By Rich Kane
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By Patrice Wirth Marsters
By Erin DeWitt
By Taylor Hamby
By LP Hastings
Nothing screams summer like a 1,000-pound, aromatic giant animal continually swishing flies away from its enormous butt with its tail. And no place is better to hop on the back of a horse than the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center. For $55, you can take a guided tour along the trails of the 25-acre facility. If you’re part of a party, you can even whack a horse with a stick for only $25. For reals! Of course, it’s a candy-filled piñata, but it’s the thought that counts. If you’re more interested in watching highly skilled horse riders, the center is the site for several exhibitions during the summer, including the June 13 Cowboy Challenge Clinic and the Surf City Cowboy Challenge, which benefits an equine rescue group, on Aug. 14 and 15. 18381 Golden West Dr., Huntington Beach, (714) 848-6565; www.hcpec.com.
Most of the regional parks administered by the county have stocked lakes, but the serious anglers head to Irvine Lake, a private body of water built in 1931 that doesn’t require a license to fish. It’s one of the best places in the state for rainbow trout. The catfish opener is June 11, and if you’re interested, get there early. Many hardcore fishers sleep in the parking lot overnight to land the prime spots. There is a five-fish limit for catfish; the same for the other species that might be found, including bluegill and crappie. The bass in the lake are catch-and-release. If you catch a sturgeon or a big-ass 20-inch something, the staff requests you bring it to the tackle shop (still alive), where they’ll take your photo. You’re then asked to put it back in the lake, so some other lucky soul can get the pleasure of bringing it in. It’s $22 to fish the lake, but on Mondays that aren’t holidays, the price is $11. 4621 Santiago Canyon Rd., Silverado, (714) 649-9111; www.irvinelake.com.
Three venerable sportsfishing institutions are in Orange County: Dana Wharf, Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing. What’s the difference? Well, they all think they’re the best (the latter two are actually run by the same company). Dana Wharf charges $39 for half-day trips and $59 for three-quarter-day trips. Serious men definitely fish on their charters, but Dana Wharf is also way kid-friendly, offering free clinics from noon to 12:30 p.m. every Sunday to teach young anglers the fundamentals. Davey’s Locker and Newport Landing charge $40 for half-day trips and $69 for three-quarter days. Both places have been around for nearly 50 years, and many of the captains know every fathom of the Southern California coast, so if anyone knows where the sea bass, yellowtail and tuna are, they will. Dana Wharf Sportsfishing & Whale Watching, 34675 St. of the Golden Lantern, Dana Point, (949) 496-5794; www.danawharf.com. Newport Landing Sportfishing, 309 Palm Ave., Ste. A, Newport Beach, (949) 675-0550; www.newportlanding.com. Davey’s Locker Sportsfishing, 400 Main St., Newport Beach, (949) 673-1434; www.daveyslocker.com.
Open-ocean kayaking can be a scare for beginners, and harbor paddling provides a good chance of inhaling motorboat exhaust. For a bit more serenity, head to the Newport Aquatic Center, rent a kayak for $14 per hour and head away from the sea. The Upper Newport Back Bay is a veritable suburban oasis—or, to be more accurate, estuary—rich with wildlife. If you’re looking to learn the different between an egret and a heron or between a mullet (fish) and a mullet (haircut), take one of the guided kayaking nature tours or moonlight paddles. Newport Aquatic Center, 1 Whitecliffs Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 646-7725; www.newportaquaticcenter.com.
Yep. Still around and still flourishing. And not just for kids in short pants. According to the World Adult Kickball Association (www.kickball.com), tens of thousands of kickballers play the sport in leagues scattered across the country. And get this: Each league has a host bar. So if you join up for the Central or Orange Crush leagues, you party at the Auld Dubliner in Tustin. The Long Beach-based Big Kahuna league rages at Barry’s Beach Shack. The Buena Park Invincible kick it at the National Sports Bar. There are three leagues in Huntington Beach, each with its own host watering hole. Obviously, this is a sport that carries a strong social component along with the athletics. Leagues are co-ed; registration begins at $60; and there are spring, summer and fall seasons.
Sunbathers north of the Seal Beach pier need not cover their heads whenever a shadow swoops over them—for there, the shadows tend to come from kites rather than droppings-dropping seagulls. Seal Beach has earned a rep for being a great place to windsurf and kiteboard, which means it’s a great place to fly a simple diamond kite, too. Just ask the throngs of string-holders who descend every year for the Japan America Kite Festival: Seal Beach has the sand space and the upward drafts needed to get you high. Ocean Avenue and Main Street, Seal Beach.