Day Trip to SoCal's Manhattan Beach

Stroll the Strand, see marine life, and climb 100-foot-tall dune; plus and outdoor shopping center and up-and-coming restaurants
A century before multimillion-dollar homes lined the 2 miles of oceanfront property in Manhattan Beach, the now coveted land was nothing more than windswept sand dunes that towered and fell with the mood of the sea. But once the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad Company’s storied Red Car began regular South Bay service in 1903, including stops in Manhattan Beach, SoCal residents in search of a brief trip to the coast soon came to see this area as the setting for a permanent vacation. Roads emerged from the dunes through years of painstaking construction—and innumerable tons of cast-off sand were used to create the Los Angeles Coliseum, among other public works—while a pier adorned with an eye-catching roundhouse gave fishers and pedestrians a perch above the waves. Now that the pier is within walking distance of an emerging cast of high-profile restaurants and unassuming cottages have given way to jaw-dropping mansions, it’s easy to assume that this city’s laid-back roots are harder to find than a parking spot on a hot summer day. But when Manhattan Beach hosts the annual International Surf Festival in August, its enduring affection for the simple pleasure of sun and shore will be on full display.

1 What to Do

Play a game of billiards and order up a round of drinks
(cash only) at the beloved dive bar Ercole’s, which opened in 1927. 1101 Manhattan Avenue. 1-310-
372-1997.

MORE TO DO

The Roundhouse Aquarium, at the end of the pier, is open every day (weather permitting). Stop by for free, or make a donation, to see and touch a small collection of marine life. Manhattan Beach Pier. 1-310-379-8117; roundhouseaquarium.org.

To imagine what early settlers saw when they first arrived in Manhattan Beach, visit Sand Dune Park to gaze up at the 100-foot-tall dune before climbing it—kids can bring a piece of cardboard for “sledding.” Online reservations are required for adults. 33rd Street and Bell Avenue. 1-310-802-5448; citymb.info. 

 

2 Where to Shop

Pick up a beach read at the independent bookstore Pages, where regular events include author signings, book club discussions, and children’s story times. 904 Manhattan Avenue. 1-310-318-0900; pagesabookstore.com.

MORE PLACES TO SHOP

The Strand is a pedestrian-only road that separates the sand from beachfront properties. Walk, bike, or skate on its smooth concrete surface all the way north to Santa Monica or south to Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Named for the ceramics plant that once stood on the site for much of the 20th century, Metlox Plaza is an open-air shopping center and restaurant hub set a few blocks from the pier. Bring the kids to play in the courtyard fountain and grass. 451 Manhattan Beach Boulevard. 1-626-535-0318; metloxmb.com.

3 Where to Eat

Open 24 hours a day, The Kettle offers up classic American options such as made-from-scratch meatloaf and a hand-dipped chocolate banana milkshake. 1138 Highland Avenue. 1-310-545-8511; thekettle.net.

MORE SPOTS TO EAT

A casual brunch at MB Post includes an ocean breeze and a revolving menu of farm-to-table fare. Before deciding on a main dish, peck at a colorful charcuterie board of selected meats and cheeses from around the world. 1142 Manhattan Avenue. 1-310-545-5405; eatmbpost.com.

Start with the ma la beef tartare and imperial rolls before digging into the salt-and-pepper lobster served with butter-fried shallots at Little Sister. 1131 Manhattan Avenue. 1-310-545-2096; littlesistermb.com.

PHOTOS: DAVID RICKS

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN WESTWAYS