”Surf City USA” earned its name from the famous waves and the longest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront on the West Coast.
Surf City is home to nearly 200,000 inhabitants, but the atmosphere remains cool and casual in this classic beach community. Although the beach and surf are the main draw for the 11 million people who visit each year, there is plenty to do out of the water as well.
The city’s 14-kilometre shoreline is split into four separate beaches. Of these, Huntington City Beach, closest to the shopping and dining district, attracts the biggest crowds. Lifeguards patrol the waters from dawn to dusk all year round. As well as ensuring water safety, they are friendly and happy to offer information about the city.
Huntington Beach has much more to offer than just sun, sand and surf—head to Main Street downtown if you want to grab a bite or hit the shops. And it’s easy to find out what’s happening and where to go, as the city council provides free WiFi in cafés, shops and even outside for the first three blocks of Main Street, where you can access information on local dining, shopping, events and parking.
Every Tuesday night Main Street transforms into an outdoor carnival called Surf City Nights. This free event includes live music, street performers and stalls. As well as this weekly feature, concerts and exhibitions are held at the outdoor amphitheatre, the Pier Plaza. For a quieter afternoon, visit the International Surfing Museum, just off Main Street on Olive Avenue. There is a small entry fee to the museum, which tells the local history of this classic Southern California sport though memorabilia and rotating exhibits.
The city stages many sporting events throughout the summer’s surfing championships, beach volleyball contests, biathlons and more. The US Open of Surfing is held at Huntington Beach in July each year, when the city comes alive with visitors from all over the world. In addition to the action on the water, land-based activities including music festivals and skateboarding competitions are held.
Huntington Beach Pier is the symbolic heart of the city and another hive of activity. Shop for souvenirs, watch locals reel in fish over the balustrades or join the crowds who gather along the pier to watch the sun set.
Huntington Beach is about 30 minutes’ drive from Santa Ana, directly north of Newport Beach.