I love Huntington Beach, California.
Can you blame me?
In 2015, we went on a week-long adventure to Huntington Beach, California to celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation. Although Destiny’s graduation was a wonderful accomplishment and a GREAT reason to celebrate, we were also wrapping up a few challenging years of loss and change, so the getaway was something we were very much looking forward to!
As soon as we arrived at the Waterfront Hilton Hotel and saw that ocean view, I was hooked. I hadn’t felt an instant feeling of peace like that since 1995 when Dave and I spent our honeymoon in Maui. (My mind takes me back to a memory of sitting on the lanai in the early hours of our first morning there and feeling so much inner peace. I thought to myself, “So this is what relaxing is like.” But that’s a story for another time.)
Our kids were old enough to enjoy a bit of freedom (which they did), and we enjoyed a lovely late afternoon and evening on the beach.
Our first visit to “HB”
However, this wasn’t our first visit to Huntington Beach. When our kids were young, we drove to Anaheim from Northern California for our first family trip to Disneyland. We had a great time and on the drive back home, we opted to take the scenic route along the Pacific Coast Highway (CA State Route 1). We stopped for breakfast at the Huntington Beach Hyatt and couldn’t resist taking a few pictures on the pedestrian walkway with the beautiful ocean in the background.
Every day is a good day in Huntington!
Now that we live in Southern California, we have access to Huntington Beach with just a short one hour drive! We love to take a Sunday drive for a couple’s “day” date…
But when we can get everyone together for a family day, it’s such a blessing!
And yes, that includes Ranger… a serious beach dog and ball player!
Here are the top 7 reasons you should vacation in Huntington Beach:
1) Warm weather!
It’s not uncommon to enjoy a 70 degree day in February. (Great all year location).
2) Gorgeous views!
You may encounter a few morning clouds but that’s a part of beach life. It’s beautiful no matter what.
3) Great shopping!
We like to visit:
- The Shops at Main Street and PCH offer a wide array of fun gift and souvenir shops and several “beachy” clothing shops. (Need some new Vans? You’ll find them here).
- Pacific City Shopping Center is an outdoor mall that provides visitors with a large assortment of shops and restaurants. Moreover, it has several outside seating areas to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the view. (Great photo opportunities here!).
4) Delicious food options!
Dave and I are creatures of habit and have two favorites in HB!
- The Sugar Shack on Main Street. For our early morning Sundays, we love to visit The Sugar Shack. This local favorite always has a line, has indoor and outdoor seating options, and makes an outstanding breakfast burrito. (Thus the lines). Sugar Shack does not offer alcoholic beverages, however, should you desire a mimosa, you can enjoy one next-door at Baja Sharkeez! * Sugar Shack is open 6 AM – 2 PM weekdays and 6 AM – 3 PM on weekends, but do call in advance for holiday hours. *
- Ola Mexican Kitchen located in Pacific City Shopping Center. Our other favorite is Ola Mexican Kitchen. Ola is our hands-down favorite for a later breakfast or lunch because the views are amazing and the food is fantastic! The filet mignon taco is my dish of choice and the variety of margarita options makes for a nearly impossible decision. You can sit inside for a lovely window view or if you’re lucky, you may be able to grab one of the tables inside of the open bar area. You can’t lose no matter what. This restaurant fills up quickly during weekends so get in there and put your name in. * Ola hours are weekdays 11:30 AM – “close”, Saturdays 11 AM to “close”, and Sundays 10 AM – “close” * (They also offer Sunday brunch options which include optional bottomless mimosas.)
5) Dogs welcome!
If you’re a dog lover, HB is for you. One can’t walk down many areas in the city without seeing water-filled bowls available to the fur babies in our lives. There are also multiple dog parks in the area and Top Dog Barkery, Bath & Boutique located in the Pacific City shopping center. Your dogs will love Huntington! * Please visit the HB city website for beach rules and regulations regarding pets and a list of local dog parks. *
6) Activities and events galore!
The Vans US Open for Surfing is just one of the many “big” events that take place in Huntington every year. There are also frequent musical events and more often than not, there are vendor booths on the beach near Main Street, which offer a little bit of everything including beautiful art and photography, jewelry items and more! * Please see link at the bottom of this post for a complete calendar of events. *
7) Short drive times to other Southern California attractions!
Huntington Beach is the perfect “home base” location to “stay” while still having easy access to other favorite Southern California spots. If you’re not a local, you can fly into the John Wayne/Orange County airport and arrive to start your vacation in Huntington shortly after. You can also “start” your vacation in Huntington and then move on over to San Diego for a few nights to enjoy some of their local offerings. See drive times below and please note: due to heavy traffic in Southern California, one should always ask how long a drive will take, not how many miles away it is. Waze is a great app for that!
Drive times from Huntington Beach (average Sunday afternoon)
John Wayne / Orange County Airport: 25 minutes
Disneyland: 35 minutes
Knott’s Berry Farm: 35 minutes
Universal Studios: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Hollywood Walk of Fame: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Legoland: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Sea World: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Where to Stay: Our Recommendations
Waterfront Beach Resort is a great place to stay for families and is located directly across the street from the beach. Hilton has recently expanded and updated this location and will end their final construction project on another pool by the end of April 2019. With the optional activities offered through Waterfront Adventures, including bonfires, it’s the perfect choice for a multiple day visit.
- Pet-friendly deposit of $50
- Adjoining rooms available for families
- Poolside cabanas for a fee
- Additional activities available through Waterfront Adventures (see above)
The Paséa Hotel and Spa is a modern styled hotel perfect for couples or someone who prefers a bit of luxury. Paséa is located directly across the street from the beach and is also connected to the Pacific City Shopping Center. Tanner’s Restaurant and Bar at Paséa is a popular night spot and brings a lot of activity to the hotel. The hotel and surrounding area is a fun place to spend time at, a great place to stay, and driving is not required once one arrives.
- Pet-friendly – this pet “accommodation” requires a deposit of $150 (see above)
- Poolside Cabanas available for a fee
- Additional activities available through the concierge
Other helpful and entertaining HB links:
Surf City USA – This site has great information and a detailed calendar of HB events
City of Huntington Beach – This visitor site lists rules and regulations for city parks
Ola Mexican Kitchen Surf Cam – Check out Ola’s surf cam to see the beach LIVE!
Booking.com – We book all of our airfare and hotel packages through booking.com
See you at the beach!
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