Every year, the temperatures hit the single digits in Wisconsin and the sky gets gray and gloomy. All this sun-worshipping, heat-seeking gal wants to do is get to the beach! Preferably one in my favorite state, California. The winning beach this year? The surf capital of the world, Huntington Beach. Only an hour south of Los Angeles, Huntington Beach is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. It’s small enough to easily navigate, yet hip enough to rival the famous beaches to its north and south.
My husband and I made reservations at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa and were immediately impressed upon arrival. The gorgeous Spanish-style building sits on a corner lot looking out over the Pacific Ocean. The hotel staff went out of their way to welcome us and assist us with our luggage and check-in. Furthermore, our room was spotless and equipped with everything we could need. It was late when we got in, so we decided to eat at the hotel. We walked out to the market area of the hotel which has shops, restaurants, and a little grocery store. We bought a bottle of wine, and ate take-out from one of the restaurants, and enjoyed a lovely dinner on the balcony in our room.
Day one in Huntington Beach
In the morning, we grabbed coffee and a pastry from the grocery and headed to the beach for a long walk. We walked south along the shore and saw several people surfing already. As we walked back towards the hotel, a seal followed us for about a quarter of a mile, popping up out of the water and diving back down under. We spent the rest of the day at the pier watching surfers, fisherman, and seals and enjoying the beach. We were even lucky enough to catch part of a surfing competition.
Dinner that night, and every night after, was in Huntington Beach’s downtown area which was a short walk from our hotel. Our two favorite restaurants were Sushi on Fire and Shabu on Fire. We also got churros for dessert each night from The Funnel House. They were the best churros ever!
The next morning we rented bicycles from the hotel and rode up to Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Bolsa Chica is a coastal estuary with hiking trails covering 1,300 acres. Over 200 species of birds call Bolsa Chica home throughout the year. The Huntington Beach bicycle trail runs right along the beach and takes you past several designated dog beaches, camping areas, and popular surfing spots. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in the downtown area again, did some souvenir shopping, and toured the International Surfing Museum.
We rented the bicycles the following day and headed south to Newport Beach along the bicycle trail. We stopped at the Newport Beach Pier and poked around the shops before having lunch at one of our new favorites, Hula Dog, a Hawaiian-style hot dog joint. After lunch, we rode to the end of the trail which is the Balboa Peninsula. The trail takes you past beautiful beachfront homes, a beachfront elementary school (these kids have recess on the beach every day!), and little trails where we could park the bicycles and walk down to the water. The ride back to the hotel was bittersweet. We knew we had to go home the next morning. Wistfully, we gazed at the beauty surrounding us. The sun, the sand, and the sparkling ocean would be ours to remember forever.