March rolled in with the largest thunder and lightening storm we have seen in Huntington Beach, California in years! It was absolutely pouring down rain–a much needed drenching for this drought plagued state. But then, the MOST AMAZING thing happened… we had a huge hail storm! It was like a white Christmas on the beach! Check out this video…
Are cost or time prohibiting you from taking a vacation? Why not take the chance to explore your own hometown—discover its hidden secrets, learn its history, and enjoy your relaxing “stay-cation”.
Allow me to share a little about my hometown with you…
I live in the beautiful coastal city of Huntington Beach, in Southern California. The Orange County community boasts gorgeous wide sandy beaches that stretch uninterrupted for close to 10 miles, world-class surf, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a designated dog beach, and one of the longest piers on the West Coast, at 1,850 feet.
Nicknamed Surf City, USA, Huntington Beach plays host to the famous US Open of Surfing each year, and is home to the Surfing Walk of Fame, Surfing Wall of Fame, and the International Surfing Museum. Gordon Ramsey’s show Master Chef came to Huntington Beach the 2013 season to feed the surfers, you can read more about that at my blog post, Master Chef and My Home Town.
Huntington Beach is well known for its charming small town atmosphere amidst a bustling population of nearly 200,000 people. HB provides an array of regular events: the Fourth of July Parade on Main Street (at over-a-century-old, this is the largest 4th of July parade West of the Mississippi River), pancake breakfasts, chili cook-offs, Concerts in the Park, festivals, marathons, the New Year Polar Plunge, the annual (Rubber) Duck-a-Thon, Pier Swim, Grunion Runs, and weekly Surf City Nights Street Fair and Farmer’s Market. Citizens never lack the opportunity to share the joys of Huntington Beach with their friends and neighbors.
Beneath the small-town fabric, lays a city with a great history, and many of its historical buildings are scattered around the downtown area. Come on a walking tour with me.
We’ll start at The Sugar Shack, an old-fashioned breakfast and lunch diner on Main Street. The Sugar Shack has only been around since 1967, but its photo-filled walls share some history and memorabilia of Surf City. Surfers, residents, and out-of-towners alike flock to the quaint diner.
If you slip out the back door of The Sugar Shack and walk through the back patio seating area to the alley, you will find one of HB’s oldest historical buildings—the City Jail, circa 1908. These windowless, brick jail cells, with incredibly heavy sliding doors are interesting to see and to ponder. Imagine the heat of summer, the cold of winter, the darkness, the isolation.
Then you can turn the corner and visit the Shank House. The classic 1913 Southern California Bungalow originally built on 20th Street, and relocated in 1920 with the discovery of the Huntington Beach oil fields. In 1988, the City Redevelopment Agency acquired the property. Its new location, closer to the pier and just off Main Street, made the Shank House a perfect choice for the downtown Police Substation. Have you ever seen such an amazing substation?
If you are in for a little paranormal activity, you can mosey on over to the Beach Court where Rudolph Valentino is purported to haunt from time to time. The actor stayed at the Beach Court during 1923-1926 while in town filming movies.
The Main Street branch of the Huntington Beach Library and the original city Post Office are just short walks away. The original library building was open-roofed when purchased in 1913, but the addition of a roof, furniture, and books, made for a cozy library. The doors to the new (and current) library building opened in 1951.
A few blocks walk down Main Street, past all the shops and restaurants, brings you to the Huntington Beach Pier. Take a walk or ride in a chauffeur pedaled buggy to the end of the pier for lunch at Ruby’s Diner. The two-story window-filled diner is perched on the end of the pier so as you sit in your booth you have full view of the ocean surrounding you and Santa Catalina Island just 27 miles off shore. Watch dolphins, sea lions, whales, surfers, and swimmers playing on the waves. My kids took me to lunch here a couple of weeks ago for my Birthday Bash. The pier is also a favorite of sport-fishermen.
A little farther inland, you will find Huntington Beach’s Central Park. The 350-acre park is home to a beautiful library, which includes the most phenomenal children’s library around. It also is home to the Huntington Beach Community Playhouse, Shipley’s Nature Center, Adventure Playground (where kids can engage in old-fashioned play of fort building, mud-slides, pole rafting on a pond, tire swings, rope bridges, etc.) and the Park Bench Café where park goers can eat breakfast or lunch with their dogs. The Park Bench even has a Pooch Bakery. Picnic, walk the many trails, watch the wildlife, or enjoy a Concert in the Park at the outdoor amphitheater. Labor Day weekend always brings the Great Battle of Central Park. The Civil War Re-enactment is fun and educational with a camp, living history demonstrations, battles and more.
Huntington Harbor is a popular recreational area with marinas and a multitude of water activities. If you are here with your loved one, why not take a romantic sunset gondola ride through the harbor. At Christmas, Huntington Harbor is alight with the Huntington Harbor Boat Parade. It is a festive way to celebrate the season.
Since 1984, Huntington Beach’s Donut Derelicts is by far one of the best classic car cruises in Southern California. Every Saturday morning at 6am lovers of old cars, customs, and hot rods show up at Adams Donut Shop to show off their toys. Two to three hundred cars arrive and park for the social part of the morning—a little coffee and donuts with a whole lot of car talk. Then about 8:30, it’s engines rumbling as the cruise line drives around town. Here’s a fun fact… Luke’s dad actually helped get the cruise started. He has been living in Huntington Beach since 1936.
These are just a few of the great things about Huntington Beach, Surf City, USA. Not only do we have an amazing city, but also Orange County is an entertainment mecca. Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are about 30 minutes away. Visit the historic San Juan Capistrano Mission, Bower’s Museum in Santa Ana, the Sawdust Festival, and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. Behind the Orange Curtain, you will also find the homes of the MLB Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the NHL Ducks. The Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary are 20 minutes away in Long Beach, just across the Los Angeles County border. Within a 2-hours radius of Huntington Beach, you can surf, ski, and ATV in the beaches, deserts, and mountains, do a little celebrity hunting in Hollywood, or you can take an international excursion into Mexico.
I hope you have enjoyed your little visit to my hometown. If you ever find yourself here, be sure to check out some of these fabulous places and fun-filled events.
Have you ever been to Huntington Beach?
How does my hometown compare with yours?
Now that you know a little about my hometown, stop by and check out my About Me page.
There is no place like Huntington Beach, California, “Surf City USA”. Just look at how beautiful it is at dusk at the pier. I will be doing two Guest Blogging spots over at I Am Meg & So Can You sometime between mid September and mid October. One spot will feature my home town and Orange County in general. the other post be will birthdays in Switzerland and Germany. I am excited about these posts, and hope that you will join in reading the series Around the World with I Am Meg.
Another fun thing happened this week for Huntington Beach. Gordon Ramsay‘s show Master Chef, aired an episode this week that was filmed here back in March of 2013. The show featured a challenge on the beach where the competing chefs had to make fish tacos for 101 surfers. There is some beautiful footage of Huntington Beach. Check it out…