fresh and spectacular designs.
If you like wildlife, stop by the Rancho Buena Vista Lagoon where you'll find the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center and Museum. This is San Diego's only Audubon nature center and the only fresh-water lagoon in the state of California. Visitors can stroll scenic paths along the lagoon where they will see dozens of varieties of waterfowl.
If you have kids, Legoland is just south of the Oceanside city limits. This major theme park includes dozens of rides and is a proven hit with its target audience of 2-to-12 year-olds. On any given summer weekend day, you're likely to see as many as 10,000 people enjoying the 128-acre park. The park has caught on with local residents as well, with more than 70,000 people buying annual passes to the park.
For more information on Oceanside, call the Oceanside Visitor Center at 800-350-7873 or visit www.visitoceanside.org.
PHOTOS: Top, Oceanside Pier; bottom, the Strand along the beach at Oceanside
PHOTO CREDITS: Photos by Cary Ordway
RECOMMENDED LODGING: San Diego lodging
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