The Best Things to Do in Huntington Beach, California

Have a milkshake at Ruby’s Diner on the Huntington Beach Pier
Have a milkshake at Ruby’s Diner on the Huntington Beach Pier | © Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash
Photo of Nicholas Grantham
6 August 2020

Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, is among the most popular destinations in Southern California. From its excellent surfing opportunities to its amazing wildlife, here are the best things to do the next time you visit this sun-kissed city.

Huntington City Beach

Natural Feature
Map View
sunset on huntington beach california. Image shot 11/2018. Exact date unknown.
With miles of golden beaches, Huntington Beach's year-round popularity means there’s a wide selection of places to stay | © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

No list about things to do in Huntington Beach would be complete without mentioning its famous sands. Among the top surfing spots in the world, Huntington City Beach is a must-visit for anyone heading into the area. It routinely hosts the US Open of Surfing competition and has plenty of clean waves if you’re a beginner. If it is your first time in the water, there are several surf academies that will get you up on the board in no time.

Old World Village

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

Purposefully built to make you feel like you’re stepping into another time, Old World Village is a charming way to spend a day. Styled after old European villages, complete with cobbled streets, it has been delighting guests since 1976. The village itself is home to several independently run businesses, with a variety of handcrafted items on offer. One must-see event is the village’s annual Oktoberfest celebrations, with musical entertainment provided by oompah bands from Germany.

Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum

Museum
Map View
Mural on the side of the International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, Orange County, California, USA
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
The Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum is a great place to brush up on some of the sport’s history, with exhibitions filled with meticulously restored surfboards, classic surfing gear and even the Guinness World Records biggest surfboard in the world. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday and is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Huntington Beach Pier

Architectural Landmark
Map View

Built in 1904, the Huntington Beach Pier is one of the city’s definitive landmarks. Spanning 1,850ft (564m) into the Pacific Ocean, the pier offers some of the best views of the surf and surrounding seascapes. Popular with local surfers, it’s the perfect spot for them to catch up and discuss the day’s waves. Right at the end of the pier, you will find Ruby’s Diner, which has some of the best milkshakes in the city.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Natural Feature
Map View
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Huntington Beach California
© Richard Wong / Alamy Stock Photo

Covering a massive 1,300 acres (526ha) of California coastal wetlands, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is an essential part of the area’s conservation efforts. Home to nearly 200 species of endangered birds and animals, the park has about 5mi (8km) of walking routes that are perfect for guests to explore. If you want to find out more about the reserve and how you can help, drop by the Interpretive Center nearby to learn about its latest work in preserving the area.

Surf City Nights

Market
Map View

You don’t get the nickname Surf City USA for nothing. Every Tuesday at 5pm, Huntington Beach hosts Surf City Nights, a party spanning three of the city’s blocks and encompassing everything from market stalls selling locally made crafts to food trucks serving some of SoCal’s tastiest cuisine. Make sure to stick around until after the sun goes down when the party really gets going with live music on every street corner.

These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.