Hanging Out In
Huntington Beach, California
Story & photos by Greg Aragon
untington Beach is legendary around the world as one of the best surfing
spots. It's waves and beaches are so great, it is also officially known
as "Surf City." But as I learned on a recent getaway, the
town is more than just tasty swells and beautiful white sand; it also
boasts gourmet restaurants, luxury, ocean-front hotels, great shopping,
and tons of California coastal charm.
Huntington Beach is full of great dining, luxury
hotels and one of the best beaches in the world
My visit to Huntington Beach began last week when a
friend and I checked into the Kimpton
Shorebreak Hotel, a surfer-chic boutique hotel centrally located
in the heart of downtown, across from the iconic pier. Featuring four-star
touches and ocean view guestrooms with modern furnishings, the Shorebreak
makes a perfect beachfront base camp.
Our fourth floor room came with a colorful beach-inspired
décor, two queen beds, large TV with two big comfy chairs, office
area with desk, a fridge stocked with goodies for purchase, and a spacious
bathroom with a shower big enough to wash your surf board. The highlight
of the room was the balcony which overlooked town, the Pacific Ocean
and the pier.
The Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel is a beach-front boutique
(photo by Shorebreak Hotel)
Once acquainted with the hotel, we went exploring. Our
first stop was lunch across the street at Sancho's Tacos. Here we filled
up on authentic carne asada and chicken tacos, and nachos. We then we
walked across Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Hwy) to the pier to check out
classic cars at the 17th annual Beachcruiser Meet.
Located on the Pier and a few nearby streets, the car
show was highlighted by incredibly well-maintained "Woodies,"
those old wood-paneled wagons made for beach postcards and surf songs.
The event also brought scores of immaculate convertibles, VW transporters
and other classics.
The annual Beach Cruiser Meet showcases some sweet
After drooling over the cars, we walked a block to the
Surfing Museum, where we examined historic surf boards and memorabilia
and learned about some of the most famous surfers of all time such as
George Freeth and Eddie Aikau. The museum also has a life-size recreation
of the Silver Surfer from Marvel Comics.
The International Surfing Museum offers great surfing
From the museum we walked across the street to Huntington
Beach Surfboard & Bike Rentals, where I rented a beach cruiser
for the afternoon. It was a gorgeous spring day and the weather was
perfect for a ride. With the wind at my back I pedaled to the beach
and rode the 10-mile-long paved bike path paralleling the sand. During
my trek I passed volleyball players, sunbathers, joggers, and a drum
circle. I also enjoyed memorable views of Catalina Island and the historic
Huntington Beach Pier.
When I returned to the bike rental shop, I met Sugar,
a world champion surfing dog, who was rescued a few years ago from the
streets of Oakland. Look her up on Youtube to see some of her amazing
moves. When Sugar and her owner Ryan aren't surfing, they are at the
shop to help customers.
Sugar is a champion surfing dog who also works at
Huntington Beach Surfboard & Bike Rentals
Back at the Shorebreak Hotel, we joined other hotel
guests for the complimentary Wine Hour. The nightly occasions was started
by hotel founder Bill Kimpton, who wanted "a gathering place for
guests to feel a sense of community and inclusion, and relax at the
end of the day." While sipping local wine, we mingled on the patio
and played chess on a giant board.
After Wine Hour we walked a few blocks to BlueGold
for a wonderful dinner, overlooking the ocean. With an open kitchen
and an intimate and classy ambiance, the restaurant serves a creative,
eclectic mix of California land and sea.
Bluegold serves great champagne and an eclectic
mix of California land and sea
Our meal began with warm milk rolls, fresh from the
oven, with honey butter and sea salt. With these we enjoyed a couple
bloody Mary oyster shooters with fried uni chips and a glass of champagne.
For the main course I devoured shrimp & crab ravioli with blistered
winter beans and brown butter, while my friend had a succulent smoked
Kurobuta pork chop with Tokyo turnips and a sweet and spicy tarragon
honey sauce. For dessert we split a peanut butter and jelly cheesecake.
In the morning, I walked along the sand until I reached
a pedestrian bridge leading to the Hyatt
Regency Huntington Beach At this Spanish-styled, water-front resort
I had an soothing 50-minute massage at the hotel's Pacific Waters Spa.
Rated as one of the best spas in Southern California, the 20,000 sq-ft
oasis is replete with ponds and trickling fountains. My full-body treatment
was rejuvenating and featured a combination of deep and light tissue
pressure, along with hot stones.
The Pacific Waters Spa is located in the luxurious
Hyatt Regency Resort
I concluded my visit to Huntington Beach with a memorable
dinner at SeaSalt
Woodfire Grill, where the wood fires of Santa Maria meet the fire
pits of Huntington Beach. At this hip restaurant, I enjoyed a succulent
Pacific Albacore steak, with a side of Brussels sprouts and bacon. While
dining, I sipped a cold beer and admired the rustic, BBQ-inspired decor.
SeaSalt Woodfire specializes in Santa Maria, CA
BBQ meats and fresh seafood
(photo by SeaSalt)
For more information on staying at the Shorebreak Hotel,
For more info on visiting Huntington Beach, go to: www.surfcityusa.com.
Oceanfront of Orange County, California: Part 1; Searching
for Blue Whales at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach; Winter
Escape to Redondo Beach; The
Oceanfront of Orange County, California: Part 2