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There’s no shortage of the best places to longboard in California, whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned pro. If you sought mindless refuge in 2020 on TikTok, chances are you came across a Korean woman dancing on her longboard. Hyo Joo and her willowy cross steps sparked a new interest in longboarding, and soon drop-through longboards soared off the shelves. Though, like any kind of skating, longboarding requires balance and practice, you don’t necessarily need to hop around on your board like a woodland nymph to have a blast. You can cruise, bomb down hills, dance and more.
Surfers who prefer longboards over shorter performance boards must have a longboard to practice their carving, cross steps and hang ten. Pro tip for surfers: invest in Hamboard’s new Pinger board. The most important aspects of longboarding are the board itself and the terrain. Even if you have a cheap board purchased at 1 a.m. on Amazon, the smooth roads and gradual slopes of California will deliver. The sun, the trees, the hills, and, of course, the beach boardwalks aren’t hard to come by.
Whether you want to cruise around a flat, gentle road or pump your adrenaline down switchbacks, the West Coast is for you. While the rain of the Pacific Northwest can ruin longboarding conditions, the weather down south never fails the skaters. Leave behind mushy waves for smooth pavement and hills. Check out our list of the best places to longboard in California. Remember your helmet! Aesthetics aren’t worth compromising safety.
Pacific Beach & Mission Bay, San Diego
If you want to avoid the crowds of Pacific Beach, then opt for the more wide-open longboard locations of Mission Bay. The boardwalk along the bay runs for miles and, though a popular area, crowds tend to gravitate toward the shops and restaurants of Pacific Beach.
If long-distance is your thing, then start on the bike paths along the San Diego River. In the afternoon you can see fish leaping out of the water and birds diving in and out to catch them. Beware of gravel and intermittent construction on this route (break out your big wheels). Once you reach the turn off the Mission Bay, you may need to carry your board up a steep bridge, but the rest of the way is smooth sailing.
Eventually you’ll reach Pacific Beach and head toward La Jolla. If your feet ache from your long ride, hop in the waves for a respite. Get lost in the sandy boardwalks until you need to break out your phone to head home.
Lombard Street, San Francisco
Who hasn’t heard of or seen a picture of Lombard Street? If the allure of the garden-esque road doesn’t steal your attention, then the switchbacks should. This one requires experience and caution. You may have to dodge traffic and local transit, and traffic lights could at best create some timing issues and at worst cause an accident. Wear a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and bring your longboarding gloves if you like to slide. Despite potentially hazardous conditions, it’s worth the run. Imagine an aerial picture of you carving your way down the famous zigzags of Lombard Street.
Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Venice would make the list simply for the Venice Canals. After all, who can deny lusting after anything and everything Europe? But it certainly also ranks for some picturesque longboarding cruising. The vast coastline provides the perfect setting for a longboard at dusk. Careful not to stare too much at the water or you might hit a rock or a displeased pedestrian. Take your board over to Abbey Kinney for a charming shopping experience. If you happen to have a vintage pintail board, Venice demands a photo shoot.
Coronado Island, San Diego
Drive over the towering Coronado Bridge to access a paradise of endless bike trails and idyllic neighborhoods. Ride around downtown Coronado, though avoid the traffic-heavy Orange Avenue, and zoom in circles around the various parks.
Longboard along the beach until you reach Hotel del Coronado, San Diego’s 1888 castle-like beach resort. This historic piece of architectural art is a must for Marilynn Monroe fans. Beyond downtown Coronado stretches the Silver Strand Bikeway, a flat 12-mile road perfect for a longboard adventure. Skate the entire strip all the way to Imperial Beach, or cruise for a while and turn around.
With a mixture of curves and straight pavement, you can’t beat the Silver Strand. Crowds can spoil your ride, so try skating at night or at sunset. Be sure to keep your board underneath you, or it may fly into the rocks or even the water, which line the Silver Strand.
Jack’s Peak Park, Monterey
Escape the crowds, traffic and expenses of the city for a more natural longboarding experience. The slopes of Jack’s Peak and its ultra smooth pavement provides plenty of opportunity for speedy freeride and downhill. Plus, you can pick one of several trails for a hike after you’ve exhausted your inner thighs from pushing your way around the park. These short hikes won’t wind you, so hauling your longboard around with you isn’t an issue.
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