Los Angeles has a seemingly endless energy, droves of beautiful people, and the distinct feeling that anything is possible. Yes, you too may be “discovered” walking through a mall. Like all major cities, it also has traffic and crowds – in that order.
Los Angeles also has a secret: a quiet, small town enclave in the South Bay. Made up of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, they are a perfect respite for those who want to be close to the action, yet take advantage of a sleepy beach community. You can’t beat a late summer sunrise on this part of the California coast, but just about any time of year offers plenty of sunshine.
Start your day with breakfast at Crème de la Crepe in Hermosa Beach. They serve up authentic French omelets, plenty of egg dishes, and of course, crepes. Prices are reasonable and, best of all, there is no corkage fee – so bring a bottle of champagne and pair it with a carafe of orange juice for some morning mimosas. Although there is outdoor seating, it tends to be cramped and located on a busy street, so choose a table inside the quaint café.
After breakfast, walk down Pier Avenue to the Hermosa Beach pier. There you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars but keep going until you hit “The Strand” (Street + Sand = Strand). Stop by Hermosa Cyclery, rent a beach cruiser and head north. You’ll pass through Redondo Beach, another town worthy of exploring, and then continue on to the Hermosa Beach-Manhattan Beach border, signified by a flight of stairs. Check out the large blue and white house on the corner. It is the beach house used in the Beverly Hills 90210 television series.
On the return trip, jump off the Strand and take Hermosa Avenue South. You’ve probably worked up an appetite, so park your bike at El Gringo Mexican Restaurant. It’s impossible to miss – it’s the only large mustard-yellow colored building in the area. This local favorite is the best place for inexpensive Mexican food and potent margaritas. Sitting on the upstairs patio is a must and the best spot to enjoy an afternoon of drinks, music, and the company of South Bay locals back from a morning surf.
Done eating but want another drink or two? Cross the street and check out the North End, a local dive bar with pool tables, juke box, friendly bartenders, and more locals. Take note of the dress code – bathing suits, flip-flops, and beach hair are all welcomed. In fact, look too overdone, and you’ll likely get a few stares and feel quickly out of place.
There are probably still a few hours left until sunset, so grab your bike and find a spot on the Hermosa Beach sand – a wide beach famous for its AVP Volleyball Tournaments. Play a game or two with some friends, take a dip in the Pacific, or simply nap on the beach.
There is nothing quite like watching the sunset from a sandy beach, so when you are able to tear yourself away, head to Fonz’s Steak and Seafood in Manhattan Beach for dinner. This neighborhood steakhouse was co-founded by local beach volleyball legend Mike Dodd, and serves great steaks, martinis, and desserts in a “beach-i-fied” fine dining atmosphere. The space is small, but the servers are engaging, so take your time and enjoy!
After dinner, head a couple doors down to the local dive bar, Ercoles. This very popular spot attracts surfers and beach bums looking to drink ‘n connect. Attire is surfer casual (meaning “anything goes”), and the vibe is very laid-back. Drink up – with the combination of food, drinks, sun, and exercise, you’ll be sleeping like a baby tonight!
What & Where:
Crème de la Crepe (424 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach; 310-937-2822)
Hermosa Cyclery (20 13th Street, Hermosa Beach; 310-374-7816)
El Gringo Mexican Restaurant (2620 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach; 310-376-1381)
Fonz’s Steak and Seafood (1017 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach; 310-376-1536)
Ercoles (1101 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach; 310-379-9917)