Downtown

Overview

Overview: Huntington Beach is a beach town, and the site of the world championship of surfing. The Downtown area offers a great selection of bars and restaurants. Hotels right on the beach accommodate either business or pleasure travelers. The beach alone provides an infinite number of possibilities. Visitors can rent a horse, Segway, electric, bike, paddle board, or kayak, or play volleyball or disc golf, or take a bus or boat tour. Charter trips are available for deep-sea fishing, and for whale watching. Take a ferry to Catalina Island. Beyond every imaginable beach activity, the area is also surrounded by other natural attractions and outdoor activities. Souvenir shops, surf shops, and both trendy and vintage boutiques await shoppers on Main Street and along the Pacific Coast Highway. For the partying types, there are breweries, lounges, bars, and dance clubs to explore.

Neighborhood Highlights

Miles of beaches
Huntington Beach municipal pier
Weekly street fair
International Surfing Museum
Dog Beach
Excellent public schools nearby

Location: The Downtown neighborhood sits on the southwestern edge of Huntington Beach. On the southwest side, Downtown is bordered by California’s State Route 1, the famed Pacific Coast Highway that overlooks the Pacific. For most of the neighborhood’s length, it’s just a couple of blocks deep, between SR 1 and Walnut Avenue, stretching from Goldenwest Street on the northern end to 6th street. The other limits of the Downtown neighborhood are delineated by Beach Boulevard on the southern end, up to Sunrise Drive, west to Huntington Street, north to Atlanta Avenue, then up Orange Avenue and Lake Street before cutting across to meet up with Walnut Avenue.

Commutes: The iconic Pacific Coast Highway, State Route 1, gives access to coastal destinations both north and south, such as Long Beach and Newport Beach. On the southern end of the neighborhood, Beach Boulevard – State Route 39 – leads travelers to Interstate 405. I-405, also known as the San Diego Freeway, is a major interstate highway giving access to points from Inglewood in the north to Irvine in the south. In addition to being literally across the street from the beach, this neighborhood is only minutes away from a number of other natural and public spaces and a variety of activities including shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Culture: Just over 1,000 people live here on the edge of Surf City. Over half of them are California natives, and it comes through in the outdoorsy, beachy vibe here. The residents tend to be in their mid to late 40s, almost 40% are married, and over a third of them have children. About 7 people live in the average household. Residents mostly work in sales and management positions, business and financial industries, and in service occupations. Over a third have a Bachelor’s degree. This neighborhood is low in crime. It’s a dog-friendly neighborhood that offers dining and public spaces, as well as hotels that welcome canine family members.

Schools

Overview: The Downtown neighborhood is in the Huntington Beach City Elementary School District and the Huntington Beach Union High School District. In addition to regular public schools, residents have access to a public charter school serving elementary- and middle school-aged students, and alternative and independent study high school campuses, as well as a number of private school options for all grade levels. Courses are also available through an affiliated adult school. When compared to other schools in the state, schools in this area tend to rank high in measures of academic success, such as standardized test scores as well as in college readiness. Some of these schools score far above the average for schools in California. They all get high marks for diversity and equality, ensuring that minority students and students with economic disadvantages receive what they need to achieve academic success. Other nearby school districts include Ocean View to the north and Fountain Valley to the east.

Schools

Elementary Schools

Agnes L. Smith Elementary School

Most of this neighborhood is zoned to Agnes L. Smith Elementary School. Fewer than 900 students are enrolled and classes have around 26 students. Just over one third of enrolled students are minorities. Test scores and other success measures at this school are above average compared to other California schools, and this school is ranked among the top 20%.

John R. Peterson Elementary School

Students on the south end of Downtown attend John R. Peterson Elementary School, on the other side of Beach Boulevard. This school has fewer than 700 students, with 27 to a class. Over 40% of the students here are minorities. Scores here are far above the state average, and this school is ranked among the top 10% in California.

Middle Schools

Ethel Dwyer Middle School

Ethel Dwyer Middle School is a mile from Downtown. This school has just over 1,300 students and a class ratio of 27:1. Almost half are minorities. This school is rated above average in quality compared to other California schools, and boasts standardized test scores far above average. This school is ranked among the top 5% in the state.

Kinetic Academy

Kinetic Academy is a public charter school serving grades K-8. Just a few miles north of the Downtown neighborhood, this school was founded by 5 local residents. Based on the principle that people learn best by doing, this school boasts students who perform above average on standardized tests compared to students at other California schools.

Isaac L. Sowers Middle School

Just outside the neighborhood, a few miles on the other side of Beach Boulevard, is Isaac L. Sowers Middle School. This school enrolls just over 1,000 students with a class size of around 26. About one third of students are minorities. This school is rated above average quality among California schools, with standardized test scores far above state averages.

High Schools

Coast High School

Huntington Beach High School

Huntington Beach High School sits a few miles north of Downtown. This school enrolls under 3000 students, with a class size of 31. Huntington Beach High scores far above state averages in measures of college and career readiness, test scores, and the number of advanced courses taken by students. This school offers a competitive robotics team and surfing team.

Edison High School

Edison High School lies outside the neighborhood and across Beach Boulevard. Just over 2,500 students attend Edison, with a class size of 34, and about 40% minority students. This school is rated above average compared to other California schools, and ranks far above averages on standardized test scores and in measures of college readiness.

Private Schools

Futures Academy

Futures Academy, near Huntington Beach High, is a private school enrolling grades 6-12. This school offers personalized, one-on-one instruction to meet the various special needs of students with ADHD, dyslexia, or social anxiety, and students with special scheduling needs to accommodate athletes or artists.

Liberty Christian School

Liberty Christian School is a faith-based K-12 college prep school that lies just a few miles to the north, on the other side of Huntington Central Park. This school offers a “diapers to diploma” education experience with all grades K-12 on one campus. Liberty has a 10:1 class ratio and 185 students, almost 40% minorities.

Brethren Christian Junior & Senior High School

Brethren Christian Junior & Senior High School is on the other side of SR 39. This faith-based college prep school has 196 students, with a class size of 19. This school is rated among the top 1% of Christian High Schools in the U.S. Almost all of Brethren’s graduates go directly to college.

Housing

Overview: The Downtown neighborhood offers a wide variety of housing options. As well as homes and condos for sale, short- and long-term rentals of all kinds can be found in all areas of the neighborhood. Many homes sit right on the famed Pacific Coast Highway and offer stunning ocean views and sunset scenery. These are often built long and narrow, to offer the scenic beach views to as many residents as possible. Architectural styles vary widely, and include the Spanish mission style, Mediterranean, Craftsman traditional, and stark and sleek modern styles. Whatever the type of dwelling, most are open, bright, and airy. Whenever possible, they seek to take advantage of the views of the famed Huntington Beach pier and the Pacific Ocean and the sea breezes. Many homes include luxurious details such as soaring ceilings, gourmet kitchens, stone counters and spa-like baths. Outdoor living and entertaining spaces are popular to take advantage of the region’s agreeable climate.

Housing options

Single Family Homes

Single family homes can be found both on and off the beach. In areas near the beach, homes are often long and narrow to maximize the number of residents who get ocean views, and the lots on which they sit are not much larger. Balconies are common, and some homes have multiple spots from which to enjoy the vista.

New Construction

New construction can be found all over the Downtown neighborhood. Builders like contemporary style, open-concept floorplans and natural materials like wood, stone and stucco. Resort-style master suites are popular, with spa bath features. Easy access to outdoor spaces frequently leads to patios with landscaping and firepits. Many have attached garages, as well.

Apartments

Seaside luxury apartments with bountiful amenities are a popular housing option in Downtown Huntington Beach. Units range from studio style to 3 bedrooms, and many come equipped with smart home systems. Design features include private rooftop decks and outdoor kitchens. Parking may be open, covered, or garaged, and include charging for electric vehicles.

Townhouses and Condos

multi-family dwellings are abundant in Downtown, both modest and luxurious, available for short or long-term stays. Townhomes and condos are common both on and off the beach. Many offer access to pools and hot tubs in addition to being within walking distance of the beach.

If you’re interested in buying a home in this area, check out currently available Downtown Huntington Beach homes for sale. You can also browse through the entire database of all the available Huntington Beach homes for sale.

Real Estate

Overview: The median list price of homes in the Downtown neighborhood tends to stay generally flat from one year to the next. That median rose by almost half between January and May of 2017, and has stayed at that new normal in the intervening years. There are at times striking disparities between median list prices and median sold prices in this neighborhood. In December 2018, homes in this neighborhood sold for just under 5% below the asking price. Downtown Huntington Beach was a seller’s market – there were more people looking for homes to buy than the number of homes available. Homes in this area typically stay on the market around 97 days. That varies widely, and homes can spend from 50 to 150 days on the market.

Things to Do

Overview: Huntington Beach is known as Surf City, and there is no place where that is more true than in the Downtown neighborhood fronting the sea. This coastal neighborhood offers up a variety of oceanside activities for all ages and all activity levels. Residents can ride the Surf City USA Shuttle all over town and up and down the shore. Laid-back experiences include museums and car shows, while the more adventurous can explore the wetlands or learn to surf. In the evening the whole family can take in the Surf City Nights street fair. Surf culture is everywhere you look, from the surfing museum and the surfer’s walk of fame, to surfing school and surfing dogs. If shopping is your thing, retail centers lay just a few miles up Beach Boulevard. And if you prefer nature, you’ll find it not far away.

Retail & Entertainment

Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum

Offers exhibits of surfing culture and memorabilia, including the world’s largest surfboard, certified by Guinness World Records. At 42 feet long and 11 feet wide, in 2015 it carried a whopping 66 riders at once to achieve the record!

Surf City Nights

On Tuesday nights from 5 to 9, Main Street downtown closes to traffic and turns into a street fair. Local musicians and artists share the sidewalks with games for the kids and fresh produce stalls. Get out for a walk, a bite, to shop, or just to take in the local vibe.

Huntington City Beach

Just on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington City Beach features miles of sandy shoreline as well as the iconic 1,850 foot municipal pier. This surfing mecca offers camping, volleyball and breathtaking views. Special events can be enjoyed here year-round, including the Fourth of July Firework Show and the U.S. Open of Surfing.

Dog Beach, on the north end of Downtown

Is the only beach in Surf City where dogs are permitted, and are allowed off-leash. Dog beach also offers events year-round for surf-loving canines and their human attendants, including the annual Surf City Surf Dog – a unique surfing contest which brings dogs from as far away as Australia and Brazil.

Donut Derelicts Car Show

Just past Beach Boulevard, every Saturday morning classic car owners known as the Donut Derelicts gather to share stories and admiration. They’ve been meeting at Adams Avenue Donuts for more than twenty years for “the best free car show in the world.” In addition to classic favorites, new concept cars and factory releases have been known to make appearances.

HB Surf School

If you’re in Surf City, you might as well learn how to ride the waves. At HB Surf School just south of the Huntington Beach Pier, kids – of all ages! – can learn how to surf from an old pro. The school offers lessons daily to adults and kids, individually or the whole family.

Disneyland Resort

The famed Disneyland Resort is just 20 minutes from Huntington Beach. Disneyland, the original and ultimate California theme park, features classic rides like “It’s a Small World,” Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The Disneyland Resort also includes the Disney California Adventure Park, and Downtown Disney.

The Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy

Works to preserve the remaining coastal wetlands in the area. Visitors to the Interpretive Center south of Downtown can learn about why coastal wetlands are important, and take a walk on the observation deck over a tidal pond, and perhaps spot an endangered species.

The Newland House Museum

Is a Queen Anne Victorian Farmhouse built in 1898. It was the home of William and Mary Newland, some of Huntington Beach’s first residents. Restored and preserved by the Huntington Beach Historical Society, the Newland House is open for tours on the first and third weekends of each month.

The Surf City USA Shuttle

Offers complimentary transportation all over Huntington Beach on summer weekends and holiday Mondays. The City Loop route has stops at the city beach, at Huntington Beach High School, Central Park, and the library. The Coastal Loop route runs from Sunset Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach, through Downtown, and up Beach Boulevard to I-405.