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Huntington Beach

Southern California’s surf culture makes waves on this sandy city’s shoreline

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The endless summer was born in Huntington Beach. Surfing forefathers George Freeth and Duke Kahanamoku mastered these waves in the early part of the 20th century, and the U.S. Surfing Championship—now summer’s Vans U.S. Open of Surfing—was first held here in the late 1950s.

To understand how surfing has defined this Orange County city—and earned it the nickname of Surf City USA—step into the city’s International Surfing Museum and immerse yourself in a world of waves, winds, tides, and swells. Even if you never get your toes on the nose, you can still watch locals riding the waves alongside the landmark 1,850-foot-long pier, or browse through Huntington Beach’s wealth of surf shops. Don’t miss a stop at Jack’s Surfboards, a surfing palace that began as a modest shop in 1957. Outside the shop, pay tribute to surfing legends memorialized in granite at the Surfing Walk of Fame. On the opposite corner is Huntington Surf & Sport’s flagship store, home to the Surfers’ Hall of Fame, where the footprints and handprints of surfing’s biggest names are embedded in cement.

Savor the beach life by bicycling along the oceanfront path or watching the pros play volleyball on the sand. Where sea and land meet, go hiking or bird-watching at the restored estuary at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, one of Southern California’s most vital coastal wetland habitats. Or lace up your shoes and run in the annual February Surf City USA Marathon, which also includes a half marathon and 5K. Finishers receive a surfboard-shaped medal after running the flat oceanfront course.

If you’d rather live out your sand-and-sea fantasies without breaking a sweat, sit down to a lunch or dinner at Duke’s, a perennial favorite for coastal views and Hawaiian-style seafood. Or stroll through Huntington’s newest outdoor mall, Pacific City, where you’ll find one-of-a-kind artisanal eats and stylish boutiques—all with an ocean view. Or plop down in a chaise lounge at one of Huntington Beach’s luxurious beach resorts—like the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, The Waterfront Beach Resort, or Paséa Hotel & Spa (don’t miss Paséa’s rooftop lounge for a sunset cocktail).

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