Weekend Getaway: Endless Summer in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach 2

Think Huntington Beach and “Surf City USA” is usually the first thing that comes to mind (second being any and all Abercrombie ads). But this seaside city of spectacular, uninterrupted coastline has more to offer than just beach babes and surfer dudes. In addition to Southern California’s famous Mediterranean climate that affords outdoor activities galore, Huntington is home to splendid sunsets, miles of gorgeous nature trails, and a friendly, laid-back lifestyle. Here, your guide to a sunny weekend getaway to Huntington Beach.

Things to do:
1. Watch the sunset. Cozy up with Sunset Gondola for a romantic twilight cruise up the coast. (16370 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, sunsetgondola.com)

2. Take a hike. The wetlands in the Bolsa Chica Conservancy abound with wildlife and easy nature trails. (3842 Warner Avenue Huntington Beach, bolsachica.org)

3. Saddle up. Go horseback riding at the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, which offers beginner Horse Play Rentals. (18381 Goldenwest Street, Huntington Beach, hcpec.com)

Where to eat:
1. Spice up your life with a Mediterranean meal at Green Rice Kabob. The well-loved hummus goes well with the menu’s traditional Persian dishes. (17441 Beach Boulevard, Huntington Beach, greenricekabob.com)

2. Shed your casual beach wear for a fancy night out at Shades Restaurant and Bar, where you can sit among palm trees on the patio and watch the sun dip below the Pacific. (21100 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, waterfrontresort.com)

3. Get Zen (and fresh sushi!) at the tranquil Matsu Restaurant.  (18035 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, www.matsusogood.com)

Where to sleep:
1. Go all out at The Waterfront Beach Resort (from$249 a night). Bask in endless summer with beach life and lush amenities at your fingertips. (21100 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, waterfrontresort.com)

2. Soak up some of Surf City’s chic luxury at the Shorebreak Hotel  (from $189 a night). Fire pit access and a complimentary wine hour are just a few of this upscale hotel’s unique options. (500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, shorebreakhotel.com)

3. On a budget? Rest up and save cash at the Huntington Surf Inn (from $100 a night). Situated mere steps away from the beach, this small property offers comfortable, creatively decorated rooms at affordable rates . (720 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, huntingtonsurfinn.com)

You can fly into John Wayne Airport (20 minutes away) or Long Beach Airport (30 minutes away). The drive from San Francisco to Huntington Beach takes just under eight hours. Once there, it’s easy to get around car-free. See our guide to getting around.

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A twenty-something Colorado native, Alison Kjeldgaard is an aspiring editor, avid reader, and obsessed tango dancer. She lived in Los Angeles for four years where she enjoyed running and lounging on the beach. She graduated in 2009 from Occidental College with two journalism internships under her belt, an English Literature degree, and a national economic crisis. Despite this, Alison has paid the bills working odd jobs and taking every chance she can to travel. So far, she has been to Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Austria, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Alison recently moved to San Francisco from Denver, and is a freelance writer with a love of hiking, biking, caving and gold panning. Check out her magazine at www.artanimalmag.com.