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Families looking for a quintessential beach city — complete with bleached hair, bare feet and an unparalleled level of “stoke” — will find all this and more during a weekend in Huntington Beach, a Southern California hot spot that boasts 10 miles of uninterrupted coastline running parallel to the state’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway. Just 36 miles from Los Angeles and a stone’s throw from Disneyland, Huntington Beach — also known as Surf City, USA — has long been a viable getaway option for families. And now it is on the brink of a tourism boom, thanks in part to new family-friendly attractions and accommodations in 2016.
International Surfing Museum’s “The Biggest Board”Located just steps from the beach is one attraction that perfectly captures the epitome of surf culture: International Surfing Museum. Visiting families have access to surfing exhibits inside the museum, as well as the opportunity to view the enormous 42-foot surfboard that holds the Guinness World Record for the largest in the world. The board has been on permanent display outside the museum since late January. Additionally, Visit Huntington Beach, the city's tourism arm, wrangled 66 surfers to ride it last June — earning yet another record, this time for the most surfers to ride a single wave. Filmmaker Nick Bowser turned the historical event into a short documentary, “The Biggest Board: Surf City USA’s Epic Ride,” which plays inside the museum.
Kelly Miller, president and CEO of Visit Huntington Beach, says he hopes the big board has and will continue to inspire the younger generation to dream big.
“Not only is it going to get people in the International Surf Museum, which is a really cool downtown local attraction, but it helps people relive a great moment in Huntington Beach’s history,” he said. “I think we have really captured the moment for generations to come.”
Miller says the project has also been the “longtail of sales and marketing” for the destination, and a promotional tour for the board is also in the works.
“It’s not just a one-and-done [marketing initiative],” Miller said. “Once we catch our collective breath, it will be, ‘Where do we want to take this thing?’”
Pacific CityWhen in Huntington Beach, families should also be sure to make a stop at Pacific City, a new dining and retail hub that will celebrate its full grand opening in June. With 191,000 square feet of oceanfront shopping featuring a mix of retail venues, restaurants and entertainment options, the space brings to life some of the best of what Huntington Beach has to offer.
Seasonal family-friendly events are often scheduled around holidays, such as Easter-themed kiddie crafts, petting zoos and “Mommy Makeover” stations. The venue will also host live entertainment, community projects such as beach cleanups and holiday tastings from participating restaurants. With its close proximity to the beach, adults can feel free to leave the kids in the sand to explore this adult playground on their own.
Pasea Hotel & Spa Also set to open in June, Pasea Hotel & Spa will be the newest addition to Huntington Beach’s oceanfront accommodations. Designed to be both modern and comfortable, the 250-room property will be located next to Pacific City and across the street from the boardwalk and beach, where families can walk, ride bikes or spend the evenings roasting marshmallows at one of the nearly 1,000 free fire rings on the shore. While children splash in one of Pasea’s two pools (which will be equipped with Wi-Fi access), parents will be able to relax and rejuvenate in the Balinese-inspired spa, which will have both indoor and outdoor treatment areas, or blow off steam in the on-site fitness center. All suites will have ocean views.