People love to travel. With the world’s population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050, more individuals than ever before are dreaming of a change of scene. With the advent of mass tourism and social media, people can connect with destinations they’ve never even heard of and explore them vicariously through photos and videos.
One of the most photographed spots in the world is undoubtedly Ocean’s Speedway. The New York Times described it as “one of the most photographed active sports arenas in the world,” while National Geographic referred to it as “one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.”
Hitting the news as the most photographed active sporting arena and landmark in the world, Ocean’s Speedway is a surf break that attracts people from all over the world. The speedway is located on the southern coast of California, 18 kilometers (11 miles) north of Los Angeles. With a wave size that breaks across the entire length of the beach, it’s no wonder that this spot is so well-known. The name ‘Ocean’s Speedway‘ is a combination of the two largest cities located along its southern California coastline: Los Angeles and San Diego.
Why Go To Ocean’s Speedway?
It’s a breathtakingly beautiful spot. Stretching for over a kilometer (0.6 mile), the sandy beach is lined with pine trees and dotted with umbrellas and gazebos that give the appearance of a small town by the sea. In fact, the temperature of the water is often in the mid-50s (122°F/50°C), which makes for perfect surfing conditions.
The smell of the salty ocean and the ear-piercing screams of gulls make for an unforgettable experience. You’ll also get to witness world-class sporting events, such as MotoGP and Formula 1 races, play out in front of you. The sheer volume of people who visit Ocean’s Speedway is a testament to its uniqueness. In 2019, over 500,000 individuals visited the site.
However, being a destination on the bucket list is only the beginning. Driving off the beach and on to the promenade that runs along the entire length of the southern California coastline, you’ll come across a series of iconic Americana roadside attractions. If you’ve never been there, you’ll know exactly what they are when you see them. From sea lions to otters, you’ll have the opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife while driving along this route.
How To Get To Ocean’s Speedway?
By far, the most common method of accessing Ocean’s Speedway is through Los Angeles, California. The drive from Los Angeles to Monterey is scenic and passes through a number of small towns and wineries, offering a glimpse into the local agriculture and industry. The most direct route from Los Angeles is I-5 South, which eventually becomes Highway 1. From there, it’s only a 40-minute scenic drive to Ocean’s Speedway. On the way, you’ll pass through the towns of El Toro and Laguna Beach, as well as the scenic and famous Dana Point. There’s also the additional option of taking the more scenic route through Carpinteria and connecting with Highway 101 north of San Francisco. The journey takes around three and a half hours.
If you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to spend too much on a travel-related venture, another option is to fly from Los Angeles to San Diego. From there, it’s only a 30-minute drive to the entrance of Ocean’s Speedway. This is also the most common option for those traveling from the greater LA area, as it saves them time and money.
Once You’re There, What Do You Do?
Once you’re inside the entrance of Ocean’s Speedway, you’ll be faced with a set of traffic lights. These traffic lights control the flow of cars into the stadium. When the lights are red, you can cross the street and continue towards the paddock area. Here, you’ll find two large parking lots that stretch for miles, offering beautiful ocean views and a birds-eye perspective of the event taking place on the sports field below.
On the opposite side of the street, you’ll see a row of shops and restaurants. These buildings line the promenade that leads to the stadium. If you stay on this side of the street, you’ll come across more shops, galleries, and restaurants, as well as the ticket booths that you’ll need to pass through to get to the field.
Getting To The Sports Field
To get to the field, you’ll need to go through a series of gates and security checks. The process is relatively painless, though it can be tedious. Once you make it past the final security check, you’ll see a broad expanse of grass awaiting you. If you come here to surf, you’ll need to grab a court before heading to the water’s edge. Alternatively, you can rent surf gear at the venue and get right into the action. There are also a number of well-maintained mountain bike trails that wind their way around the entire stadium. This is the perfect way to get a workout while taking in a live sporting event.
If you plan on heading to the stadium for any other purpose, the best option is to park in the lots located on the opposite side of the street. Here, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the entire venue. If you stay in one of these lots, you’ll also be within easy walking distance of the shops, restaurants, and other amenities that make for an interesting day out. If you get a parking ticket, you’ll have to pay at the parking lot’s cashier’s booth. The parking fee is $30, and you’ll need a credit card to validate the ticket. In addition to parking, the nearby lots charge for entrance. The total amount for parking plus entrance is $60.
What To Do Once You’re There?
Once you’re in the stadium, you’re in for a treat. This is one of the most photographed venues in the world, so be prepared to take plenty of photos. Many individuals visit Ocean’s Speedway every year to take photos, and many more have seen it in blogs or Instagram posts and want to visit it themselves. If you’re visiting the venue for the first time, get to the stadium early to stake out a good spot near the front. This is where you’ll find the best views of the event, as well as the most comfortable and spacious seating area.
If you’re looking for wildlife, you’ll need to put up with the crowds to see it. On a typical day, you’ll see sea lions, otters, and numerous birds. Especially during the spring and summer months, you’ll see a wide variety of fauna active on the stadium’s grounds. In the winter months, however, the crowds and the animals tend to take a break, so you might not see very much except for the occasional grumpy goose.
Getting To The Other Attractions
If you leave the stadium and continue down the street, you’ll come across a number of roadside attractions that are worth a short detour. On the corner of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway, there’s the Big Banana, a 202-foot (61-meter) tall animated yellow fruit peel that towers over the neighborhood. It was originally built to promote the movie ‘Big Banana’, which was released in 1950 and starred Davey Crockett, but has since seen its fair share of traffic flow underneath its belly.
A little further down the road, you’ll come across the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Here, you’ll get to see California animals such as sea lions, black bears, bobcats, desert bighorn sheep, and more in their natural habitat. There is also an opportunity to get up close and personal with these creatures while riding a cable car that takes you on a 45-minute scenic ride around the park. For those afternoons, you’ll need to make a reservation in advance.
The weather in southern California is glorious. With warm temperatures and minimal rainfall, it is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. However, be careful with the sun as it can cause you to burn. The best time for a visit to Ocean’s Speedway is from mid-June until October. During the off-season, i.e., November through April, the park is virtually deserted, and this is the best time to visit the nearby attractions.