Huntington Beach: History, Community Description, and Things to Do

by Huntington Beach Realtor & 40+ year resident – Scot Campbell

Huntington Beach is a seaside city with a population of approximately 189,000. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the southwest, by Seal Beach on the northwest, Costa Mesa on the east, Newport Beach on the southeast, Westminster on the north, and by Fountain Valley on the northeast.

The California coast is best known for its charming beach towns and world renowned surf breaks. Coined “Surf City USA” in 1969 by singers Jan and Dean in their song “Surf City”, Huntington Beach is archetypical of the California surfing lifestyle.

Downtown Huntington Beach South ViewHuntington Beach (aka HB) is known for its long 10-mile stretch of sandy beach from The Santa Ana River Jetty in the south up to the community of Surfside to the north. The area has a mild Mediterranean climate, and conditions are generally sunny, dry and cool. In the afternoon and evening, there are often ocean breezes, 10 to 15 mph. Ocean water temperatures average 55 °F to 70 °F. In the summer, temperatures rarely exceed 85 °F. In the winter, temperatures rarely fall below 40 °F, even on clear nights. Rainfall totals about 14 inches per year and occurs in mid-winter. Frost occurs only rarely on the coldest winter nights.

Since its time as a parcel of the enormous Spanish land grant, Huntington Beach has undergone many incarnations. One time it was known Shell Beach, later it became known as Fairview and then Pacific City as it developed into a tourist destination. In order to secure access to the Red Car lines, the city was incorporated in 1909 as “Huntington Beach” in honor of railroad magnate Henry Huntington. However in 1919 the vision of a West Coast version of Atlantic City took a unique turn: Standard Oil leased 500 acres of the land for exploratory drilling. They found oil, and plenty of it! By 1948 oil derricks filled the coastline as can be seen in many old photos of the area. The reality of a West Coast beach resort would be postponed until redevelopment began in the 1970s. Today Huntington Beach is just as spectacular as the city founders intended.

Residential construction boomed in the 1960s and so began the transformation of a sleepy beach town into the 189,000+ population beach town we know today. Huntington Beach Pier, Strand, and Main Street are now a bustling tourist area which keeps with the “Surf City” theme, featuring the Surfing Walk of Fame (located on the corner of Main Street and the Pacific Coast Highway), outdoor cafés, beach pubs, surf shops and clothing boutiques specializing in eccentric fashions. The International Surfing Museum, a block north of Main Street, offers visitors an in-depth view of the history of surfing and the athletes famous in the sport. The Grand Hyatt & Waterfront Hilton five star hotels are just a few blocks to the south of Main Street.


Downtown Huntington Beach VillageThe Downtown Huntington Beach (Pier & City Beach) area is filled with copper-toned sunbathers, clad roller-bladders, volley ball players, bicyclists, and competitive surfers. But, the Huntington Pier area is far more than an area to surf; it is the epicenter of the city featuring an endless array of sports competitions, surf contests, dance performances, and outdoor concerts. . The Huntington Beach Pier stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier is a Ruby’s Diner, at the base are two fine dining restaurants: Duke’s & Sandy’s Beach Grill. There is a tackle shop on the pier and no fishing license is required to fish on the Huntington Beach pier.

Huntington Cliffs is also known as the Dog Beach. Huntington Cliffs area is filled with all kinds of furry four-legged animals. On weekends the grown-ups and their dogs travel far distances to take advantage of this unique opportunity for camaraderie.

Bolsa Chica Beach located north of Seapoint and south of Warner Avenue offers ample parking and slow rolling waves popular with surf camps, bicyclists, and rollerblades in the summer.

Huntington State Beach is located north of the Santa Ana River Jetty and south of Beach Blvd. It also has ample parking, fire pits, and beach concessions.

Sunset Beach is a newly annexed portion of Huntington Beach. It features oceanfront residences “on the sand” and very limited beach parking… making it one of the least crowded pieces of sand in Southern California (and once the home of Oscar Award winning actress Sandra Bullock).

Gilbert Island view from the air showing waterfront homes along Main Channel of Huntington Harbour
Gilbert Island view from the air showing waterfront homes along Main Channel of Huntington Harbour

Huntington Harbour is an area located behind the beach front communities of Surfside and Sunset Beach and falls within the city limits of Huntington Beach. Huntington Harbour is dedicated primarily to residential use with over one thousand waterfront housing units including condominiums, townhouses, and detached houses. Activities in popular in the harbour include kayaking, fishing, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, and sunset boat cruises. Huntington Harbour is the closest private boat harbour to one of the most popular cruising destinations in Southern California… Avalon, Catalina Island. During the holidays, Huntington Harbour has the popular Cruise-of-Lights tour boats and Huntington Harbour Boat Parade, charitable events, which benefit the Orange County Philharmonic Society (funds donated to promote music in public school classrooms).

The Huntington Seacliff area of Huntington Beach is centered around Seacliff Country (private golf and tennis) Club. There are many homes along the golf course which were constructed between 1968 and 2000. Meadowlark (public) Golf Course is located near Warner and Graham, and was often played by Tiger Woods during his amateur days (his autographed picture hangs in the bar).

The Edwards Hill neighborhood of Huntington Beach is known for its proximity to Huntington Beach Central Park, the Huntington Beach Equestrian Center, Seacliff Elementary School, and custom homes with large lots.

equestrian centerThe crown jewel of Huntington Central Park is the Huntington Beach Public Library in a notable building designed by Richard Neutra and Dion Neutra. It houses almost a half-million volumes, as well as a theater, award winning children’s library, gift shop, and fountains. Huntington Central Park is also the home of the Central Park Equestrian Center, a top class boarding facility that also offers horse rentals to the public, with guided trail rides through the park. Central Park features the world’s second oldest (Frisbee) disc golf course, two small dining areas, Lake Huntington, a sports complex (soccer & softball fields), and the Shipley Nature Center.

Wildlife Reserve

Between Downtown Huntington Beach and Huntington Harbour lies a large marshy wetland, much of which is protected within the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The Reserve is popular with bird watchers and photographers.


Many events in Huntington Beach are focused around the beach during the summer. The U.S. Open of Surfing is held on the south side of the pier. Huntington Beach has been a stop on the AVP beach volleyball tour. A biathlon (swim/run) hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July. Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard day camps are held in the summer to teach ocean safety, swimming, running, and first-aid medical knowledge.

The Fourth of July parade has been held since 1904. It is the biggest such parade west of the Mississippi. And, just after dark on the Fourth of July, an estimated 100,000 people witness fireworks being shot off the end of the Huntington Beach pier in what has become the biggest and best pyrotechnic displays in Orange County.

CB Car ShowHuntington Beach hosts car shows including the “Surf City Car Show” Hosted by Coldwell Banker in July, Beachcruiser Meet in March with over 250 classic cars displayed on Main Street. A Concours d’Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library. An informal “Donut Derelicts” car show occurs early every Saturday morning at the intersection of Adams and Magnolia Street.

Surf City Nights is held every Tuesday night during the entire year. The Tuesday Surf City Nights is a community-spirited event that features a farmer’s market, unique entertainment, food, kiddie rides and a carnival atmosphere.

Huntington Beach is the site of the world surfing championships, held in the summer every year. In the afternoons as the breeze comes up, Huntington Beach is a popular destination for kite surfing, and this sport can be viewed on the beach northwest of the pier. Huntington Beach is the host city of the National Professional Paintball League Super 7 Paintball Championships. Huntington Beach also hosts the annual Surf City USA Marathon held on the first Sunday of February.

Youth Sports

Oceanview Little League WS ChampsHuntington Beach has a multitude of youth sports leagues and programs including AYSO, Jr. All American Football, Friday Night Lights (flag football), National Jr. Basketball, SCATS Gymnastics, Rinks In-line Hockey, Lacrosse, and four Little Leagues including world famous Ocean View Little League who won the 2011 Little League World Series.


The city’s first high school, Huntington Beach High School was built in 1906. The school’s team, the Oilers, is named after the city’s original natural resource.

Huntington Beach Union High School District includes Edison High School, Huntington Beach High School, Marina High School, and Ocean View High School in the City of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley High School in the City of Fountain Valley, and Westminster High School in the City of Westminster. The city has two elementary school districts: Huntington Beach City with 9 schools and Ocean View with 15. A small part of the city is served by the Fountain Valley School District.

Huntington Beach is also home to many highly ranked private schools including: The Pegasus School, a nationally recognized blue ribbon school, Grace Lutheran, First Christian, Liberty Christian, Brethren Christian, St. Simon & Jude, St. Bonaventure, Cardin Academy, Laport Montessori, and Heritage Montessori.

Huntington Beach is the home of Golden West (Community) College, which offers two-year associates of arts degrees and transfer programs to four year universities.

From the multiple distinguished schools with exceptional curriculum, and a cozy lifestyle; activities galore, to the downtown shopping and entertainment, the many parks and beaches that inhabit this Orange County beach city, makes Huntington Beach a great place to start living the ‘California Dream’.


Huntington Beach City links

Local News



Medical Facilities

Community Events


Area Sports



Theater/Performing Arts

Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights 2012Community Colleges/Universities


For questions about buying and selling real estate in Huntington Beach and Coastal Orange County, contact Scot Campbell.

Scot CampbellScot Campbell is an expert in the Coastal Orange County market area

He is the President of The Scot Campbell TEAM at Coldwell Banker-Campbell Realtors in Huntington Beach, CA. 

Scot is a Previews Property Specialist,  has been a licensed for over 27 years, and has brokered over 1000 homes… including just about every type of transaction imaginable.

Read his profile and client reviews at

He can be reached at 714-336-0394 (cell/text) or via email at



photos by: dcarlson54 & danorth1