For a glimpse into that laid-back and casual surfer lifestyle, Hermosa Beach should be your destination of choice among the trio of beachfront towns that stretch south from LAX Airport toward the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The three towns from north to south are Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, which are collectively referred to as the "South Bay" by Angelenos.
Hermosa Beach is the least formal of the bunch, a place where you're more likely to see a skateboarder than a spa. Of the South Bay towns, it has the smallest population and is perfect for unwinding in typical SoCal style: casual wear, lounging at the beach, and that perfect California weather.
Sit Out at the Beach
The word hermosa means beautiful in Spanish, and it's easy to see where Hermosa Beach got its name. The two-mile stretch of sand is easily one of the most desirable beaches in the area, which is saying a lot considering the quality of the Southern California coast. Rain and overcast are rare, with an average of 325 days of sunshine each year. Because of the cool ocean breeze, even the infamous LA smog that typically covers the area doesn't have much effect on Hermosa Beach. The beachfront is filled year-round with sunbathers, swimmers, volleyball players, and locals who come to enjoy this piece of paradise.
Watch the Sunset at the Pier
The piers jutting out into the ocean are an iconic part of the Southern California coast, and while the Santa Monica Pier may be the most famous, the one at Hermosa Beach is just as charming. Throughout the entire year, you'll find locals and visitors walking the pier, rollerblading, fishing, or just enjoying the views. At sunset in particular, there's no where better in the South Bay area to watch the sun as it falls into the Pacific Ocean. If you need a bite to eat or a drink, around the pier's entrance are plenty of restaurant and bar options to keep you satisfied.
Walk Along the Strand
The Strand is a cement pedestrian path that runs along the beach, stretching not just across Hermosa Beach but north to Manhattan Beach and south to Redondo Beach, as well. Since the climate in Southern California is ideal year-round for sporty activities, you can always find skaters, joggers, dog walkers, rollerbladers, and every other type of outdoor enthusiast moving along this scenic pathway. Not only are the beach views incredible, but the homes that line the Strand are breathtaking pieces of real estate. The properties are likely out of budget, but it doesn't hurt to take a stroll and fantasize about your future seaside summer home.
Learn About the History of Hermosa Beach
At the Hermosa Beach Historical Society and Museum, visitors can explore 3,500 different artifacts that tell the story of Hermosa Beach's history. While the city has the feel of a hip little beach town without much more to tell, the roots of Hermosa Beach actually stretch back to the 18th century when it was part of a rancho belonging to a landowner in what was then colonial Spain. Learn about this and more through old-time photographs, newspaper clippings, postcards, and other bygone artifacts at this quaint museum (as an extra bonus, it's free to enter).
Laugh Out Loud at the Comedy Club
Hermosa Beach is home to the Comedy and Magic Club, a venue that hosts local up-and-coming comics as well as big-name headliners (late-night mogul Jay Leno is a regular on their stage). If you're seeing a celebrity comedian, be sure to make your reservation as early as possible. There are a restaurant and bar inside the club with a full menu of highly-rated entrees, snacks, and cocktails. As with most places around Southern California, the dress code is "tasteful casual." You can wear jeans, a T-shirt, and tennis shoes, but beachwear is not allowed.
Bike Around Town
The beach cruiser is the quintessential SoCal bicycle, and you'll see people riding them up and down the Strand, throughout downtown Hermosa Beach, and even traveling to nearby cities. If you're visiting the area and want your own bike to explore, you'll see bike rental shops all along the waterfront. Pick up a bike to use for a couple of hours or the whole day; you can even ride it all the way up to Santa Monica along the beachfront pathway. Considering the traffic and limited parking around Los Angeles County, taking a bike is sure to be less of a headache regardless of where you're headed.
Spend Friday at the Farmer's Market
California cuisine is most associated with in-season produce, fresh ingredients, and sustainable farms, so it should come as no surprise that farmer's markets are practically considered sacred to locals. The Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market is held every Friday throughout the year—even in the winter—from noon to 4 p.m. in downtown. Local farmers show up and show off their in-season fruits and vegetables, freshly-laid eggs, homemade yogurts and cheeses, organic honey, and much more.
Take a Surf Lesson
If you're an avid surfer, Hermosa Beach isn't known for having the best waves along the California coast. It is, however, a popular spot for those who are just starting out and want to get a feel for the board. Surf schools are available up and down the beach, such as through Aqua Surf and Wavehuggers, where you can sign up for a private class or for a surf camp. And for those who are too young to surf—or just too uncoordinated to stand up on the board—then boogie boarding is just as fun of an option.