The main draw might seem obvious, but there’s more to Huntington Beach than its famous coastline. Spend some time away from the sand and find out what the rest of the city has to offer. From an impressive craft beer and liquor scene and days out on the calm harbour waters to sublime spas and celebrated skate parks, there’s a lot going on beyond the surf in Surf City USA®.
1. Eat and drink your way along the Surf City Barrel Trail
Golden Road Brewing
Spend a day exploring the best of Huntington Beach’s vibrant craft brewery and distillery scene. From working breweries, wine bars and tasting rooms to spirit specialists, artisan oils and liqueurs, the trail packs in plenty of variety. To get started, simply download the mobile digital trail pass and present it at each establishment along the way. You’ll receive generous discounts on tasting flights and delicious food, and some bars offer savings on the entire bill. You can even win spot prizes and rewards as you go.
2. Learn about the history of surfing at the International Surf Museum and Surfing Walk of Fame
International Surf Museum
The International Surf Museum is a must for surf enthusiasts. And even those less excited by barrels and swells will find something interesting here. In fact, the museum was founded by a woman who had never surfed in her life. Natalie Kotsch arrived at Huntington Beach from inland Canada and was immediately drawn to the welcoming spirit of the local surfing community.
The museum showcases surfing culture and houses collections of surfing memorabilia. A surfboard that belonged to Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, is on display here, alongside other renowned surf-history artefacts. Outside the museum, visitors cannot miss the double Guinness World Record breaking surfboard, which still holds the records for the 'World's Largest Surfboard' and 'Most People Riding a Surfboard at Once'. An almost unbelievable 66 people caught a wave on this 42ft beast in June 2015.
The Surfing Walk of fame, located outside the legendary Jack’s Surfboards store, is to surfers what Hollywood Boulevard is to entertainers. Extending along Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway you’ll find granite paving stone tributes to the greatest names in surfing.
3. Indulge in a little retail therapy
With some of the best shopping in Southern California, Surf City USA is home to several destination shopping malls and districts. From the laid back open-air Pacific City with its high-quality fashion retailers to the Tuscan village inspired Bella Terra mall, with its vast shopping, eating and entertainment options.
SOCIAL Cocina Y Tequila at Bella Terra
Surf brand fans will be in heaven at the intersection of Huntington Beach’s Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway. Quintessentially Californian, this area is home to two iconic Huntington Beach surf stores. Jack’s Surfboards opened as a modest surf shop in 1957 and is now the retail mecca of the surfing world. Whilst another local institution, Huntington Surf & Sport, sits right across the street and stocks just about everything you'll need for that Surf City style.
4. Relax and rejuvenate
There’s always time for some customary Southern California self-care on a Huntington Beach visit. Whether you are looking for a full-service treatment day, expert yoga tuition or simply a relaxing spa afternoon, Surf City USA has you covered.
Perfect your tree pose before leaving your bedroom at the Paséa Hotel & Spa. The hotel has a dedicated in-room fitness channel featuring expert-led yoga sessions filmed in the hotel’s Balinese-inspired Aarna Spa garden. Or head to the beachfront Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort for Sunday morning yoga sessions in the courtyard, open to both residents and non-residents.
The Aarna Spa at Pasea Hotel
Spas and Treatments
Immerse yourself in the Spanish-style surroundings at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa’s Pacific Waters Spa. Re-energise with an aromatherapy massage, scrub, Vichy shower, or choose something else entirely from their extensive range of treatments. Or go all out in the Hilton’s Drift at Waterfront full-service spa. Relax in the eucalyptus-infused steam room, enjoy a romantic couples massage or opt for an energising botanical infused facial.
5. Get nautical at Huntington Harbour
Head out on a private charter, stand-up paddleboard or kayak from Huntington Harbour. This picturesque harbour was built in the 1960s and exudes a traditional USA coastal community feel. Just a short distance from downtown Huntington Beach, the harbour offers a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Spend a day on the water exploring the harbour and surrounding coastal regions, lined with pretty homes and well-kept yachts. When it’s time to wind down, sail up to one of the many restaurants and bars that line the harbour for some well-deserved re-fuelling.
6. Explore your wild side at the Bolsa Chica Nature Reserve
Image credit: Joe Katchka
Covering over 1,400 acres of fresh and saltwater wetland habitat, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a haven for wildlife and a must-see for nature lovers. Over 200 species of birds have been spotted here, and it’s also a popular stopover on bird migration routes. Hike along the boardwalks keeping an eye out for hawks, herons, coyotes and rabbits. The reserve is also home to snakes, lizards and a plethora of marine life including sharks and rays. Botanists won’t be disappointed as the reserve incorporates five plant habitats including salt marsh, coastal strand, coastal sage scrub, freshwater wetlands and riparian woodland.
7. Huntington Beach Arts Centre
A recent exhibition at the Huntington Beach Arts Centre
Located at the literal and figurative heart of the Huntington Beach community, the Huntington Beach Arts and Culture Centre was established back in 1995. It has since provided accessible space for local aspiring and established artists. The centre was created as a place for creative expression, offering low-cost, high-quality art, music and movement classes for Huntington Beach locals and visitors. Today the centre regularly hosts exhibitions showcasing the works of national, international and emerging artists.
8. Watch heart-stopping tricks at the Vans Off the Wall Skatepark
Vans Off The Wall Skatepark
With its first outing as an Olympic sport at Tokyo 2020, skateboarding is experiencing a boom. And even for those who have never stepped foot on a skateboard, there’s no denying that the sport’s climatic drops, flips and tricks are enthralling to watch.
Designed and custom-built by the Orange County-based skate wear company, the Vans Off the Wall Skatepark in Huntington Beach has enough ramps, bowls, dips, boxes and rails to entertain wannabe pros and captivated spectators alike.