South Bay Beach Guide – In sunny Southern California, you can visit the beach year round. You may not go in the water during the winter, but you can still enjoy the view, the restaurants, and the retail shops around it. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy LA metropolis and drive southwest to visit one of these South Bay beaches. These beaches are connected by a bike trail as far north as Santa Monica (West LA) all the way down to Torrance beach (South Bay). You can drive here to visit one beach or visit all of them as we did on the very sporty Mazda6.
Disclosure: thanks to Mazda for letting us drive their mid-size sedan, the 2017 Mazda6.
GETTING TO SOUTH BAY
South Bay is directly south of Los Angeles Airport. You can literally be at the beach in 15 minutes once you drive out of LAX through the 405 freeway or side streets. Check out our South Bay Beach Guide below:
GOOD TO KNOW
South Bay beaches have a 22-mile long Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail that connects Santa Monica in West LA down to Torrance.
Starting from Rosecrans Avenue (El Porto Beach) to 1st Street, Manhattan Beach is a two-mile-long wide sandy flat beach. Come here to surf, sunbathe, play volleyball, shop at boutiques, grab brunch, drink at pubs or dine at upscale eateries.
Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier is open to the public daily. Free to the public with a $2-$5 suggested donation.
To get here, take Manhattan Beach Boulevard west all the way to the pier where there are several small parking lots. Metered street parking is also available along Manhattan Avenue which runs north-south a block or so from the sand.
Besides playing in the beach, Manhattan Beach is perfect for those who wish to walk around a beach city since Manhattan Beach Blvd. (parallel to the pier) and intersection Manhattan Ave. are both lined with restaurants and boutiques.
- Grab cupcakes or ice cream at Cupcakes Couture Manhattan Beach
- Grab pastries at Le Pain Quotidien
Right next to Manhattan Beach is Hermosa Beach. It fronts the entire waterfront in the city of Hermosa Beach starting at 1st Street ( the dividing line between Manhattan and Hermosa) and continues south for nearly two miles to King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach.
Most of the visitors start their visit at the palm tree-lined promenade where you can enjoy many shops and restaurants. On the horizon is the Hermosa Pier where you can see the entire South Bay coastline when you walk to it and look back.
You will find many volleyball courts, some people fishing at the pier, and surfers enjoying the milder waves that roll in at Hermosa Beach.
Drive here by taking Pier Avenue which heads west toward the beach, then Hermosa Avenue runs north and south. Parking can be found all along Hermosa Ave and some side streets and a parking structure just north of the pier. Come early on the weekends, parking can get packed.
- Take a selfie at the wall art on 14th st. and Hermosa Ave
- Grab happy hour and tapas at Mediterraneo at the promenade
- Watch a comedy show at The Comedy and Magic Club
- Grab breakfast at Good Stuff fronting the beach
- Visit Hermosa Beach during Fiesta Hermosa
- Try Mickey’s Italian Deli
- Not on the pier’s vicinity but yummy – Hermosa Beach Fish Shop.
REDONDO BEACH SEASIDE LAGOON
Designed for kids and families, Seaside Lagoon is a man-made saltwater lagoon surrounded by sand in an urban park next to the Redondo Beach Harbor. The facility has a sandy beach, grassy areas, a snack bar, and playground toys. It is next door to Ruby’s Diner Restaurant.
The sea water is used to cool the nearby steam generating plant, then is chlorinated and drained into and out of the lagoon (after being de-chlorinated).
The Seaside Lagoon is closed after Labor Day and doesn’t open back up until late May every year. The parking lot for Seaside Lagoon is at the corner of North Harbor Drive and Portofino Way in Redondo Beach, CA.
- Attend the Redondo Beach Lobster Festival
REDONDO COUNTY BEACH
Redondo County Beach is a 1.5-mile long sandy beach that makes up the waterfront of Redondo Beach, CA. It starts at the Redondo Beach Pier near Veterans Park and continues south to Avenue A.
Beach access is a lot easier near Veterans Park with most visitors visiting the Redondo Beach Pier. Compared to Manhattan Beach Pier and Hermosa Pier, Redondo Beach Pier is big and multi-leveled. Here you will find restaurants, shops, people fishing along the pier, and a huge parking garage next to the pier.
Surfing is popular here too with plaques near the pier stake its claim as the birthplace of the sport in California.
- Dipped garlic bread in cajun shrimp at The Shrimp Lover
SOUTH REDONDO BEACH
South Redondo Beach is between Avenue A and Miramar Park in Redondo Beach, CA. This stretch of Redondo Beach has lifeguard stations and volleyball courts all along the wide sandy beach.
Parking for South Redondo Beach can be found along the Esplanade and on the lettered side streets of Avenue A through I.
Concrete ramps and stairs lead down the bluff from the sidewalk on Esplanade to the beach. Nearby is the Riviera District of South Redondo with many shops and restaurants to choose from.
- Visit Riviera Village for a row of restaurants and boutiques
- Stand at the Esplanade, this is the best spot to look at the beach and take pictures as well since it is elevated.
- If you’re hauling a ton of stuff down the beach, expect to go up and down a steep ramp compared to Hermosa Beach where the streets and beach are flat altogether.
The less crowded beach compared to Redondo, Hermosa & Manhattan Beach is Torrance Beach. There’s also no restaurant row so if you’re looking for a beach where alcohol is not served, visit Torrance Beach.
Torrance Beach has a local nickname of RAT Beach which stands for various things like Right At Torrance, Right After Torrance, Redondo and Torrance, etc.
Torrance Beach has a nice large parking lot, safe graded ramps to the beach, lifeguards, access to a long bike path, and nice facilities. It starts at Miramar Park on the north end and extends to a cove at the south. The parking lot is along Paseo De La Playa from Calle Miramar to Via Riviera.
South of that are homes on the bluff and no public right of ways to the beach. For parents who wish to take their strollers along the bike trail, it is great to start here then go for a long walk all the way to Redondo Beach pier for lunch. It’s quite a walk and should build up your appetite.
- Go inland to drive around Torrance. Visit one of the biggest malls in America – Del Amo Fashion Center.
MALAGA COVE BEACH
Malaga Cove is the south end of the long sandy shore that includes Redondo Beach and Torrance Beach located in Palos Verdes Estates. Surfers, scuba divers, sunbathers, and swimmers enjoy this quiet, less busy off the beaten path South Bay beach.
Access to Malaga Cove is down the Malaga Cove Trail from a parking lot at the intersection of Paseo Del Mar and Via Arroyo. The trail begins on the north side of the lot. As the trail reaches the bottom of the bluff you can continue right and eventually get to the sandy beach or turn left below the membership only – Palos Verdes Beach & Athletic Club to a rocky shoreline with tide pools, dive spots, and a left-hand surf break known as Haggerty’s.
- Take a picture at Roessler Point
Pin for later – South Bay Beach Guide:
Thanks to the sporty and stylish 2017 Mazda6 for our sweet ride around the South Bay beaches. Just like the 2-door Mazda Miata that I wanted when I was still in my teens, the Mazda6 is also a head-turner right from the beginning when it drove down our street. All I can say was “Zoom zoom”!
I really love this ride. I’m typically not a fan of sedans because I’m on the short side that it’s harder for me to see the road, but for some reason, with the Mazda6, I can see everything and was very comfortable driving around it even with the kids in the back. Maybe the dashboard is lower, thanks to the teleprompter that opens up to show how fast I’m going yet still transparent enough for me to see the road versus a bigger, higher dashboard.
The almond-colored leather seats were sleek looking. Alerts with the help of cameras and radar give you a sense of safety and the whole car just drives really well even on turns on the freeway.
This mid-size sedan also has a huge trunk that can fit our luggage, stroller, and everything the kids wanted to bring on our weekend getaway to the beach.