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Huntington Beach: Surf City USA

sunset in Huntingtion Beach, California
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sunset in Huntingtion Beach, California

Y’Know We Went to Surf City and We Had Some Fun
Surf City by Jan and Dean

More than just a song lyric, the cool and casual California surf scene goes on, with the big waves, sandy beaches, and laid-back lifestyle of Huntington Beach –Surf City USA.

Huntington Beach runs along the Pacific Coast Highway and is 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 95 miles northwest of San Diego. The Mediterranean climate is mild and the mood is mellow. Temperatures seldom top 90 and even in December averages 65 degrees. It is the longest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront on the West Coast.

Dean Torrence of the Beach Boys, Huntington Beach, California
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Dean Torrence of the Beach Boys, Huntington Beach, California

Feel forever young and relive an endless summer in the city of the #1 hit single recorded by Jan and Dean in 1963. You may even spot Dean Torrence, who lives in the area and sometimes performs in concerts like the one we attended with the Surf City Allstars–The Endless Summer at the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. It was a night of California lifestyle songs of the 60s like Little Old Lady from Pasadena, Dead Man’s Curve, and, of course, Surf City– that he used to perform with music partner Jan Berry, now deceased.

The multi-talented Dean is also a Grammy award winning graphic artist known for his album covers. His work is featured at The Gallery HB, also in the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort and Spa.

Far from the days of surf shacks, in today’s Surf City you can vacation in style at one of the luxurious beachfront hotels. In addition to the Hyatt Regency, there’s the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort. This hotel has open air dining overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the landmark 1853’ Huntington Beach Pier–one of the longest recreational piers in the world and an action-packed hub of fishing, dining, people-watching, or simply enjoying the spectacular view of the coastline and surfers.

History

Artifacts have been unearthed that once belonged to the people now referred to as Tongva and also named Gabrielinos for the mission to which they were relocated. The area became part of a 300,000 acre Spanish land grant to reward soldier Manuel Nieto for his service. Beach Boulevard was once a cattle run for his Rancho los Nietos.

The city was named for real estate developer and railroad magnate Henry Huntington, who brought Pacific Electric’s Red Car trains to the area July 4, 1904. Huntington Beach has celebrated with the biggest 4th of July parade west of the Mississippi ever since. His Huntington Beach Company still owns much of the city and mineral rights, including oil.

I bought a ’34 wagon and we call it a woody…
Surf City by Jan and Dean

Ford Woody, the official car of Huntington Beach, California
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Ford Woody, the official car of Huntington Beach, California

The classic/vintage Ford Woody is the official car of Huntington Beach, where plenty of classic cars come cruising by. Many car clubs meet here and the Huntington Beach Concours d’Elegance classic car event is held in Central Park every summer.

They say they never roll the streets up ’cause there’s always somethin’ goin’
Surf City, here we come…

There are  hundreds of restaurants, but you won’t want to miss the house margaritas like the Diva Ritas or Fred’s Cadillac, topped with Grand Marnier or the original Chicken Chingaderas at Fred’s Mexican Cafe. It’s behind the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, Father of Surfing, on the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway and overlooks the beach.

Dig It! Sandcastles, sandcastle building on the beach, Huntington Beach, California
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Dig It! Sandcastles, sandcastle building on the beach, Huntington Beach, California

Or perhaps you’ll want to hit the sand and join the beach volleyball fun at one of the dozen or so courts. Want to learn to build the best sand castle on the beach? Dig It! Sandcastles will show you how to create the turrets of your dreams.

There’s also board, body, and kite surfing. You can take a Stand Up Paddleboarding lesson from local paddle boarder Rocky McKinnon.

Take a surf lesson with Toes On the Nose Waterfront Adventures. You’re guaranteed to stand up on your board by the end of the lesson.

Explore the pier and downtown with GW Segway Tours, which offers Segways with larger wheels for rides on the sand.  Surf fishing from the pier is free, or you can cook a sport fishing/surf tours.

Or you may want to rent a bike at one of the hotels or beachside concessions near the pier and Main Street and join the pedestrians, joggers, inline skaters and families in buggies and surries along Ocean Strand, the 8.5 miles of paved boardwalk–the length of the Surf City USA beach area.

The trail passes a series of eateries, shops, and the Dog Beach, creating a lively scene for all ages and breeds. For a longer excursion into the Newport Beach area, the Santa Ana Trail runs from Huntington Beach and under the Santa Ana Bridge for 30 miles along the Santa Ana River, ending near Prado Dam in Corona.

History buffs enjoy learning about the local landmarks with Chris Epting’s Downtown Surf City USA Historic Tour. You’ll learn about the boom town of the 1920s when oil was discovered here and places like the Golden Bear Nightclub of the 50s and 60s, now a Subway’s, where Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix played.

The shopping, dining and entertainment centers on Main Street, whether for families or late-night revelers. It’s a great place to browse for trendy swimwear.

Tuesdays year-round part of Main Street–from Pacific Coast Highway to Orange Avenue– it shuts down for the Surf City Nights. The entertainment is all free. There are street performances, sidewalk sales, live music, a farmer’s market, and restaurant samples. Restaurants offer specials, like Fred’s $2 and $3 tacos.

There are free weekend summer beach concerts and a colorful Friday afternoon certified farmers market with over 50 vendors, some with arts and crafts.

Romp with unleashed canines, swim, and sunbathe at Dog Beach, of the cleanest and safest dog beaches in California. You might even see a dog and his owner tandem surfing.

For pet-friendly activities, head for Best Friend Dog Park , adjacent to Central Park, and the Park Bench Cafe where people can dine with their pets. The shopping and dining center Old World Village hosts an annual Wiener Nationals Dachshund Races.

Central Park is home to the Huntington Beach Central Library and Cultural Center, one of the largest children’s libraries west of the Mississippi with year-round community theater performances in its 301-seat Huntington Beach Playhouse. There’a also one of the fastest-growing and least expensive alternative sports at the Huntington Beach Disc (Frisbee) Golf Course in Central Park. It’s one of just two disc courses in the USA.

Surfers’ Walk of Fame, Huntington Beach, California
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Surfers’ Walk of Fame, Huntington Beach, California

Huntington Beach is home to professional sporting events and over 30 surfing championships a year, highlighted by the week-long U.S. Open of Surfing in July–the largest professional surfing competition in the world. Top surfers are inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame and the inductees’ handprints, footprints, and signatures are added to those of other legendary surfers on the sidewalk Surfers’ Walk of Fame during this once-a-year event.

Duke Kahanamoku, Father of Surfing, International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, California
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Duke Kahanamoku, Father of Surfing, International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, California

International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, California
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International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, California

Head for the International Surfing Museum to see surfing heritage and memorabilia and to learn more than you ever thought possible about surfing legends, surf films, surf music and surfboards. There’s Duke’s surfboards and the camera used to film Bruce Brown’s ultimate surfing documentary, Endless Summer.

The Silver Surfer, part of the Fantastic 4 movie promotion and premier, International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach
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The Silver Surfer, part of the Fantastic 4 movie promotion and premier, International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach

There’s the SoCal Independent Film Festival in September, a winter Cruise of Light Boats Tour that includes an illuminated parade and house tours, and the Beachcruiser Meet in March with 250 classic cars.

There are samples of food from more than 40 restaurants and over 120 wines during the Taste of Huntington Beach in April.

You know they’re either out surfin’ or they got a party growin’
Surf City, here we come…

There’s plenty of nightlife, with comedy clubs, live music and bars. Huntington Beach Brewing Company features local brews and Shades Restaurant and Bar has Thursday night wine tastings.

Want a change of pace? Huntington Beach is just ten or fifteen miles from attractions like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.

After a long day, it’s time for a bonfire on the beach. Bring your own cookout or pick up some fish tacos at Wahoo’s Beach Cabana. Then just light one of the city’s beachside fire rings, sit back, and enjoy the miles-long fiery glow and beautiful sunset.

READY TO GO?

Want to see for yourself before you go? There’s a live webcam that is updated regularly with beach conditions.

Surf City Lyrics

Two girls for every boy
I bought a ’34 wagon and we call it a woody
(Surf City, here we come)
You know it’s not very cherry, it’s an oldie but a goody
(Surf City, here we come)
Well, it ain’t got a back seat or a rear window
But it still gets me where I wanna go
And we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun
You know, we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now
Two girls for every boy
They say they never roll the streets up ’cause there’s always somethin’ goin’
(Surf City, here we come)
You know they’re either out surfin’ or they got a party growin’
(Surf City, here we come)
Well, with two swingin’ honeys for every guy
And all you gotta do is just wink your eye

And we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun now
We’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
Y’know, we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun
Y’know, we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one now
Two girls for every boy

And if my woody breaks down on me somewhere on the surf route
(Surf City, here we come)
I’ll strap my board to my back and hitch a ride in my wetsuit
(Surf City, here we come)
And when I get to Surf City I’ll be shootin’ the curl
And checkin’ out the parties for a surfer girl
And now we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun
Y’know we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one
Y’know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun, now
Two girls for every
Two girls for every boy

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