Huntington Beach in OC.
Huntington Beach boasts some of the longest and widest beaches in southern California, and they are kept superbly clean by tractors that scoop up the debris from the sand daily. This town is the epitome of surfing, and many of the famous surf tunes of the 1960s were written about the area, and in fact, 2005, saw the U.S. Surf Team naming Huntington Beach their official surf headquarters — thus the label Surf City USA!.
Huntington Beach’s slogan is Surf City USA!
Everything is geared around surfing here, so that is why there is a Surf Museum, Surf Walk of Fame, and numerous surf shops. There is even a Duke’s Bar at the pier named not after that famous OC resident, John “Duke” Wayne, but after the famous surfer, Duke Kahanamoku, “The Father of Surfing,” who actually surfed here.
The Huntington Beach area beaches are easily accessible and are all open to the public, but they close down around 10 p.m. nightly, so there is no camping on the beach. Who would want to camp when you have the fabulous, comfortable Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort just across the Pacific Coast Highway (referred to as the PCH) for your sleeping and surfing headquarters. This is the first hotel I have stayed in where I saw dripping surfboards hauled up the elevators on the 12 story resort. In fact, the resort was chosen as the headquarters for the 2005 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
Food and drin provisions served at the pool.
Remember the lyrics from that old surf tune from Jan and Dean, “two girls for every boy.” I was ensconced in the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort for three days with my friends Marisa and Shannon, so I guess the tune is prophetic. We were here, of course, on a working holiday to shoot videos for jetsetters.tv, but we certainly had time to enjoy the jungly gardens around the heated deck pool and the comfortable chaise lounges, with bar and restaurant service just seconds away.
The hotel’s décor reflects its beach image with a super-sized waterfall in the lobby and brooks and streams filled with summer flowers in the pool area. The small touches were beach cool, such as the tiled sea horse fountain, beach prints in the hallways, and surfing statues in the back entrance.
The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort is on the strand.
The beach was a short walk across PCH where there is a summer concessionaire in a block house that serves up beach beverages, snacks, souvenirs, and even firewood for the 600 bonfire rings that stretch down the strand. During the summer months, starting with the Memorial Day weekend, the Hilton’s water sports concessionaire, Toes to the Nose, sets up beach cabanas right on the beach so you can enjoy the water close at hand, and with food and beverage service from the hotel. The Surf Hero Deli is also only open in the summer, so you can have the hotel pack a picnic basket, too. Toes to the Nose also offers kayak rentals, surfing lessons and even electric Duck Boat rentals in the Huntington Beach Harbor. Other recreational amenities at the hotel include a sand volleyball court, basketball court, lighted tennis court, bicycle rentals, and fully-equipped fitness center.
The hotel has everything you need for the beach.
For the past 15 years the hotel has been bestowed the AAA four-diamond award. There are 266 rooms and 24 suites, with the Concierge floor taking up the entire 12thfloor, with hors d’ouevres served during the day.
The hotel has paid ($12 daily) and valet parking in a covered garage, free WiFi service in all the rooms, a business center with internet access in private cubicles, laundry services, spa items in the rooms, and free newspapers daily.
The sun shines a glitter across 42 miles of gorgeous sandy beaches in Orange County, with Huntington Beach area taking up about 8.5 miles of the strand.
The bar and lounge are close at hand.
During our time at the Hilton we saw at least three wedding receptions, and I can not think of a better OC hangout for romance. The hotel’s catering staff assists in every aspect of your perfect day, including vendor services, catering, banquet hosting, changing rooms for the bride and groom, and an on-site wedding coordinator; the hotel has it’s own beautiful wedding gazebo that holds up to 300 guests!
Plan your perfect romance with these Hilton Waterfront Resort wedding packages:
Ocean View Ceremonies — Pool deck ceremonies for up to 225 guests; available from mid-September to mid-May.
Get out of the sun at Shades Restaurant.
Ballroom & Terrace Ceremonies — Ceremonies may take place in each of the ballrooms, and on the Pacific Terrace. The space is then turned into a magical reception site, while your guests dine on hors d’ oeuvres and cocktails during the first hour of the reception in one of the outer foyers.
The Cielo Mare Ballroom is the perfect setting for intimate wedding receptions of 100 to 150 people. Lush landscaping of Birds of Paradise flowers and palm trees frame the windows. The entrance is adorned with an armoire and marble credenza, on which impressive hors d’ oeuvres, flower arrangements, or ice sculptures can be displayed. Art Deco sconces and original artworks are just a few of the detailed elements. Off to one side, French doors open to reveal the ideal location to display your wedding cake with a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Hues of sapphire and lush green tones provide elegance.
Sip a cool one on Shades patio.
The Pacific Ballroom has a dance floor.
The Pacific Ballroom is located on the upper level and boasts ocean views and an outdoor terrace where your guests relax in the cool ocean breeze while listening to the sound of the surf, while enjoying cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres before entering the Pacific Ballroom for lunch or dinner.
A 14-foot tall alcove with arched black- rimmed windows on all three sides gives the Pacific Room unique style and ambiance with colors of sapphire and burgundy flooring and artwork, accented with gold, providing elegance.
The Pacific Ballroom will accommodate 150-200 guests and it has a dance floor.
The Waterfront Grand Ballroom.
is the ideal venue for larger wedding receptions. The fully enclosed ballroom has an impressive 14-foot ceiling and is adorned by rich golden crown molding and ornate chandeliers. A delicate combination of navy, burgundy, and ivory carpeting give the Grand Ballroom a rich, unpretentious appeal. Cocktail and hors d’ oeuvres receptions are held in the spacious foyer that looks out to the Porte Cochere and the West Coast Club Patio. The Waterfront Grand Ballroom can accommodate 400 people and it also has a dance floor.
The private West Coast Club also has a patio.
The West Coast Club is the perfect lounge with a hand rubbed mahogany bar, multiple sofas and lounge chairs, outdoor patio, and a pool table.
For smaller receptions, The Dolphin Room is a quaint area for up to 50, with similar décor as the Grand Ballroom.
Churches & Off-Site Venues
Crossroads Community Church — 714/891-2234, (Non-Denominational)
Faith Lutheran Church — 714/962-5571
First United Methodist Church — 949/548-7727, (Newport Beach)
Community Church Congregational — 949/644-7400, (Corona Del Mar)
Hope Chapel Huntington Beach Foursquare Gospel — 714/536-1614 (Christian)
Lutheran Church of the Resurrection — 714/962-5005
Redeemer Lutheran Church — 714/846-6330
Saint Simon and Jude — 714/962-3333 (Catholic)
Newland House Gazebo — 714-536-5553
Grab a light lunch at the Cafe.
The Lobby Bar.
Located in the Palm Court Re staurant , the Lobby Bar is a superb upscale bar and dining options. Savor a glass of wine selected by Sommelier and Director of Restaurants, Herve Levy. He has hand-picked reasonably-priced wines, mostly from the Napa, Sonoma, and Columbia valleys. In addition, Levy chose to highlight a 2001 Wynns Shiraz from Australia, a 2000 Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuissé from Burgundy, and a 2003 Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio from Tuscany.
The olive and gold tropical elegance of the Palm Court Restaurant makes the hotel’s primary restaurant a great spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it is considered one of the Left Coast’s best eateries, guided by Chef de Cuisine, Jeff Littlefield. You may find Littlefield at the famous Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, because he buys the hotel’s produce farm fresh. He imports pork chops from a boutique rancher in Idaho, lamb chops from Colorado, and seafood from the finest purveyors around the world.
The Palm Court Restaurant.
I really liked the embossed linens and the table settings were superb: Villeroy and Bosch China; custom designed handmade furniture from local craftsmen; richly colored rugs woven in England; chandeliers in bold orangey-red colors and intricate burnished gold metal, designed by Triton. The service was as superb as the ambiance. The restaurant is named after the two Kentia palm trees at the ends of the bar that lended a wonderful exotic touch.
The chef’s upscale twists on traditional dishes included certified Angus beef stew with dried fruits and thyme; cedar-plank roasted salmon, white bean ragout and oven-dried tomatoes in an aged balsamic reduction.
Seafood is flown in fresh daily. Maine lobster shows up topped in a salad of fresh greens and asparagus with a saffron aioli dressing. A steaming bowlful of Manila clams are paired with chorizo, Dijon mustard, parsley and freshly-grated parmesan cheese.
Room service poolside from Palm Court Restaurant.
When in season, oysters are served on the half shell in a shallot mignonette. Plus, the chef serves fresh vegetables, such as prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, caramelized sweet creamed corn, fine green beans with shallots, and sautéed forest mushrooms.
For dessert end the perfect meal with a smooth slice of tall lemon meringue pie swimming in an exotic passion and mango fruit sauce, or try a whimsical vanilla sundae topped with Cracker Jack’s and warm caramel.
Most rooms have an ocean view.
The Palm Court Restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; for reservations, call 714/960-7873.
We all agreed that the trellised patio was the place to be for spring sunshine as Jason, our waiter, served up coffee and citrus ice tea. Ask about the three course lunch specials, or take a midday break with the region’s most unusual BLT sandwich: Atlantic salmon, apple wood smoked bacon, fresh tomatoes, and hazelnut dressing. FYI: The Crab Cakes were voted “Best in Taste” in 2005, and I am certain they will be listed again this year.
There is formal dining on the Pacific Coast Terrace.
The hotel is also the home of the unique Tomgirl Baking Company, run by pastry chef Wonyee Tom. Try the olive bread. She also whips up the hand-crafted wedding cakes.
Hopefully you are in the hotel for the elegant Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for made-to-order omelettes and waffles, and the all-you-can-drink champagne. Plus there are freshly-made sushi selections, a shrimp cocktail bar, salads, cheeses, grilled vegetables, and gourmet entrées, such as blackened salmon with lobster sauce, and chili marinated pork loin in a black bean relish.
And for the kids there is the “Little Surfers” buffet with corn dogs, chicken fingers, cookies, fruit cocktail and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The Brunch has quite a reputation, with over 250 people attending each week, so reserve in advance. Be sure to try the Orzo pasta and roasted lamb with mint dressing.
The cost is $31.95 for adults and $14.95 for children (12 years old and under; 3 and under free), excluding holidays such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, when specialty buffets are offered. For reservations, call 714/845-8444.
S’Mores & More Package — You know you are at the beach if you opt in for this cool package that includes hot dogs and buns and chips, ice chest with soft drinks, S’Mores (graham crackers, marshmallows, & chocolate), utensils for roasting on one of the bonfire rings at the beach, plus a beach blanket and firewood. Priced at only $24.95 for two people or $49.95 for four people Reserve your S’Mores & More Package by calling 714/845-8000 ext. 2210.
Healthy kid’s menus.
The hotel also features the Kid’s Happy and Healthy menu with low fat, high fiber ingredients, such as the Cowabunga French Toast, with a watermelon smile and a strawberry nose, served with low-fat chicken sausage and a fresh fruit cup. Sand Dollar Cakes are fluffy blueberry pancakes with oranges for eyebrows, a cantaloupe smile, and a strawberry nose. The Grinning Gobbler is healthy turkey lettuce wraps with a melon smile, carrot sticks for hair, and a strawberry nose.
I really enjoyed the Hang Ten Breakfast Express room service that included 10 main menu items. Breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.. You can even check off the time that the breakfast will be delivered in half hour increments from the menu that was shaped like a mini surfboard.
The Dawn Patrol included a seasonal fruit plate ($11); Old Fashion Oatmeal with sun-dried cherries and Brown Sugar ($8); Palm Count Crunch Granola with Cinnamon Yogurt ($9); assorted cereals with milk ($6).
The Surf City Starters included a Belgian Waffle with strawberries, mapote and cream $12.50); Asparagus and Herb Omelet with aged Cruvere Cheese served with grilled potatoes and toast $12.50); Chorizo y Juevos, farm fresh eggs scrambled with Mexican Sausage, Pico de Gallo and Corn Tortillas $13); Blueberry Pancakes, apple wood smoked bacon and Vermont maple syrup $12.50); Two Farm Eggs cooked your way with apple wood smoked bacon, ham, or spicy chicken sausage, choice of toast, English muffin or bagel ($13); California Continental Basket of fresh baked pastries, choice of squeezed juice, cinnamon yogurt, coffee or tea $14).
Rated best for OC meetings.
If on traveling to OC on business, the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort is the place, too, because it has been honored with the following prestigious awards:
Four Diamond Award AAA Southern California (15 years);
Platinum Choice Award, Smart Meetings Magazine (3 years);
Pinnacle Award, Successful Meetings Magazine (3 years);
Planners Choice Award, Meeting News Magazine (2005);
Best of the West Award, Meetings West Magazine (2 years)
Meeting Facilities: 21,500 square feet of meeting space.
Huntington Beach Pier pleasures.
At the hub of Huntington Beach is the pier that pours onto Main Street. On Sunday morning there was a street fair with arts and crafts booths at the head of the pier, the longest concrete pier in California at 1,853 feet. The 1940s era Ruby’s Surf City Diner (reservations 714/969-7829) serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare in the Art Deco pier’s terminal. The Lifeguard Tower Zero on the pier is manned year around.
The downtown Huntington Beach area dates back to 1904 and the cafés and surf shops were packed on an early Sunday morning. Be sure to stop at Duke’s for drinks and Chimayo restaurant right on the beach below Duke’s for the wonderful California Contemporary Cuisine matched only by the sunsets. You don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy the free summer concerts, shopping at the weekly Farmer’s Market, and special events at Pier Plaza .
Below the pier the annual U.S. Open of Surfing is held and where the USA Surf Team trains. The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tournament is also held here on the 20 public courts. The nerve center for the 22 lifeguard stations along the beach is the Vincent G. Moorhouse Lifeguard Headquarters where terrazzo tiled surf board and body boards are emblazoned with flags from countries that support surfing.
Not far away and just north of the Hilton is the Bolsa Chic a State Beach that is an extension of the 8.5 miles of beaches that make up the Huntington Beach strand that includes Huntington City Beach and Huntington State Beach .
Bolsa Chica State Beach is where most beginners learn to surf because of its shallow bottom shelf producing smaller waves. Bolsa Chica also offers some of the best surf fishing in southern California for perch, cortina, croaker, cabezon, and sand sharks. Overnight camping is at the RV campground, but hey, we are at the Hilton, so forget that. Parking is $10 daily.
You certainly would like to visit the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve which is on the east side of the PCH and the beach.
Bolsa Chica wetlands — The 330 acres is the home to 200 species of birds and a primary stop of the Pacific Flyway. You will possibly see Peregrine Falcons, Snowy Plovers, Clapper Rails, or California Least Terns in the largest salt marsh in southern California. There are free public tours of the marsh. Visit www.surfcityevents.comfor details. The preserve is open only to foot traffic.. The Interpretive Center is located at 3842 Warner Avenue. Open sunrise to sunset in summer. Phone 714/840-1575. For tours call Amigos de Bolsa Chica at 714/840-1575. www.amigosdebolsachica.org/index.htm
The Huntington City Beach is governed by the city of Huntington Beach, stretching along the PCH from Seapoint Avenue to Beach Boulevard. Some of the best waves on the West Coast are found along this beach, visibly noticeable during a late spring storm while we were hanging ten at the Hilton. You will find more experienced surfers and body boarders on this beach, but the water is great for shoreline swimming, with lifeguard stations manned during the summer months. The waves here break farther out so swimming areas are calmer along the coast. No swimming around the pier, though. The HB City Beach is open to foot traffic and metered parking. Pier parking is available at 2nd and 6th Streets. The HB City Pier is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pier parking is $1.50 an hour or $12 per day. For more on parking info call 714/536-5281.
Huntington State Beach is where the lifeguards train, so of course it is a safe and family friendly beach. Surfing is allowed and families can enjoy this stretch of beach for swimming and bodyboarding. The Banzai Surf School on this stretch of beach at Newland St, near the center of HB State Beach, is one of a handful of NSSIA accredited surf schools in southern California, and one of the Hilton’s best lesson providers. http://www.BanzaiSurfSchool.com
There is a nature preserve at the south end of the beach, separated by a fence, and it is the nesting grounds for the rare California Least Tern. The beach is open year around to beach vehicle traffic. The main entrance is at Magnolia and PCH; open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. but gates close at 9 p.m. for vehicles. Parking is $10 daily. For more info call 714/536-1454.
The 8.5 mile Huntington Beach strand is a paved pathway that spans the entire length of Surf City ’s beaches. Rent single and tandem bicycles, surrey cycles, beach cruisers, and mountain bikes from these guys:
Dwight’s at the Beach — 714/536-8083
Zack’s Beach Concessions —714/536-0215 — www.beachfoodfun.com
Wheel Fun Rentals — 714/471-5015 — www.wheelfunrentals.com/Locations.aspx.
Surfer’s Hall of Fame — is at the corner of Main Street and PCH, identified by the life-size bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku. Famous surfer’s handprints, foot prints, and signature are cast in cement along the sidewalk in front of Huntington Surf and Sport.
Surfing Walk of Fame — features granite stones with the individual surfer’s name embedded into the sidewalk. The tribute starts at PCH next to Jack’s Surfboards and trails up Main Street.
International Surfers Museum — Here you will find surfing artifacts, rotated exhibits, a Duke owned surfboard, a Dick Dale guitar, an “Endless Summer” movie camera, historic photos, vintage posters, and more; located at 411 Olive Street; 714/960-3483. Log on at www.surfingmuseum.org .
Bonzai Surf School http://www.BanzaiSurfSchool.com
Huntington Surf and Sport — 714/841-4000
Zack’s — 714/536-0215 www.beachfoodfun.com
Corky Carroll’s Surf School — 714/969-3959 www.surfschool.net
Thobe’s Surf School — 714/845-4638
Toes On The Nose — 714/845-4638
Huntington Beach Harbor & Marina
Peter’s Landing Marina — (714/840-1387)
Sunset Aquatic Marina — (562/592-2833
Both offer boats slips and services.
Sunset Rentals — (562/592-5537)
Malibu Kayaks — (562/592-0800)
Duffy Electric Boat Company — (562/592-3028 — canopied electric boats holding 8 passengers.
Rail Time Sport Fishing tours — (714/596-3410)
Hang Ten at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.
— Feature by Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine. Photos courtesy of the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.