Looking for a nearby getaway that’s got great beaches, delicious eats, top notch shopping and chilled-out vibes? “Hang ten” or rather, hang two or three days in Huntington Beach, CA. This beach town destination is less than an hour from Los Angeles and nicknamed Surf City, USA thanks to its best-known attraction. But killer waves aren’t the only reason to visit. For anyone looking to relax and check into vacation mode, this is the place. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Huntington Beach.
How to Spend a Weekend in Huntington Beach, Surf City, USA
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Let’s Talk Surfing
George “Father of Modern Surfing” Freeth was amongst the first to discover Huntington Beach’s ideal surfing conditions, all the way back in 1914. Since then, the town grew to develop a rich surf culture, hosting tons of internationally-known surf competitions, like the U.S. Open of Surfing. And all around town, you’ll see nods to the culture, like the statue of famed surfer Duke Kahanamoku by the Pier or the many surf icons memorialized on the Surfing Walk of Fame on Main Street. In fact, the majority of shops along Main Street are targeted at surfers with smaller mom-and-pop shops next to familiar brands like Roxy and Tillys. Visitors who are particularly interested in the sport and its history can check out The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum in Downtown Huntington Beach.
For those who plan to surf, Huntington State Beach extends for two miles, and at all times of the day, you’ll see surfers out there catching waves. Newbies looking to get in on the action? There are tons of surf schools that are more than happy to show you the way. Check out the top-rated Corky Carroll’s Surf School or Surfriders Academy Surf School.
Shop and Stroll at Pacific City
For those who enjoy retail therapy check out Pacific City, an open-air mall within minutes from Main Street that boasts a variety of clothing stores, decor shops, restaurants, as well as makeup and beauty shops. We found some flowy boho-chic dresses at Morning Lavender and loved the stylish and affordable options at Stich & Feather. Both boutiques only have locations in Southern California and are worth a visit.
To keep you energized while you shop, enjoy some coffee from Philz Coffee (their Iced Mint Mojito is uniquely delicious) or grab a beer and a burger at California-based gastropub, Simmzy’s. Whichever libation you choose, kick back and enjoy the ocean view.
Chow Down on Oysters, Tacos and Lobster Rolls
While most spots in Huntington Beach are casual, there are some restaurants in Pacific City that are more upscale (think: date night). Bluegold is new American cuisine that focuses on seasonal locally sourced ingredients and allows you to enjoy oysters while taking in beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Nardo Italian, also in Pacific City, features a wide offering of Neopolitian pizzas with fresh toppings and chewy crusts.
Located parallel to Main Street is 25 Degrees; it has a lounge vibe and serves up burgers with a twist (like the truffle burger which includes wild mushrooms and a Dijon aioli).
For some no-frills but authentic bites, visit Sancho’s Tacos, and as the name states, try their tacos! If you’re there for breakfast, it’s worth waiting in line for one of their breakfast burritos (and then head next door to 602 Coffee House for your morning buzz and a creamy acai bowl). Speaking of lines worth the wait, if you walk to the end of the pier, you’ll dead-end at Broad Street Oyster Co. where their warm lobster roll with butter rivals any of the best ones in New England. For oceanfront views with kid-friendly dining, head to Duke’s and Sandy’s Beach Shack (FYI it’s not a shack). Both are adjacent to the pier.
Hit the Beach (with Your Kids and Pup in Tow)
Huntington Beach is an 8.5-mile-long stretch which is easily accessible off the PCH. We recommend accessing the beach at either 6th Street (just north of the pier) or between First and Huntington Street (south of the pier), where Mobi-Mats stretch across the sand, making for an easier walk—especially if you have kids and all that comes with them—to the sand.
Sunset Beach is located at the north end of Huntington Beach, a drive from Downtown. Here is a perfect spot to sunbathe and enjoy the golden sand, a favorite amongst locals. After a relaxing day, we recommend happy hour over at Golden Road Brewpub, which is only about a 10-minute walk from the beach. Their Mango Cart Wheat Ale will quench your thirst on a warm California day.
For those who want to get some exercise in, you can walk, jog, or bike on the Bolsa Chica Multi-Use Trail which runs along the entire stretch of Huntington Beach. (FYI, you can rent bikes on Main Street at HBBC). If yoga is more of your thing, Yoga on the Beach, offers donation-based classes daily at Tower 14.
Families with young children should visit the All-Inclusive Playground, which is on the beach, but has its own soft rubber surfacing (for safer falls). From slides to swings the playground allows for interactive play for a range of ages. As for your pup, they are going to love Huntington Beach; the Dog Beach is doggy heaven! This massive stretch of beach allows dogs to run around off leash, frolic in the water, or play fetch in the sand. Even if you don’t have a dog with you, the beach is worth a visit just to see the large gathering of dogs that are playing here daily.
Spend the Night
For a weekend getaway in Huntington Beach, you want a hotel that’s conveniently located, supremely comfortable and offering fancy little perks that’ll make you feel like you’re truly on vacation. Kimpton Shorebreak checks all the boxes with its steps-from-the-beach location (you can see the shore from many of the rooms and the hotel restaurant); large rooms with record players, yoga mats, Frette linen and bathrobes; and sweet extras like a daily complimentary happy hour, nightly fireside s'mores kits, bikes and scooters available, Sunday yoga class and so much more. The breakfast at Pacific Hideaway is next-level (don’t sleep on the bread pudding French toast) and you’ll definitely appreciate the beach chairs, umbrellas, towels and kids’ toys provided. There are even lockers to store your surfboard (gnarly). Rates start at $284 per night.