California Surf Museum

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312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 92054
|
Open:
Daily 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Thursday open till 8 p.m.
Take your love of surfing off the board and into the past when you visit California Surf Museum. This museum may inspire you to hit the waves.
California Surf Museum
Unique History of Surfing
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Learn about the Unique History of Surfing

Tucked inside an unassuming building in sunny Oceanside is a museum dedicated to a beloved coastal watersport – the art of surfing. California Surf Museum began in 1986 as a passion project for local surfers and other residents who came together to preserve the history of the sport and tell the story of its all-stars through photos, documents, and objects.

As the museum evolved, moving to newer spaces, expanding its collection, and gaining national attention, it became a hotspot for surf culture as well as a popular tourist attraction. Not only does California Surf Museum have interesting exhibits and an ever-growing assortment of surfboards, but it also has a fabulous gift shop for people who want a more noteworthy souvenir to take home from their visit to Southern California.

The exhibits rotate from time to time, which means there is frequently something new and interesting to see. In addition, this niche museum not far from San Diego hosts lectures and book signings, giving visitors an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the biggest names in the field.

Surfing as a sport has always been about its community, and even in competition, surfers support each other in their pursuit of the perfect wave. This camaraderie of pros and amateurs is what defines the atmosphere of the museum, making it a place of welcome to all who want to learn more about the past, present, and future of surfing.

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What Lies Ahead for Your Visit

Part museum and part local hangout, California Surf Museum offers a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Take your time as you look at the exhibits, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a tour guide or volunteer; you never know who you may meet or what you can learn.

Make this museum one of your stops while in town or as part of your staycation, and be sure to stop by the gift shop for unusual keepsakes you won’t find anywhere else. You may even be inspired to give surfing a try yourself after you leave!

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What is a Go San Diego Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

On Exhibit

During your visit to California Surf Museum, learn more about the big names and small heroes of surfing as the sport has evolved over the years through the fascinating exhibits. Don’t miss these displays:

Courageous Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton

Bethany is perhaps one of the most well-known surfers today, not only because she survived a brutal attack by a tiger shark, but also because of her impressive comeback and positive attitude. The exhibit includes photos, a documentary about her experience, and the ill-fated surfboard she rode when attacked.

Doc Ball’s Camera

This handmade camera from the 1930s was used to take photos from the surfer’s perspective way before action cameras were available to the masses.

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Other Events
The museum hosts a number of events annually including a fundraising gala, three-day Surf Film Festival, "Legends Day", book signings, concerts and more.

Body Surfing and Handplanes

Who said you need a surfboard to ride the waves? This exhibit looks at body surfing and the origins of swim fins for greater propulsion.

Bob Simmons’ Foam Sandwich Surfboard

Dating from the 1950s, this type of board gave some control to the riders, even as they are at the mercy of the ocean’s power. It is a captivating look at how boards are constructed.

Where’s the Surf

This display explains the contribution of the Coastal Data Information Program, a network of buoys found along the coast that provides real-time information about surface temperature, wave energy, and wave direction, and how the system benefits the surfing community.

Plastic Fantastic

Dedicated to the small surfboard manufacturer from the late ‘60s and early 70’s, this exhibit and stinger board were featured on the History Channel’s American Pickers television show.

Making Waves: Hunter Pochop

This unique exhibit details the journey of a young surfer who overcomes obstacles on his journey to achieving his dream of participating in the 2028 Paralympics.

The museum also has an extensive collection of surfboards from an early wooden model built in 1912 to modern-day examples, including a board from World Surf Champion Kelly Slater.

Enriching Educational Programs

California Surf Museum hosts special events such as book tours and lectures, but it can also accommodate school groups who want to learn more about surfing and what it means to California. Educational programs may additionally cover the science and mechanics behind surfing, such as board design, hydrodynamics, and oceanography. The museum is available for private guided group tours as well.

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Tips for a Swell Visit

  • Look for American swimmer and movie star Esther Williams’ unusual wooden paipo bodyboard from the 1930’s.
  • Check the calendar of events before you go to see what special programs may take place when you visit.
  • The museum is within walking distance of the Oceanside Pier, making it convenient to visit both the beach and the exhibits.
  • Ask about the movie festival hosted by the museum to see what films are in the pipeline or where you can see them when you return home.

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The Fin Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
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from $171 / night
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