California Surf Museum
Nothing says “California” quite like the image of a lithe young man (or woman) standing tall on an impossibly small slab of wood (or fiberglass), riding a wild wave in to shore. And at the legendary California Surf Museum (312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, 760/721-6876, www.surfmuseum.org, daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Thurs. till 8 p.m., adults $5, students, seniors, and military $3, children under 12 and museum members free, free on Tues.), you can admire, appreciate, and learn about the ancient sport and art of surfing.
While surfing’s origins may be in the South Pacific islands, the unusual sport began to catch on at the warm beaches of Southern California, catching on big once surf movies began to appear in theaters.
From the silly Frankie Avalon and bongo drum fluff pieces to the semi-documentary Endless Summer, surf movies inspired thousands of boys and young men to get out and try to catch a wave. With the novel Gidget and subsequent movies, what had been an almost all-male endeavor caught on with girls, too.
Surfing became a part of the California version of the 1960s and ’70s hippie movement—earning the respect of the young and the animosity of the older generation.
Today, there’s no such thing as an “average” surfer. You might find a 10-year-old out tearing it up and a 70-year-old hanging ten, both at the same break.
At the Surf Museum, you’ll see and pay homage to all that has gone into the California surf scene over its many decades. From exhibits on board-shaping to photo essays by and about legendary surfers, you’ll see all there is to see about the history and current events of the unique world of surfing.
Check the website for current exhibitions and events at the museum. (And yes, if you’re in town especially to ride the waves, ask around at the museum for the latest “secret” local breaks.)
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition