Congratulations, you’ve made the best decision of your life—to vacation at California’s best beach! From the ocean to clinking cocktails, adventure awaits. Here are 8 must-do adventures to add to your Surf City USA checklist.
1) Have A Bonfire On The Beach
A visit to Huntington Beach isn’t complete without a traditional beach bonfire. Watching the glorious sunset with family and friends, unwinding from a day of fun around the warm glow, toasting ooey-gooey marshmallows for the sweetest s’mores—it’s quite the Pacific experience. Our luxury oceanfront hotels make roasting effortless with bonfire packages at both The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel, and the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. They cover everything from poolside options to pizza delivery straight to your ring. Check out our beach bonfires guide for everything you need to know to sit back, relax, and enjoy this quintessential Southern California tradition.
2) Experience The Beautiful Wildlife
Huntington Beach is home to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, the largest saltwater marsh between the Monterey Bay and the Tijuana River Estuary. This natural gem covers 1,400 acres of fresh and saltwater wetlands habitat, a boardwalk over the marsh, and five miles of easy trails through the lowlands and mesas. Over the years it’s become the happy place of birders, hikers, runners, and nature lovers alike. More than 300 bird species are known to the area, including great blue herons, western snowy plovers, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, and burrowing owls. A stroll or jog along the dirt trails affords sightings of feathered friends like hawks and herons, furry inhabitants including coyotes and rabbits, scaly residents such as snakes and lizards, and marine life like fish, sharks, and rays. Flora lovers can explore five major plant communities, including salt marsh, coastal strand/sand dune, coastal sage scrub, freshwater wetlands, and riparian woodland. Visit our guide to start exploring.
3) Be Your Own Captain
The best place in Huntington Beach to enjoy calm waters is the Huntington Harbour. This amorous, European-inspired pocket of islands and navigable waterways is a serene surprise in itself, blending the mystique of waterfront estates and luxury yachts with water adventure-seekers. Prefer to effortlessly cruise the Harbour with friends? Family-run Prince Charters offers private charters in a stunning classic wood boat for up to 12 people, and a complete restored vintage 1960s yacht for up to 30 people. Bring your own bites and beverages, or let your captain handle the menu. Play “Captain” yourself and rent a Duffy electric boat from Huntington Harbor Boat Rentals in Sunset Beach. You’ll glide along the peaceful waters while taking in striking views at your own pace, and you’re free to BYOB (beverages and bites). Ice and coolers are provided.
4) Get The Full Spa Experience
Huntington Beach’s luxury oceanfront resorts house exquisite spas, beckoning locals and visitors to treat yo’self. Bali-inspired Aarna Spa at Paséa Hotel features Indonesian signature journeys, CBD holistic treatments, and summertime Poolside Cabana experiences. Surf City USA’s newest spa, Drift, A Waterfront Spa, at The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel, boasts a modern marine ambiance and exclusive treatments like a signature Himalayan salt stone massage, marine-charged facials, and facial technology therapies. Spanish-style Pacific Waters Spa at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort relaxes guests with aromatherapy massage, scrubs paired with Vichy showers, and a menu of light bites inspired by 12 wholesome spices. Scroll through our spa guide and book your bliss.
5) Surf In Surf City USA
We are the official Surf City USA, so a visit practically requires a surf sesh. Various beach concessions and surf shops rent boards, and our surfing guide will point you to the best surfing spots plus where to pick up the latest Visitors Guide for up-to-date rental listings. Novice surfers can learn from the best and take private or group lessons with Toes On The Nose, located at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, and HB Surf School, which is licensed by the City of Huntington Beach and located in the community services building just south of the pier behind Duke’s Huntington Beach and Sandy’s Beach Shack.
6) Bike On The Strand
Huntington Beach boasts 10 miles of uninterrupted shoreline, and running parallel to it is a paved beach path offering the perfect route for a smooth bike ride. Head south and pedal down to Newport Beach, or go north and cruise into Sunset Beach. Whichever way you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Stellar ocean views, vibrant sunrises and sunsets, good weather year round, and various bicycle rental options make for an epic experience, not to mention our status as a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community. Check out our biking guide and start pedaling.
7) Check Out The Nightlife
We love the nightlife, especially our various coastal lounges and award-winning breweries. The new and chic Offshore 9 Rooftop Lounge atop The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel, pairs seasonal shared plates, handcrafted specialty cocktails, wine, and champagne with firepits and stunning panoramic views of the coast. Pacific Hideaway at the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort plates Latin American and Asian fusion fare, pours an eccentric craft cocktail menu, and boasts an outdoor patio and stunning interior, complete with a colorful Frida Kahlo mural. Tanner’s at Paséa Hotel & Spa wins with its savory and sweet breakfast through nightcap menus, and takes the cake with its whimsical treehouse bar. Our craft beer scene is overflowing, and local favorite Beachwood Brewing won best craft brewery by the OC Register in 2019. Tucked away off Beach Boulevard, this colorful, modern brewery and tap room pours more than 18 ever-rotating draft beers with food trucks rolling in on the regular. Imbibers stay entertained with TVs, board games, and Thinky Drinky trivia every Thursday night.
8) Walk The Huntington Beach Pier At Sunset
Vibrant shades of orange, pink, purple, and red ignite the Huntington Beach sky at sunset throughout the year, and with our “endless summer,” you can enjoy it outdoors all year round. One of the best viewing locations is the iconic Huntington Beach Pier, which is also the most photographed spot in Surf City USA. Stretching 1,856 feet into the Pacific Ocean, it’s the longest recreational pier on the West Coast. Stunning sunsets aside, this extension of Main Street also offers panoramic views of the coastline and Catalina Island, along with shops, events, fishing, Ruby’s Diner and Jan & Dean’s Tiki Lounge at its tip, and, of course, surfing along its base.