Huntington Beach is home to more than 600 fire rings, so crowds there can get thick. But tucked away on the northern edge of Surf City USA is Bolsa Chica State Beach, a pleasant oceanfront respite. Claim one of the first-come, first-served fire pits and throw some franks on the grill or break out the goods for s’mores. It can still get busy here (there are 250 fire pits!) but you’re comfortably away from the downtown buzz.
Keep an eye out for a variety of feathered friends from the neighboring Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve—the black-crowned night heron and the red-tailed hawk are among the usual suspects. As the sun dips below the horizon, bright lights shine from Catalina Island in the west and the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the north. Post-franks, load the sticks with marshmallows and join Bolsa’s great horned owls with some hooting—and hollering—of your own.
The beach is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the entry gates close at 9:00 p.m. No charcoal grills allowed. Fire pits are first-come, first-served unless reserved with a picnic area.