Huntington Beach is home to the US Surf Open. First held in 1959, the Open was created to honor surfing giants. Tom Curren has surfed Huntington Beach’s waves and has dominated. Andy Irons (rest in peace) and Rob Machado have all been champions. The Open is a part of the qualification process for the World Surf League and is the largest surfing event in the world.
But if you’re not into surfing, never go to Huntington Beach during the last week of July, heading into the beginning of August–it’s a living nightmare. You get put into a salad spinner of teenage disaster where you look around and wonder, “Where are your parents?” For a week, this sleepy, charming beach town becomes every mother’s worst nightmare.
Each year, hordes of hormonal teenagers descend upon Huntington Beach’s pier. There’s no interest in surfing, but instead, they look for the free swag and people with spray paint. A popular trend is to spray paint crass sayings and twitter handles across your body. In 2013, the madness reached all new levels and riots broke out on Main Street. There was extensive property damage and several arrests were made.
So, how do you avoid all of the nonsense?
If you’re dying for a beach vacation around the middle of summer, Encinitas is nice, and Carlsbad is good too. If you’re dead set on Huntington Beach, the key is to avoid Main Street during the day. Have an early breakfast at Sugar Shack–they do free coffee refills and have excellent pancakes. The crazy teenagers tend to stay around the pier and the fairgrounds. You can also try the beach around 17th Street. Parking will be less frustrating, and you’ll get a view of the ocean rather than someone’s beach umbrella or misspelled twitter handle right above their butt.
If you have a dog, head towards Goldenwest and take your pooch to the beach! Huntington Beach is a dog-friendly town. Cafes have free dog treats for your canine best friend. And, most importantly, Huntington Beach has one of the largest open dog beaches in California. They recently hosted the largest gathering of Corgis, which is a respectable honor.
Finally, the key to Huntington Beach during the US Surf Open is to embrace the madness. Huntington Beach offers some of the best surfing along the California coast. There’s a long and extensive history of surfing here. It’s in the town’s DNA. If that brings teenagers and no parking, so be it. Besides, it’ll be over soon.