According to surf historians, Huntington Beach was first surfed in 1907 by Hawaiian surfing pioneer George Freeth. Fast forward to 2008, Huntington Beach officially adopted the Surf City USA nickname after a tense trademark dispute between the Southern California city and Santa Cruz. Now, fittingly dubbed Surf City, HB is a hot spot for families wanting an Orange County escape lined with a long 8.5 miles of beautiful beach, a mild climate, and excellent surfing.
I love HB. It’s cool. It has character. And there’s tons to do. It’s truly the epitome of what a cliché SoCal getaway should be: beachy, fun, and chill. Here are 6 things to know when visiting the area.
1. Stay at Pasea Hotel
Paséa Hotel & Spa is a luxurious coastal hotel that’s steps from the beach and a short walk to the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. Located in HB’s vibrant community, Paséa sits perched across the street from the beach, offering swoon-worthy views from many of its rooms.
For our family of 5, booking the Ocean View Studio was perfect. There’s a king bed, pull out couch, spacious sitting area, and large bathroom; the soothing seaside ambiance and epic sunsets will make you want to move in. There’s a spa, two pools, and restaurant (Tanners) boasting a delicious menu for adults and kids. Should you manage escaping the children, check out the Treehouse Bar, a rooftop setting overlooking the Pacific.
2. Cruise a duffy
Huntington Harbor Boat Rentals, located in Sunset Beach, is the best place to rent duffy boats, stand-up paddle boards, and kayaks in Orange County. Electric duffys are simple to navigate, and great for cruising along dreamy harbor houses (some being harbor mansions).
Prior to your arrival, pit-stop at Sessions West Coast Deli- it’ll make for a delicious picnic on the boat. Sessions is located across the street from the Huntington Beach Pier, and offers a unique menu of gourmet, culinary-focused sandwiches. My fave: the Summer Zephyr sandwich!
3. Book a beach bonfire
Reserve ahead of time! Nothing says vacation like s’mores on the beach. End your evening with a warm bonfire and delicious s’mores provided by Waterfront Adventures Beach Bonfire Service. Your beach bonfire includes a personal fire pit with firewood along with comfy chairs, soda, bottled water, and all the goods you need to make the yummiest s’mores. Your personal beach butler will attend to your fire and assist with making your bonfire experience a delicious and memorable night.
4. Make lunchtime rock
Sandy’s Beach Shack is a must-eat hot spot offering one of the best beachfront casual dining experiences in HB. Located at the base of the Huntington Beach Pier, Sandy’s offers over 25 surf- inspired sippers and an amazing menu of California-inspired food options.
If you’re craving an exotic flare, do lunch at Ola Mexican- I suggest ordering a trio of tacos. The restaurant is in the heart of Pacific City, HB’s outdoor shopping district. With magnificent ocean views and a festive ambiance, you’ll fill up on lovely authentic Mexican comfort food with elevated South of the Border culinary influences.
5. Dinner done right
If you can swing date night, book a parent’s night out at Dine Bluegold in HB’s Pacific City. Flaunting farm-to-table options, Bluegold invites you to relax by the ocean and enjoy elegant dining. Kick things off with fresh oysters from the steam kettle or savory steak grilled over charcoal… accompanied by wine, of course. Ask for a booth overlooking the water- it’s stunning!
A trip to HB wouldn’t be complete without dining at Duke’s. Located at the base of the pier, Duke’s offers memorable dining, endless ocean views and a reminder of simpler times. Enjoy a Hawaiian-inspired ambiance and the freshest seafood and prime steaks. Tip: order the poke tacos and end the night with Hula pie… it’ll be the best dessert you’ll ever have (I promise).
6. Do like the locals
Obviously make ample time for beaching… HB’s surf and sand is pristine and beautiful. There are plenty of stores that offer affordable boogie board rentals (my 7-year-old had a blast), and don’t forget the beach toys. Keep in mind, if you’re staying at Paséa, they provide you with beach chairs and towels so you don’t have to schlep your own!
There’s a long boardwalk for bike cruising, surreys, scooters, and walking. If you take the path from Pasea a little passed the pier, you’ll arrive to an awesome playground right on the beach. Free entertainment for the kids = downtime for you, mama! It’s one of our favorite beach playgrounds in SoCal.
The Surf City Farmers’ Market is Downtown HB’s Tuesday night community street fair. From 5pm — 9pm, three blocks of Main Street are closed to traffic and transform into bustling lanes filled with local artisans, fresh produce, live music, and more. Local shops and eateries open their doors extra wide, offering sidewalk sales and exclusive deals.
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