Everyone has his/her own tastes, but strolling the Huntington Beach Pier is one of those things that, like visiting Disneyland, gets a "can't miss doing" rating in my book. It's such a "quintessentially Californian" experience.
What's there to do on the pier? Let's pretend that you first walk all the way to the end of the pier. There, you'll find the red-roofed Ruby's Diner, a retro-style eatery with sweeping ocean views from many of its booths. Ruby's offers typical diner-style meals in the $7 to $15 price range. You'll find varieties of hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, and fried-fish platters. Ice-cream desserts are a focus here, from the 14+ flavors of malts and shakes (made from scratch with real ice cream) to banana splits and brownie sundaes. They have a kid’s menu, and when I visited with my grandson, they promptly gave a mini-box of four crayons to him so that he could draw without getting bored while awaiting his food! Will Ruby's have a crowd? That depends. Summer weekends at mealtime - yes! Midweek at 3pm, probably not. But, if you have to wait, you can stand out on the pier and enjoy the ocean view--an outdoor loudspeaker will call you when your table's ready!
Once you finish eating and stroll back inland, you might want to watch the fishermen. If you wish to join in, the "Let's Go Fishin'" bait shop on the pier rents fishing equipment! Strolling farther, you'll come to the Surf City Store that carries HB logo products. Souvenirs start at $2 for trinkets like surfboard-shaped refrigerator magnets, starfish, or sand dollars. More expensive items are zip-front sweatshirts for $33 or surfboard-shaped clocks, around $25. Priced midway between those extremes are souvenirs like mugs, hats, and tees, all beach-themed. Another store on the pier is the Kite Connection. You can find kites starting around $14, or drop $300+ for a pro model! These are kite specialists who can offer helpful advice, plus they give free lessons!
As you arrive back at the pier's beginning---on the Pacific Coast Highway---you'll come to Duke's, a classy restaurant featuring Hawaiian and Pacific Rim dishes in the $15-ish range. It's named after Duke Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian "Father of Modern Surfing," who is also honored with a statue nearby. (Just look across the street--it's in front of a surf shop.) On most weekends, the HB crafts fair holds session at the pier's plaza. You can find surf- and beach- related art, photography, home decor, and clothing at this unusual fair. Lastly, just below the pier (take the stairway down), you'll find Zack's Beach Concessions. At Zack's, you can rent bikes (by the hour or day, from $8 to $45), surfboards, skates, fins, beach balls, umbrellas... whatever you need to complete your dream day at the beach!