Huntington Beach is a surfer’s paradise, thanks to its sunshine, sandy beaches, consistent waves, and relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It’s also a paradise for families looking for a beach vacation to remember. There are so many things to see and do in Huntington Beach but you absolutely need to save time to catch some rays and build sandcastles along the ten splendid miles of uninterrupted coastline. Here’s a three day plan for family fun in Surf City USA.
If you’re going to truly make the most out of your visit to Surf City USA, you’re going to need to learn how to surf. Toes on the Nose Waterfront Adventures (714-845-4638; 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy.; toesonthenose.com) offers hour-long basic surfing lessons for kids and adults. All that hanging ten will make you hungry so enjoy lunch or dinner on the beach at flip-flop friendly Sandy’s Beach Grill (315 Pacific Coast Highway; 714-374-7273; sandysbeachgrill.com), located sand-side. Cap your day with a sunset stroll on the atmospheric 1,856-foot Huntington Beach Pier, one of the longest recreational piers on the West Coast and a prime surfer magnet: the U.S. Open of Surfing, the largest surfing competition in the world, is held on the south side of the pier every summer and typically lasts one week.
Huntington Beach is also the home of skateboard fanatics and you’ll find them at the 32,000 square foot Vans Off the Wall Skatepark and Garage Skate Shop (7471 Center Avenue; 714-379-6666; vans.com/skateparks-hb.html), a world-class skatepark, offering a skate bowl as well as boxes and rails for every level of skater. Entry is free but all skaters must have a helmet and those under 18 are also required to wear knee and elbow pads. Grab some snacks and a new pair of Vans at the onsite Jack’s Garage, a fully stocked skate shop and snack bar constructed from re-purposed shipping containers. In the evening, switch to bicycle wheels and take a ride along the Huntington Beach Ocean Strand, a 10-mile long boardwalk that runs the length of the city along the beach, parallel with Pacific Coast Highway. At Waterfront Adventures, located next to Wahoo’s Fish Taco’s Concession at Pacific Coast Highway and Twin Dolphin Drive (between the Hilton and Hyatt resorts) on the beach, you can rent unique specialty bikes including single and double surreys, Deuce Coupes or Choppers or Quad Sports, as well as cruisers, tandem and kids bikes.
Explore the many shops on Main Street in Downtown Huntington Beach (Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street), where you’ll find everything from sand toys to surfer-cool duds. Cool off with an acai bowl at Banzai Bowls (222 5th St.): filled with a thick, ice cream like smoothie topped with fresh fruits and granola, these bowls pack a tasty, nutritional punch. Make a pit stop at the Surfing Walk of Fame in front of Jack’s Surf Shop and the Surfing Hall of Fame in front of HSS at Main and PCH, where legendary surfers names, handprints and footprints are immortalized in the sidewalk. As the afternoon sun begins to fade, head back to the beach for a pick-up volley ball match: you’ll find 20 first-come first-serve beach volleyball courts around the north and south side of the Huntington Beach Pier; Bring your own ball or ask to borrow one from your hotel. As the sun sets on your final night in Surf City USA, arrange a bonfire and s’mores night on the beach:
Waterfront Adventures (located next to Wahoo’s Fish Taco’s Concession at Pacific Coast Highway and Twin Dolphin Drive, across the Hilton Waterfront Resort, on the beach) has a personal beach butler who will provide you with all the s’mores supplies you need and set up a roaring bonfire in the sand, perfect for toasting marshmallows