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Hold Your Own Summer Olympics in California

Ahead of the highly anticipated 2021 Summer Olympics, the following California destinations welcome visitors to experience an abundance of water and land activities from swimming and surfing to horseback riding and beach volleyball. This year offers even more for sport-lovers to get excited about, with several new sports debuting at the Tokyo Olympics including California icons like skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing – California’s official state sport. Whether a beginner or a pro, visitors to California can get in on the action and celebrate the addition of these sports and more, by trying it out themselves!


Test Your Competitive Skills in Santa Cruz
Whether a beginner or pro, try four Olympic sports in Santa Cruz. Go rock climbing at Castle Rock State Park’s sandstone formations where it’s easy on the hands and the redwood and ocean views are epic. Skateboard at five major skateboard parks including Aptos’ Seacliff Skate Park which opened in 2020 and features a replica of the iconic Cement Ship. In the birthplace of mainland surfing, catch some waves at Cowell Beach and Capitola Beach. Cycle Ice Cream Grade in Bonny Doon or the flat scenic roads of south county, or mountain bike in Demonstration Forest in Soquel along 20 miles of fire roads and single-track trails. Try a sweet BMX jump track at the Aptos Polo Grounds Park, which provides ample room to catch air.

Outdoor Olympics in Paso Robles
Get outside and test your athletic abilities at Lake Nacimiento, a popular spot for locals during the hot summer days in Paso Robles. Water ski, wakeboard, swim or cruise around the lake and observe athletes in their element. In the cool evening breeze, hike or bike the trails at Lake Nacimiento. For a new perspective on wine country, hop on the saddle with Central Coast Trailrides, then head to the Paso Robles Horse Park to watch the pros at work.

Catch a Wave of Two in San Simeon
Take to the coast of California this summer by spending the day or weekend in San Simeon. Whether a novice or pro surfer, catch the perfect wave at San Simeon’s pristine beaches. If kitesurfing or windsurfing is better, join local athletes at Pico Creek, known for its powerful afternoon winds.

Explore Lake Piru for Its Outdoor Activities
Get inspired by the 2021 Summer Olympics and launch your own sports competition on the waves and shore of Lake Piru Recreation Area. While the athletes are going for the gold in Tokyo, test your competitive spirit by taking advantage of Lake Piru’s endless outdoor activities such as beach volleyball, golf, kayaking and canoeing. Just an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles, Lake Piru is the perfect spot for a day trip or overnight camping in the tranquil Los Padres National Forest.


Olympic-Size Fun in The Santa Monica Sun and Sea

Play like an Olympian in Santa Monica with 3.5 miles of beachfront that offers a variety of summer sports including learning to catch a wave from the experts at Aqua Surf School; transforming from an amateur to pro surfer at Go Surf LA; and learning how to hang ten with Wavehuggers. Poseidon Paddle and Surf offers stand-up paddleboard lessons with world-class instructors. Go under the sea with In2Deep Diving for open water diving, snorkel classes and SCUBA certification. Hang by the beach to enjoy beach tennis, which is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and is a combination of beach volleyball, badminton and tennis.

Champion Action Sports in Huntington Beach
This summer in Huntington Beach, experience the best of surfing, beach volleyball, skateboarding and BMX. For those looking to hang ten, take a lesson from one of Huntington Beach's surf schools or witness the pros, like USA Surfing Coach and local Brett Simpson, train at the infamous Huntington Beach Pier. Beach volleyball is ingrained in Huntington Beach's community with numerous public courts available. If you have some tricks up your sleeve, the Vans Off the Wall Skatepark is perfect.

Have Fun in the Sun with Olympic-Worthy Experiences at the Rancho Bernardo Inn
Go-for-the-gold this summer and stay at the 265-acre Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. Stay and play with private golf lessons led by professionals, challenge an opponent to a game of cornhole, croquet or oversized Connect Four, and even compete virtually at the resort’s family-friendly game room. 
Hold Your Own Summer Olympics in Dana Point
While surfing is set to make its long-awaited debut at the Summer Olympics, Dana Point welcomes visitors and locals to celebrate this adventurous sport and its deeply rooted ties to the destination. Providing quality instruction and the necessary equipment, experience a surf lesson with Doheny State Beach’s Girl in the Curl surf shop where students of all ages can learn the sports basic elements and gain the confidence needed to pursue surfing on their own. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel offers a “So Cal Surf” package, including a fully equipped two-hour lesson. Beyond catching waves, visitors can check out California’s first surf shop, Hobie Surf Shop, which opened in 1954 and still handcrafts boards today.

Crowd-Free Beach Sports in Torrance
Torrance is a perfect destination to take part in California-style beach sports. Take advantage of the crowd-free Torrance Beach, stretching 1.5 miles between Redondo Beach and Malaga Cove on the Santa Monica Bay. Enjoy surfing in the warm waves and beach volleyball in the soft sand. Torrance Beach is also home to The Strand Beach Bicycle Trail, a 22-mile trail that goes all the way up to Malibu.


Experience Napa’s Outdoor Activities Like a Pro

Step outside to experience the natural beauty that is Downtown Napa. Napa Valley Paddle offers kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals that include a complimentary paddle lesson. For a bigger challenge, cruise over to Tideline Marine Group to explore bay cruises and charters. Embrace the challenge of Mt. George Waterfall Hike, a strenuous, five-mile hike that includes some steep trails along a creek to the Silver Mine. Several of Napa’s lodging properties offer bike rentals and Spinway NorCal, a full-service cycling center, also features a self-serve kiosk. Then head to the Vine Trail, a car-free bike path along the scenic Napa River.

Be Dareful in Tuolumne County
Tuolumne County is a pristine, scenic expanse reaching into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and other surrounding areas provide natural vistas and settings for hiking, water skiing, horseback riding and other summer sports. Embark on a guided horseback ride from May-October with Kennedy Meadows Resort and Pack Station or Aspen Meadow Pack Station. Rent a kayak at one of the marinas at Lake Don Pedro or Pinecrest Lake or a paddle board from Heidi's Ski Shop. Try whitewater rafting on the Tuolumne River outside of Yosemite with one of Tuolumne County's Outfitters. One of the best kept Tuolumne County secrets is that it is home to world class rock climbing. From bouldering in Columbia to trad in Yosemite, there is something for every climber.

Note: As communities re-open after COVID-19-related closures, some parks, businesses and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Please verify local guidelines and regulations for all destinations and hours and availability of individual businesses before publishing. Check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub for guidance on how visitors can travel within California safely.