Introducing Huntington Beach
Hawaiian-Irish surfing star George Freeth, after being hired by railroad magnate and real-estate developer Henry Huntington, gave demonstrations in Huntington Beach (HB) in 1914, and the city has been a surf destination ever since. In recent years, its surfing image has been heavily marketed, city politicos even getting legally aggressive in ensuring HB’s exclusive rights to their now-trademarked nickname ‘Surf City, USA’ (Santa Cruz lost that fight, sorry). The sport is big business, with buyers for major retailers coming here to see what surfers are wearing, then marketing the look.
At times HB can seem like a teenager with growing pains. Long considered a low-key, not-quite-fashionable beach community, recent development along Main St has left downtown with a vaguely antiseptic, prefab feel – except for sidewalk-surfing skate rats and hollering late-night barflies. Still, HB remains a quintessential spot to celebrate the hang-loose SoCal coastal lifestyle. With consistently good waves, surf shops, a surf museum, bonfires on the sand, a canine-friendly beach and a sprinkling of hotels and restaurants with killer views, it’s an awesome place for sun, surf and sand.