The Ultimate Travel Guide to Huntington Beach

If you’re looking for a slice of classic California surfing vibes, Huntington Beach is a place that embodies the Southern California lifestyle, making it one of the coolest beachside cities to visit in California and on the West Coast. They are especially famous for their rich surf culture, which has earned them the nickname “Surf City USA”. But beyond surfing, there are tons of other Huntington Beach activities and things to do in Huntington Beach.

Heading down to Southern California and looking for the best things to do in Huntington Beach? Look no further – this Huntington Beach blog has everything you need to plan your stay!

Where is Huntington Beach?

Located just 20 miles from Disneyland in Anaheim and 38 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is world famous for its 8.5 mile long beach and a favorite day trip for residents of and visitors to Orange County.

Huntington Beach makes for the ideal relaxing day trip after spending a few days in the bustling city or thrilling theme parks in the area. 

When to Visit Huntington Beach

There’s never a bad time to visit Huntington Beach, and it’s pretty much endless summer over here. Expect sunny days and cool balmy nights, with average temps in the mid-60s to low-80s. It’s the perfect destination where it never feels like winter.

Huntington Beach has pleasant weather throughout the year, but late spring to early fall offers the most beach-friendly temperatures. So the most popular time to visit Huntington Beach is during the summer season of June to August.

Where to Stay

During our visit to Huntington Beach, we stayed at a beautiful cottage-style 2-story home. Only steps away from the heart of Downtown Huntington Beach, this cozy home was the perfect staycation for our family to explore HB nightlife, beaches, shopping and more.

Not only does this Airbnb have the ideal location, it’s a whole destination in itself. We stayed here during Christmas time and the whole house was all decked out with its own Noel tree, garland, wreath, nativity figurines displayed around the fireplace, and other Christmas decorations. We felt right at home here.

Not only is the location perfect, but this home is in a class of its own with the contemporary design. The kitchen is fully equipped with everything we need to cook for family meals. We love the open layout of the living room and the dining room, very spacious and fully furnished with modern and elegant furniture.

The master bedroom is our favorite space in the entire home! With a private patio to enjoy a quiet night looking out at the city and mountain view. This home was thoughtfully designed for our family to create and share our holiday memories. Click here to book this beautiful home for your next vacation in HB.

Where to Eat/Drink

Broad Street Oyster Company

We first knew about Broad Street Oyster Company when we visited Malibu. And we were so thrilled to discover that they just opened their new location in Huntington Beach.

The hexagonal building’s historic red roof at the end of the iconic HB pier is an ode to Huntington Beach past and now Broad Street Oyster Company establishes itself as the next iconic spot to grace the pier’s end.

Broad Street Oyster Company is the ultimate HB seafood destination with the laid-back atmosphere of beachy vibes. The freshly shucked oysters, seafood tower, live sea urchin, shrimp cocktail keep the raw options rocking. The fish and chips, the burger, and hot dogs greet those looking for something classic and hearty. 

The place is designed with a retro branding in mind: 80’s and 90’s surf punk, teal/yellow color scheme, funky cartoon characters and quirky merchandise set throughout the space. Even if seafood is not your thing, just come here and order a classic burger, enjoy the panoramic ocean view, and appreciate the nostalgic nautical vibes of this place.

Broad Street Oyster Company is famous for their signature lobster rolls. And you can customize your lobster rolls by adding uni, or adding caviar, or both!

If you want to sample a bit of everything from their raw bar, I highly recommend their Seafood Tower. Priced at $135, this combo is filled with high-end seafood including live sea urchin, a dozen oysters, caviar, and shrimp cocktail.

Bear Flag Fish Co.

You can’t get any more Californian than a seafood place called Bear Flag, which takes its name from the California state flag. The room is bright and outfitted with a handful of tables, sea creatures dangling from the walls, and a seafood counter doubles as a seafood market. The white subway tile walls that make up the entire building, along with lacquered wood, leave it feeling open, airy, and very nautical. Almost like you’re drifting out to sea.  

Bear Flag is more of a joint than a restaurant. It doesn’t take reservations, there’s no table service and you may have to stand in line for a while to order your food. This is one of the few restaurants in Southern California with its own fishing boat so they serve up the freshest local fish (swordfish, sea bass, halibut, and tuna) and a wide range of creative seafood dishes. Our favorite is their ahi tuna poke bowl.

We ordered at the counter and chose our seat outside on a grand patio overlooking the ocean. Their seafood plate with albacore and 2 side dishes (beans and avocados) and the fish tacos topped with the homemade hot sauce are not to be missed!

Pacific Hideaway

Located on the second floor of Shorebreak Resort and one block away from Main Street on 5th & PCH, this chic eatery not only offers elevated coastal cuisine, craft cocktails, and local beer, but the views of the iconic Huntington Beach pier from the pet-friendly patio are killer!

Philz Coffee

When it comes to getting your caffeine fix or satisfying your sweet tooth, no beach city does coffee and sweets better than Surf City USA.

If you’re a coffee addict, your first stop at Huntington Beach should be Philz Coffee. Philz Coffee specializes in pour-over coffee, and you can order light, medium, or dark roast blends. My favorites is the iced gingersnap.

Java Point

This hidden coffee hut can be stumbled upon when venturing into Surf City’s iconic Huntington Surf and Sport shop on the famous downtown corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway. Beyond browsing the surrounding world-class surfboards by foot, you’re probably gonna want to grab and go here. This is where local surfers meet to catch a buzz before they catch waves.

Even if you’re not inclined to grab a board and head into the surf, shopping and grabbing a coffee in surf shops is always fun and gives you an idea of its cultural significance. If you want to feel the culture of Surf City USA, start your morning at Java Point. 

Java Point is a coffee shop that would only exist in a surfing town like Huntington Beach.

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey is a trendy paradise for coffee drinkers, just steps away from the Huntington Beach Pier. The homey decorations, twinkling light spangled, rustic-looking, and free wifi will make you feel at home.

Being on Main Street and a short stroll down the road from all the hustle and bustle of downtown life makes this cozy getaway an ideal escape from all the noise.

It’s a nice, quiet place to savor that morning cuppa. Milk & Honey has espresso beverages and signature drinks, like a lavender americano, nutella latte, and honey americano. They also have delicious açaí bowls with homemade granola and berries.

Things To Do

Catch sunset on the HB Pier

Every city has that one landmark that is a defining feature of the area, and for Huntington Beach, it’s the iconic pier. It’s over a quarter of a mile long, making it one of the most extensive piers on the West Coast.

One thing you absolutely have to do is walk the Pier during sunset where you can hear the soft crush of the waves, smell and feel the salty ocean air, and it’s a prime people-watching spot!

Walk your fur babies along the beachfront

The Huntington Beach Bike Trail, or Ocean Strand as it’s also known, is a perfect place for a bike ride or a walk with your fur babies.

The beach boardwalk is about 10 miles long, from Sunset Beach all the way to Newport. There are several breathtaking, ocean side photo-ops along the way.

Shop and dine at Pacific City

When you need a change from the beach, not far from the pier on Pacific Ocean Highway is the Pacific City Mall. You can find stores like Sephora, H&M, Morning Lavender Boutique and Free People here, as well as a bunch of restaurants and a food court.

We were ready for lunch and decided to check out Lot 579, the incredible food hall in the mall. No matter what your craving is or if you just want to try something different, you’ll love it here — poke bowls, gourmet pizza, pastry, custom popsicles, and homemade ice cream.

There are many fine places to eat throughout the mall, and very nice restaurants with outside seating and views of the beach and ocean.

Go on a mural hunting

Surf City USA is full of beautiful, instagrammable street arts that reference the surf culture and those California vibes that we all love. One of my favorite things to do is explore on foot and photograph the colorful murals.

Many art pieces dedicated to the surf culture that the city is world renowned for are located in Pacific City Mall and Downtown area.

Explore the HB downtown area – Main Street

Main Street is the central hub of downtown Huntington Beach. There are a variety of restaurants and bars with a few retail stores selling surf boards and beachwear scattered throughout. Get a feel for the vibe in Huntington Beach by exploring Downtown.

We loved the selection at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream where you can get a sample box with 4 flavors for only $7.50. It’s right across from the pier, so perfect for picking up ice cream to enjoy on the beach.

Have a picnic at Huntington Central Park

At Huntington Central Park you will find a lush 350-acre oasis. The peaceful setting of open grass fields and extensive tree and flower plantings is used for various activities such as picnics, biking, playing, and walking along the paved paths.

This park is serene, beautiful, and perfect for family picnic time. After picnic, you should take your kids to explore the meandering trails and all attractions that this wonderful park offers.

Visit the Old World Village

For a change of scenery from the bustling beach scene, check out the Bavarian-inspired town of Old World Village that’s been around since 1978. This beautiful outdoor shopping & dining center features quaint European-style buildings and cobblestone streets, 

We visited the Old World Village during Christmas time (2023) and it was all decked out. We had a great time browsing the wide assortment of vendors and admire all of the unique handmade crafts and gifts, snacking on traditional German food like curry-wurst & fries, potato pancakes, bratwurst, goulash, and famous german cookies.

One thing you must do here is trying their beers. Biergarten has over 30 imported beers on tap, such as Warsteiner and Spaten. After eating we went shopping at their Christmas Market that’s filled with delightful treats and goodies imported from Europe.

Final Words

Somewhat of a sleepy little beach town compared to beaches in nearby Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is a great place to escape. It’s touristy, but not too touristy. You can pretty much have whatever you want during a vacation here, whether you prefer luxury airbnbs or budget hotels, nature, shopping, sports, spas, fine dining, and of course, the beach. Huntington Beach is the perfect destination for the ideal blend of adventure and relaxation.  

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By inAra

Hi there! I’m May, a girl who loves to wander and wonder! I’m from Saigon, based in Los Angeles, but my current location is anywhere and everywhere. Travel, Photography, Tea Time, Picnic, Home Decor and Event Planning are a few of my favorite things.

inArabymay is a travel and lifestyle blog inspired by beautiful destinations, by color and nature, and by wonderful people that I’ve met on my journey.

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