Huntington is the place for a crash course in surf city culture. Catch live surfing action from the Huntington Pier, Main Street off Pacific Coast Highway, where some of the first surfing competitions were held in the early 1960s.
At the end of the pier, Ruby’s Surf City Diner, (714) 969-7829, serves the same burger and shake fare as the other restaurants in the Ruby’s chain, but the decor pays homage to Huntington’s heritage with photos of surfing greats and surfboards as columns propping up the center of the restaurant.
Learn more at the International Surfing Museum, 411 Olive Ave., (714) 960-3483, open daily noon-5 p.m. The 7-year-old museum has several permanent exhibits including “Surfing Walk of Fame” and an exhibit on surf music. An exhibit on current professional surfing stars, “Association Surfing Professionals World Tour,” continues all year. $2 adults, $1 students, children 6 and under free.
Chill out for happy hour just steps away from the sand at Huntington Beer Co., 201 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-5343, where the popular microbrews are the Huntington Beach Blonde and the Pier Pale Ale ($3 a pint).
When the hot sun of Zuma or Surfrider beaches gets to you, take a break at the nearby Cross Creek Country Mart, off Pacific Coast Highway. There’s a playground for the kids in the middle and outdoor tables for lunch. Order the “vegetariana” pizza with roasted peppers, eggplant, wild mushrooms and cheese ($6.25) from the Tra Di Noi takeout window, 3835 Cross Creek Road, (310) 456-0169, and cool off with an Ice Blended ($3.10) from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, (310) 456-5771, next door. The shops in this outdoor mall are also great for colorful sandals and men’s Hawaiian print shirts.
A few miles north of Zuma is Neptune’s Net, 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, (310) 457-3095, a rustic (very rustic) hangout for bikers and surfers where you can pick out of a tank your own crabs and lobsters to eat. The chowder is out of this world.
After dinner, take the long way home driving through Topanga Canyon, where the counterculture is alive and well. Come out in Woodland Hills and stop to see a midnight showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Pacific Topanga Theatre, 6360 Topanga Canyon Blvd., at Victory Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 883-3300.
If windsurfing or angling takes you down to Cabrillo Beach, you may want to start the day with a hearty brunch buffet right on the water at Cabrillo Marina at 22nd Street Landing, 141 W. 22nd St., San Pedro, (310)548-4400. There’s lobster bisque, crab legs, oysters, an omelet bar, waffles and more. Brunch Sundays 10 a.m.-2 p.m., $18.95 per person, $8.95 for children.
Children and adults will enjoy seeing displays of marine life up close at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen White Drive, (off 36th Street), San Pedro, (310) 548-7562. There’s also a touch tank full of sea stars, urchins and cucumbers. Aquarium and parking are free. Open Tuesday-Sunday.
For picnicking and great views of the Pacific and Los Angeles Harbor, check out Angels Gate Park, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro. The Fort MacArthur Military Museum, located in the park, (310) 548-7705 or (310) 548-2631, preserves original military apparatus from this coast artillery battery that dates from 1919 through World War II. Museum open Tuesday and Thursday, noon-5 p.m.; weekends, noon-5 p.m. Admission free.