Visit the US Open of Surfing in Orange County this weekend

By Rachel Schnalzer

Hello, fellow Escapists. Building on last week’s newsletter – which featured best beaches in californiaaccording to Escapes readers — I’m back with another ocean-focused edition.

This weekend marks the debut of the Vans US Open Surfing, usually held in late July in Huntington Beach. To celebrate this mega-festival, I’ve put together a list of ways surfers and non-surfers alike can enjoy the waves in Orange County and beyond this summer.

But before I get into the watery details, I’d like to pass on another reader’s words about a camping trip she took earlier this summer:

“We spent nine days camping at Sage top dish from Big Pine in late June. The hike from the trailhead parking lot by Chalet des Glaciers along the South Fork of Big Pine Creek…was lined with a variety of wildflowers; it was like walking in a huge garden. Magical, especially with the mountain in the background.

“And, as usual at this time of year…the hike from South Lake to Bishop Pass was just beautiful, full of so many different wildflowers and grasses and other things in bloom and growing . Including mosquitoes, so insect repellent is highly recommended!”
—Carol Hunt

Did you take a trip that you would like to share with other readers? send me an email, and I may include it in a future edition.

Now let’s go surfing.

Be inspired by the US Open of Surfing 2022

Near Huntington Beach Pier, Brazil’s Yago Dora celebrates winning the 2019 US Open.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Surfing, skateboarding and BMX competitions. An on-site surfboard shaping and vitrification station. A market with local surf brands.

You can find all that and more when the US Open of Surfing lands in Huntington Beach, starting this weekend. From July 30 to August 7, the free festival will take place south of the Huntington Beach Pier. This is a great day trip for experienced surfers, as well as newcomers to the sport.

Over the course of eight Challenger Series events, surfers will attempt to qualify for the Championship Tour, a top level of competition. View the full schedule of events here.

If you love watching the competitions, mark your calendar for the International Surfing Assn. World Surfing Gamesto be held in Huntington Beach from September 17-24.

Try surfing by yourself

Four people stand on a sandy beach as another person crouches in front of them.

Vanessa Yeager, kneeling, teaches a surf lesson in April at Newport Beach. Yeager founded Women Who Surf and the Latinx Surf Club.

(Vanessa Yeager)

Surfing is for everyone, not just pros or people who grew up near the beach. If you’re feeling inspired after watching expert surfers charge the waves at the US Open, consider contacting one of the many surf instructors based along the California coast who can show you how to get started.

Vanessa Yeager is one of those instructors. Last year, Sara Cardine of the Daily Pilot Yeager profilewho gives private lessons and founded the women who surf group and the Latinx surf club.

Familiar with the waters of Orange County, “she surfs nearly every sunrise in Newport Beach,” Cardine wrote.

“I was really grateful that Vanessa was there to teach me and help me get through this. She was the main reason I kept going and I’m still here,” said Azalea Ugalde of Santa. Ana to Cardine “She really doesn’t put any labels on anyone. She welcomes everyone – I really like that.”

Interested in signing up for a lesson with Yeager? Send him a message on instagram.

A woman surfing a red and yellow surfboard surrounded by illustrated splashes.

Samantha Sibley competes at Oceanside in San Diego County in the final round of the 2019 Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro.

(Photo by Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune; illustration by Jim Cooke/Los Angeles Times)

Take a tour of the Southern California Surfing Museum

Next time you’re in Huntington Beach, stop by International Surfing Museum to delve deeper into sports history across the California coast and beyond.

The museum – one of Huntington Beach’s top attractions – is full of surfing artifacts and memorabilia, including a surfboard that once belonged to Duke Kahanamoku, believed to be “the father of modern surfing.”

When exploring downtown Huntington Beach, you won’t miss the museum; in the parking lot is the 42-foot-long surfboard that helped the coastal town land the Guinness World Record for “most people on a surfboard” in 2015.

But the International Surfing Museum isn’t the only museum in Southern California dedicated to the sport.

The California Surfing Museum is 55 miles south in the heart of Oceanside. Currently, an exhibit titled “Donald Takayama: Shaping Boards and Lives” focuses on showcasing the artistry and skills of a legendary board shaper. The museum also houses exhibits on the science of waves, the evolution of bodyboarding and more.

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Give back to the ocean

Two sea lions pose for the camera.  Illustrated flowers adorn their ears and an illustrated ball rests on a nose.

(Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times; illustration by Jim Cooke/Los Angeles Times)

After spending an hour or two in the water, it’s hard not to feel a sense of gratitude for all that the ocean has to offer. Visitors to coastal Orange County and beyond can give back by learning more about the ocean and helping to keep it clean for others.

  • Attend a beach cleanup event: Orange County Coastkeeper, an organization focused on protecting the region’s freshwater and saltwater ecosystems, hosts beach cleanups all summer. The next cleanup will take place at San Clemente State Beach on August 6. Do you live outside of Orange County? Check your local Surfrider Chapter events calendar for nearby beach cleanups.
  • See wildlife at Pacific Marine Mammal Center: The Laguna Beach Wildlife Organization rescues, rehabilitates and releases marine mammals while teaching members of the public how to be good stewards of the ocean. Visitors have the chance to see recovering sea lions and seals at the center, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
  • Visit the Institute of the Ocean: Dedicated to all things underwater, the Dana Point Center offers exhibits and tours designed to educate visitors about the ocean, as well as California’s maritime history. His Night cruises in bioluminescence, offered during the summer, seem particularly intriguing. The institute is open to the public on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; admission is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children.

🎸 Road Song

La Luz’s “California Finally” delivers a generous helping of Golden State surf rock vibes. Play it while looking for parking at the US Open of Surfing. (Here is a link to Huntington Beach’s official parking guide.)

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