Huntington Beach was a sleepy town until the early-1920s oil boom, but its main claim to fame would come after the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, introduced the sport to the area a few years later. With eight miles of uninterrupted surf, this Orange County beach town proudly wears its trademark as "Surf City, USA."
The International Surfing Museum (411 Olive Ave.,  960-3483, www.surfingmuseum) pays homage to wave-riding legends with memorabilia, photos, classic films and music. Surf shops are on seemingly every corner, but the flagship stores are Jack's Surfboards (101 Main St.,  536-4516, www.jackssurfboards.com) and Huntington Surf and Sport (300 Pacific Coast Highway,  841-4000, www.hssurf), featuring the Surfing Walk of Fame on its sidewalk. There you can play footsy with imprints from the likes of Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton.
Tails are wagging
Dog Beach (by Pacific Coast Highway between Seapoint and 21st streets,  841-8644, www.dogbeach.org) is pooch paradise, with more than a mile of coastline for Rover or Fifi to run in, play on, swim in, dig or, if really skilled, surf. Even without a four-legged friend, it's a fun place to watch dogs release their inner puppy. The city keeps a strict clean-up policy -- no need to watch your step.
Where the locals go
Family-owned for 42 years, the Sugar Shack (213 Main St.,  536-0355) is where surfers go for a hearty, affordable and all-day breakfast. The Longboard Restaurant and Pub (217 Main St.,  960-1896, www.longboardpub.com), in the oldest building in town, is a vibrant watering hole adorned with antique surfboards. For a contemporary vibe, Flight Bistro and Social Lounge (8082 Adams Ave.,  374-8300, www.flightoc.com) offers a hip menu with organic produce.
Not just a beach
Shipley Nature Center in Huntington Beach Central Park (17851 Goldenwest St.,  842-4772, www.shipleynature.org) is a peaceful refuge set in 18 acres with more than 4,000 feet of trails meandering through several habitats.
Tulich is a freelance writer.