Redondo Beach, a lively little seaside town in Southern California embodies the fantasy of what California living and visiting should be. Offering clear blue oceans for miles, casual restaurants, shops on the pier and several fun-in-the-sun outdoor activities it could be the perfect family vacation location.
Start your picture perfect day at the upscale Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club. This recently renovated, contemporary nautical-themed hideaway is located on a private peninsula between the marina and the ocean.
As the only hotel located directly on the Pacific Ocean, you will start your day with gorgeous views of the water from the floor-to-ceiling windows or private balcony. As your gaze wanders in the water, you will see some other visiting guests of The Portofino; the sea lions. Frolicking and playing off the shore in their natural habitat, you can see the marine mammals up close and personal.
The Portofino does its part in helping save and protect the sea lions by offering a "Save the Sea Lion" Package complete with stuffed sea lion, ocean view room, paddle boat and disposable camera to capture all the fun. And a portion of the package is donated to the Marine Mammal Care Center.
Next stop is the activity bound Redondo Beach Pier. The 70,000 square foot pier was originally built in 1889. It is home to over 50 shops, restaurants and bars, Redondo Fun Factory, Summer Music on the Pier, traveling festivals and art shows. Stop into the Sunshine Kite Factory and say hello to instructor Yoshi Mikimoto, who not only teaches how to fly a kite but also yo-yo classes. He took over the Sunshine Kite Factory in 1999 after working in the store to pay off a kite he dearly wanted.
After browsing other interesting shops and stopping for a coffee or ice cream treat, explore the waters of Redondo. Get some exercise by renting a kayak or paddle boat from Fast Kayak. Cruise around the harbor at a leisurely pace in a four-person paddle boat or a double cobra kayak and enjoy the Californian sunshine and perfect weather.
Next door to Fast Kayak is the "California Looking Glass", a semi-submarine boat offering 30-40 minute tours with two seven-foot long underwater picture windows. After leaving the harbor, venture down below for perfect undersea viewing. Cruising the harbor you will see sting rays, local fish such as smelt and opal eyes. But, the sea lions are the star of the tour. As your boat glides around their sanctuary, you will be close enough to see water dripping off their glistening bodies as they bark, lounge and play.
For lunch, head over to Joe’s Crab Shack. This fun, entertaining casual eatery is great for the whole family offering plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Kids will enjoy the live entertainment as the servers break out in song and dance, and parents will appreciate the vast menu and specialty drinks. Choose from a selection of buckets of crab, shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn. Visit the gift shop to bring home a crabby gift.
After lunch, spend the afternoon at the Redondo Beach Fun Factory. Reconnect with your inner child as you play skeet ball and wedges/ledges, compete in balloon horse races and ride the tilt-a-whirl. With over 300 arcade and redemption games, rack up tickets to get some fun souvenirs. Kiddy rides are plentiful and older kids with enjoy air hockey and foosball.
When you return to the pier, be sure to catch a beautiful sunset over baskets of fresh fish tacos at Lou-e-Luey’s. Specializing in low-key Baja style seafood, you will feel relaxed and comfy at their little, beach bar looking hideaway on the north end of the boardwalk. The owner named the restaurant after a customer in one of his previous establishments, and takes pride in offering high quality food at great prices. Besides delectable seafood, local favorites include the hanger steak and the "Baja Boil" every Wednesday.
Head back to the hotel with the happy yet exhausted family, gaze out over the glistening sea and watch the last rays of California sunshine slip away, and have pleasant dreams of another perfect day in Redondo Beach.
What & Where:
The Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club (260 Portofino Way; 310-379-8481)
Redondo Beach Pier (Fisherman’s Wharf)
Sunshine Kite Factory (110 Fisherman’s Wharf; 310-372-0308)
Fast Kayak (Fisherman’s Wharf; 310-909-3179)
Joe’s Crab Shack (230 Portofino Way; 310-406-1999)
Lou-e-Luey’s (Fisherman’s Wharf; 310-937-7044)