There are very good reasons to call Huntington Beach “Surf City USA.” Legendary longboards have made history here for the better part of the last century. Surfboards are as ubiquitous as cars and bicycles. Very few restaurants will turn away patrons in flip-flops. And the coast, the waves, the sun…let’s face it! Just about everything about this lovely corner of California real estate simply screams of the sea. Cool wetsuits gain you more entry than a fancy three-piece tailored suit. There is no way to overstate how central all things in the water are the culture of this easygoing, fun-loving city. But despite all of this, Huntington Beach does have a “land-loving” side to it. Perhaps the best place to uncover this side of the region is best found at the local parks.
There’s everything from whale watching to kitesurfing to indulge in when visiting Surf City. So it may surprise you to know you’re just a short ride away from fantastic birdwatching which can include taking a gander at a bald eagle, the very symbol of the United States! Birders will also be stunned to find hummingbird gardens and migratory nesting spots. Hikers have hundreds of miles worth of trails on untouched California wilderness to explore. There are even parks that are adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and bridges that surf-and-turf divide. If you’re ready to enjoy these surroundings above the waves, check out some of the amazing parks of Huntington Beach.
No, you’re not in New York City. Huntington Beach Central Park has its own mythos to live up to and in many ways, pleasantly shows up to its Big Apple counterpart. Welcome to Orange County’s largest city-owned park! This place is so massive – almost 343 acres of urban greenery – it’s actually split into two halves (West side and East side). Loads of paved paths make for easygoing hikes, bike paths, jogging, or even pushing baby strollers along the long, serene, stretches of manicured grass. Some of that grass makes up a stunning golf course while dog lovers will be happy to know some areas have been set aside for our canine pals.
Huntington Beach Central Park also features an equestrian center. Horseback riding enthusiasts have 25 acres of trotting space to traverse, with over four hundred hooved beasts of burden calling the center their home. More of a nature lover? Check out the Shipley Nature Center. Here you can witness the roosting of butterfly species, roving coyote and restores native habitats. All of this can be enjoyed by visitors while never losing the touch of a gentle sea breeze. The park is only two miles from the ocean, so you shouldn’t be surprised if you catch a whiff or two of salt in the warm trade winds.
You can never be too far from the Pacific coast even while exploring the great parks of Huntington Beach! The fantastic Bolsa Chica State Park is still on land, even if it hugs the water. And honestly, it’s one of the coolest places to visit in the area. Translating into “little bag,” Bolsa Chica is a magnet for anglers as surf fishing is one of the favorite pastimes for locals and visiting fishermen alike. Formerly known as “Tin Can Beach,” by HB residents, this is a place to picnic and enjoy fire rings. RV camping is also an option for folks seeking to spend a night under the surf and stars. There’s also a bike path that will allow pedalers to enjoy an oceanfront view.
With dozens upon dozens of parks ranging from small to immense, Huntington Beach and the surrounding area has plenty more open spaces to frolic upon. Those traveling with younger children may want to take some time in Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park. Here you will encounter some very unique playground paraphernalia. These structures almost look more like works of art than they do fun stuff for kids to do! And those willing to leave the city limits will have much more to see. Crystal Cove State Park is a short drive away beyond Newport Beach and offers everything from great mountain biking and scuba to hundreds of species of wildlife – almost 200 bird species alone.