Come Visit Us!

The Nature Center is now OPEN!!! Currently, the hours and days are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am- 1 pm.  Please come and enjoy our trail and garden and refreshed exhibits inside!

BV Lagoon S. Martin
BVAS nature ctr S. Martin

The Nature Center

The Nature Center was built by BVAS in 1987, in partnership with the City of Oceanside and with support funding from the state’s environmental license plate program. In 2014, BVAS renovated the Nature Center, adding a second story view deck. The center is located at 2202 South Coast Hwy, adjacent to the 220-acre Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The 3,500 square foot facility houses a series of interpretive displays featuring local wildlife, and has a natural history library, small gift shop, and meeting rooms.

The Nature Center hosts a variety of programs for all ages; our monthly evening programs delve into topics such as butterfly migration, tropical birding, and local raptors. We offer nature-themed special events each year, including the Birdhouse Auction, Endangered Species Day Open House, and Nature Summer Camp. We publish a newsletter for our membership and maintain an informative website. Our extensive library of nature literature, slides, and video tapes are available to all. See our newsletters for details on our programs and events.

For a history of the ecology of Buena Vista Lagoon (as well as other San Diego lagoons) please enjoy NORTHERN SAN DIEGO COUNTY LAGOONS
Historical Ecology Investigation

Nature Center Grounds

Enjoy our 1/4 mile nature trail that loops from one end of our parking lot to the other end. A variety of native plants and habitats are represented, which are planted and maintained by the Native Plant Club.

Use our smartphone-friendly interactive online mapping program to help identify plants and key features along the trail. To access the mapping program enable the GPS navigation location on your smartphone, and then use one of the following maps to find out more!

This link to the map of the Buena Vista Audubon trail gives a base layer of a Google map with yellow dots representing plants and features. Click on the dots to bring up the name of the plant or feature. The colored shaded areas represent different ‘ecotones,’ or habitats around the trail.

Click on each tree point and it will tell you whether it's location (private, public, etc) based this off the parcel information that is also in the map. Click on each land parcel and information about the owner pops up. State of California land, BV Audubon Society land, BV Revocable Trust land, and BV Trust 10-30-01 land all categorized as not private property. More information here. Thank you to Angela Paddy with Palomar College’s Program in Geographic Information Systems for creating this project.

For information about Palomar College’s Program in Geographic Information Systems, contact: Wing Cheung:

For more information please contact BVAS:


BVAS S. Martin1
BVAS trail N. Shapiro 1

Our Hours

Tuesday 10 am-1pm
Wednesday 10 am-1pm
Thursday 10 am-1pm
Friday 10 am-1pm
Saturday 10 am-1pm

Our Address

2202 S. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054


Quick Facts about the Nature Center and the Buena Vista Audubon Society

  • May 10, 1951 BVAS formed with official status as a chapter of National Audubon society
  • September 24, 1988 Nature Center opens
  • 75,000 Visitors welcomed in the first 15 years
  • 30,000 Students enjoy class and Nature Tour in the first 15 years
  • Over 3,000 Students visit annually
  • The Nature Center is now 3,500 square feet
  • In 2014, the BVAS added a second story viewing deck

What We Do

A primary focus for BVAS is our nature education program for children. Over 3,000 school children participate in class outings to the Nature Center each year. Our volunteer Nature Guides offer a series of special interactive programs on different nature topics, and lead students on nature discovery walks along the trails. Our Nature Storytime sessions for pre-school children is a popular monthly attraction.

We also offer nature educational experiences for the community, including regular birding field trips throughout the county, natural history classes, a native plant club, and special nature programs and lectures, generally at no charge to the public. We have monthly programs for the community on topics dealing with the native plants and animals of our region. We offer nature-themed special events each year, including the BVAS Birdhouse Auction, Endangered Species Day Open House, and Nature Summer Camp. Our Migrating Birders program arranges guided birding trips to distant locales. We publish a newsletter for our membership and maintain an informative website. Our extensive library of nature literature, slides, and video tapes are available to members, students, and the general public.

Interested in Volunteering?

Volunteers are the heart of BVAS and are what makes our nature center and programs so meaningful and loved in the community! Popular volunteer positions include: hosting at the nature center, teaching elementary school groups about nature, and helping plan special events. The list goes on, with unlimited possibilities, so contact us today to get involved!

History of the Nature Center

Cora Wilson's Dream

Dovie and Steve talk about erosionBuena Vista Audubon Society’s Nature Center is a part – an outstanding part! – of the decades-long effort to protect Buena Vista Lagoon as a wetland wildlife sanctuary. The effort to conserve the lagoon dates back at least to the 1930s, when the Buena Vista Lagoon Association – now the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation – first persuaded the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to zone 100 acres of the lagoon as a wildlife refuge. Since those early years the lagoon has at times drained and dried up, flooded and silted up. A weir was built across the mouth of the lagoon raising the lagoon level above high tide and transforming the lagoon into a calm, shallow freshwater lake, increasingly choked with silt and tules. About one-fourth of the lagoon was lost in the late 1960s to Plaza Camino Real Shopping Center. Yet much more might have been lost: marinas, amusement parks, trailer parks and housing developments have all been proposed for the lagoon – and prevented. Buena Vista Lagoon, a State Ecological Reserve managed by California Department of Fish and Game since 1968, continues to welcome numerous migratory waterfowl and shorebirds each year. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded on and around the lagoon.

Many of the same individuals who were active in the conservation efforts of the Buena Vista Lagoon Association helped found Buena Vista Audubon Society (BVAS) in 1951. Ironically, it was development alongside the lagoon that helped pave the way for the building of the Nature Center. When the Sandpiper Cove condos were proposed in the 1980s, the builder offered as mitigation land next to the lagoon. That offer set the stage for the realization of a BVAS dream long deferred.

Cora Wilson, a retired Los Angeles schoolteacher, moved to Carlsbad in 1954, and immediately became active in BVAS. It was her dream, one she pressed for years and years, that BVAS would build an interpretive center where children could be educated about nature. Cora’s cause was joined by David Rorick, founding member of BVAS, businessman and lifelong Oceanside resident. His wide circle of connections enabled him to be extremely effective in promoting and realizing Cora’s dream of a nature center.

Dave enlisted the help of Oceanside city officials, State Assemblyman Robert Frazee, and State Senator Bill Craven. The lot on which the Nature Center stands was deeded to the City, which leases it to BVAS for $1.00 a year. The City of Oceanside, with the active assistance of our representatives in Sacramento, obtained $265,000 from the California Vanity License Plate Fund, established to promote environmental protection. BVAS undertook the design and engineering work necessary to create a buildable site. Largely as a result of Dave Rorick’s efforts, $75,000 was raised from members, friends and supporters of BVAS. Bank of America provided a bridging loan of $50,000 to keep the construction going until all the state money came in to finish the job, which cost a total of $325,000.

The Nature Center held a Grand Opening to welcome the public on September 24, 1988. 150 visitors enjoyed the displays, admired the native plant landscaping along the shoreline trail installed by longtime BVAS activist Paul Grigsby, but the Grand Opening was less than a “roaring success”: a mountain lion accompanying the founder of Wildlife Rescue regarded “all the goings-on with a steady stare and occasional low growl”, then stretched out on the floor of the brand new nature center “to catch a few zzzs”.

10535704_10152330157472897_8436693529653435581_oOver the years, the Nature Center underwent several small remodeling projects, including roofing, painting, and carpeting upgrades funded by Prop 12, and administered by the city. In 2014, thanks to a state grant under the Nature Education Facility Program of the 2006 Clean Water Bond Act, a major remodel transformed the Nature Center with a new upstairs viewing deck. In addition, in 2015, a grant from the City of Carlsbad allowed BVAS to repaint the nature center and upgrade the outdoor information kiosk.

With over 2,000 members and our dedicated volunteers, we are now poised to enhance Cora Wilson’s dream: a center superbly equipped to interpret nature in a local, natural setting to thousands of schoolchildren. Currently, over 3,000 children a year are introduced to nature by BVAS nature guides. How much more they will be able to learn now!

- Dennis Huckabay

Donations that make a difference!

Your donation will help us further our mission of providing nature-based education to local children, offering birding classes and other programs, protecting and restoring North County wildlife habitats, and more!

Our Mission

To protect and preserve our region's birds, biodiversity, and threatened habitats, and to promote conservation of our natural resources through advocacy, education, and both habitat restoration and management.

Mailing Address

Buena Vista Audubon
PO Box 480
Oceanside, CA 92049

Nature Center

2202 S. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054



Tuesday 10 am-1 pm
Wednesday 10 am-1 pm
Thursday 10 am-1 pm
Friday 10 am-1 pm
Saturday 10 am-1 pm

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