Huntington Beach, California
Huntington fought a legal battle with Santa Cruz for the right to crown itself “Surf City, U.S.A.”—and won. It really does
have a mellow surfer vibe; Dr. Beach calls it the “No. 1 family surf beach in the United States.”
Stay: The Shorebreak Hotel (877/744-1117 or shorebreakhotel.com) overlooks the ocean and features surfer-chic design. Waterfront rooms start at $259. For charming rental cottages, visit vrbo.com.
Eat: Join the locals for breakfast at the comfy Sugar Shack (714/536-0355 or hbsugarshack.com). Then join the tourists at Duke’s (714/374-6446 or dukeshuntington.com). You’ll pay for the ocean view, but it’s worth it.
Shop: Walk past the giant Huntington Surf & Sport (714/374-6266 or hsssurf.com) at the pier and down the block to the Billabong surf fashions at its sister store.
Local secret: Ocean vistas along the 1½-mile nature trail at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve (714/846-1114 or bolsachica.org) can soothe away your stress.