Though they are now a global phenomenon, many of the “lifestyle sports” like body building, surfing, and skateboarding emerged from Southern California in the mid-twentieth century. In time, these sports and their practitioners became symbolic embodiments of a distinctly “Californian” way of life. This article explores how these sports took root in the Golden State, latching on to earlier notions of a localized ideology often referred to as the “California dream.” Spanning visions of robust health, limitless wealth, and the freedom to fulfill one’s own destiny, the California dream positioned the state as the ideal incubator for physical practices that buck tradition, embrace creativity, and celebrate expression. From the state’s early boosters in the pages of the Los Angeles Times to the rise of a Progressive Era parks and playground movement, the stage was set for Californians to “live the dream” through lifestyle sports.

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