Insiders Guide To Huntington Beach California With Erin Leaser
We recently collaborated with Erin Leaser, a 25 year old California native, professional volleyball player, world traveller and travel blogger at Beyond Basic Girl to tour us through her hometown of Huntington Beach, California.
Not only is Erin one of the most inspirational, up and coming travel bloggers on the blogosphere, when she isn't chilling out in Huntington Beach she's on new, and inspirational adventures, between trying to live a minimalist nomadic lifestyle, who loves to shop.
From cruising around on her bike with her fiance, living a slow paced life to scoping out the best coffee spots, Acai bowls and beaches in this west coastal beach town. Launching us on the first episode of our new series, 'Insiders Guides', Erin takes us through her favourite hidden gems and best hangouts in Huntington Beach.
TB: Tell us about Huntington Beach and what we should expect when visiting?
EL: Huntington Beach is a low key surfer’s paradise with something for everyone to enjoy. It is a melting pot of different types of people, the rich and successful, surfers, families, and former and current athletes, all of whom love the beach. Much like the beach towns north of HB, at any time of the day you can stroll down to the pier and see the beach volleyball courts filled with legitimate players, visitors enjoying the pier, views of the water and people enjoying lunch downtown at one of the many trendy restaurants and even a mom riding bikes with her daughter.
Everything is a little bit slower in Huntington. It is all about the vibes.
TB: What do you love most about Huntington Beach and why did you decide to make Huntington Beach your home?
EL: I love the pace. Everything here is just a bit slower than other places in California and the United States. Huntington Beach is super accessible by bike, which is huge for my fiancé and I. We used to commute over an hour and a half to Los Angeles for his work and it was completely exhausting and draining (by car, not bike. But it would totally be exhausting by bike too!). That’s LA traffic for you!
Now, we cruise around on our bikes through Huntington at whatever pace we choose. That was a huge upgrade in the quality of our lives. I mean, how could you not be happy cruising in the sun through the streets lined with palm trees? I often feel like I am living in a dream.
TB: We know you travel for work a lot, but on the odd weekend when you are home, what does an average Saturday look like for you in Huntington Beach?
EL: My fiancé and I do travel a lot for work but we also make sure we have time to ourselves. We so greatly value time off and time together. We are fortunate enough to travel together most times but we love a weekend off.
The best thing about California is that there are always things to do outside and a lot of times they are free activities. Our Saturday would look like this:
1. Wake up, workout and make breakfast together at our house. Our go to meal is this: a couple over easy eggs, ground beef, avocado (lots of it!) and a little bacon for flavour. Throw it in a bowl and get ready for a little slice of heaven.
2. Hop on our beach cruisers and head down toward the beach.
3. Relax at the beach, read, talk, hangout with each other.
4. Get a pokē bowl for lunch. What’s a poke bowl? It’s a Hawaiian creation that combines fresh raw fish, rice, avocado, sesame seeds, ginger, massage..you get the idea. At many places, you can create your own bowl to your preference. We go crazy for these…as does the rest of California.
5. Head down to Huntington Harbor to go Stand Up Paddleboarding for a few hours.
6. Bike back to our places and make dinner together!
Simple day, but sometimes that’s the best kind of day!
That’s my perfect day!
TB: What are your favourite boutiques & places to shops?
EL: This is tough! There are a bunch of shops in the downtown area right near the pier, but not totally up my alley. These are more surfer shops like O’Neill and Roxy. There is a great new outdoor complex called Pacific City just about 2 blocks from the pier with a ton of mid range shops and super cute restaurants, bars, dry bars, and places to just hang out. This has to be my favourite shopping area in HB. One of my favourite stores in here is called Irene’s Story, a store unique to California. There are a few more scattered throughout the state. There is also a LUSH here, which is my go to store for bath and beauty products. My fiancé always says he gets so hungry in the shower because of all of the great smelling (and vegan!) products in there.
TB: Where is your favourite breakfast spot or cafe?
EL: Okay, I have to name two here because they are two totally different types of restaurants but equally tasty.
First up is Sugar Shack Café. It is a cute little beach diner, with only about 5 tables and bar seating inside and then tables on their front and back patios. This is clearly a townie place and we love it. My favourite item on the menu in the bacon egg avocado breakfast burrito served with a side of fruit. Another item that was so tasty was their raisin bread french toast. I highly recommend it! We love drinking our coffee and relaxing together here.
Second is The Coffee Corner and Acai. Do I need to say more? Coffee and Acai in one place. Dreams do come true. My go to is the Good Vibes Bowl and a lavender vanilla latte. Their latte is my favourite in Huntington! This place may have some of the best real estate in Huntington, situated just across the street from the beach. They only have outdoor seating, so if you don’t want to enjoy your bowl while taking in the salty air and ocean views this isn’t the place for you.
TB: Where can we find the best coffee?
EL: The Coffee Corner has my favourite coffee! Smooth, rich, and great views!
Where can we find the best cocktails?
EL: I think this has to be Bungalow. It’s a trendy bar that has been modeled after it’s sister in Manhattan Beach. It is made to look like a house converted into a bar and hangout spot. It is located in Pacific City as well! That place has everything.
TB: Best food spot in general?
EL: I don’t know that I can pick just one. I am a huge fan of Sugar Shack, The Coffee Corner, Sancho’s Tacos, North Shore Poke Co., and this little hole in the wall Mexican Place on 17th street called Fiesta Grill. Sancho’s is really popular, and for good reasons. Fiesta Grill is always packed and is owned by this guy Carlos, who is literally there running the register every single day.
TB: What else should we know, any advice, secret spots or hidden gems?
EL: Just on the edge of Huntington are fire pits that are free to the public for use. We just used one for the first time recently and it was awesome!! There’s nothing I love more than s’mores. We sat around the fire with our friends and roasted hot dogs and made a few s’mores.
The houses here are just ridiculous. They are gorgeous! I love riding my bike around and snapping shots of them. Sometimes, I love to do that for most of my free time. Ride around and check out the houses and classic cars scattered throughout the town.
There is also a dog beach in Huntington and actually, this is the best place to watch the sunset. The bike path is lined with palm trees and the way the sky changes colours and sets between the trees with the ocean in the background is just magical.
And what I will end with is my best advice-drink Kombucha!! It is pretty trendy, but I am totally bought in. I love this fermented tea so much, I get one whenever I have the chance. Right now, the Ginger flavour is my favourite.