Manhattan Beach is a classic southern California beach town a hidden gem in the metropolis of Los Angeles, just south of Los Angeles International Airport. It’s clean, nearly always sunny, with volleyballs, surfers and sunbathers. Many dining and shopping options are available and there next to no crime. What are the best attributes of Manhattan Beach, CA, here is a more complete list.
1.) The Strand. This is a sidewalk, of sorts, except it runs parallel to the beach, from the “90210” house (the one where the TV show was filmed, which is actually in neighboring Hermosa Beach) to 45th Street, a distance of two miles. It’s all at once an outdoor fitness gym for runners and rollerbladers, a social gathering place for people to hang out to look at the ocean or watch the sunset, and a transportation artery taking people to visit friends, go to functions and yes, even to dinner. The Strand takes on a different personality as the day progresses, too: Hard-core runners and surfers in the early morning, families going for morning walks about 8-9, weekend single party people emerging for a little exercise and beach volleyball between 10 and noon, bicyclers throughout the afternoon and more surfers at sunset. It is divided into two sections, one for runners, walkers and strollers, and another for bicyclists and rollerbladers.
2.) The Weather. It’s sunny so often here that on the rare times when clouds take over for a day – or the even more rare times it actually rains – the residents stand with their hands on their waist looking out the windows saying “what a crappy day!” And the temperature? Oh, about 72 degrees some 90% of the time. With no humidly.
3.) The Location. It’s not just the fact it’s on the beach with the Pacific Ocean constantly rolling to shore, It is also just 10 minutes from LAX and 30-40 from downtown Santa Monica and the Westside, Hollywood and Long Beach, and about 45 from some of Orange County’s beaches. So going to USC football games, Laker games or other sporting events is not terribly long and being right next to the airport – with none of the noise – is simply wonderful for frequent travelers. If any place in LA could be considered “centrally located,” it’s Manhattan Beach.
4.) The Fun Food Finds. Manhattan Beach gets little credit from LA food critics for its restaurants, but those people have apparently failed to taste the San Felipe tacos at Shellback Tavern, the pizza at Old Venice, the chowder at Rock ‘n Fish and most certainly the Strand House. Or any of the other great food finds at several of the city’s restaurants. In fact, discovering such treats is one of the great pleasures of dining out in Manhattan Beach.
5.) The Sunsets. This alone could fill up an entire article. Oh wait there is a full page devoted to sunsets on SurfsideSam.com. The sunsets are spectacular anywhere along the beach, from one end of the Strand to the other, and they happen almost every night of the year. Residents stand along the Strand to soak in the day’s final colorful farewell. And how many people in the world get to see a sunset over an ocean? Not many, certainly.
6.) The Sports. Beach volleyball, surfing, rollerblading and all the other physical sports that people play here really define the vast majority of the citizens of Manhattan Beach. Then there are the competitions – there’s some type of beach volleyball tournament nearly every weekend during the summer – and in the fall, there is the Old Hometown Fair 10K.
7.) The Casual “Play Hard” Attitude. Let’s go back to the last point in the previous entry, the Old Hometown Fair 10K. After that 10K, a large portion of the participants – including many race officials – then go the Shellback Tavern for beers and Bloody Mary’s. And that’s just a warm-up to the beer garden at the fair. This, more than anything, defines the culture of Manhattan Beach. People get in their exercise, then they love to enjoy life. Drinking beers and going to bars is a huge part of their life’s enjoyment. Many of these people are long-term locals, and the live this way well into their 60s.
In addition to the Hometown Fair beer garden the first weekend of October, Manhattan Beach’s fun events also include the spectacular Holiday fireworks (second Sunday in December), Holiday Open House (mid November both downtown and in North Manhattan) and the harmless but wacky Surfest/6-man beach volleyball tournament the ultimate “play and party event” (first weekend of August).
8.) The Bars. Continuing on the above theme, Manhattan Beach has always been about its bars. This goes back for decades. The bars are as much a part of Manhattan Beach’s history as Traveler is to USC and John Wooden is to UCLA. In addition to the dives (Shellback, Ercoles) there are nice places (The Strand Bar, Mangiamo, Rock ‘n Fish), sports bars (Shark’s Cove and Sharkeez to the north), a small club (12 + Highland) and even a great live music venue (Pancho’s). There’s diversity in the destinations and the barflies in Manhattan tend to be a bit more, shall we say, “seasoned” than their younger counterparts in Hermosa.
9.) The Lack of Crime. It’s always somewhat of a weekly cheap thrill to pick up a copy of the Beach Reporter and read the Manhattan Beach Crime Report. Most of the items deal with someone having a bicycle swiped from an open garage or an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend taking some type of jewelry or other item in a post-relationship revenge move. There is the occasional robbery or burglary and there have been people robbed even at gunpoint on the open streets, but those instances are, fortunately, extremely rare. Manhattan Beach is so safe, walking along the Strand or even on the beach at night is so common for locals they do it without giving it a second thought.
10.) The Cops. As seen above they are not the busiest force in LA County. So when something does happen, the police respond as if’s a four-alarm fire. Cars and motorcycles swarm in from everywhere like a pack of killer bees. The town is small – a mere two miles north to south and not much more inland – so they are never far away from anything and the response time is swift, to say the least.