Who loves Huntington Beach? Surfers, dog-lovers, sun-worshipers, families, nature-lovers... and anyone who loves a great beach.
Huntington Beach styles itself as "Surf City, USA," though it gets some argument from Santa Cruz over that moniker. However, we'll leave the two of them to duke it out, because the title is indeed appropriate.
The beaches, with their consistent 2-5 foot wave action, attract surfers year-round, though the waves are bigger in the winter months. The city hosts several surfing competitions, including the U.S. Open of Surfing, and there are numerous surfing schools and surf shops, the International Surfing Museum, and even a Surfer's Chapel.
There's plenty to do besides surfing here. A broad multi-use path runs the length of the coast from Sunset Beach all the way down to the Newport Peninsula. It also connects to the Santa Ana River Trail, which runs inland to Yorba Linda. That's a lot of trail for bicyclists, roller bladers, joggers, and hikers to enjoy. And it's all relatively flat.
Beachgoers also enjoy swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, basketball, kite-boarding, fishing, barbecues and beach bonfires. There's even a beach where dog lovers can take their pets for a romp. Special events and outdoor concerts are also a regular occurrence, and the Huntington Beach Pier is an excellent spot to take in the view. Parking is usually ample, but bring plenty of quarters to feed the meters.
There are plenty of dining choices in HB, from hamburgers and hot dogs to gourmet fare. Or have your cook-out on the beach. Accommodations run the same gamut, from modest digs that won't bust the family budget to luxury resorts with spectacular views. I haven't done a formal survey, but my guess is that Huntington Beach will give you more bang for your buck than any other beach city in Orange County.
Huntington Beach is great for families. The beach is easily accessible, with well-trained lifeguards, and the city is very proud of its reputation for safety. There's plenty of sand for making sand castles, and shallow water to splash about in.
Many major attractions, such as Disneyland, Knott's Theme Park, and Balboa Fun Zone are within a 20 mile radius. And the city boasts some excellent parks, playgrounds, skate parks and other entertainment facilities. You'll find an equestrian center, sports complex, and adventure playground in Huntington Central Park. (The adventure playground is open from late June through mid August.)
Nature lovers will find acres of coastal wetlands at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, an excellent spot for bird watching and nature study. You might even spot a shark or a ray in the coastal lagoons. And to the north, in Huntington Harbor, you can launch your own boat or rent a kayak to paddle about the protected waters of the harbor.