Surrounded by tanned, sleek, beautiful girls and surfer babes, visiting the new Downtown Huntington Beach feels as if you’ve stepped onto the set of North Shore, or the more recent Blue Crush, except you’re not in Hawaii.

You’re 40 miles south of Los Angeles in Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City, which boasts eight miles of awesome, accessible sand, the largest stretch of uninterrupted beachfront on the West Coast.

Open just seven months Shorebreak Hotel (500 Pacific Coast Highway; is laid-back cool and ultra modern with a youthful edge. Overlooking the ocean, the rooms are spacious and decorated with a hip surfer’s eye. All around the hotel are hints of being in a surfdom: from the portraits of the sport’s popular personalities on the walls to an artsy collage of legends’ names by the elevators.

Zimzala Restaurant and Bar is the perfect hangout after a day at the beach, and every second Sunday there’s fine wine, tasty nibbles, live music and stimulating art that attracts the locals. Shorebreak often offers deals that coincide with special events, like Sept. 19’s Surfboards in the Sand, a benefit aimed to photograph the most boards in one place.

There’s no shortage of yum in HB. For a plateful of fun and the biggest, strongest margaritas, make a reservation at Fred’s Mexican Café (300 Pacific Coast Highway; Every Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. enjoy their DJ and dancing, and every Tuesday is Taco-licious Tuesday, where you can score $2 and $3 tacos and special prices on big beers.

Open only four months, Hollywood’s (and Phoenix’s) 25 Degrees (412 Walnut Ave.; has fired up its grill in HB. Its Build Your Own Burgers are mouth watering and pants splitting. You can choose from ground sirloin, turkey or veggie and cheeses that range from midnight moon (goat) to point reyes blue (cow). French fries are a must, either regular or sweet potato, or giant onion rings, and you can order half and half with any three. Wash it all down with a classic milkshake or orange cream float. Though burgers are the main attraction, do yourself a flavor and munch on the spicy tuna on crispy eggplant.

For dinner, you can opt for a view of the Huntington Beach Pier and Tahitian belly dancing or the best Italian food in OC. For lovers of surf and turf, feast on lobster or prime steak, while lounging on Chimayo at the Beach’s (315 Pacific Coast Highway; expansive outdoor patio.

For a truly unforgettable meal, treat your taste buds for breakfast, lunch or dinner at Cucina Alessá (520 Main St.; The “Illegal” French Toast with bananas, strawberries, mascarpone cheese and toasted almonds will intoxicate you. For dinner, the seashell pasta with shrimp and asparagus tossed in light lobster cream sauce (All of their pasta is homemade.), and the chicken breasts with capers, white wine and lemon sauce are dreamy. Save room for dessert: sensational Tiramisu!

Activities are plentiful in HB, but three are not to be missed. BrewBakers (7242 Heil Ave.; is the only place in SoCal where you can brew your own beer and root beer, and because the beer and bread making processes are so similar, you can make your own bread and pretzels, too. We choose Honey Amber Ale, and owner Dennis Midden walked us patiently through every step. We also got to choose the name of our homemade brew and customize labels. While you’re there, you can snack on made-to-order pizza and rock out to booze tunes.

At night, it seems like the whole city lights bonfires on the beach (until 10 p.m.) and scarfs down s’mores. Stop by Zack’s Two (21579 Pacific Coast Highway; for supplies.

No trip to Surf City would be complete without getting in the water. Once rated in the Top 10 in the country, pro surfer Rocky McKinnon ( shares his years of aqua knowledge teaching paddleboarding lessons. Beginners can start in Huntington Harbour, but more seasoned athletes can try their hand in the ocean. Taking in the views as you paddle along the gorgeous harbour waterfront, getting an all-over body workout is the perfect way to rev up for the day - or night.

The National Scholastic Surfing Association presents its Southwest Conference Explorer Season competition Nov. 7-8 at the pier. For more information, visit