When most people think of Southern California, the image that comes to mind is of golden sand beaches running for miles, beautiful sunsets and surfers galore. This is exactly what is waiting to greet you in Huntington Beach! From relaxing on the beach, to adventure sports and delicious restaurants, Huntington Beach offers something for everyone, making it a great destination for families who love to sit back and relax or get out and explore.
A Perfect Family Weekend in Huntington Beach
We went to Huntington Beach as part of my son’s spring break staycation. Huntington Beach is located just 45 minutes south of Los Angeles, in Orange County. A visit to the beach side town can be made as a day trip from LA, but it is totally worth splurging on the Hilton’s Waterfront Beach Hotel to make a weekend of it. The Hilton is located directly across the street from the beach, a few blocks from Pacific City (a trendy outdoor mall with great food and shopping) and minutes from the harbor and downtown Huntington Beach.
Excited to get the most out of our stay, we headed down to the Waterfront Beach Hotel early in the day hoping for an early check-in. No luck, but there was no stopping us! Dropping our bags at reception, we zipped across the street ready to splash in the water and hunt for seashells. This is a novelty for LA kids who are used to shell free beaches. Not wanting to leave the beach, but overcome by hunger, we headed back to the hotel for a delicious lunch at the on-site restaurant.
Lured by the jacuzzi and heated pool, we spent some time jumping between the pools and the small kids sand play area while waiting for check-in. Once our room was ready, we unpacked, and quickly headed back out to the beach to ride bikes and explore the area on wheels. We rented our bikes from the Hilton, but I would recommend renting them at the beach boardwalk to avoid crossing the main street with them. We had a ton of laughs cruising the beach on the family bike. If you haven’t ever ridden one, don’t miss your chance. I guarantee your cheeks will hurt from smiling so much!
Working up a hunger on our bike ride, we (as in, me!) pedaled our way to Pacific City for an early family friendly dinner at Waterfront Beach Hotel. The blue cheese fries were to die for, as was the beautiful ocean view seating.
Our final fun for the day was a beach bonfire! We were so excited to watch the sunset while munching on s’mores at the Hilton’s special bonfire set up on the beach. My little one could have stayed all night if I would have let him! It was the perfect end to day one of our amazing staycation.
Day two of our trip started off with a totally foreign sight to Southern California – rain! With a bit of drizzle trying to dampen our beach time, we headed to Duffy Boat Rentals to explore the canals of Huntington Harbour by boat. I was terrified I must admit. I have never driven a boat, much less through seemingly tiny canals lined with fancy boats! My son was my motivator – he was so excited to be out on a boat that I had to power through the fear. Good thing I did, because it was awesome! I felt like such a rock star by the end of our adventure. We brought snacks and music and had our own little dance party in the middle of the canal neighborhood. I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting the area.
Craving some beach time even in the drizzle, we headed down to Sandy’s Beach Grill for some creative California inspired cuisine. I say cuisine, because it was so much more than your run of the mill beachside restaurant. My Fig, Pig & Blue Cheese Flatbread was out of this world, seriously. I have been craving it every day since.
Only a downpour could lure my little guy from the beach long enough to check out the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum and Walk of Fame in downtown HB. I did not realize what a long history surfing had, nor that the original boards were made out of wood. The museum is a really cool place to stop off for a bit to learn more about a fascinating sport.
With a break in the rain, we spent another few hours scouring the beaches looking for even bigger shells. I think I got as caught up in the hunt as my 5 year old! But hunger called, so we headed back to downtown (the main road across from the pier!) for some grub. Even with the surprise of rain, we had a wonderful day learning more about the history of Huntington Beach and exploring more of downtown.
Not ready to say goodbye to the beach or his hunt for a whole sand dollar, my little one begged me to get out at dawn for more seashell hunting on our last day. So..off we went while the sun rose and the tide was at it’s lowest, just to search for the elusive sand dollar. We had given up and began heading back to the hotel, when my son finally found what he had been searching for – a beautiful whole sand dollar. He was beyond excitement. I was too.. but we still hadn’t even had breakfast, so we quickly made our way to the Sugar Shack Cafe, a locals favorite, for a perfect final breakfast in our new favorite beachside town!
Sad to pack up and leave what was an amazing few days, we decided to slowly make our way home with a stop at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve for an easy hike and some bird watching. It was still drizzling, but we were able to see a pelican, snowy egrets and many other smaller birds buzzing around the marshes. The small interpretive center captivated my son for ages with their exhibits on the animals in the area as well as their live animal tanks (fish and snakes). His only disappointment was the lack of junior ranger badges.
A visit to Huntington Beach is the perfect antidote to busy lives and hectic schedules. Take a short (or long!) weekend to unwind, soak up the sun and explore the gorgeous beach town with tons of delicious restaurants and activities to keep you coming back again and again.
We loved our visit and can’t wait to get away again when it’s sunnier. For now, we are busy sorting through our buckets of seashells!
The Best Time To Go
Huntington Beach is a perfect vacation destination throughout the year. Average temperatures range anywhere between 65 to 80 degrees. Even in the height of summer, the temperature rarely raises above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for those who want to escape inland summer temperatures.
Top Three Things To Do
1. A beach bonfire is the perfect way to watch the sunset, warm up in the chilly night breeze and have an after dinner dessert of s’mores!
2. Hire a Duffy (electric) boat to explore life on the Huntington Harbor canals. This is a unique experience not to miss.
3. Combing the beach for seashells small and large will engage everyone in the family for hours and makes for a wonderful (and free) souvenir!
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