What To Do In Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach is the fourth largest beach city in Orange County, California. With a population exceeding 203,000, it is also the seventh largest city in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.
Boasting 9.5 miles of sandy beach, Huntington Beach sees an estimated 16 million beach visitors each year. With ocean swells generated from the North Pacific in the winter, and storms and hurricanes generating swells from the southern hemisphere in the summer, Huntington Beach has consistent year-round surf. It is appropriately nicknamed “Surf City.”
Originally occupied by the Tongva tribe of Native Americans, the area was settled by Europeans in 1784, by a Spanish soldier named Manual Neto. As a reward for his military service, Neto received a 300,000-acre land grant, which he named Ranchos Los Nietos. The grant was later reduced in a dispute with the Mission San Gabrriel, though Neto still retained thousands of acres. The area became a farming and agricultural hub, with horses and cattle raised, and barley leading crop production.
In 1921, Donald Douglas acquired bean fields across from what is now the US Weapons Station. The Douglas Aircraft Space Systems Center was soon under development and ultimately produced the upper stage Saturn Rocket, instrumental in the Apollo space mission. Soon Douglas Aircraft became McDonnell Douglas. Boeing purchased both firms in the 1990’s and today Boeing is one of the largest employers in Huntington Beach.
Surfing was brought to the shores of Southern California in 1925 by Duke Kahanamoku. In 1953, Huntington Beach welcomed its first surf shop, Gordie’s Surf Boards, and the first US Surfing Championships was held in Huntington Beach just six years later. Television coverage of the Championships in 1960 put Hunting Beach on the map, and the city earned international fame as a surf paradis. The USA Surf Team selected Hunting Beach as their official home and shortly after the Association of Surfing Professionals also planted roots in Huntington Beach.
The 1950’s saw the start of a mass migration into the Huntington Beach area. This growth continued into the 1970’s and Huntington Beach became the fastest growing city in the US. In an effort to improve the beach town’s image, many of the oil rigs were concealed during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
With a low unemployment rate, great schools, an abundance of local shopping choices, ocean breezes, and a mild climate Huntington Beach is both an ideal place to live and visit.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Huntington Beach
Some of our favorite local spots are listed below.
Arts and Culture
Huntington Beach Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 2009, The Huntington Beach Symphony presents music for all genres and adapts each score to modern tastes; you may hear a hint of Star Wars at the end of a Brahms piece. Considered one of the best kept secrets in town, the Symphony also offers educational programs, VIP parties and Gala programs. Calendar of events and tickets are available online. Concerts are scheduled at different venues throughout Orange County so be sure to check the website for specific event locations.
Call them at: 714-274-5524
Huntington Beach Playhouse
Since 1963, the Huntington Beach Playhouse has been presenting live theater to the community.Fromdrama to comedy to musical productions, they are focused on presenting the highest quality community theater in the country. Previously located in the Huntington Beach Library Theater, the Huntington Beach Playhouse has a new location as of 2017. The new location will allow for a longer season of shows and two shows on Saturdays and Sundays (including a matinee option). Huntington Beach Playhouse is an authentic community-based success and provides arts participation and arts access to residents of, and visitors to, Orange County.
Support the arts at: 7272 Saturn Drive, Huntington Beach
new venue location for 2017: 8251 Heil Avenue, Westminster
Call them at: 714-847-4357
Surf City Nights
Launched in 2007, Surf City nights is a weekly Tuesday night event presented by the Huntington Beach Downtown Improvement District. It’s a community street fair and farmer’s market. The city closes down the first three blocks of Main Street to traffic from 5pm – 9pm and the lanes are filled with fresh produce, live music, local artisans, akids’ corner and more. During Surf City Nights you’ll also find exclusive deals and sidewalk sales. This is the place to be on Tuesday nights in Orange County.
Dance in the streets at: Main Street
Call them at: 714-733-3167
The quintessential beach town, Huntington Beach spans miles of sandy beach and offers over 300 days of sunshine annually. While there are a plethora of theme parks and well-known attractions within a stone’s throw from Huntington Beach we have compiled a list of some of our favorite family activities by land and by sea. Whether you want to perfect your sand castle building skills or take a leisurely sightseeing ride on a horse, the perfect family adventure awaits you in Huntington Beach.
If you’re ready to get down and dirty then bring the kids to Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach. Adventure Playground is not your typical playground, in fact there are no swings and you won’t see the expected playground equipment. Instead you’ll find a rope bridge that hangs over the water, a mudslide (it’s messy, we promise!) and stand up rafting across a pond. Your kids will end up completely wet and full ofdirt so be prepared. Parents should also wear clothes and shoes that are made for this type of adventure. There is a shower and changing area so be sure to bring towels and a change of clothing for the little ones. The playground is best for children ages 5 – 12. The playground is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm, Try to get there when they open.
Your adventure begins at: 18000 Goldenwest Street
Give them a call at: 714-842-7442 or 714-536-5486 when the playground is closed
Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center
The equestrian center is one of the great treasures of Huntington Beach. The center offers hour-long horse guided tours around Central Park which includes views of the Pacific Ocean and Long Beach Harbor. Tours are led by the amazing staff with Horse Play Rentals and they welcome riders of all experience levels and abilities. There are a maximum of 5 riders per tour and riders must be at least 8 years of age.
Take a trail ride at: 18381 Golden West Street
Give them a call at: 714-848-6565
Huntington State Beach
This gem of a beach features twomiles of sandy beach and fewer crowds then you’ll find in Newport Beach. Huntington State Beach provides all of the fixings for a great beach day including bike trails (along with cruiser bike rentals), a great pier, (which also provides an amazing vantage point for watching the surfers ride the waves), a snack shack, sand made for hosting sand castles and fire pits for perfecting your marshmallow roasting at sundown. Even summertime can bring chilly offshore winds so be sure to pack a sweater, sweatshirt and/or jeans.
Enjoy some fun in the sun at: Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Boulevard
For more information call: 714-536-5281
Beach-side Bike Ride An 8.5 mile path hugs the coastline and concessionaires rent a variety of bikes including singles, children’s, tandems, and surreys.
Surf City Boat Rentals
What better way to spend a leisurely afternoon than by cruising the waterways of Hunting Harbor on an electric boat? Known as Duffy boats, these watercrafts hold up to 12 passengers and come equipped with full canopy tops and window enclosures. Hunting Harbor is at thenorthern portion of Huntington Beach and encompasses five man-made islands which are connected by a network of public channels, perfect for Duffy boats, and kayaks . Passengers are also welcome to bring their favorite food and beverage on board. Duffy boats are safe and very easy to operate. Reservations are recommended.
Travel the waterways at: 16102 Mariner Drive
Reserve your boat by calling: 714-390-2039
Bike the Ocean Strand
The Huntington Beach Coastline plays host to 10 miles pf paved path known as The Strand. With ocean breezes and panoramic ocean views, The Strand has been recognized by Coastal Living Magazine as one of the top 10 coastal trails in the US. Need we say more? Grab the family, rent a bike for the day and explore all The Strand has to offer. With a multitude of beach side concession stands offering rentals, we recommend Surfboard and Bike Rental on 5th Street. Choose from beach cruisers or tandem models. They also offer add-ons like baskets, child seats, child trailers (seats two) and large pet baskets/cargo baskets.
Peddle the day away at: 311 5th Street
Give them a call at: 714-794-4940
There’s no excuse to stay indoors while in Huntington Beach. Drawing over 11 million visitors each year, Huntington Beach offers perfect weather, miles of pristine beaches, a friendly atmosphere and multiple opportunities to connect with nature to explore wildlife and habitats of Southern California. So put on your shorts, grab your sun block and go outside! These are some of our favorite things to do in Huntington Beach.
Frisbee golf course
Located off Golden West Street in Huntington Beach’s Central Park, the Frisbee (or Disc) Golf Course was the first Disc course in Orange County. The course spans over 5,000 square feet, boasts plenty of trees and elevation changes and sits right near the beach. This Disc course is considered one of the best locations in the area. Ditch the balls and club; Disc golf players use a Frisbee with the goal of finishing each hole in the fewest throws.Recognized by the Professional Disc Golf Association, it is considered a great lifetime sport accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. There is a full time pro shop that offers lessons and rentals. Oh, and you can still shout “fore!”
Throw a disc at: 18189 Goldenwest Street
Give them a call at: 714-931-4559
Maybe you couldn’t get all the way to Venice, Italy but you can take that gondola ride through Huntington Harbor. These are authentic Venetian gondolas with traditionally trained gondoliers that travel along 10 miles of harbor waterway. Locally owned by Tim Reinard, Sunset Gondola is comprised of a fleet of four gondolas. They provide the blanket, the ice bucket and the wine glasses; you bring food and your beverage of choice. Sunset Gondola has been named the Best Gondola Ride in Los Angeles by CBS LA.
Travel the harbor at: 16370 Pacific Coast Highway
Call for a reservation at: 562-592-3295
Pier Plaza Art-A-Faire
Originating in 1995, and originally called Third Block West, the Pier Plaza Art-A-faire began in an abandoned parking lot as a local crafts fair featuring 10 vendors. The event found its current home in 2000 and is now a staple in the community, attracting a diverse crowd of out of town visitors and locals. You can find Art-A-faire every Friday (except holidays) usually in conjunction with the Farmer’s Market and most weekends from 11am – 7pm (or sunset). The event overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has been deemed the most scenic fair along the entire California coast.
Take in the local art scene at: Pier Plaza, Pier Drive
In the sunny city of Huntington Beach you’ll find charm and tranquility which also extends to dining options. Known for friendly, family-owned and operated restaurants, Huntington Beach is all about making visitors feel like family. While you can choose a chain establishment or a fast food drive-through while you are in town, we highly recommend taking in one of these amazing local restaurants. Not only will you get to know the people of Hunting Beach, you are guaranteed a satisfying, fresh, flavorful meal!
Duke’s Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is the home of surfing; and Duke Kahanamoku is the legendary Hawaiian swimmer and surfer who introduced surfing to the US in 1925 at Huntington Beach. There are surfside views of the Pacific along with fresh seafood and prime steaks. You can take in the scenery at the Barefoot Bar with a cocktail and appetizer or enjoy a great lunch or dinner in the main dining room.
Grab a bite to eat at: 317 Pacific Coast Highway
Give them a call at: 714-374-6446
Hangout Too Southern Bar & Grill
Hangout Too is a great hidden gem in Huntington Beach. With a menu chock full of options to full bar, there is something for everyone at Hangout Too. A great choice for breakfast/brunch, lunch or dinner, the food is Southern inspired with options ranging from seafood pots, grilled cheese to slow cooked baby back ribs and brisket. They even have a dog friendly patio.
Enjoy this hidden gem at: 16446 BolsaChica Street
Give them a call at: 657-204-9306
The food at CucinaAlessa will rival your Italian grandmother’s cooking. Their menu is full of thin-crust pizzas and well-priced homemade pastas along with seafood and mouth-watering breakfast options. CucinaAlessa is a wonderful casual alternative to the California surf scene.
Savor a little bit of Italy at: 520 Main Street
Call them at: 714-969-2148
According to Zagat, Orange County serves up some of the best breakfast in the nation. And with many of the local establishments offering a view of the Huntington Pier, you also get one of the best views in the nation at no extra charge. These are some of Surf City’s best bets for breakfast.
Sugar Shack Café
The Sugar Shack has been a Huntington Beach staple since 1967. The menu is simple and the atmosphere is cozy at this downtown landmark. Get there early because their wait list starts at7am on weekends. And be sure to try the Keppler’s Special; it’s a local favorite.
Eat like a local at: 213 Main Street
Call them at: 714-536-0355
If you want to take a bite out of one of the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever had then Café Cup is your new spot. Serving Italian coffees, breakfast and lunch, this is a cozy environment that will make you want to stick around all day. While eggs and pancakes are favorites, their south- of-the border options like the chicken chili verde are standouts.
Find them at: 5930 Warner Avenue
Give them a call at: 714-840-8991
Deli-licious has brought the deli to the OC. From solid breakfast options to amazing sandwiches like the fried Pastrami Reuben, Del-licious should be on your list of places to eat while you are in Huntington Beach. The Caprese Eggs Benedict comes with the most perfectly poached eggs and the Chili Cheese Omelet is packed full of their Cook-Off chili. You may find a line when you get there, but it’s worth the wait.
Find them at: 16582 Gothard Street
Give them a call at: 714-841-2435
Californians are known for their commitment to living a healthy lifestyle so it’s no surprise that Huntington Beach has plenty of nutritious food options for breakfast, lunch or dinner.In a city full of culinary talent, your fried calamari won’t overshadow your leafy greens. We’ve put together a list of some of the local hot spots for healthy food in Huntington Beach.
The Secret Spot
The Secret Spot offers a full juice and smoothie bar in addition to a variety of vegetarian and vegan options. Everything on their menu is homemade, using only the freshest ingredients. Don’t let the word “vegan” dampen your interest; plant based is never boring at The Secret Spot. It’s just a five minute walk to the beach and the best part is that you can call ahead and take your grub to go.
Uncover the secret at: 3801 Warner Avenue
Give them a call at: 562-592-4494
The owner of Vegan Nirvana refers to his food as “world peace cuisine.” Committed to the vegan philosophy of treating the environment and animals with compassion, Vegan Nirvana serves up salads, tacos, small bites, sandwiches and wraps all of which have been given spiritually inspired names (a local favorite is the Deep Sea Meditation). They also offer a daydream-worthy strawberry mint lemonade.
Find your nirvana at: 7862 Warner Avenue
Call them at: 714-847-4080
Jan’s Health Bar
Jan’s Health Bar has been a mainstay in the Huntington Beach community since 1972. They recently expanded their menu to include sandwiches, soups and salads. The tuna and avocado mile-high sandwich is a favorite although it’s piled so high, you may need to deconstruct it in order to eat it. Juices and smoothies have always been a specialty and Jan’s stays committed to using 100% juice without any fillers. If you head over to Jan’s Health Bar you can rest assured that you’ll be served the freshest ingredients around.
Find them at: 501 Main Street
Give them a call: 714-536-4856
Yes, there is actually an Esther here and she is a warm and vibrant personality. You enter Esther’s through a holistic pharmacy and the next thing you know you’re slurping on a tasty blueberry smoothie. The menu is simple with sandwiches, soups, smoothies, shakes and salads. Everything is wholesome and delicious. Esther’s Combo is a local favorite. Try it with a shot of wheatgrass.
Meet Esther at: 6789 Warner Avenue
Call them at: 714-841-4266