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BEST Things To Do In Huntington Beach, CA: Fun, Free

Things-To-Do-In-Huntington-Beach

With temperatures ranging from 65° to 80°, the weather affords several free, fun things to do in Huntington Beach, CA. Whether for a day trip, weekend, or vacation there are numerous activities in HB. Downtown Main Street features many shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and of some of the best sunsets. Known as "Surf City USA", a song made famous by Jan and Dean, the city was awarded a trademark in 2006. HB was chosen for the 2015 Best California Beach by USA Today readers.

With its consistent climate, there are numerous Huntington Beach events that are affordable. For free transportation, ride the surf city shuttle bus which runs from mid June to September. it stops at the Shorebreak Hotel, Sunset Beach, Bella Terra, Beach Promenade, and Pacific City. It runs 10am to 10pm. Parking is $15 or metered parking for $1.50 an hour. During nighttime, temps do cool. It's recommended to bring a jacket. Here's our list of things to do in Huntington Beach for the weekend, with friends, or on vacation.

1. Bike Rental. Cost: $10. Rent a bike to ride along the boardwalk in HB. Bargain Bike Rentals has bike rentals for $10.00 all day. How can you beat that? I don't know either. Bargain Bike Rentals 311 5th St. Tel: (714) 362-5868.

For bicyclists, free bike valet is available at Pedego, 5th street and Olive avenue. 

2. Take a Surfing Lesson. Cost: Lessons from $75. This is Surf City USA! With the help of Catalina Island there are great swells which offers consistent surfing conditions. HB Surf School. Tel: 714-658-6873. Already an avid surfer? The surf report is available by telephone. (714) 536-9303.

3. Disc Golf. Cost: Inexpensive. $1.00 on weekdays and $2.00 on weekends. It's the only frisbee golf course in Orange County, CA. Address: Golden W St. Tel: Phone: (714) 425-9931. 

4. Visit Main Street in Downtown. With over 250 shops, there is a lot to choose from. Main Street just celebrated its centennial in June 2014. Enjoy a mix of old and new. Free parking can be had if you don't mind walking a few blocks. It can be crowded and parking is not inexpensive. On Tuesday nights there is a farmer's market to pick up fresh fruits and veggies.

5. Gondola thru the Canals. Cost: Starts at $80 for two for 40 minutes. Bring the wine and they bring the ice bucket. Fair enough. Sunset Gondola, 16370 Pacific Coast Hwy. Hours 11am to 11 pm. Tel: (562) 592-3295. Free Parking. For Huntington Beach activities, this is tough to beat.

6. CloudMover Day Spa. Get a hot stone massage and take a journey to relaxation. They also have a variety of facials to feel refreshed. 18685 Main St, Ste 104. Appointments: Tel: (714) 842-3600.

7. International Surfing Museum. Cost: $2. Hours: Opens at 12 noon. Very small but worthwhile; packed full of memorabilia. Closed Mondays. Opens at noon. 411 Olive Ave. Telephone 714-960-3483.

8. Shop at Bella Terra. Housewares, movie theatre, book store. Located near the 405. Tends to be busy in the evenings. 7777 Edinger Ave. Tel: (714) 897-2534. Monday - Saturday 10am -9pm, Sunday 11am - 6pm

9. Play a round of Golf at Meadowlark. Rates start at $18 with discounts for a group of four. It's a par-70, 5,609 yard course. Golfers rate the difficulty as average but like the layout. Best time is during the week; the earlier the better. Weekends are busy as expected. 16782 Graham Street, Tel: (714) 846-1364 Book online. www.meadowlarkgc.com

Free Things To Do in Huntington Beach

Get the 101 on some of the free things to do in Huntington Beach.

1. Walk on The Huntington Beach Pier. A must thing to do and see. Cost: FREE. Take a stroll on the pier, the hub of downtown. Built in 1903 and repaired many times due to storms, it has endured. Made of concrete it's the longest pier in Orange County, CA at 1,850 feet. Watch the surfers, sunsets, and chill out. Curfew is at midnight. The Huntington Beach Pier address is Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street.

2. Huntington Beach Central Park. Cost: FREE. Over 350 acres with a lot of wildlife: hummingbirds, waterfowl etc. Feed ducks, walk the many paths, take fido to the dog park, go biking, running, or enjoy a picnic on one of the large fields. There is also frisbee golf. Several events throughout the year include: civil war re-enactment, cherry flower blooms, concert in the park series. 

Inside is the Shipley Nature Center consisting of 18 acres of California Native Habitat. Rated as one of the top bird watching spots in Orange County. It's located adjacent to the library. 18000 Goldenwest. Curfew: 10:00 pm to 5:00 am. Tel: (714) 536-5486 or (714) 536-5230 for Field Rentals. NOTE: Watch for coyotes at dusk. Free parking.

3. Bonfire at the Fire Pits. Cost: FREE. Roast marshmallows and some hot dogs with friends. First come, first served. Firewood is available at concessions or at local stores. There are two options: Bolsa Chica or Huntington State Beach. General Inquiries: (714) 846-3460. Hours are 6 am-10 pm every day. NOTE: Don't burn wood palettes. They can contain nails which could explode and injure.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands & Reserve

4. Experience the Bolsa Chica Wildlife Reserve. Cost: FREE. From pelicans, owls, hummingbirds, experience a wildlife mecca. The reserve is 1,400 acres of pristine beauty. It might not look like much but once you get onto the footbridge, a different story unfolds. Take a docent led tour. Hours: 6am-8pm every day. Interpretive Center is open from 9am-4pm every day. 3842 Warner Avenue. Telephone: (714) 846-1114

Surf City Nights. Cost: FREE. A weekly street fair comprised of farmers market, live music, flowers, and sidewalk sales. With lots of kid's activities, it's held every Tuesday from 5pm to 9pm. Three blocks of downtown Main Street are shutdown.

5. Dog Beach. Cost: mostly free. Parking is $1.50 an hour. First a few rules: Dogs with good dispositions are welcomed. Some dogs just don't mix with others. Aggressive behavior is forbidden. Picking up after your dog is not only required but expected. This place is big on etiquette. Take fido for a great day of surf and sand. 100 Goldenwest Street. Open 7 days a week, dawn until dusk. Parking lot between Seapoint and Goldenwest. Hours 6am-10pm.

6. Experience the Huntington Beach boardwalk. Cost: FREE. It runs along the beach and goes down to Newport Beach. You can rollerblade, skateboard, bike, or play volleyball. Dog Beach is further down. 

7. Skateboard. Cost: FREE. It's not HB without skateboarding. Vans Off the Wall Skateboard Park. 7471 Center Avenue. Tel: (714) 379-6666. Free and open to the public 7 days a week, 9am – dusk. All skaters required to have a helmet and sign a waiver. Skaters under 18 are required to wear knee and elbow pads. 

8. Volleyball. Cost: FREE. With many free public volleyball nets on the beach, it's one of the best fun things to do in Huntington Beach. Please be advised that scheduled events will limit availability. Check with the Community Services Department. (714) 536-5486.

9. Relax on the State Beach. Cost: FREE. It's a no brainer! With the great waves and 8 miles of sand, experience sun and surf SOCAL style. Lifeguards on duty for the kids. Strong waves with a clean beach. TIP: Use the lifeguard towers as a point of reference for meet ups.

Annual Events

Notable events happen throughout the year. Here are some additional Huntington Beach things to do.

1. U.S. Open Surf Championship. A weeklong event held every summer typically in late July. It has features some of the biggest names in surf including Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Andy Irons, and Brett Simpson.  Park for free at the civic center and take the free shuttle.

2. Surfing Walk of Fame. Prior to the championship, there is an induction ceremony. Follow the walk of fame along Main and PCH. Learn about the many notable figures who have contributed to surfing.

3. Professional Volleyball. Cost: FREE. The Association of Volleyball Professionals hosts a championship typically in late summer. See of some of the best battle it out.General admission is free. Tickets available for premium seating areas. 1 Main Street. 

4. Kite Party. Cost: FREE. This event typically takes place early to mid march. It has professionals from all over the USA demonstrating their skills. It is held at 200 Pacific Coast Highway. There is a separate area for the public to watch and fly their own. Get your kite on! 

5. BMX Bowl Contest in July. This takes places during the Surf Championship. Catch the best bicycle motocross professionals compete with radical moves.  

6. Surf City Marathon in February. A 10 mile marathon that takes place yearly on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday.  There is also a half marathon. This event draws runners from all 50 states and 19 countries! It starts on PCH at Huntington Street with the finish line 100 yards from the starting line. It features live music and a beer garden. Start Line is Pacific Coast Highway at Huntington St.

6. Attend the Concours d’Elegance. Held in the first week of June. Cost: $10 per person, free under age 16. Established in 1986, it is held in Huntington Central Park. The event features current to classic automobiles. A must see for any car enthusiast. Tickets available at the Huntington Beach Central Library. Event address: 7111 Talbert Avenue. Tel: 714.375.8414

7. Annual Surf Contest at the pier. Cost: $35.00 per person. Men and women of all ages compete  Sponsored by the community service dept. Participation limited to those residing in the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

8. Halloween Fest in Downtown. Cost: FREE. Petting zoo, bouncy houses, and a costume contest for kids. McGruff the Crime Dog or Smoky the Bear have been known to show up in years past. Hours are from 4 pm to 8 pm. Kids contest at 5 pm. Location: Strand on 5th Street and Walnut.

9. Civil War Reenactment. Cost: Free. Hosted by the historical society, it's held each Labor Day weekend for two days. It takes place in Central Park behind the library. Two battles per day fought on grass including canon fire. Considered by many to be the best civil war reenactment in Southern California. Food, souvenirs, free parking based on availability. Fun and educational. 7111 Talbert Ave. Tel: (714) 425-2634

10. Cruise of Lights. Cost: $19. Narrated boat tour through the harbor with christmas lighted homes, docks, and boats. Proceeds support the youth music programs for The Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Shuttle leaves from the Harbour Mall. 16847 Algonquin St. Tel: 714-840-7542. CruiseofLights.org

11. 4th of July Fireworks & Parade. Watch the fireworks celebration take place off the pier. Seating along the parade route is free. For premium seats, VIP tickets are 10 to $15 if you want to be up close. Tel: 714-536-5486

12. Nutcracker Ballet at Goldenwest College. Presented by the Ballet Repertory Theatre, it's an affordable event for girls. 2016 marks their 40th anniversary. Tix start at $15. 15751 Gothard Street. Tel: 714-895-8150 x1

Huntington Beach Camping

Huntington Beach RV camping is an affordable option to the hotels by the pier.

SUNSET RV PARK:

Season runs October 1st to May 31st. Rates are $70 a night plus a $10 admin fee. Experience great views of Huntington Beach. Be sure to lock your bikes at night.

  • Outside showers and 2 restroom facilities
  • Water and electricity: 30 and 50 amp connections
  • No RV sewer hook-up although there is a disposal station.

Sunset Vista RV Park
103 Pacific Coast Highway
Phone: (714) 536-5286

BOLSA CHICA PARK:

For RV camping at Bolsa Chica Beach, it puts you literally on the sand.  Address is 17851 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA 92649 Tel: (714) 377-2481. Parking is $15 per day use.

Fees: Camping is $50 or $65 beachside for a hookup. A non-refundable reservation fee of $8 is added.

Hours: 6:00 am to 10 pm Monday thru Sunday with the gate closing at 9 pm. Tel: (714) 846-3460.

  • Camping Reservations: (800) 444-7275
     
  • Picnic Reservations: (714) 377-5691

Transportation/Getting Around

1. Take the Free Surf City Downtown Shuttle and park for free at City Hall. Starts in May and ends in September but it's sometimes extended. Fri: 10 am to 10 pm. Sat: 10 am to 10 pm, Sun: 10 am to 8 pm. Shuttle starts at the Hilton's Waterfront Beach Resort and ends at Bella Terra Shopping Mall. No Pets or folding chairs allowed. Tel (714) 536-5582

2. Ride The OC Bus. It covers 77 routes throughout the OC. They have mobile apps with real time transit info and passes available for one day or longer. OC riders get discounts to some of the best attractions. Bus info: (714) 636-7433. See the resources section further down for online.

About Huntington Beach & Downtown

Huntington Beach, California is an oceanside city located in Orange County; ranking as the 4th largest city. The population is estimated at 197,575 according to the 2013 census.in Orange County. The beach city takes its name from businessman Henry Edwards Huntington. Born in Oneonta, NY, he joined the railroad company owned by his uncle*. Eventually Mr. Huntington moved the family to Los Angeles in 1902 where he became a real estate and railroad tycoon. His indelible legacy includes museums, gardens, and an everlasting presence on Southern California.

Synonymous with surfing culture, the official car for the city is the Woody station wagon. Huntington Beach, California hosts one of the premier events: the U.S. Open Surfing Championship. 

The Huntington Beach Pier, located on Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, is the iconic landmark for the city. It is the fifth longest pier in California. A popular place for surfers, ideal surfing conditions are made year round caused by Catalina Island. Home to the U.S. Open of Surfing in July, an annual event that's held for 1 week.

In downtown, home to over 250 businesses, you'll find chain stores to boutiques. It extends to 4 blocks. Parking is easy to find but not inexpensive. You can purchase souvenirs, bathing suits, t-shirts etc.

Sources:
*Huntington.Org
Surfer Photo Courtesy of By Mcclane2010

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Recommendations

If you have ideas for things to do in HB, discuss in the comments.