Huntington Beach dominates the California coast with 10 miles of uninterrupted beach bliss. A mixture of classic California surf scene and modern outdoor malls where cliques of teens coexist with families, Surf City USA continues to lure surfers who still flock here, drawn by Huntington’s legendary place in surf lore.
Hawaiian-born George Freeth is credited with bringing the sport here in 1907, and some say the breaks around the pier and Bolsa Chica are the best in California. The world’s top wave riders flock to Huntington each August for the hugely popular U.S. Open of Surfing.
Huntington Beach Pier
A trip to iconic Huntington Beach – the “Times Square of the surfing world” – isn’t complete without a visit to the historic Huntington Beach Pier. This is the spot where pioneer surfer George Freeth was invited to surf at the Pier’s opening day in 1904 by Huntington Beach city founder, Henry Huntington. And as they say… the rest is surf history. Also worth checking out is the newly remodeled International Surfing Museum where you’ll soak up over 100 years of surfing history.
Beach Bummin’ Best
Besides its iconic pier, the crown jewel of Huntington Beach is the 10-mile wide expanse of pristine and spacious golden beaches that hugs the Pacific Ocean like a radio blasting teenager in a T-bird.
Huntington Beach is a laid-back and welcoming town where visitors can feel right at home on the sand along with friendly locals and visitors alike. From a vibrant downtown brimming with authentic surf shops and beachy boutiques, to open-air shopping and an eclectic dining scene, it’s all in Surf City USA.
Things To Do While Visiting Huntington Beach
- Kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding through the charming channels of Huntington Harbour. Building a beach bonfire in one of more than 500 free fire rings along the beach on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Bonfire Tip: Grab your fire ring early, especially during summer and holiday weekends, then surround your spot with gear to claim it. Don’t forget the s’mores, hot dogs and best sing-along songs!
- Horseback riding at the Equestrian Center, a 25-acre outdoor venue surrounded by miles of public trails and stables.
- Go fishing off the side of the pier with bait and supplies from Let’s Go Fishing.
- Learning trick kite lessons from Kite Connection followed by a shake at Ruby’s Diner on the Pier.
- Hiking in Huntington Central Park, the largest city-owned park in Orange County at 354 acres.
- Goofing around with your hound in Huntington Beach is fantastic as it’s full of activities for dogs including an awesome Dog Beach where Fido can run free and enjoy pet-friendly restos.
- Walking, biking, or jogging on the beautiful Ocean Strand, a 10-mile paved walkway running the length of Huntington Beach’s shoreline.
- Bird and marine wildlife watching at Huntington Beach’s Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, Orange County’s education and care center for injured marine wildlife, specializing in birds.
- Taking a Downtown Walking Tour to learn about the history of Huntington Beach.
Transpo Tip! There are a variety of ways to get to and from Huntington Beach. Public transpo, car rentals, taxis, shuttles and car services are available from most major airports and attractions. Huntington Beach is located 10 miles from Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA), 16 miles from Long Beach Airport (LGB), 35 miles from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), 45 miles from Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR), and 49 miles from Ontario International Airport (ONT). For those driving in, visit this handy Huntington Beach Driving Directions page to learn how to get to Surf City USA.
EAT & DRINK Thanks to both casual spots and fine dining destinations, Surf City has ocean-view dining for every taste and budget. The Sugar Shack along Main Street has remained a local favorite since 1967 with breakfast burritos, pancakes, and cinnamon rolls in the morning and burgers for lunch.
The Longboard Restaurant and Pub, housed in a 1904 building, is a cool joint to experience the surfing scene with everything from pulled pork sandwiches to Maine lobster. Zubies Dry Dock is another landmark that dates to the ’60s. Their giant aquariums, oyster bar, and fish and chips are epic. Or grab an outdoor meal at Zimzala, on the waterfront at The Shorebreak.
SHOPPING The Huntington Beach look is stylish yet relaxed, contemporary though never overly trendy. Comfort is queen in fashion here, and you’re bound to find clothes that let you look good while feelin’ even better. Huntington Surf and Sport (HSS) welcomes shoppers with a statue of the legendary Duke Kahanamoku and the Surfers’ Hall of Fame and offers a huge assortment of big-named surf brands for men and women. Across from HSS, Jack’s Surfboards dates back to 1957 with vintage boards hanging from the ceiling and dozens of brands of clothing, accessories, and shoes hanging on the racks.
Don’t miss Rip Curl’s flagship store which carries the Aussie company’s clothing, surfboards, and wetsuits. If you want a pair of classic Kanvas by Katin board shorts, then go to the source—the Katin Surf Shop on PCH, which opened in 1959. Rick “Rockin Fig” Fignetti is a local institution and described as “one of the last hardcore surf shops in California.”
TRIVIA: Huntington Beach Pier in Orange County is the longest recreational pier on the West Coast at 1,856 feet, making it a must-see for any visitor to Southern California. First opened in 1904 and rebuilt several times since then, the Huntington Beach Pier remains a classic Orange County landmark.
Don’t miss the Huntington Beach Downtown Art Walk happening every third Thursday of the month from 6-9 pm with beautifully displayed art works by both emerging and established artists. You’ll meet many of the artists whose artwork is available for purchase.
Hang with the locals on Surf City Nights, a weekly street fair that’s turned sleepy Tuesday nights into one of the hottest scenes of the week. With traffic shut down on three blocks of Main Street, downtown comes alive with music, food stands, and a certified farmers’ market. In addition to plenty of great food, come to this community gathering to shop for art and clothing and find bargains at sidewalk sales on Tuesdays from 5-9 pm year-round.
Huntington Beach Art Center is a vital hub of modern gallery space where you’ll see the works of national, international, and emerging artists. Music events include jazz, blues, and classical performances, as well as lectures and film screenings at 538 Main Street.
Stay on the beach at The Shorebreak
The Shorebreak – A Joie de Vivre Hotel offers LocalGetaways guests an unbeatable deal in the heart of Huntington Beach, directly across from the Pier. The rate and location, not to mention beach treats like umbrellas and chairs, are impossible to beat starting at only $199 per night.
The hotel’s surfer-chic design is decked out with vibrant sports-themed artwork and ocean inspired decor. The lobby extends outside to a sexy lounge area where you can sip cocktails with an ocean breeze. Super friendly staff lends storage for bicycles and boards and welcomes pets without extra charge (whoa).
Zimzala – the hotel’s onsite restaurant and bar featuring traditional American cuisine – refers to ‘free-spirited people who find peace with the sand between their toes.’