In California, surfing is serious business. As the official state sport, it draws groms, novices, and pros alike to West Coast waters. Newcomers quickly learn, however, that surfing here is about more than catching the perfect wave—it’s about connecting with nature, building community, and celebrating the unique experiences to be found along the diverse coastline.
Leading the effort to grow this community and protect the ocean for generations to come is an organization from a SoCal beach town known, fittingly, as Surf City USA. This spring, the Surf Industry Members Association is debuting a brand-new surf experience in Huntington Beach, bringing together dozens of the sport’s biggest brands for an oceanfront expo taking place April 29–30. Here’s what to expect at the free SURFscape event, from shopping pop-ups to live entertainment.
As a demo-festival, SURFscape offers an open-air showroom for enthusiasts of all ability levels to check out new products in person. Around 50 gear and lifestyle brands are expected to converge on the beach, including Huntington Beach–headquartered Quiksilver and Roxy and homegrown Orange County businesses like the adventure apparel–focused Roark.
In addition to browsing all the goods you need to paddle out, you have a chance to try before you buy. Hands-on product clinics with boards made by ...Lost, Rusty, and Firewire will allow riders to test out different sizes, shapes, and capabilities. Wetsuit styles from nearly a dozen brands will also be available to demo.
Without the sea, there is no surf—respecting the water is one of the first lessons wave chasers often learn. Providing a stage for sustainability, the event schedule includes “Rising Tide Sessions” that dive into topics ranging from the climate and our coasts to clean water and plastic pollution. Local nonprofits, including the San Clemente–based Surfrider Foundation, will be on hand to raise funds and share how they’re working to protect the world’s natural resources.
Outside of conversations about the environment, expect pop-up booths that shine a light on the films, music, and art that helped shape surf culture. There will also be van life displays and demos from outdoor adventure companies such as HitchFire, which makes portable grills that mount to the back of vehicles.
Quench your thirst at the event’s Kona Beer Garden or bring your own food and drink to enjoy at the picnic areas. There are plenty of options near Huntington Beach’s iconic pier, about a mile up the coast, with dozens of eateries that have grab-and-go fare like artisanal coffee drinks, sandwiches, and tacos. If you arrive before SURFscape starts at 9 a.m., partake in a local tradition with breakfast at Sugar Shack Cafe. Located right on Main Street, it’s a casual surfer hangout with boards and colorful beach-themed murals lining the walls.
Before leaving the downtown area, pop into the International Surfing Museum. The intimate space houses art, historic boards, and tributes to legends like Hawaiian surfers George Freeth and Duke Kahanamoku, who are widely credited for bringing the sport stateside.