If it’s your first time visiting Huntington Beach, California, allow me to be the first one to welcome you here!
HB is a fairly big city, sprawling across 26.7 sq. miles and is much more than just the beach.
There are incredible parks, schools, and shopping centers, awesome libraries and wildlife centers and more…
But if we’re being honest, a lot of the draw to the city is what can be found by the water.
That being said, let’s take a trip downtown and see some of what makes HB famous.
Welcome to Surf City
When you come to Downtown HB you’ll see surf and skate shops galore, anything from Vans and Jack’s Surfboards to niche little places where you can get custom stuff done.
I’m not gonna lie to you: I’ve never surfed in my life.
That doesn’t mean surfing isn’t massive here…it just means I was a nerd.
But even if you’ve never swum in the ocean in your life there are plenty of opportunities for lessons (and surf lessons, too!) to get into the spirit of the city. And even if you just want to watch, there are plenty of chances for that, too.
Even if you don’t plan on getting your feet wet, there is plenty to see and do in Downtown HB.
There are often plenty of people hanging out, playing music or just chilling, with opportunities to join a volleyball game or get some food, too.
There’s definitely a vibe here that harkens back to hippy days, with long-haired surfers, big VW buses and street art all around.
It’s both incredibly fashionable and incredible chill at once. So put on your sandals and take a load off. There’s no pressure to do anything but hang, man.
Bikin’, skatin’ and paradin’
Aside from surfing, there are plenty of other bike and skate related activities that people in Downtown HB love to do, including the Huntington Beach founded company Hamboards, where you can learn to surf on land.
If there’s a holiday that people in downtown HB get excited about, it’s the Fourth of July. It makes sense that this beach city loves America’s summer holiday, and they celebrate it by starting down Main Street for HB’s 4th of July Parade. There are ways for even the locals to get involved, as people bike down Main Street to watch and then ceremoniously bike after, signaling the end of the parade.
The beach is a great place to see the sunrise. Come early to be with the surfers, the lifeguards and the fishermen to experience the magical hours before dawn. There’s an Easter sunrise service if you’re here at that time, which always is a surreal experience, coming out in the dark and cold and watching as the sun begins to shine on everything again.
But there’s equally something magical about being there for when the sun begins to set. Whether you’re bundled together with your friends at a fire pit after barbecuing, preparing to make some s’mores, or still finding yourself preparing to leave after a satisfying afternoon, seeing the beach set aglow with fire colors with nothing in the way to disturb the view is certainly a sight to behold.
Shooby-dooby-dooby down to Ruby’s
At the far end of the Huntington Beach Pier is the cutest little 50s diner and its not an experience you’ll want to miss.
Now the Ruby’s on the pier may not be the only Ruby’s but it might as well be. It’s the perfect spot for a Surf City Diner, with a view over the ocean where you can often see Catalina. Sometimes you can even see dolphins!
Inside, the diner is themed super adorably and retro, with classic diner fare: fries, shakes, burgers and more.
Even if you don’t have the time or the desire to eat inside, you can order a shake to go. But really, why wouldn’t you want to hang a while?
If you’re hoping for a really big and spectacular event, head on to Downtown HB in the heat of the summer in order to catch a surfing “heat” or too for the Vans US Open!
There are categories for surf, skate and BMX, and plenty of activities to come see, and often after-dark events, too.
Come get swept up in the heat of the moment. (Last surf joke I promise). I’ll sea you there.
It wouldn’t be a day downtown if you didn’t at least check out the beach. Get your feet a little dirty and walk on the sand, maybe even make a sand castle or look for shells down when the tide gets low.
The water is not warm but it is full of people of all ages at any given moment, even in the winter, though by then it’s usually only the most dedicated surfers.
But the weather is always fine for a stroll down the beach… you just might want to bring a sweater or two.
Fun Times at Pacific City
If you move inland just a bit there are shops past Main Street in this little fashionable spot called Pacific City.
With shops, food and even events like Summer Movie Nights at the Surf City Theatre, you can come and bring your lawn chairs or blankets and get real cozy to watch a fun movie with your friends or your S/O!
Tuesday Night Street Fair
Downtown HB has a lot to offer in the summer, but one of the fun regular events downtown is the street fair and farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings from 5-9. The first 3 blocks of Main Street close to make way for pedestrians of all ages, with vendors peeling hot food, fresh fruit and veg, clothes, games, and much more.
There’s often live entertainment, too, making it a great place to take a date. Grab food after a day at the beach and enjoy.
Have you ever been to Downtown HB? What was your favorite part? Is there anything you’re most looking forward to doing on your next visit? Let us know in the comments down below!
Featured Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/j0UK3ViOsos
Lauren West graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and Digitial Journalism in December 2018. She is a Southern California native, an INFP with anxiety, and at any moment trying her best.