Los Angeles Beaches by Bike, Part Two: Playa del Rey to Torrance Beach

Manhattan Beach | Photo courtesy of Imagineth, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool
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One of L.A.’s most defining features are its beautiful beaches. Long stretches of warm sand can be found up and down coastal Los Angeles, where the western edge of the United States meets the Pacific Ocean. One of the most enjoyable ways to explore L.A.’s beaches is on the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail, aka The Strand. The paved bike path begins at Will Rogers State Beach near Pacific Palisades and travels south to Torrance Beach.

Part One of our guide covers the bike path from Will Rogers State Beach to Marina del Rey. Now you're ready for Part Two, which begins at Playa del Rey, travels through the Beach Cities of the South Bay (Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo) and ends at Torrance Beach. By going at a brisk pace without stops, it’s possible to bike the entire path one way in less than two hours. But you could also easily take all day, stopping at dozens of places along the way.

A few things to consider when biking some or all of the the Marvin Braude Bike Trail:

  1. Protect yourself. It’s likely going to be a beautiful day at the beaches you’re going to get a lot of direct sunlight. Apply sunscreen throughout the day and after going in the water. Wear a helmet.
  2. Bring water and snacks. Even biking at a slow pace requires more energy than you might think, so make sure you have plenty of water and snacks.
  3. Take your time. Unless your goal is to bike the entire bike path I would suggest you take your time and bike between a few beaches, spending time relaxing and exploring what each location has to offer.
  4. Bring a lock. You’re probably going to want to step into a restaurant, cafe or to walk down to the edge of the beach to dip your toes in the ocean. Make sure you have what you need to keep your bike secure so you can fully immerse yourself without the worry of wondering whether your bike is safe.
  5. Watch out. The bike path can be very crowded, especially on the weekends. You may find that you have to go very slowly at times and navigate through some crowded spots. It’s better to take it safe and walk your bike if pedestrian traffic gets too thick.
  6. Rent a bike. If you lack wheels you can always rent a bike at one of the many Perry’s Cafe locations or one of several bike & beach rental businesses that you can find along The Strand.

Playa del Rey

Marvin Braude Bike Trail in Playa del Rey
Marvin Braude Bike Trail in Playa del Rey | Photo by Joshua Johnson

A chill little beach front community and a great place to grab a burger.

If you're following our guide and began this journey at Will Rogers State Beach, by the time you reach Playa del Rey you will have ridden more than 10 miles - almost halfway there! Playa del Rey is one of the smallest and most understated beach communities on the ride, but it’s a perfect place to pull over and grab a treat, perhaps an ice cream cone at Playa Provisions, a burger from The Shack or some of the house-made pasta at Caffe Pinguini Italian Restaurant.

If you want to focus your biking activities to the southern end of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, then parking in Playa del Rey and making it your home base is a great option. Finding a parking spot is usually easy.

Dockweiler State Beach

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail near Dockweiler State Beach
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail near Dockweiler State Beach | Photo by Joshua Johnson

Bonfire pits and LAX air traffic make Dockweiler a unique stretch of The Strand.

Dockweiler State Beach has a few key characteristics that make it unique on this bike ride. The beach is dotted with large fire pits that are open to the public (bring your own firewood) and planes taking off from nearby LAX roar overheard as they climb into the sky over the beach. This makes for a fun close encounter with near constant air traffic. The fire pits are open until 10 p.m. and are available first-come, first-served. Dockweiler is one of the few places where you can have a fire on the beach in L.A. - for that reason it can be a very popular place, especially on weekends.

The cycling through Dockweiler and nearby El Porto Beach is leisurely with some gentle hills rising and falling until the path evens out and comes within sight of Manhattan Beach. You’ll pass Dockweiler RV Park and in a few hundred yards you’ll find the El Segundo Beach Cafe, an affordable beachside stop with killer burgers and unobstructed views of the Pacific.

El Porto & Manhattan Beach

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail at El Porto Beach
El Porto Beach | Photo by Joshua Johnson

The Manhattan Beach Pier is a picture perfect piece of seaside architecture - hope you brought your camera!

On the way from Dockweiler to the Manhattan Beach Pier, the bike path passes beneath the massive industrial towers of the Chevron oil refinery on the outskirts of the El Porto neighborhood of Manhattan Beach. The juxtaposition of the sand and surf and the architecture of industry is especially dramatic from the bike path where riders passes directly below the towers. You can find surfers lining up in the swell in the shadow of these towers on the south side of a small rock jetty. If you feel like a taking a quick break this is a great place to dip your toes in the sand and watch surfers paddling to catch their waves.

A little further south and the industrial landscape transitions into low profile and tightly packed homes and buildings in El Porto. You’ll see the aptly named Surf Food Stand directly off the bike path, conveniently located in case you need an espresso or a breakfast burrito. Take a detour off the bike path up Rosecrans Avenue to Highland and head to Fishbar, Pancho’s Restaurant or one of many more options for food and drink in El Porto.

The Strand in Manhattan Beach
The Strand in Manhattan Beach | Photo by Joshua Johnson

From here it's a straight shot to the landmark Manhattan Beach Pier - you’ll likely notice the bike path traffic beginning to thicken again heading towards the pier. Once you actually reach the pier it is advisable to walk your bike as there tends to be a lot of foot traffic of folks coming and going. Dozens of bikes will be locked up to the fences surrounding the pier and if you have a lock it might be a good idea to secure your bike and explore a bit.

The Manhattan Beach Pier has a stately elegance that makes it highly photogenic. The pier is a perfect mix between the bustle of the Santa Monica Pier and the simplicity of the Venice Beach Fishing Pier. There is even a small, hands-on aquarium in a rotunda at the end. Benches line the pier so have a seat and simply enjoy the ocean view. At dusk the lamps that line the pier light up, creating a cozy ambiance. Manhattan Beach Boulevard runs uphill and inland from the pier - parking, shopping and dining options radiate from it. The closest ones to the bike path include Brewco and The Strand House.

Hermosa Beach

Sunset at The Strand in Hermosa Beach
Sunset at The Strand in Hermosa Beach | Photo courtesy of Snap Man, Flickr

Enjoy the relaxed pace and wide bike path on The Strand as you hop from one pier to another.

From the Manhattan Beach Pier it is several hundred meters of easy riding south towards Hermosa Beach until you reach 35th Street. Here the bike path splits and continues straight down Hermosa Avenue (where there is also a good bike path) but you will want take the pedestrian path that makes a right angle towards the beach and begins to run parallel to the sand. You’ll immediately notice that the path is suddenly much wider and smoother - and there are a lot more people walking, so be careful! This big, beautiful pedestrian path is what has traditionally been called The Strand. Enjoy the slow pace of the straight-as-an-arrow Strand as you make your way toward the Hermosa Beach Pier. There are no surprises here, just intermittent lifeguard towers and golden sand as far as the eye can see.

The bike path intersects Pier Avenue at the Hermosa Beach Pier and you again have the option to either keep pedaling or get off and explore the pier. Like Venice Beach, the Hermosa Pier is a simple fishing pier but offers huge views of the coast and is a welcome distraction if you need a break from riding. A large collection of businesses cluster around Pier Avenue, giving riders plenty of food and drink options to choose from. Good Stuff, The Mermaid, Scotty's and Hennessey’s Tavern are popular options that are very close to the bike path.

Redondo Beach & Torrance Beach

The Strand in Redondo Beach
The Strand | Photo courtesy of Visit Redondo Beach, Facebook

At the southern end of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, Redondo and Torrance are the last beaches before the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes.

From Hermosa to Redondo it is a leisurely ride on The Strand. Once you reach Redondo Beach - specifically the Redondo Beach marina - the bike path will leave the beach and connect with Harbor Avenue, where a dedicated bike lane (painted green and separated from traffic with a partition) will take over for a few hundred meters until the path leaves Harbor Avenue and runs through the International Boardwalk, the Fisherman's Wharf and the Redondo Beach Pier. The boardwalk and pier are packed with places to stop, grab a bite and take in the scene. This seaside hub has a ton of foot traffic and is very popular, especially on the weekends, but the bike path manages to detour around most of the heavy pedestrian traffic.

You can pull over and rent a paddle boat if you are tired of being on dry land or take a tour in a glass bottom boat. Like other stops on our Los Angeles coastal bike tour, you could easily pull over and spend the day exploring Redondo Beach. A Basq Kitchen, King Harbor Brewing and R10 Social House are great stops for food and drink right off the bike path. The Strand breezes you through Redondo’s bustling boardwalk and wharf and emerges on the other side of the pier.

Southern end of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail at Perry's Cafe in Torrance Beach
Southern end of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail at Perry's Cafe | Photo courtesy of Matthew Smith, Google Maps

The final stretch of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail continues for two miles south towards the dramatic sea cliff landscape of Rancho Palos Verdes. Enjoy these last two miles of the bike path from Redondo to Torrance Beach - it is pure sand and sea, the very definition of peaceful and scenic.

After 22 miles, the Marvin Braude Bike Trail finally comes to an end at Perry’s Cafe in Torrance Beach. The beach continues on for a short distance to the foot of Rancho Palos Verdes, but the bike path is done.

Pat yourself on the back, you just rode one of L.A.'s best bike paths and visited some of the most iconic places on the Southern California coast!