There are so many interesting things to do in Southern California and I recently had the chance to enjoy several fun activities in Huntington Beach.
Southern California doesn’t get a lot of rain, so it was just my luck that it rained – hard – the first day we visited! So hard that the streets were flooded in some areas. Luckily, we still found plenty of things to do on a rainy day.
Start planning your trip to Long Beach
My trip to Huntington Beach, CA was the first stop on a trip to Hawaii. Coming from the Midwest, heading straight to Hawaii is a VERY long day of flying. So, I planned two nights in California to break up the flights and get acclimated to the time change.
We flew into Long Beach Airport which was perfect! It’s a short drive to Huntington, traffic was easy, and the airport itself is adorable.
My kids especially loved that they walked out of the plane and down a ramp to get to the gate – they’d never disembarked in that manner before! Although small, the airport does have a few nice places to grab a bite to eat and my favorite part is all the outdoor seating. On our way home it was warm and sunny, so I enjoyed a glass of wine and a good book on my Kindle Paperwhite soaking up the last of the California sunshine while I waited for my plane to depart. Not a shabby way to end a lovely vacation.
Insider tip: If you like reading while on vacation, I found the Kindle Paperwhite to be an excellent purchase for this trip. It worked outside in the sunshine as well as inside the room! Here is my honest review of it – the good and bad!
A rental car is a smart idea if you plan on exploring the area around Huntington Beach. The first day we were there we simply walked everywhere (but we didn’t go far from the hotel), but the second day we headed to Knott’s Berry Farm, so the car was super useful.
Although there are a lot of things to do in Huntington Beach itself, it’s also quite convenient to Anaheim, Catalina Island, and several other towns along the coast.
Where to Stay in Huntington Beach, CA
Choosing a hotel in an area I’m unfamiliar with is always a challenge for me! I know I want a clean, safe place, but if possible I’d also like it to be unique and in a terrific location.
Luckily for me, the Shorebreak Kimpton delivered a perfect stay.
With an edgy, beachy vibe within walking distance of plenty of things to do, we loved our stay. The gym had a rock climbing wall, and our room had a record player. Add in free coffee (even nitro!) in the morning and a happy hour in the evening and it was a bit of a bougie splurge!
The courtyard is super chill too – with several fire pits and comfortable outdoor seating, but that dang rain drove us inside early – we TRIED to sit by the fire, but sadly weren’t too successful – it was just too wet!
Insider tip: Thanks to years of staying at Crowne Plaza’s for work, I’m lucky enough to have Elite Status and plenty of points so we used those for our stay. However, if you want to quickly earn enough IHG points to book your own stay, I’d highly recommend signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. It’s super easy to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you’ll earn for meeting the minimum spend to IHG!
What to Eat in Huntington Beach, CA
Whether you choose to stay at the Kimpton or not, the restaurant located on-site (Pacific Hideaway) is a wonderful choice for an upscale brunch! With an extensive beer and wine list (and fun cocktails!), it’s a terrific way to kick off your day in Huntington. There is an outdoor patio, but as it was raining, we enjoyed sitting inside between the windows and the beautiful bar!
Breakfast choices range from standard eggs and sausage to unique dishes like a jalapeno bagel sandwich or avocado toast with fresh crab meat. YUM! Add some fresh fruit on the side and a mimosa and you’ve kicked your day off the right way.
A short (and in our case wet) walk from the hotel is the unique coffee shop, Philz. What makes Philz special is that all of their coffees are served as pour overs! If you know your coffee, you know that this makes for a very smooth drink.
For dinner, if you are like us and indulged in the Kimpton wine hour, driving isn’t a good plan, but luckily some of the best tacos I’ve ever had are right next door at Sancho’s Tacos. Think street tacos full of fresh fish, shrimp, chicken, and more. Add in fresh chips, salsas, guacamole, and an eclectic atmosphere and you’ve got everything you need for a fabulous inexpensive, and tasty dinner. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
If none of these ideas tickle your fancy, just a few blocks over on Main street is an entire restaurant district – with plenty of options for everyone in your group!
Things to do in Huntington Beach, CA
Now, remember it’s raining and we are on foot, yet we still managed to spend a lovely day exploring Huntington Beach!
Shop til you drop
Shopping in Huntington Beach is fantastic! Just a few blocks from the Kimpton are several unique thrift stores with really different pieces. Some of the items are pure vintage and some of the shops contain vintage pieces that have been “reworked.” Definitely California cool!
Just a few blocks further is the indoor/outdoor shopping mall called Pacific City. Although it’s technically an outdoor mall, we were able to stick close to the stores and not get too much wetter. Many of the stores are typical mall stores such as Free People and Urban Outfitters, but you’ll also find stores unique to the area. Best of all are the views – this mall is located right along the water!
Check out the pier and beach
Although it WAS a really rainy day, we did have a few brief times where the rain was lighter or stopped for a few moments, and we utilized one of those windows to check out the pier and the beach.
Walk right along the Pacific Coast Highway and you’ll be treated to gorgeous ocean views. Huntington Beach is BIG! The sand goes on forever compared to the Florida beaches we are familiar with, and on a sunny day, I would have happily spent the afternoon out there!
Luckily we were still able to enjoy the walk as well as the pier. Walking out on the pier gives excellent views of Huntington Beach as well as all along the coast. Absolutely beautiful!
Evening fun abounds in Huntington Beach
With so many nearby restaurants and bars near the beach, it’s easy to find a terrific place to hang out for a little nightlife. The area near the ocean is very walkable, and with cooler evening temperatures, comfortable too.
The BEST option though has to be watching an amazing sunset. Find yourself a restaurant with a view, or just plop yourself down on the sand near the pier and enjoy the ocean breezes and slowly sinking sun. Beautiful!
Other fun things to do near Huntington Beach, CA
Driving up and down the coast is always a fun way to spend a day. Hop into your rental and take off north or south to see what you can find. Explore the little towns along the way, stop and check out the ocean at different points, and just enjoy a day being outside.
If you want a little excitement, a quick drive to Anaheim would be a fun way to spend a day too. We opted to drive over to Knott’s Berry Farm for a day of roller coasters and even though it was a bit chilly, it was still a lot of fun. The drive was quick and easy without much traffic!
How would you spend a rainy day in Huntington Beach? Shop and explore as we did? Or something else? I can see us visiting again in the future, so I’d love to hear suggestions!
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