Huntington Beach: Great Family Getaway in Southern California

Huntington Beach is often referred to as Surf City USA, but it’s not just for surfers. In August of 2023, we embarked on a memorable family road trip, and Huntington Beach was our first destination. Having been our second visit, I’m convinced we’ve cracked the code on having an amazing time here. Follow along as I share our experiences and recommend some must-visit places.

The Journey to Huntington Beach

Our adventure started with a six-hour drive from Northern California, strategically timed to dodge the notorious Los Angeles traffic. Huntington Beach is accessible whether you’re coming in from another part of California or if you’re flying into the nearest airport, John Wayne Airport, which is a mere 20-minute ride away.

Where We Stayed: The Waterfront Beach Resort

The Waterfront Beach Resort in Huntington Beach, CA

The Waterfront Beach Resort, a part of the Hilton family, was our choice of accommodation. This resort stands out as a perfect family-friendly option along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a sprawling property with a genuine big resort feel that still manages to keep it cozy for the families.

Why Choose The Waterfront Beach Resort

  • Location: Its proximity to the ocean is unbeatable.
  • Cleanliness: The resort maintains high standards.
  • Service: The staff were nothing short of fantastic.
  • Facilities: Two towers with a variety of rooms and views, particularly the Twin Dolphins tower.
  • Family Suite: Worth considering for the extra space and privacy.
A family suite interior at the Waterfront Beach Resort.

Amenities at The Resort


  • Standard resort pool: Less crowded and tranquil.
  • Kids pool: Goes up to 3.5 feet deep with two water slides (Note: there are height and swimming ability conditions).
The family pool at the Waterfront Beach Resort with water slides and lounge chairs.
  • Lounging: Chase lounges fill up fast, so get there early.
  • Cabanas: Available for rent, but at a premium.
  • Bar Service: Fully serviced but expect resort prices (a colorful cocktail might run you $18!).
  • Hot Tubs: One at each pool, with different temperature settings.
  • Dining Options:
    • Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina: Offers all meals and great Mexican fare.
    • Henry’s Coastal Cuisine: Fancy dinner spot; we didn’t try it but it looks promising.
    • Onsite cafe: Serves coffee, pizza, and also sells snacks and drinks.
The Cabo Wabo Beach Club restaurant inside the Waterfront Beach Resort.

Beyond the Resort

Huntington Beach itself is a massive expanse of sandy shores with room to spread and enjoy. This town is the quintessential Californian beach town, complete with a pier, surf vibes, and vibrant lifeguard presence due to the strong waves and undertows.

A view of the beach and ocean from our room at the Waterfront Resort.
  • Concession Stands: Jack’s is open all week and offers reasonably priced food options.
  • Pacific Coast Highway: Enjoy the convenience and scenic views of this famous road.
  • Pacific City shopping mall: A short walk from the resort with an array of dining and shopping options. Don’t miss out on Simmzy’s burgers or Ola’s Mexican cuisine.
  • Farmers Market: Check out the local vibe on Tuesdays when the city shuts down the roads for this event.
Downtown Farmer's Market in Huntington Beach, CA.

“Downtown Huntington Beach is just a stone’s throw away. If you wander there, treat yourself to some gelato. You can thank me later!”

Tips for a Stress-Free Stay

  • Reserve Early: To ensure getting a good poolside spot.
  • Budgeting: Stock up on snacks; the rooms do have refrigerators
  • Traffic: Time your travel to avoid LA traffic jams

Parking Woes

Valet parking and drop-off area of the Waterfront Beach Resort.

The sting in the tail of our stay was the parking fee at the hotel—$48 per night with in-and-out privileges. While a tough pill to swallow, the convenience might justify the cost for some.

Ideal Time to Visit

Sandy beach and concession stand at Huntington Beach.

Our previous visit was during a weekend, which was noticeably busier. This time, a Monday-Thursday stay in August proved to be less crowded and more enjoyable.

Wrap-Up and What’s Next

Our three-day stay was packed with enough pool, beach, and shopping experiences that we never felt the need to drive anywhere else. If you’re considering a trip to Huntington Beach, we wholeheartedly recommend staying at The Waterfront Beach Resort.

Now, you might be curious about the second leg of our California trip. As a teaser, we detoured to Solvang, the Danish capital of America, and it was a delightful experience. To find out more about what we did there and our recommendations for Solvang, stay tuned for the next blog post!