Surf City is proud of its casual and cool beach community vibe. Almost 200,000 people call this city home. While the beach and surfing breaks are the biggest attraction for the 11 million visitors here a year, there is plenty to do out of the water as well.
The city’s 8.5-mile (14-kilometer) long shoreline is divided into four separate beaches. Huntington City Beach, a 3.5-mile (six-kilometer) stretch closest to the shopping and dining district, attracts the biggest crowds. Lifeguards patrol the waters from dawn-to-dusk year-round. They are usually a friendly source of information on their city.
Downtown Main Street is the major hub for shopping and dining. Make use of the free Wi-Fi, complimentary of the city council, available in cafés, shops, and even outside on the sidewalk of the first three blocks of Main Street. You’ll have access to an Internet browser with information on local dining, shopping, events and parking.
Every Tuesday night Main Street is closed to traffic and transforms into an outdoor carnival called Surf City Nights. This free event includes live music, street performers and sidewalk stalls. If you are lucky, your visit may coincide with a concert or exhibition at the outdoor amphitheater, the Pier Plaza. Just off Main Street on Olive Avenue, pay a small fee to see the International Surfing Museum where the local history of this classic Southern California sport is displayed in memorabilia and rotating exhibits.
In summer, the city stages many sporting events — surfing championships, beach volleyball contests, biathlons and more. Huntington Beach is the site for the U.S. Open of Surfing in July, and the city buzzes with visitors from all over the world. There’s action in the water and on land, including music events and skateboarding competitions.
The 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. Perched on the end of the 1,800-foot (549-meter) long pier is the iconic Ruby’s Diner. It’s set on a diamond-shaped platform that gives the illusion you are sitting on the water’s surface.
Huntington Beach is about a 30-minute drive from Santa Ana, directly north of Newport Beach.