Happy Wanderer: Surf’s always up in Huntington Beach


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Eastbaytimes.com: Sept. 1, 2018

It’s not just a SoCal thing. Interest in surfing and skateboarding is reaching new heights now that the 2020 Olympics have added both sports to its summer competition. One of the best places to celebrate surf culture is Huntington Beach, the officially trademarked “Surf City USA” and home to ’60s surf rock icon Dean Torrence of musical act Jan and Dean.

I had lunch with Dean, recently at Duke’s on the Huntington Beach Pier. Duke’s management says it’s the same spot where legendary Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku introduced surfing in 1925. And it’s a sun-kissed stretch of coast like this that inspired Jan and Dean’s hit ‘Surf City’ in 1963.

“There are other beaches north and south of us that are nice, but you can’t see them,” says Dean. “Here there is so much room. The good surfers can be by the pier, and the average surfers can be way up (the coast) and not disturb anybody.” Plus, he says, “we’ve got these ocean breezes that are just spectacular.”

It was 1996 when Torrence helped Huntington Beach win the trademark to the name Surf City USA. With this in mind, here are 10 Huntington Beach experiences influenced by Jan and Dean hits … 55 years after “Surf City” topped the charts:

  • Surf City’s famed beach. Known as one of California’s cleanest beaches with 10 miles of uninterrupted white sand, there’s plenty of space to stake your claim. Dozens of nearby shops and concession stands rent everything from surf boards to wave riders, towels and sand toys.
  • Surf City’s famed surf schools. Local surfers teach students of all ages to ride the forgiving and often perfectly formed waves.
  • Surf City’s famed Strand. Huntington Beach’s designated bike and pedestrian path traverses the beach for its entire 10-mile length, south to Newport Beach and north to Seal Beach. Concessions offer everything from cruiser bikes to four-seat surreys and tandems.
  • Surf City’s bonfires. Huntington Beach has more than 500 fire pits for roasting s’mores and making memories. Just add wood, a few friends and maybe an old guitar, and feel the beach vibe wash over you.
  • Surf City’s dog surfing. Dogs can hang 10 too, and the best place to see them is Dog Beach, a haven for two- and four-legged ocean enthusiasts. Huntington Beach also hosts the Surf City Surf Dog competition each September.
  • Surf City’s vintage cars. ‘Woodies’ and roadsters cruise Main Street on Wednesday evenings like it’s 1955.
  • Surf City’s celebrated cocktails. Creative concoctions include the Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel’s popular “Dazed and Confused,” which infuses pineapple, ginger and lime with an herbal cigarette attached to the glass with a roach clip.
  • Surf City’s skateboarding. Reminiscent of Jan and Dean’s 1964 hit “Sidewalk Surfin,” Vans’ Off the Wall Skatepark takes up a full city block in Huntington Beach with plenty of skateboard street terrace like stairs, rollers, gaps and a 40-foot-long double-kinked handrail.
  • Surf City’s history. The Hyatt Regency, Ruby’s Diner and Duke’s all have historical photos on their walls, including Jan and Dean memorabilia at the end of the pier at Ruby’s. Live surf music and movies are regular events on the beach and throughout town.
  • Surf City’s International Surfing Museum. This downtown museum holds one of the best collections of surf and skateboard memorabilia, including a Jan and Dean exhibit that rotates through its offerings.

What are your favorite adventures? Email Ginny at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or contact her online at www.ginnyprior.com.

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