Huntington Beach, California is one of the coolest family beach destinations in the country. It's a great choice for families with kids of all ages -- especially for those with teens. Located in Orange County, home of the hit Fox TV series, "The O.C." this seaside town is so hip that live images of its beaches are broadcast to millions of teens shopping at over 50 of the popular Hollister stores nationwide.
The town's surfing history and authentic surf culture have earned it the name Surf City USA™. Here you'll find the Surfing Walk of Fame, the Surfers' Hall of Fame, the International Surfing Museum, and numerous high-profile surfing events. The prestigious U.S. Open of Surfing is held here every summer.
Although surfing is big here, you don't have to "hang ten" to love Huntington Beach. With over 8 miles of golden sand fronting the Pacific Ocean, vacationing families can enjoy numerous activities such as riding beach cruiser bicycles on the paved trail along the shoreline, kayaking, relaxing on the beach, exploring rows of one-of-a-kind stores and surf shops along Main Street, tossing a frisbee into nets at one of the world's first disc golf courses, playing beach volleyball, or frolicking in the world-famous waves. Huntington Beach Pier, one of the longest recreational piers in the world, provides a great place to check out the surfers and Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve attracts nature lovers with over 200 species of birds.
Even the surf is family friendly here. Dr. Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, designated Huntington Beach as the nation's Number 1 Top Family Beach. Leatherman says, "Huntington is safer. The waves are not as big. You don't have to be a top professional to surf there." With all this, it's no wonder that readers of the four leading parenting magazines in Southern California, as well as the largest daily newspaper in Orange County, have designated this seaside town as a great beach destination for families.
With all of its many attractions, Huntington Beach is a magnet for active families. Don't miss the opportunity to bicycle, rollerblade, or skateboard along Huntington Beach Trail, an 8.5 mile paved boardwalk located right next to the beach. There are a number of bike and skate rental shops located along the trail, especially near the Huntington Beach Pier. Surf lessons are also popular for families vacationing in Huntington Beach, and a number of shops such as Toes on the Nose (www.toesonthenose.com) and HB Wahine (www.hbwahine.com), an all-girl surf shop, provide lessons. Another fun family activity between March and August is trying to catch grunion — silvery, slippery little fish that jump completely out of the water in the late night or early morning hours on selected days. These fish can only be caught by scooping them up in your bare hands, and a fishing license is not required for those under 16. Bonfires on the beach are a popular way for families to spend the evening and the town's Fourth of July parade is one of the largest in the West.
Teen shoppers may find nirvana in Huntington Beach's stores and boutiques. Two famous surf shops, Huntington Surf and Sport and Jack's Surf Boards, crown Main Street's rows of stores. Vintage and consignment boutiques are also popular here. Don't miss American Vintage, a retro clothing store just off Main Street, Vintage and Vinyl on Beach Boulevard, and Petticoat Lane, voted the Number 1 consignment shop in Orange County. Punk and gothic fans will also want to visit The Electric Chair, located on Main Street.
Casual dining is plentiful in Huntington Beach. If you're up early, don't miss breakfast at The Sugar Shack Cafe, a top hangout with the surfing crowd. Ruby's Diner, located at the end of Huntington Beach Pier, is another good spot to grab breakfast or lunch. Duke's, also located right near the pier, offers plenty of surf culture and lunches and dinners with fantastic ocean views. Other popular dining options include the Palm Court at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, the Longboard Pub, Avila's El Ranchito, and Pete Mallory's Surf City Sunset Grille at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa.
Seaside lodging in Huntington Beach ranges from limited service motels to four-diamond resorts. Some of the best options for families include:
Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort: Located directly across the street from the beach, the AAA Four Diamond Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort offers ocean view rooms and a wide variety of family friendly amenities. The resort features 290 guest rooms, including 24 oceanfront suites. During the summer months through Labor Day, the Hilton Vacation Station offers specially created amenities and services for families including toys and games for families to enjoy as well as a free souvenir for every young guest. Summer family activities abound, including Dive-In Movies, sandcastle storytime, arts & crafts, and kayak adventures. Seasonal poolside and beach services include lunches and snacks, cruiser bicycle rentals for all ages, Thobe's Surf School, surf boards and accessories, inline skates, and beach chairs & umbrellas. Babysitters, cribs, high chairs, inventive children's menus and in-room toy services are available year-round. The resort's heated tropical lagoon-style pool is beautiful and its Palm Court restaurant goes out of its way to please families with its excellent service and Healthy Kids Menu. The Hilton Waterfront is also located close to many of Huntington Beach's beach bonfire fire rings. The resort's s'mores package — including firewood, a beach blanket, wieners and wires, beverages, and all the traditional fixings for s'mores -- offers the perfect way to create those unique family beach vacation memories. For more information, visit the resort's website at www.waterfrontresort.com or call (800) 822-SURF or (714) 845-8000.
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa: This AAA Four Diamond Award winning resort is located directly across the street from the golden sands of Huntington Beach, and features 517 guestrooms and suites. Resort amenities include a lagoon-style swimming pool, family friendly restaurants such as Pete Mallory's Surf City Sunset Grille, and a fine selection of shops located in The Village section of the property. The resort offers two Camp Hyatt programs with age-specific activities for younger guests. Camp Hyatt Beach Club is designed for children ages three to seven, and invites children to enjoy a variety of games and arts and crafts in a safe, supervised environment. The SophistiKids program for kids ages eight through twelve features a variety of games, crafts and water recreation. In addition, children 8 and older can also enjoy specifically designed spa treatments at the resort's Pacific Waters Spa. Teens and adults will enjoy the programs and activities offered by the Toes on the Nose store located at the resort. These include a surfing introduction course, kayaking, sport fishing, whale watching services (seasonal), and bike rentals. For more information, visit the resort's website at www.huntingtonbeach.hyatt.com or call (714) 698-1234 or (888) 591-1234.
For more information on Huntington Beach, visit the Huntington Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau website at www.surfcityusa.com or call them at (800) 729-6232 or (714) 969-3492.