If you’ve ever wanted to ride a wave, jump a ramp or climb a crag, get ready for some adventure- and sport-themed vacation inspiration. Surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing will debut on the world stage in Tokyo — but you don’t have to travel overseas in 2021 to try these extreme sports for yourself. Get in on the action by planning a vacation to one of the following destinations.
Plan a Surfing Vacation to San Diego
When you think of the best places to surf, California probably crosses your mind. Surfing is such an integral part of the Golden State’s history and culture that the California Legislature declared it the state’s official sport. Explore this surf destination during a family vacation in San Diego.
Fly into San Diego International Airport, pick up your rental car and drive about 3 miles to reach the ocean.
What to See and Do
One huge perk of surfing in San Diego is its song-inspiring weather, which makes many of its beaches surfable and safe during all four seasons. Year-round lifeguards are present at Ocean Beach, South Mission Beach, Mission Beach, North Pacific Beach, Pacific Beach and the Children’s Pool. You’ll also find lifeguards at La Jolla Shores, where you can embark on a driving tour of the area when you’re done riding waves.
In Ocean Beach, park at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and take in an unparalleled view of brightly colored surfboards cruising back toward the beach. Then grab a bite at OB Surf Lodge, where families can enjoy crab cake sliders and a taste of surf culture. Stop by Bird’s Surf Shed, a quintessential San Diego surf shop selling equipment and surf apparel surrounded by a wall-to-wall display of vintage boards. For families looking to catch a surf break of their own, Pacific Surf School offers lessons at several locations. Beginners should book with instructors at Pacific Beach or Mission Beach, where the more consistent waves are easier for learning.
“In the whole San Diego area, it’s difficult to find a beach where you don’t see surfers. It’s a welcoming place, too,” says Rick Wilson, who has surfed in the area since 1962. Wilson volunteers at the California Surf Museum, another must-see less than 40 miles up the coast in Oceanside. Park for free around the corner on Tremont Street before heading into the museum to see boards from 1912 to now and other exhibits on topics like adaptive surfing. After a dose of surf history, walk to Oceanside Pier, one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast and host to several annual surfing competitions, like the USA Championships in June.
Bonus Tip — Plan a Day Trip: Drive about 90 miles north of San Diego, or 55 miles north of Oceanside, to visit Huntington Beach. Nicknamed “Surf City” for its 10 miles of flat and wide beaches and its legendary waves, Huntington Beach is also home to the International Surfing Museum, where families can spy the largest surfboard recognized by the Guinness World Records.