But when it comes to going to the beach and driving your woody — that old, wood-paneled station wagon that you could fit a surfboard into the back of — right onto the sand like Annette's friends did in all those movies, well, forget about it. It mainly only happened in those movies and on Beach Boys album covers.
The only California beach you can legally drive a car onto is Oceano Dunes, near Pismo Beach, along the central California coast.
You might have done it at Malibu back in the early 1960s, when there were no lifeguards around to chase you away, but if you did you'd probably get stuck in the sand. Today, you might get arrested.
"I never saw a car parked on the sand. We didn't even have a parking lot. We parked on the street," laughed Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, who in her days shooting the curl regularly at Malibu was better known as Gidget. (Yes, that Gidget, the one her father, Frederick Kohner, based the novel and the 1959 beach movie of the same name on.)
The makeshift shack on the sand that the surfers in "Gidget" constructed so that they had a cheap place to live while they surfed really did exist, Zuckerman says. But it's long gone now, replaced over the years by amenities like a lifeguard tower, restrooms and a parking lot as mansions sprouted on the hills above the water.
But the dream that was launched in those old movies still lives on among some who were young then.
"Every summer I still go to Malibu," says Zuckerman, 72. "I take a board out, I stay close inside and try to paddle into a wave."
Why does she do it?
"Once a surfer," she says, "always a surfer."