It seems like it past few years you hear horrible after horrible thing about California happening, though one thing many can agree on is a cool beach you should visit if you haven’t been Huntington Beach, California also known as Surf City, USA.
Offering the authentic surf lifestyle, coupled with 10 miles of uninterrupted coastline, Huntington Beach can truly be called Surf City USA. Warm weather and year-round sun offer the perfect setting for outdoor activities such as beach bonfires, volleyball by the Pier, biking along the Ocean Strand, stand-up paddle boarding in Huntington Harbor, hiking through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands or strolling down Main Street.
If you like to surf, Huntington Beach is for you!
The Vans US Open of Surfing is the world’s largest surf competition and lifestyle festival. Each summer, over half a million people cruise the sand on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier for nine free fun-filled days. Watch as the best surfers in the world compete for one of the largest prize purses in the industry at this annual World Surf League qualifier. That is only one, there are many surfing contests in Huntington Beach.
In addition to surfing, the event includes world-class skateboarding and BMX competitions, movie premieres, retail and art exhibitions, and product demos and samples from your favorite action sport industry brands, including title sponsor Vans.
Huntington Beach is a classic beach break in Orange County, California. It catches any swell on offer and can will often have a wave even if other spots along the coast are flat.
The best time to surf is in winter when bigger swells are on offer and the summer crowd are no longer surfing.
This long stretch of beach produces some classic hollow waves when the conditions are right.
As in most Southern California towns, the chance of finding a peak to yourself is laughably small. Huntington Pier gets the most press, paparazzi, and people, but crowds can thin out depending on how far you’re willing to scan the nine-mile long coastline. A long-period south swell can produce wave sizes up to 8-feet during the winter, though shoulder-high and less is normal. Luckily, there’s not really a swell direction that Huntington doesn’t like. The same goes for tide, both north and south of the pier.
Huntington Beach is also home to the World-Famous Surf City Surf Dog contest! the world-famous premier event on the dog surfing circuit is held annually in late September in Surf City USA. The event brings together the community, surfers, dog lovers, families & pets for a day of fun and “fundraising at one of Southern California’s most pristine beaches – Huntington Dog Beach! Huntington Dog Beach, located on PCH and Goldenwest Street.
Where to park
The best place to find this information is at www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/visitors/parking/.
On this website you will find the information you need regarding parking within the City of Huntington Beach. The website provides information about parking locations, including garages, parking lots, and meters; as well as specific information pertaining to beach parking, downtown parking, event parking, and RV parking. You will also find details about parking passes, parking regulations, and parking citations.
Directions: From the 405 FWY, take Beach Boulevard south to Pacific Coast Highway. Huntington City Beach is directly across Pacific Coast Highway and extends north from Beach Boulevard to Seapoint Street.
Some of the rules at Huntington Beach
Beach Curfew is 10:00 pm, and pier curfew is midnight
Board surfing is prohibited when blackball signs are posted
Riding bikes or skateboards is prohibited on the pier
Possession and/or consumption of drugs or alcohol is prohibited
Dogs must be on a leash and are only permitted on the service road and at “Dog Beach”
Smoking is prohibited on the beach and pier (though you probably won’t see much of this)
Barbecue’s must be within 6′ of a firepit and up off the sand
Some safety tips (these really are for anywhere when going to beach)
Swim near a lifeguard
Learn to swim
Never swim alone
Don’t fight the current
Leash your board
Don’t float where you can’t swim
Life jackets = boating safety
At home, you’re the lifeguard
What to wear
Huntington Beach, as is most of California, casual is the main choice. If you are going out to some of the music/dance places, then you might want to go more resort casual. A few Dance Clubs do have a dress code, but we can’t think of one in Huntington Beach. Since you’re going to the beach and you’ll likely want to be soaking up all that sun, you’ll want to wear clothes that dry quickly, can be removed and put back on quickly, and that are easy to fold up and use as a nice, comfy pillow. If you plan on getting in the water, it’s a good idea to bring a pair of underclothes so your drive home is a little less sandy. Be sure to bring a towel and sunglasses.
While sun screen is one of the most commonly recommended methods of sun protection, there are much safer and more effective means of protection out there. These include wearing a sun shirt and/or hat, staying under an umbrella when not being active, and eating lots of brightly colored fruits before you head out. You can also use aloe as a natural sun protectant, or choose a natural sunscreen. And drinking plenty of water can help you (and your skin) stay hydrated so you don’t risk the effects of overexposure.
If you’re planning to spend all your daytrip to Huntington Beach on the beach, you’ll want to bring some drinks and snacks with you. Plan a picnic with all your favorite foods and you’ll be so glad you did. Not only will you be able to save money and avoid the lunch rush at the local restaurants, but you’ll be able to keep your prime oceanfront real estate. Some great picnic choices are sandwiches, fruits, veggies, chips (salsa and guacamole, anyone?), salads, and baked goods.
Roll down the bike trail
For 10 uninterrupted miles from Sunset Beach to Newport, you can ride a bike, a skateboard, or pretty much anything else with wheels (shopping cart?) down the Huntington Beach Bike Trail, taking in picturesque beach views and some sand-side eats along the way.
International Surf Museum
Right off Main St is an appropriate ode to Surf City USA — the laid-back International Surfing Museum. This tiny room tucked on a side street is filled with local lore, exhibits on famous local surfers, and displays of boards made in OC, a room of unparalleled ephemera well worth the low admission.
Fish off Huntington Beach Pier
If catching your own meal is more your style, you can always throw a line over the side of the pier and wait for a bite. As one of the few places in the state where you can fish without a license, HB is a great place to catch everything from corbinas to croakers.
Surfers Hall of Fame
When in Orange County, hit up the Surfers’ Hall of Fame in front of the Huntington Surf & Sport on Main St, a mosaic of cement bricks emblazoned with the hand- and foot-prints of local surfing legends, from Laird Hamilton to Shawn Stussy.
Huntington Central Park
just like the Big Apple, Huntington Beach has its own Central Park which, at 350 acres, is the largest city-owned park in OC. There are tons of amenities (see disc golf below) and annual events (dog and car shows, Revolutionary War re-enactments, etc.), but mostly, it’s just a pretty place to walk around and throw out the old picnic blanket. Huntington Central Park’s disc golf course is the only disc golf course in OC, so if you want to toss a frisbee around for 18 holes, this is your spot.
Take a stroll through Chica Ecological Reserve
See how many of the nearly 200 species of birds you can spot when you walk the dirt trails at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. With five miles of public walkways surrounded on three sides by fancy suburban homes, enjoy the expanse of nature on your own or take one of the free tours offered on select weekends.
Have a bon fire party
There aren’t a lot of places in California where you can start a bonfire on the beach, but then again, Huntington Beach is not a lot of places. Hundreds of free-use fire pits dot the city’s sandy coastline — all you must do is bring the food, refreshments, and friends.
Sand volleyball is a city pastime as time-honored as surfing, and with dozens of free courts scattered all along the 10 miles of uninterrupted beach, there’s never a bad time to grab a few friends and plan an attack.
With blocks of shops and plenty of eateries offering a break from browsing, Main Street and Fifth Street blend convenience, selection, and Downtown’s always-vibrant atmosphere. There’s something for everyone, including charming souvenir stores, family-run surf shops, trendy women’s boutiques, enchanting vintage collections, as well as bicycle and motorcycle supplies. A short walk south of Main Street you’ll find Pacific City, a retail and dining hub offering even more unique and trendy shopping options.
When you go to Huntington Beach, we recommend going early, as there is always something going on at Huntington Beach so be prepared. Getting there early is best.