Parks and Recreation
Parks Make Life Better! in Huntington Beach by providing access to the serenity and inspiration of nature, outdoor space to play and exercise; facilities for self-directed and organized recreation; positive alternatives for youth which help lower crime and mischief; and activities that facilitate social connections, human development, the arts, and lifelong learning. Parks and Recreation programs assist the City of Huntington Beach in achieving our mission: To provide sustainable quality services to maintain and enhance our safe and vibrant community. Keep reading to learn more about how PARKS MAKE LIFE BETTER in Huntington Beach!
Every year, millions of visitors and residents experience the finest of recreation in Huntington Beach. Perhaps nowhere else in the world can one experience such a multitude of diverse recreational amenities and activities within such a small geographical area: central park, the beach and harbor, the wetlands, a variety of public parks, an equestrian center, riding stables and equestrian trails, nature center, a sports complex, and more!
Our community also features one of the largest recreational piers in the world, a marina, a wildlife preserve, and an eight-mile biking, inline skating, jogging, and walking trail along the Pacific Ocean. The crown jewel of the recreation system is the 8.5 miles of wide, spacious beaches where in the summer, large crowds gather to watch the special events.
Nicknamed "Surf City" for its beautiful wide beaches and consistently breaking surf, Huntington Beach residents enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as surfing, sailing, volleyball on the beach, and fishing. However, not all opportunities for recreation are at the beach! The City also provides opportunities for fine art, tennis, golf, and many other city recreation programs for all ages. The SANDS Community Services Guide provides an opportunity for residents to enroll in a variety of classes and programs for all ages and for a variety of interest levels. Visit www.hbsands.org for more information about instructional classes.
Operated by the city, Huntington City Beach is one of the best beaches on the west coast, extremely popular with surfers. Home to the longest recreational pier in the state, the landmark HB Pier is located at the heart of Downtown. Originally built in 1904 and rebuilt most recently during the early 1990's it is the longest concrete municipal pier in CA. Stretching 1,856 feet into the Pacific Ocean, it is a favorite spot for fisherman, families, and romantics who flock here daily to enjoy the "million-dollar" sunsets. For more than a century, the Pier has been an iconic coastal symbol. Surfers can always been seen from the Pier since surfing remains one of the most popular activities at Huntington City Beach. The waves here have a unique natural effect caused by edge-diffraction of ocean swells by the island of Catalina. Because of the curve of the coastline at Huntington Beach, the beach actually faces southwest. This beach is also very popular for kite surfing. Throughout the year, numerous activities are held on the beach including surf and other sport competitions and community events. Dog Beach is a part of Huntington City Beach. This area of the beach is dog friendly and a paradise for dog owners. It is not unusual to see a dog and his owner tandem surfing.
The northern and southern beaches, Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington State Beach, respectively, are state parks. Only the central beach, Huntington City Beach, is maintained by the city. The Bolsa Chica State Beach is located across Pacific Coast Highway from the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Bolsa Chica's surf is mellow and rolling with consistently ride-able waves, making it a perfect place for beginners. Huntington State Beach is very popular with families. More than 600 fire rings are available on the city and state beaches for nightly bonfires, a favorite activity among Huntington Beach locals.
Central Park is one of the largest city parks in Southern California and home to many of the city's major attractions and a pair of inviting restaurants. Boasting an expansive 354 acres punctuated with mature trees, rolling lawns, and placid lakes, Central Park is the region's largest and most diverse greenbelts. The park is vegetated with native plants and wildlife. Thick forests encircling the park are supplemented with Australian trees, particularly eucalyptus.
The Huntington Beach Central Library and Cultural Center is located in Central Park, which houses almost a half-million volumes, as well as a theater, gift shop, and fountains. The park is also home to the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, a top class boarding facility that offers horse rentals to the public, with 25 acres of public bridle trails, guided trail rides, and a riding school. The world's second oldest disc (Frisbee) golf course is available in the park as well and has been touted as the most beautiful course of its kind in Southern California. The Sports Complex, which provides 45-acres of recreation including eight softball fields overlaid with an equal number of soccer fields and seven batting cages, is another popular feature of Central Park. Adventure Playground for kids, the Huntington Beach Playhouse, and the Donald D. Shipley Nature Center, an 18-acre forest that for the past 25 years has remained a wild and natural area for native wildlife, can all be found within Central Park.
Huntington Harbour offers serenity, abundant wildlife, and calm waters. The Harbour is comprised of five man-made islands bounded by a network of navigable channels and the land surrounding them. The Harbour is home to multi-million dollar homes and serves as a pleasure craft port. This area is very popular for sport fishing, private charters, electric boat rentals, and kayaking. Huntington Harbour is also home to the Annual Cruise of Lights, a series of narrated evening cruises during the winter holidays when the area is decorated with festive decorations and elaborate lights. The County of Orange runs Sunset Marina Park next to Huntington Harbour and is part of Anaheim Bay.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve
Between Downtown and Huntington Harbour lies a large marshy wetland, much of which is protected within the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. A $110 million restoration of the wetlands was completed in 2006. The Bolsa Chica Wetlands contain numerous trails and scenic routes. The wetlands themselves have recently been connected with the ocean again, in an effort to maintain its previous, unaltered conditions. The Reserve is popular with bird watchers and photographers. Great blue herons and snowy egret stake their majestic place among the nearly 200 species of birds that can be seen at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The Ecological Reserve also features an Interpretive Center for visitors.
The City of Huntington Beach offers activities year-round to visitors and residents alike. A recent Los Angeles Times article noted the Huntington Beach Farmers Market and Craft Fair "..enjoys the most beautiful location of any market in the Southland-right along the beach." Located at Pier Plaza at Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, the Farmers Market and Craft Fair is open Friday afternoons from 1:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. (or sunset, depending on the season) and features a wide variety of freshly-picked fruits and vegetables, flowers, and more. The Arts and Crafts feature over 60 booths of handmade items, ranging from candles and soaps to jewelry to art to clothing. Residents and visitors alike stroll through the Farmers Market and Craft Fair for the constantly changing offerings.
The city holds the oldest Independence Day Parade in the western United States. This is televised locally on the public access cable channel, HBTV-3. In 2004, Huntington Beach celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the 4th of July Parade.
The City celebrated its 100th year anniversary of incorporation on February 17, 2009. An exciting yearlong celebration that honored the City's past and prepared it for the next 100 years by celebrating its unique past and extraordinary future, which included events, exhibits, and much more.
Huntington Beach plays host to numerous other annual events. Every summer, Huntington Beach hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing, the world's largest youth culture and action sport festival, which draws 300,000 people over a nine-day period. The AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Series and Hello Kitty Boardfest is also held on the beach each year. Huntington Beach holds an Annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour every winter holiday. This is a parade of colorful lighted boats through the Huntington Harbour bayside neighborhood. In early March, kite fliers flock to the Annual Kite Party by the Huntington Beach Pier. Professional kite fliers hold demonstrations and kite fliers of all skills come and show off their varied and amazing kites. Huntington Beach is also the host city of the National Professional Paintball League Surf City USA Open. The NPPL holds its first event of the year traditionally in late March. Other annual events include the Surf City Splash on January 1; Miss Huntington Beach Scholarship Pageant; Beachcruiser Meet; Easter Hunt; Duck-A-Thon, Concours d'Elegance; BB Jazz Concert; Pacific Islander Festival; Taste of Huntington Beach; Surf City 5K Run; Surf City Beach Derby; Civil War Reenactment; Senior Saturday Community Festival; and the Main Street Halloween Celebration. For a full list of events, visit www.surfcityusa.com.
The City of Huntington Beach holds monthly events including Ballroom Dance's run by the Huntington Beach Council on Aging, Bolsa Chica Wetlands Tour, and Huntington Beach Disc Golf Tournament. Some events are held every week as well. These include a Farmer's Market and Art-A-Faire, Saturday Sunrise Car Cruisers, Surf City Nights Street Fair, and a Swap Meet at Golden West College.
The Community Services Department is instrumental in enhancing quality of life by providing special events that are affordable and accessible. The Annual Easter Hunt and Family Fun Day, the Huck Finn Fishing Derby, and the Family Camp Out attract children and their parents to our beautiful parks and provide opportunities to create memories. The Local's Only Surf Contest and the Annual Pier Swim utilize the beach for healthy competition with friends and neighbors. The Monthly Ballroom Dance, Friday Night Line Dance Party, Senior Saturday Community Festival, and the HBCOA Golf Tournament all allow residents to create community while supporting Senior Services for the community. "Centered on the Center" and "Art at the Beach" give developing artists the opportunity to explore and grow their talent, and to present their work!
The City of Huntington Beach provides many opportunities for residents to remember what inspires us. Maybe it is the wide-eyed excitement of a child who kicks her very first soccer goal. Perhaps it is the sense of pride and responsibility instilled in the youth of the Junior Lifeguard Program. It could be the smile on the face of a retiree playing "Wii" bowling at the Senior Center, or the scene of a father teaching his child how to make a colorful piece of pottery at Family Arts Day. Maybe it is the fresh smell of the ocean air as you sit on the Huntington Beach pier at sunset and take in all of the natural beauty of the California Coast. Whatever it is that inspires you, take a moment each day to remember the stories and images of why beaches, parks, and programs are important. Remember, Parks Make Life Better! in Huntington Beach.