California’s Pacific Coast is lined with darling beach towns, each with its own flavor and stretch of beach. For the ultimate surfer town, take the family to Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City USA. Craving a laid back beach vacation? Check out these eight fun things to do in Huntington Beach with kids.
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Soak Up the Surfer Vibe
Huntington Beach celebrates all things surfing. Dean Ormsby Torrence, of the surf music group Jan and Dean, is a proud Huntington Beach resident. The duo co-wrote their number one national 1960s hit “Surf City USA” about this very town with Jan and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Find statues around downtown of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer who is known as the Godfather of Surfing for bringing the sport from Hawaii to the mainland. The Surfer Walk of Fame spans the town’s Main Street. Plus, Huntington Beach is home to the longest stretch of uninterrupted beach in California.
But what really makes Huntington Beach feel like Surf City USA is the surfer vibe that permeates the town. Madison Fisher, of Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau said, “Surfing is what Huntington Beach is all about. But it’s not just the act of surfing. It’s the culture and laid back attitude that’s everywhere in our town.”
Take Surf Lessons in Huntington Beach with Kids
Of course, there’s no better way to understand surf culture than by grabbing a board and catching a wave. Toes on the Nose Surf Shop provides professional instruction to anyone age 6 and older. Wetsuits and surf boards are provided. Stand-up paddle boarding lessons, kayak tours, and fishing charters are available too. Interested in learning more? Read about my Toes on the Nose surf lesson now!
Ride Beach Cruisers Along the Huntington Beach Boardwalk
There's no better way to explore Huntington Beach with kids than from the seat of a beach cruiser. The 8.5-mile cement path that stretches along the Pacific Coast Highway provides a pretty way to take in ocean views. Stop along the way for a taco or ice cream cone from one of the beachfront food stands. Watch an eclectic bunch of residents playing drums, beach volleyball or hackey sack as you pedal.
Rent bicycles of all sorts from Toes on the Nose. Training wheels are available for young children. You can find other bicycle rental companies along the boardwalk as well.
Visit the International Surfing Museum
To learn more about the history of surfing and legendary surfers like Duke Kahanamoku and Corky Corral (known as the first professional surfer), head to the International Surfing Museum. Watch videos of surfers hanging ten on giant waves, listen to some classic surf tunes, and take a look at surf memorabilia and art.
Like everything else in town, dining in Huntington Beach tends to be casual. Named for the famous surfer, a favorite local spot is Duke’s, located just before the Huntington Beach Pier. Choose from fresh fish and seafood, steaks, sandwiches, and salads with a Hawaiian flair. Kids can choose from standard favorites on the keiki (kids) menu. You simply MUST save room for a slab of Hula Pie for dessert, a fudgy ice cream concoction available in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and mint.
My kids got a big kick out of the 1940’s-style Ruby’s Diner, perched over the ocean's waves at the tip of Huntington Beach Pier. Wash down hearty diner fare for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with one of their handmade milkshakes.
You'll find some of the best food in town at Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. Pete's Sunset Grille is a casual option that boasts healthy yet tasty fare for adults and kids. Their “famous” fish tacos are quite good, but ask for the guacamole on the side if you don't want your tortilla to fall apart. Watertable is the hotel's fancier dining option for date night. It offers a fabulous weekend brunch buffet and daily breakfast.
Spend the Night in Surf City USA
Huntington Beach would make a lovely day visit. However, to truly unwind and soak up the town’s mellow vibe, make reservations at a seaside resort. The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa is a grand place to stay. With waterslides, several on-site pools, fireside s'mores, and summertime dive-in movies, this hotel is a destination unto itself.
For spa lovers, the Pacific Waters Spa is an absolute must. After your treatment, you may find it hard to leave outdoor the Spa Grotto with three pools among lush landscape.
While mom and dad relax at the spa or beach, kids ages 3 to 12 will have a ball at Camp Hyatt. Expect the usual kids camp crafts, games and movies. Plus, staff will even take your kids to the pool for a swim, with your approval. Read reviews of this hotel on TripAdvisor.
Build an Impressive Sandcastle
Every Saturday afternoon, Hyatt Regency guests are treated to complimentary sandcastle building lessons from Dig It! SandCastles. These are no ordinary sandcastles, either. You will feel like quite the supreme artiste after crafting one of these sandy creations.
Enjoy a Beachside Bonfire
You must enjoy a beachside bonfire during your visit to Huntington Beach with kids. The town is renowned for its plentiful fire pits that dot its shores. You can't reserve a fire pit, per se. You will need to camp out much of the day to nab one of these concrete pits for your bonfire pleasure.
If you're a guest of Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, though, you can hire the hotel staff to do the waiting for you! They will also provide firewood, fire-making and maintenance, beach chairs, blankets, hot chocolate, and all of the fixings for s'mores. There's something about the smoky smell of a fire mixed with the goo of marshmallows that make such sweet vacation memories.
Would you like to visit Huntington Beach with kids? Let us know in the comments below?
A Note from The Travel Mama: I first came to Huntington Beach in 2011. My son and I were recently hosted by Visit California and Hyatt Regency during a return visit. All opinions are mine, as always.