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It doesn’t get the hype of surfing or volleyball, but the sport of archery is big in Southern California. The U.S. Olympic Training Center is located on 155 acres in Chula Vista, and one of the nine sports it supports is archery. Orange County’s proximity to that site means it has its fair share of Olympic archery hopefuls. If you want to see some in action, look no farther than the archery range at Mile Square Regional Park. Though far smaller than the range at El Dorado East Regional Park in Long Beach—where the 1984 Olympic archery competition was held—the nine targets attract everyone from rank amateurs with $200 starter bows to experts sporting thousands of dollars on their shoulders. The range is self-policed: No reservations or registration is required, and though hours fluctuate, it’s usually open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Feathered caps and Merry Men optional. Mile Square Regional Park, 16801 Euclid St., Fountain Valley; www.ocparks.com/milesquare. El Dorado East Regional Park, 7550 E. Spring St., Long Beach, (562) 570-1773; www.longbeach.gov/park.
Whether you still cling to dreams that should have died years ago, haven’t picked up a baseball mitt in 40 years, or just have a hankering to play the grand ol’ game in an organized fashion, here are three avenues: The Pacific Coast Baseball League (www.pcbl.org) is for serious ballplayers. How serious? You pay $200 to play 10 games in this semi-professional, adult baseball league that includes more than 2,500 players, all of whom hope to post eye-raising stats to get the attention of minor-league teams that actually pay them to play. The National Adult Baseball Association (www.dugout.org), the largest amateur-baseball organization in the country, has a big Orange County presence, with an open league for anyone, along with 25-and-over, 35-and-over, 45-and-over and 55-and-over leagues, most with advanced, intermediate and recreational divisions. The Men’s Senior and Adult Baseball League of Southern California (www.socalmsbl.com) offers three leagues—18-and-over, 25-and-over and 38-and-over—split into two divisions based on skill level. Nine Orange County regional parks also offer baseball diamonds for more casual play. Visit www.ocparks.com for a more complete list.
It’s a staple of the Summer X-Games and even an Olympic-medal sport, but BMX riding got its start on courses just like the Orange Y. Opened in 1977, it’s the longest-running operational BMX track in the United States. And though the sport has long outgrown the confines of this dirt track, some of the roots that helped anchor its growth into a global phenomenon are found in these hills, jumps and banks. Races are held Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 2241 E. Palmyra, Orange, (714) 502-2269; www.orangeybmx.com.
Though the professional scope of the sport of bodyboarding in the United States doesn’t match that of Australia, where pros can draw as much as $100,000 in salaries, “there are probably more bodyboarders in Orange County than anywhere else in the world,” says Ron Ziebell, who owns Alternative Surf in Seal Beach. One of the rare sports that a rank beginner can immediately enjoy, but takes hard-core professionals years to master, bodyboarding is superior to surfing, Ziebell says, “because there are waves that surfers can’t ride that we can. Fast and heavy waves aren’t good for them because they don’t have time to get on their boards, but since we’re on our bellies, we can ride the barrel and tunnel deep inside and come out of it. Nothing beats the adrenalin rush of bodyboarding.” The best place for beginners is 40th Street in Newport Beach, which is all bodyboarding all the time. For advanced bodyboarders, check out Salt Creek in Laguna Beach. For the truly advanced, there’s the notorious Wedge in Newport Beach. Lessons at Alternative Surf are $85 for beginners, and boards range from $35 to $250. Alternative Surf, 330 Main St., Ste. D, Seal Beach, (562) 881-3781; www.alternativesurf.com.
Before pitching a tent, you face that eternal only-in-Orange County dilemma: to beach, or not to beach? Seems like a gimme, but then you realize how much you’ll need to hustle or grease ranger palms to score a fire ring with an ocean view. Most marquee state-beach campgrounds, such as Doheny in Dana Point and Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach, are almost entirely booked through the summer. But Crystal Cove State Park—in El Moro Canyon, inland from Newport Beach’s glorious Crystal Cove State Beach—has spots open for $25 per day. You’ll have to hike 3 miles to your campsite, where you’ll rough it without trash cans or running water, but that’s part of the fun. For more family-friendly amenities, including hosted nature hikes and the ever-thrilling threat of wildfires, try county-run Caspers Wilderness Park off the Ortega Highway in South County. Base rate for a site is only $15 per night, but be sure to factor in the mental cost of smuggling booze in canteens. State park reservations can be made through reserveamerica.com. For Caspers Park, go to ocparks.reserveworld.com.
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