oo surfing? Hrmm I wasn't into that scene so forget what I said before about Malibu beach...hehe I think you'd prob know better.
Now of course the best surfing I've seen before was off the PCH on my way to Santa Barbara. Literally, I think a group of people just pulled off the road and started catchin some waves. No beach or anything.
Southern route we just kinda went from Toledo to St Louis, got on route 66 until we dove into Texas because we were going to Phoenix to visit my grandparents. We didn't do much that time except the St. Louis Arch.
If I did it over again I'd prob try to side trip to Austin, TX since I've never been there.
Huntington beach has a small dark hole in the wall mexican place on the "pier" there. it's on the rt hand side almost at the end if it's not the end.
KILLER margaritta's. Food was good too but I'm just sayin. Our local friends said that the townhouses at the end of the boardwalk on the right hand side (you kinda have to walk a ways to see them) are the townhouses featured in 90210. You seem like the type who prob wasn't into that (I wasn't) but just in case I thought I'd toss it out there!
Are you going to Santa Monica at all for sight seeing? (Do not surf there!! icky icky beaches) Third Street Promanade is really fun especially on Saturday's because it's the farmers market day. Fresh everything.
And if you are already in Santa Monica on a Sat, walk down the boardwalk to Venice beach. They do a sidewalk vendor day on Saturday's. You can get some cool art, or see random people get tattoo's. it's an electic bunch but it's fun to walk around the boardwalk.
We did make it up to San Fran while were were there. (DMB golden gate concert...woohoo) We decided to try every form of transportation instead of rent a car...(which by the way in San Fran ditch the car at the campground or hotel there is no parking). We had a great time. We went to Neptunes' on Pier 39. Great romantic little place glass windows overlook the bay. very cool.
One tip is if you decide to sight see in San Fran get a "day pass" ticket. You can hop on and off the trolley's, buses and rail all day for like $9 (cira 2004) or something. That way if you miss your stop...and have to get back on...it won't coast you more.
As to camping, we didn't do much BUT off the PCH there are small road pull offs that you can attempt to set up shop. I only say attempt because your door would be on the water and people stake out spots early. I don't know if you're tenting, pop up, or RV but the spots are more RV-ish but I have seen people set up the tents on the pavement before too.