If everybody's gone surfing, it may be because of this hip new Orange County beach resort and how easy they make it to Hang Ten on the Surf City beachfront!
Huntington Beach, one of the picturesque beach towns of Orange County, is about 45 miles south of Los Angeles, and a great location for a family vacation. Originally known as Shell Beach and then Pacific City, it was re-named in 1904 after Henry E. Huntington, owner of the Pacific Electric Railway, who contributed to the local economy by extending his railroad down the California coast. As it turns out, this was not his only memorable contribution. In 1910, Huntington brought George Freeth, an experienced surfer from Hawaii, to demonstrate his sport on the coast of California. Together, these two men introduced surfing to the mainland, and initiated an interest in this ancient Polynesian sport leading to southern California’s reputation as a surfer’s paradise.
Why stay at the Huntington Beach Hyatt?
The Hyatt Regency, which opened in January of 2003, provides an excellent home base from which to enjoy “Surf City.” Designed to emphasize the environment and compliment the shoreline, the hotel is made up of a series low-rise buildings, separated by several courtyards. With slightly more than 500 rooms, the hotel feels cozy, while providing just what families, especially those with school-age children, ask for from a resort vacation. Characteristic of the Hyatt family of hotels and resorts, this four-star property offers comfort, service and a wide variety of leisure activities for adults. Also available is the signature Camp Hyatt Beach Club for children from 3 to 7-years-old, as well as “Sophistikids,” a program of age-appropriate activities for older children from ages 8 to 12. Both age groups enjoy outdoor and indoor activities focusing on local history and the environment under the supervision of a trained and enthusiastic staff. Hyatt Children’s menu is available in the restaurants and through room service, and when available, a second room for your family can be reserved at half price.
What makes this an outstanding family resort are some of its unique programs and its emphasis on the surf culture. The Pacific Waters Spa, a 20,000-square-foot facility designed in the style of a Spanish estate, offers complete body care with an extensive variety of facial and skin therapies, wraps, scrubs, soaks and massages. A personal trainer can be scheduled and Yoga classes are available. One of the features that makes the spa distinctive is its association with the Sophisti-Kids program for children 8+. Furthering the idea that health, wellness and the benefits of pampering begin at a young age, Pacific Waters offers specially-designed treatments such as the “Chocolate Kiss Hand and Foot Delight” and the “Mommy and Me Facial” so that parents can share the benefits of spa treatments with their children. Additionally, parents of newborns can be instructed by a nationally certified massage therapist in the art of Infant Massage. Using the sense of touch, baby’s first means of communication, for both nurturing and healing, massage can be a great bonding experience as well as stimulate and relax an infant. Results include improvement in respiration, circulation, digestion, and, perhaps of particular interest to sleep-deprived parents, it has been known to promote sound sleep.
“Catching the Waves”
To help people follow Jan and Dean’s command “Surf City, Here we come! Surf City, Gonna have some fun,” Hyatt’s design includes a convenient pedestrian bridge built over the Pacific Coast Highway, making access to the white sand beach a safe and pleasant walk “across the street.” Huntington Beach has been named the best place for kids and families to learn the sport, and the best surfing beach in the nation by Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, author of a survey of the Top 10 Family Beaches in the US.
In order for guests to benefit from this, the Hyatt’s Adventure Program has initiated an exclusive partnership with “Toes on the Nose,” a local surf school, to provide instruction and outdoor adventure activities to families and kids from 8+. Instructors have extensive experience as lifeguards, surfers and trainers, and they begin each lesson with safety instructions; boards and suits are provided with the lessons. Of course, the beach is available for the more usual pursuits of swimming, beach volleyball, bike-riding, rollerblading, kite-flying, relaxing and sand-castle building.
Other Huntington Beach Activities
Huntington Beach Pier, the local icon, was originally built in 1904, and has undergone several reconstruction projects due to damage from storms, earthquakes and hurricanes. At its present length of 1,853 feet, it Ruby’s Diner ( 714/969-RUBY), located at the end of the Pier.
A must-do stop along the pier is at The Surf City Store, (714/374-0277) the only outlet for officially licensed apparel such as T-shirts, shorts, caps, towels and flip-flops, as well as all kinds of souvenirs. Quiksilver Boardriders Club and Huntington Surf and Sport, both at 300Pacific Coast Highway are other clothing stores to check out. California Greetings (714/960-1688, 301 Main Street, #110, Huntington Beacn, CA 92648 ) sells cards, gifts and those wonderfully tacky dashboard hula girls and other Hawai’i-inspired souvenirs, whereas Jack’s Surfboards (714/536-4516, 101 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92648 ) sells the hardware— surfboards, skateboards and wetsuits. While in town, make a stop at the International Surfing Museum (714/960-3483, 411 Olive Avenue,Huntington Beach, CA 92648 ) where you can learn about the history and the legends of surfing, and hear some tunes by Jan and Dean, The Beachboys and Dick Dale.
Have any idea what a “grunion run” is? For a really unique experience, on certain nights from March through August, you can watch grunions, which are silver-bellied, slippery little sardine-shaped fish, come ashore to spawn on the beach. Unlike most fish, they jump out of the ocean and lay their eggs on the wet sand. This nocturnal event occurs six to eight nights per month following the highest tide associated with the new moon, and the beaches are sometimes covered with thousands of male and female grunions and their eggs. People do actually catch them in sacks and cook them, but I think observing this unusual event is as far as I’d like to take it!
Before the grunions begin running, join the locals as they enjoy a sunset barbeque on the beach. You can use one of the many free public fire pits along the shore and purchase firewood at a local grocery store.
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Huntington Beach Resort & Spa|
|Address:||21500 Pacific Coast Highway
|Phone:||714 698 1234|
|Seasonal Rates:||$$ – $$$|
|Choice of Activities:||A-|
|Quality of Amenities:||B+|
|Bonus:||Very handy shopping complex offers reasonably priced snacks, sandwiches, beverages, and ice cream. An on-site, complimentary washer and dryer is really handy.|
|Note:||Near enough to also plan visits to Disneyland, Universal Studios and Hollywood, or head south to San Diego.|
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