Huntington Beach, AKA Surf City USA, has always been a hidden paradise to those immersed within surf culture, but the northern Orange County city really hasn’t been on the travel radar much, until now. The city is ramping up efforts to make the itself a destination for every type of traveler that’s looking for a California beach town, centrally located between both San Diego and Los Angeles. Below is a list of things not to miss while visiting or passing through Surf City!
Beach Bonfires – Not every Southern California beach allows bonfires, but Huntington Beach actually has over 500 bonfire rings available to the public – free of charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis. There’s no better way than to enjoy the coastline with friends, as well as some marshmallows.
Surf City Nights – This special street fair that takes place along Main Street between Walnut and Orange Avenue in downtown Huntington Beach, occurs every Tuesday, year round. During Surf City Nights, there’s a farmer’s market, bounce-house for the kids, street performers – both musical and non-musical acts – sidewalk sales, and restaurant samplings, among other fun stuff.
Pacific City: Shopping and Dining – Located right on Pacific Coast Highway with killer beach views, the city’s newest shopping, dining and lifestyle destination opened in November of last year. It boasts over 191,000 square feet of unique shops and eateries. Saint Marc Pub-Café, Bakery & Cheese Affinage is the one dining option that is an absolute must. This new restaurant concept that allows patrons to order and pay via an iPad, offers nostalgic Americana cuisine and caters to both the local surfer just wanting some tasty bacon to go and the dedicated Sunday brunch crowd wanting to spend hours sampling from the eclectic menu.
Immerse Yourself in Huntington Beach's Surf Culture – There’s a reason it’s called Surf City USA, and the city is extremely proud of its surf culture. The Surfing Walk of Fame is like its cousin in Hollywood, a stretch of sidewalk that pays tribute to the immortals of surfing. The Surfer’s Hall of Fame honors legends of surfing by immortalizing their handprints, footprints and signatures in the sidewalk, in front of Huntington Surf & Sport. The highlight there is the life-size bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing. And for a more educational experience, the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum is a nice fun place to explore. The museum houses collections of surfing memorabilia and has rotating exhibits.
Walk the Huntington Beach Pier – The pier came to existence in 1904 and is a landmark and integral part of Huntington Beach. Today’s pier, which has been rebuilt after two storms in the 1980s, stretches 1,856 feet into the Pacific Ocean, making it one of the longest piers on the West Coast. The crowd is a great mixture of both visitors and locals, and it offers the perfect place to catch a sunset.
Explore Huntington Harbour – Located on the northwest corner of Huntington Beach bordering Seal Beach and Sunset Beach, Huntington Harbour is made up of five man-made islands bounded by a network of navigable channels and the land surrounding them. Water activities here include stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, electric boats, sport fishing and gondola rides, all which provide views of beautiful multi-million dollar homes, private docks and yachts.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve – This place is one of the best birding spots in the United States, attracting nearly 200 bird species, including rare and endangered species. The reserve is open to foot traffic and offers 8 miles of hiking trails for both the bird enthusiast as well as the bird admirer.
Huntington Dog Beach – Got a pup, or just love dogs? If so, Huntington Dog Beach is an amazing 1.5 miles of pure pooch paradise. Named one of the country’s top 10 Fido-friendly beaches by Fido Friendly Magazine (yes, that’s a real publication), this beach is doggie nirvana. The beach is off-leash so make sure your dog is semi-trained and up for some fun with many, many friends.
Beach Volleyball – There are 20 courts that cluster around the north and south side of Huntington Beach Pier, and ten more courts are grouped by two between the pier and a nearby hotel resort, so if playing or watching volleyball is your thing, this is the place to be. Just bring your own ball or rent one from the many beach concessionaires or borrow one from your hotel. The Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Tour takes over the Huntington Beach Pier annually for a three-day competition and full-on beach festival. The tournament also features interactive activations, athlete appearances, vendors, and more -- all free to the public!
Surf Lessons and the US Open of Surfing – Consider surf lessons in Huntington Beach the same way you would consider hitting a home run in a Major League Baseball stadium, or shooting some hoops in an NBA arena – because that’s exactly what it’s like. Surf lessons can be taken at numerous locations throughout Huntington Beach, including nearby resorts and hotels. Additionally, the US Open of Surfing, the world’s largest surf competition and lifestyle festival, is held each summer, and over half a million people descend upon the beaches to enjoy nine fun and sun-filled days.