21 TOP Things to Do in Huntington Beach → Tried & Tested

A beach with a lot of people on it.

Welcome to Huntington Beach, CA, aka Surf City USA, the surf capital of the West Coast and certainly Orange County! ☀️🏄 But, besides the surf scene, you may be wondering what to do in Huntington Beach on your next trip. As a person who has visited this destination many times, I’m here to give you the lineup of the best things to do in this awesome California beach town.

I want you to picture the quintessential California scene in your head: palm trees lining the boardwalk, busy shops & restaurants along the oceanfront, volleyball courts lining the sand, and the best big wave surfers you can imagine!

Do you have the image?

Quick Picks for Your Stay

When you arrive in Huntington Beach, you’ll want to jump in the ocean, not start booking reservations. Go ahead and book your hotels and activities in advance:

And here are the best hotels: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa (luxury), Huntington Surf Inn (mid-range), Ocean Surf Inn & Suites (budget)

1. Explore Bolsa Chica State Reserve

A large body of water with a building in the background.

Just opposite the Pacific Coast Highway from Bolsa Chica State Beach’s main entrance, you have to check out the amazing Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

The perfect spot for bird watching, this refuge harbors over 200 avian species, including pelicans, egrets, sandpipers, and even the endangered Least Tern.

A visit to Huntington Beach provides natural beauty and wildlife sightings at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve far beyond just birdwatching.

I love that this reserve also offers biking and hiking trails to explore its beauty and incredible views of the Santa Ana River.

PRO TIP: You may see stingrays and turtles if you get a good vantage point from up on the bridge.

PRICE: free

2. Stroll the day away at Huntington Central Park

A restaurant with tables and chairs outside.

You can’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the expansive Huntington Central Park, Orange County’s premier city-owned park.

This place is like a storybook, with ponds, meadows, paths, and trails. It’s a sanctuary from the vibrant beach life at the coast.

When I visited, I noticed a bunch of friends heading out to play on the humongous disc golf course, which looked unusual and fun!

If you’re looking to play sports, there are basketball courts, running paths, and even equestrian trails that weave through the park.

Check out Huntington Central Park East, where you’ll find the Huntington Beach Central Library, the Library Theater, Adventure Playground, a Sports Complex, Park Bench Cafe, picnic tables, volleyball courts, and Talbert Lake. We’ll talk more about some of these in a bit.

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3. Visit the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum

Smack in the heart of Surf City, USA, the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum pays homage to the iconic surfing culture that defines Huntington Beach, California.

Huntington Beach is known to celebrate famous surfers and learn about their contributions to the sport, and enjoy awesome surfing memorabilia. There’s even a Surfer’s Hall of Fame (see the reference? 😉) with names like Jack O’Neil, Layne Beachley, and George Greenough.

This famous beach town hosts interactive exhibits at the renowned International Surfing Museum, bringing visitors from all over the world.

Located within a short walk to the iconic beachfront, you can totally check out the museum and then check out the real deal down at the beach.

Some of the coolest memorabilia is from the annual surfing championships, which bring competitive wave riding to the shores of Huntington Beach.

PRICE: Memberships available, or a small donation

4. Walk out on the Huntington Pier

a person with surf walking on a beach next to a pier

Some of my favorite views in California are of the ocean at sunset, with one of its piers in the forefront.

If you want to get your own amazing view, head down the Pacific Coast Highway and stop at the Huntington Beach Pier for the most incredible sunset of your life!

Head down to the sand and cuddle up by the fire pits, grab a spot with your beach blanket, and enjoy the view. Apart from the sunsets, the waves invite thrill-seekers to experience world-class surfing at Huntington Beach Pier.

It’s that simple – sun, surf, sand, and some good Huntington Beach vibes.

While the famous Ruby’s Surf City Diner on Main Street closed back in 2021, there are plans to open a new restaurant to take its place at the end of the pier.

Another amazing pier just 1 hour away is the Santa Monica Pier, which is famous for bringing tourists to its carnival-style boardwalk for decades. Check out the top 6 areas to stay in LA if you make the journey.

5. Cruise Downtown Huntington Beach

An image of a street with lots of shops and palm trees at sunset

Vibrant, happening, and always a good time – Downtown Huntington Beach is so much fun! 🥳

This is the area where Southern California’s laid-back charm meets the lively bustle of beach life – and I’m here for it!

Check out Pacific City, one of the best bars with an incredible oceanview balcony, or stroll along Main Street and check out all the shops and restaurants. Pop over to Beach Boulevard for a huge array of dining choices, from sit-down restaurants to grab-and-go.

6. Go on a Huntington Harbour cruise

An aerial view of a marina with houses and boats.

Right in the heart of Huntington Beach, Huntington Harbour is a marina dotted with an array of sailboats and yachts, and some of them are crazy luxurious!

Explore its charming boardwalk lined with waterfront dining options, offering a taste of the ocean along with stunning sunset views.

A hub for water sports and outdoor activities, you’ll often spot kayakers, paddleboarders, and even the occasional gondola gliding through the blue waters.

Don’t be jealous of all those people boarding the lavish boats – do the same and hop on this awesome 2-hour sailboat harbour cruise.

PRICE: starting at US$100 per person

7. Romp around at Huntington Dog Beach

A dog walking on a beach near the ocean.

Huntington Dog Beach is the perfect spot to bring your four-legged friends! 🥰 What could be better than incredible surf, Pacific Ocean, and DOGS!?

Watch as dogs play in the ocean, chase their frisbees, and socialize with each other – this dog park will put you in such a great mood!

8. Get a touch of culture at Huntington Beach Art Center

Visit the Huntington Beach Art Center, an incredible artistic space that celebrates the creativity of local and national artists.

You will experience a diverse range of art, from contemporary masterpieces to thought-provoking installations.

I like that the exhibits rotate often, so with each visit, you can engage with new and different art.

PRICE: free

9. Grab your towel and head to Huntington State Beach

A group of people playing volleyball on a beach.

One of the most captivating beaches on the West Coast, Huntington State Beachis iconic!

Beyond the picture-perfect palm trees and the vibrant energy, you’ll find cheers of volleyball players in the distance, kids running about, and the laughter of good friends having fun – it’s totally intoxicating.

Surf shops line the beach, as do people giving surf lessons. Don’t worry if you have never tried it; they cater to both beginners and experienced surfers.

The coastline here offers picturesque strolls along the bustling Huntington Beach Boardwalk and out to the pier.

Keep an eye out for the playful sea lions that occasionally grace the shoreline with their presence, adding an extra touch of marine magic to your beachside adventure.

SURF LESSON PRICE: from US$170 per person

Book a private surf lesson

10. Go back in time to Old World Village

I’m a sucker for all things European, especially when it comes to style & architecture!

Old World Village is a charming little shopping & dining area that captures the essence of European charm.

Stroll through cobblestone streets, and discover the quaint shops and eateries, especially the delicious German bakery!

Old World Village is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Huntington Beach!

11. Lay your beach towel out at Bolsa Chica State Beach

An aerial view of a beach with a lifeguard tower.

Welcome to Bolsa Chica State Beach, north of Huntington Dog Beach, south of Sunset Beach, a stunning white sandy beach with coastal dunes dotting its background.

Roam the coastal dunes, connect with nature, and enjoy breathtaking views from the shore.

Bolsa Chica State Beach is a total oasis among the hustle of the beach scene that comes with the territory of the more populated beaches in the area.

Are you beach-obsessed like me? Jump on this killer tour of all the best beaches in Orange County!

TOUR PRICE: from US$90 per person

Take me to the beaches

12. Explore Shipley Nature Center

A green gate to the nature center

Shipley Nature Center is such a relaxing place hidden within Huntington Beach. A natural paradise that allows you to connect with the beauty and tranquility of the outdoors.

Explore the winding trails, surrounded by native plants and wildlife, and get to know more about Southern California’s allure.

Shipley Nature Center is a sanctuary where you can slow down, breathe in the fresh air, and experience the stunning beauty of the natural world right in the midst of the city.

NOTE: open Tues, Fri, Sat 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

PRICE: free

13. Dive into literature at Huntington Beach Central Library

The entrance to a building

Call me a bookworm, I don’t care – I love visiting libraries when I travel to new places!

Check out the Huntington Beach Central Library, a hub of knowledge and culture and a haven for learning. Browse through an array of books, engage in enriching programs, and bask in the serene atmosphere.

The library is the perfect spot to dive into the world of literature and take a break from the California sun!

14. Don’t miss Surf City Nights

If you have the chance, don’t miss Surf City Nights, an electric and vibrant event that brings the heart of Huntington Beach together.

Situated on Main Street in downtown Huntington Beach, this event transforms the city into a bustling street fair.

Stroll through lively streets, where local vendors, artisans, and performers come together to create such a cool, local beach atmosphere.

15. Ride along the Huntington Beach Bike Trail

A group of people walking or biking down a beach with palm trees.

Perfectly positioned to wind with the coastline, this oceanfront path invites you to explore the beauty of Huntington Beach by bike (rent one here).

The path itself spans 8.3 miles (13 km) from Santa Ana River Trail at SR 1/Pacific Coast Hwy and allows you to enjoy the nature and vistas of the California coastline.

Pedal along the trail’s picturesque route, taking in the stunning ocean views and feeling the breeze, all while watching all the action unfold down on the beaches.

PRICE: from US$12/bike per hour

16. Catch a wave at Sunset Beach

A group of surfers walking on the beach at sunset.

Sandwiched between Huntington Beach and Seal Beach, this charming spot offers a more laid-back vibe than its rowdy neighbors.

As you walk along the sandy shoreline, the iconic surf break known as “Anderson Street” comes into view, where you can watch surfers catch the perfect wave.

Sunset Beach is a favorite spot for beachcombing and fishing, and its quaint beachfront homes exude a cozy coastal charm that’s uniquely its own.

17. Enjoy the Huntington Beach Symphony Orchestra

This dynamic ensemble graces the city’s cultural landscape with exceptional music all year long.

Huntington Beach Symphony Orchestra has a repertoire that spans classical masterpieces, contemporary compositions, and even collaborations with local talents.

Immerse yourself in the grandeur of their performances, held at notable venues like the Huntington Beach Central Library Theater.

PRICE: varies by performance

18. Rub elbows with the elite in Newport Beach

The beach at sunset

Newport Beach is an idyllic and wealthy coastal haven situated in Orange County, just a short drive from Laguna Beach.

Pristine stretches of sand invite you to sink in, while the glittering harbor is a playground for luxurious yachts and maritime lovers.

For a dose of high-end retail therapy, Fashion Island beckons with a curated selection of shops and dining options.

If you’re digging Newport Beach, you might want to check out the rest of Orange County. Get an idea of what you can see and do in our post on things to do in Orange County.

19. Discover the Newland House Museum

A white house with a palm tree in front of it.

Get a glimpse into Huntington Beach’s rich history and heritage by a visit to the Newland House Museum.

Explore the meticulously preserved Victorian-era home, once owned by the Newland family, and discover the artifacts and stories with great historical and cultural significance.

NOTE: Open on the 1st and 3rd weekends of the month between 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. for tours led by museum docents.

PRICE: US$2 suggested donation

20. Hang ten and dine at Duke’s Huntington Beach

Hawaii is like a second home to me, and Duke’s Huntington Beach is such an awesome taste of back home!

Duke’s restaurant chain originally formed in Huntington Beach, with locations around the Hawaiian Islands, honoring late surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, and embodying the spirit of aloha and the thrill of wave riding.

With stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Duke’s offers a dining experience that’s as breathtaking as the waves themselves – you’ll love their coconut shrimp!

21. Check out the World’s Largest Surfboard

An orange and blue surfboard hanging on a wall.

The surfboard is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records!

You can’t come to Huntington Beach without checking out the World’s Largest Surfboard, a monumental tribute to the iconic sport of surfing.

Situated in the heart of Huntington Beach, this colossal surfboard is a symbol of the city’s deep-rooted surfing culture.

The board’s size and stature celebrate the joy of riding the waves that has captured the hearts of countless enthusiasts.

🏖️ Must-do tour:Beach hopping
🏛️ Best museum:International Surfing Museum
🏄‍♀️ Top paid attraction:private surf lessons
🎼 Best free attraction:Surf City Nights
🌇 Best beach for sunset:Huntington State Beach

Where to stay in Huntington Beach

There are some amazing spots to stay when visiting Huntington Beach. See below for my top choices for every budget.

collage of 3 images with: a bedroom, hotel's building with a pool in front of it and an outdoor lounge

Luxury (US$450 and up)

Mid-Range (US$250 – US$400)

  • Back Villa – modern, sleek, well-situated, and full of convenience amenities, you’ll love this vacation home option within walking distance to the beach.
  • Huntington Surf Inn – super cute little beach motel, across from the sand. You’ll love the convenience to the beach, walking distance to great dining options, and a fun, social atmosphere.

Budget (up to US$200)

  • Ocean Surf Inn & Suites – awesome location near Huntington and Sunset Beach, this inn offers free coffee daily, comfortable beds, and complimentary boogie boards & beach toys.
  • Ayres Hotel & Suites – slightly outside of town, this business-friendly option is modern, clean, and comfortable. With only a 15-minute drive to the beach, it’s a great budget option.

Check the rates

FAQs about things to do in Huntington Beach

Huntington beach arch over a road

🌴 How do you spend a day in Huntington Beach?

When you visit Huntington Beach for a day, you can do beach hopping, take a surf lesson, and set sail on Huntington Harbour.

🏄 What is Huntington Beach known for?

Huntington Beach is known for its incredible surfing scene and surfing history – nicknamed Surf City USA.

♥️ Is it worth visiting Huntington Beach?

Yes! It is definitely worth visiting Huntington Beach. Check out the cafés and ice cream shops on Main Street, watch the big wave surfers from Huntington Pier, and check out all the amazing white, sandy beaches.

🌊 Can you swim at Huntington State Beach?

Yes! You can swim at Huntington State Beach. You can also take a surfing lesson, or stroll on the boardwalk.


A statue of a surfer riding a wave in front of palm trees.

How fun is the vibe in Huntington Beach? It’s like part ‘spring break’, part surf haven, part tropical oasis that promises unforgettable sunsets from the iconic Huntington Beach Pier!

Now that you know what to do in Huntington Beach, you are sure that you will not run out of things to do in Huntington Beach. If somehow you do, you know you have Los Angeles and its myriad of things to do a short drive away!

If your trip is coming up, don’t forget to book in advance for your favorite tours and hotels!

And, obviously, I want to hear every last detail about your trip, so dish below!

Aloha & safe travels,

Hayden G.

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aerial view over a pier at the beach

Pin it for later!

collage of 2 images with view over a pier at the beach and surf board

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