This week, our Musical Road Trip series heads to Route 101 to explore the origins of surf rock and the California sound.
In the early 1960s, America was infected by the California sound. Upbeat acts like Dick Dale and His Del-Tones and the Beach Boys topped the charts while new lightweight shortboards dotted the tides. The 2010s have revived surf rock and the California sound, thanks to the help and success of bands like Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls and Wavves.
Starting in Los Angeles, you’ll follow Route 101 north through San Francisco and surf communities like Ventura and Santa Barbara. Along the way, you’ll brave perfect waves and discover dreamy new music.
Flip through the gallery above to see our picks for a surf rock road trip up Route 101.
1. The Mint, Los Angeles, Calif. 2. The Echo, Los Angeles, Calif. 3. Amoeba Music, Los Angeles, Calif. 4. Troubadour, West Hollywood, Calif. 5. Point Mugu State Park, Ventura, Calif. 6. Santa Barbara Surfing Museum, Santa Barbara, Calif. 7. Leadbetter Beach, Santa Barbara, Calif. 8. The Chapel, San Francisco, Calif. 9. Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, Calif. 10. The Last Record Store, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Sarra Sedghi is a freelancer based in Athens, Ga.
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Head to Amoeba Music's L.A. outpost and get lost in its vast collection of albums. Amoeba Music also hosts shows by artists like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and rotations by up-and-coming DJs.
Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
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Before you leave San Francisco, visit Bottom of the Hill for a chance to watch California's next great band. The beloved venue hosts local up-and-comers like Blüm, Royal Tasters and Jet Trash.
Photo: Apes on Tape
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Head to L.A.'s Echo Park neighborhood for a show at The Echo (its sister venue, Echoplex nightclub, is adjacent). The Echo is an intimate venue that hosts small label acts like Dum Dum Girls, Eternal Summers and La Luz.
Photo: Carl Pocket courtesy of the Echo
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Before you leave L.A. head to West Hollywood's Troubadour for a show. Opened in 1957, Troubador has watched plenty of musical legends perform and hosts prominent local bands like Wavves and Swimmers.
Photo: Visit West Hollywood
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Finish your journey at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa. Aside from carrying a great selection of vinyl and CDs, the Last Record Store is one of Santa Rosa's best spots for live music.
Photo: The Last Record Store
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Next, head to Leadbetter Beach, one of Santa Barbara's best beaches and surfing spots. The surf here is good for all levels, so beginners can take to the water as well.
Photo: Travel Grom
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Next, get a history lesson at the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum. The museum is free to enter and features a collection of artifacts from multiple eras of surfing waves.
Photo: Santa Barbara Surfing Museum
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Next, head to Ventura and catch some waves at Point Mugu State Park. Here, you'll find a stunning view and conditions that suit surfers of all levels.
Photo: William Sharp
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Just like Route 101 itself, you'll start your journey in Los Angeles. Catch a show at The Mint, an intimate venue known for hosting up-and-comers.
Photo: The Mint
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Head north to San Francisco for some more live music at The Chapel. The converted ex-church hosts acts such as Ty Segall and Ducktails under its iconic arched ceiling.
Photo: Getty Images // Steve Jennings / Stringer