In the O.C, Orange County, CA, where I'm from, there are several "required Cali" visits that my kids will not let us skip. One is to Huntington Beach, otherwise known as Surf City, USA. My nephew explained that you have to include the USA part or the location will be confused with Santa Cruz. Apparently, there was some frenzied politicking by both local governments to get the official name. For me, it will always be Huntington Beach, home to Huntington Surf & Sport–mecca of surfer cool stuff.
HSS is the real deal. Absent is the blaring music, fake driftwood signage, nightclub lighting, model surfer chicks and dudes out front (except for the real ones walking to or from the beach). Unlike the store, Hollister, the only way to experience a "live feed" from Huntington Pier is to walk out the door and look to your left across the street. Hollister will always be the want-to-be of HSS. Like a store bought sea shell, their products promise the California dream, but once home, they are more reminiscent of a heavily marketed brand, admittedly a successful one, conceived by suits not surfers.
HSS is a must for anyone attempting to authenticate a surfer lifestyle, or style. They carry all the great surfer brands as well as their own house brand. And if you need to pick up a surf board and not just flip flops, well they have plenty to choose from!
Huntington is a fun place to beach, shop and surf. A hodgepodge of pacific beach humanity, it has great people watching.
To find out more about this favorite Cali destination read GoNOMAD editor, Max Hartshorne's article, Huntington Beach: A Surfer's City.