Huntington Beach epitomizes the laid back California surfer lifestyle. In a parking lot next to their vintage VW microbus, surfers get into their wetsuits and head for the waves.
For many, the 1959 Gidget movie was their first introduction to California’s vibrant surf culture. The real life inspiration for Gidget, Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, grew up surfing the waves in Malibu. She told her surfing stories to her father, a Hollywood writer, and the rest as they say, is history.
Surfboards have become smaller and lighter and there isn’t a beach in California that hasn’t been surfed.
Things to do
Get the fascinating history of surfing at The International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach . On display outside the museum is the world’s largest surfboard, used to break the Guinness World Record for the most people riding a surfboard (66). Should the record need to be defended, the giant board will come down.
For some time on water without waves, head to Huntington Harbour Boat Rentals for a two-hour self-captained cruise of tranquil Huntington Harbour – also perfect for swimming or paddle boards.
Where to Stay in Huntington Beach
The Pasea Hotel & Spa is Huntington Beach’s newest luxury hotel, just a block away from the famous Pier. All the incredible art work in the Pasea lobby has a beach theme.
The playful “Wavelength 4” by Jorge Dubin, made from 1400 flip flops, was created specifically for the Pasea Hotel & Spa.
You’re in good hands (pun intended) at the Balinese-inspired Aarna Spa in the Pasea Hotel & Spa. The skilled masseuses apply just the right amount of pressure. It’s rare to find a spa with salt water whirlpools.
Where to Eat
The Acai (ah-sah-EE) Berry Bowl makes a great breakfast at Tanner’s Huntington Beach. A natural cholesterol controller, the acai berry also has natural antioxidant properties. Head to the popular Watertable at the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel (reservations recommended) for a more classic take on breakfast.
The Red Table has great specials for lunch. Try their pistachio-encrusted sole or the rich and tasty crab cakes – just be sure to save room for their broken banana cream pie – best enjoyed with their caramel-flavored Kentucky bourbon draft beer.
When it’s time for dinner, it’s a 5 minute walk to Bluegold in the nearby Pacific City Mall. Try one of their inventive cocktails – like the “LA Confidential” made with rye, bourbon and Pom molasses . The chef-driven California fusion menu offers a wide range of flavors. Try the wood -fired burrata pizza with fried rosemary, shaved pistachio and orange oil or the steam kettle shellfish pot in a spicy Vietnamese tomato curry (think tom yum) or even the salt-roasted beets and yellowtail sashimi.
SeaLegs Wine Bar on Beach Boulevard also has a great selection of wine and California cuisine. Try their baked Alaskan halibut on pesto rice or salmon baked in parchment paper.