If you need help planning your dream Southern California vacation, use the suggested itinerary below to plan a four-day stay. Of course, it includes so many things to do that you might end up extending your vacation by a week. If you're only in town for a day, check out our Day Trips page. And for a comprehensive look at the great activities and attractions in Huntington Beach, browse the Things To Do section of the website.
No visit to Surf City USA is complete without a stop at the beach. Whether you're a surfer-in-training, a beach bum working on your tan, or a pier walker, let's face it, the beach is the reason you came. Spend a few hours relaxing with an ocean view or getting wet in the water. You can rent everything from beach chairs and umbrellas to boogie boards and from volleyballs to bikes at beach concessionaires down by the sand. Some locations also give surf lessons and sell firewood and food. As any surfer will tell you, mornings are the best time to be down at the beach. It will be less crowded and prime surf conditions will allow you to give it a go yourself or watch others out in the lineup.
When you find you need a break from the sunshine, head to Downtown Huntington Beach for lunch and shopping. The diversity of restaurants along Main Street and 5th Street pretty much guarantee you'll find a spot to fit your mood, from sushi to sandwiches and from Mediterranean to classic burgers and shakes. Stop at the Visitor Information Kiosk on the way to get specific recommendations and to pick up coupons from local businesses.
After lunch, spend the afternoon browsing downtown. Downtown Huntington Beach has been called the Times Square of Surfing. Tap into surf culture with stops at the Surfing Walk of Fame, Surfers' Hall of Fame and International Surfing Museum. The recently renovated museum features rotating exhibits about surfing and local history, including such exhibits as the History of Surf Wax and Famers, Celebrating Surf Pioneers & Surf Champions. You'll find the latest fashions in surf wear from top industry brands at Huntington Surf and Sport and Jack's Surfboards, as well as at the many other surf shops in downtown. Trendy boutiques, vintage stores, and national retailers such as Forever 21 will round out your downtown shopping experience. As you make your way up Main Street, stop at the Huntington Beach Art Center to take in the newest exhibit. It's free to the public and features modern art in a contemporary space.
Now that you've had some time to explore the beach and downtown, you have a decision to make. Do you go back to the beach for more fun or head inland to explore?
If you choose to head back to the beach, consider a stop by Dog Beach. Pet lovers can't get enough of this mile-long beach that allows dogs to roam free. You can also take a walk out on the Huntington Beach Pier and go fishing. No fishing licenses are required to fish from the pier and all the supplies you'll need are available for rent or sale at Let's Go Fishing near the end of the pier. If fishing and pets aren't your thing, take a Segway tour with GW Tours. This unique activity is the only Segway tour that will take you on specially designed Segways on the sand. Afterward, take in the view and nosh on classic beach food and milkshakes at Ruby's Surf City Diner at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier.
If you choose to explore inland instead, a stop at Huntington Central Park is a must. Here you can play Disc Golf, go horseback riding, take the kids to Adventure Playground, discover Shipley Nature Center and its native California habitats, take a few swings in the batting cages at the Sports Complex, or watch a show at the Huntington Central Library Theater. Kathy May's Lakeview Café and Park Bench Cafe are the perfect places for an outdoor brunch nestled among the trees. If your pooch is with you, be sure to bring them by Park Bench Café to sample the special doggie menu.
After all of that activity, you'll probably want to take the afternoon to relax by the pool at you hotel. Afterward, have a pre-dinner drink at Main Street Wine Company or SeaLegs Wine Bar. Then treat yourself to a delicious dinner with a view of sunset over the ocean at Spark Woodfire Grill or Duke's Huntington Beach. Finally, end the evening with live entertainment at one of the nightlife spots in downtown.
By now, you're either fully relaxed or in need of some major down time. If you're feeling the need to take it easy, start your morning with a walk at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve - or take a tour with one of three environmental organizations. If you're craving more beach time, stop at Sunset Beach for a different beach experience. The eclectic shops and restaurants lining Pacific Coast Highway hide an expanse of sand that almost feels like a private beach.
When you're ready for more action, head to Huntington Harbour to go stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking. You can even rent an electric boat and let the motor do all the work. For a challenge, try taking a Paddle Into Fitness class that combines yoga with stand-up paddle boarding. If you want something more romantic, save the Harbour for the evening and take a ride in an authentic Venetian gondola with Sunset Gondola, complete with singing gondolier.
End your day with dinner at the Sunset Beach classic, Captain Jack's, for King crab legs and prime rib. Or if you want something more trendy check out Red Table, a gastrobar that serves up edgy comfort food in a comfortable atmosphere.
One of the biggest advantages of staying in Huntington Beach is your proximity to the best Southern California attractions. Take a shuttle from the Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel or Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa to the Disneyland Resort for a day of family fun. Or drive 45 minutes north to Los Angeles and see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater. While there, take a studio tour or see the homes of the stars. Or drive 90 minutes south to explore SeaWorld or the San Diego Zoo. At the end of the day, head back to Huntington Beach, where you can have a cocktail by a pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, while thinking about all the incredible experiences you've had in Surf City USA.