In Huntington Beach, California—“Surf City USA”—500 fire rings can’t be wrong. Since its temperatures rarely rise above 80 degrees or sink below 50 degrees, the perfect and near-predict-able weather creates a great destination for
groups to hold a bonfire. Five-hundred fire
spots delineate across 10 miles of “
uninterrupted” coastline, in fact, which differentiates Huntington from other Southern
California beach towns.
“What that means is no structures are
built on the beach,” explained John Ehlen-
feldt, executive vice president for sales and
administration at Visit Huntington Beach,
adding that nearby cities feature residential
developments, private homes, condos or
other real estate directly on the sand. Not
so in Huntington Beach.
“Here you have the Pacific Coast High-
way [PCH], and then you have the sand,
and then you have the ocean, so all of our
oceanfront hotels, properties and restau-
rants are literally right on the oceanfront,”
he said. “You don’t get that when you go to
other neighboring cities. You get homes.”
In addition to 500 fire rings, there’s a bi-
cycle path stretching miles along PCH, plus
surfing schools and artisan food stands at
the northern end of the beach, all of which
accentuate the experience for groups. No
one has to segue very far from any par-
ticular conference facility or any meeting
hotel to begin the beach component for
an itinerary. And these days, as long as the
hotel or the resort is doing the catering, the
property can acquire the permit for any
beach event, so a planner won’t have to
separately go through that process.
What’s more, new events are triggering
more meetings business to come on board.
In 2016, for example, the inaugural Breit-
ling Huntington Beach Airshow was in the
top four highest attended air shows in the
country and received tremendous fanfare,
with the Blue Angels already slotted to join
the next annual installment in September.
Off the beaching path, one finds wet-
lands, historical downtown walking ad-
ventures, dog parks and urban vibes from
the past, present and future of the surfing
universe. All bodes well for groups.
“All of these things are pushing the
meetings industry,” Ehlenfeldt said. “This
last fiscal year, we saw double the amount
of leads that we processed, compared to the
previous fiscal year, which is unheard of.”
Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach Central Park // http://huntingtonbeachca.gov
Including the Central Library and Cultural Center, itself a common meetings
venue, the park also includes an equestrian center, a cafe and a concert
amphitheater, all of which regularly accommodate groups of many sizes.
LOT 579 at Pacific City // www.gopacificcity.com
Named after the nearby lifeguard towers and
opening last year, LOT 579 offers several different California-inspired gourmet eateries in a food
court setting, with the whole footprint part of the
same liquor license. Planners can close off the
area and groups can walk over from the hotels.
Rooftop Bar at Hilton Waterfront //
The highest rooftop bar in Huntington Beach
will soon be available for groups. This June, the Hilton Waterfront Beach
Resort will complete a second tower, adding 150 guest rooms and new
event spaces in addition to the ocean-view rooftop bar for events with
Seacliff Country Club // www.seacliffcc.net
The only private club in Huntington Beach allowing for
non-member events, Seacliff is less than a mile from the pier
and can accommodate up to 250 people for a lavish conference.
SeaLegs Wine Bar // www.sealegswinebar.com
As of last year, SeaLegs Wine Bar has transformed the concession stands at Bolsa Chica State Beach into a modern feel with
upmarket food and beverage options. As a result, many groups
rent out the space rather than dealing with beach tents, chairs
By Gary Singh
On fire with off-site options
VISIT HUNTINGTON BEACH
Still officially the closest beach to Disneyland
and Knott’s Berry Farm, Huntington Beach is
within an hour’s drive of three major airports.
And if delegates wish to explore locally, a free
shuttle runs up and down PCH, taking guests
to numerous spots around town.
LOT 579 AT PACIFIC CITY
THE STRAND, 5TH STREET
SEALEGS WINE BAR