Hidden Gems in the Beach Cities of Los Angeles

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Mothershucker Platter | Photo by Rick Poon, courtesy of Fishing with Dynamite

The three sister Beach Cities in the South Bay of Los Angeles - Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach - represent a unique L.A. beach culture that can only be experienced in the flesh. The real estate in the area is consistently ranked as some of the most expensive in the country, thanks to spectacular coastal views and its proximity to the ocean. Aerospace, maritime and other industries fuel the economy here, but visitors will be privy to a beach community focused around activities taking place along The Strand, on beautiful beaches, and bustling piers located in each of these cities. Whether you're into biking, beach volleyball, sunbathing, surfing, swimming, body surfing, paddle boarding or simply walking and sightseeing or dining, the Beach Cities offer a slice of Southern California that you just can't miss. Read on and discover the hidden gems in the beautiful Beach Cities of L.A.

The Comedy & Magic Club

At The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, you can see former Tonight Show host Jay Leno and a host of other renowned comedians perform. Get your laughs on Tuesday nights through Sundays - Leno performs on most Sunday nights. The Club is strictly 18 and over, with a lot of the shows selling out beforehand, so it's advised that you purchase your tickets well in advance. Though there's a two-item minimum per person, there's plenty of food and drinks to choose from, so you're bound to have a good time.

ET Surf

ET Surf

ET Surf has been a Hermosa Beach favorite among surfers, skaters and snowboarders since 1972. Ancient by boarding standards, ET Surf still manages to stay on top of its game, providing wetsuits, shortboards, longboards, skate decks, snowboards and snowboard boots to all who enjoy board sports around Southern California. You'll find the best equipment each sport has to offer, with ET Surf's meticulous buying practices keeping it a leader in the industry. Just browsing the store is a sight for the senses.

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Dungeness crab, shrimp, and oysters at Fishing With Dynamite | Photo by Esther Tseng

Fishing With Dynamite

Chef David Lefevre's little seafood shack, Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach, serves up an excellent raw bar selection but also a mean clam chowder with plenty of other stellar dishes - you might have trouble deciding what not to order. Open daily for lunch and dinner with only 35 seats spread out over tables, a raw bar and a cocktail bar, Fishing With Dynamite is best visited during off-peak times. Little handwritten notes are made by Lefevre himself on the constantly evolving menu, so if you're open to a little advice, he's the guy to listen to.

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Queen Anne Cottage at Heritage Court | Photo courtesy of Redondo Beach Historical Society, Facebook

Heritage Court

Heritage Court is the site of Queen Anne Cottage and Morrell House - constructed in 1904 and 1906 respectively, and relocated for reuse. Queen Anne Cottage, including an addition built in 1994, now serves as the Redondo Beach Historical Museum, housing artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and historical documents. The Morrell House underwent refurbishment in 2006 to serve as an adjunct museum. After visiting the museum (open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.,  Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.), be sure to stroll the beautiful rose garden and its central fountain. 

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Photo courtesy of Hudson House, Facebook

Hudson House

Located on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach, Hudson House features an industrial design and the Southern California-meets-Southern fare of co-owner and executive chef, Brooke Williamson. The Top Chef alum serves comfort food favorites that incorporate twists with fresh, California ingredients. Start off with a Carrot Farro salad and finish with the Local Rockfish with Fresh Corn Grits or a Pulled Pork Pretzel Croissant Sandwich. Don't forget to order a cocktail, such as the House Barrel Aged Sazerac. Night owls will appreciate that Hudson House is open until 1 a.m. and available as a setting for all your late night adventures.

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Photo courtesy of Naja’s Place, Facebook

Naja's Place

Beer geeks and sports fans alike love Naja's Place - and that's not counting the people there just to enjoy the open air atmosphere and clear view of the Redondo Beach Pier marina. There are an impressive 88 taps and 13 screens in all. Be sure to check their calendar for specials, tap takeovers, and sporting events on their HDTVs for a good time.

Pisces Sushi Chirashi Bowl
Chirashi bowl at Pisces Sush  |  Photo: Clarissa Wei

Pisces Sushi

A Manhattan Beach favorite, Pisces Sushi is a tiny little restaurant with just four bar seats and a table for two outside. But people still keep coming for their chirashi bowl and a variety of sushi rolls - if nothing else than for take-out. If you're looking for teriyaki proteins and other dishes - even a spicy bowl of ramen - they've got that, too.

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Photo courtesy of Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium, Facebook

Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium

Perched at the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier, the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium is dedicated to educating the public about the oceans, marine life, and the environment. Enjoy displays in the museum such as a shark tank, baby octopus nursery, and a variety of seahorses, while learning about why ocean conservation is so important. Roundhouse is open from 2 p.m. to sunset on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to sunset on the weekends (10 a.m. from Labor Day to Memorial Day) . Admission is free - suggested donations are $2 per person, $5 per family.

Seaside Lagoon

Seaside Lagoon

Situated on the southwest corner of Harbor Drive and Portofino Way in Redondo Beach's King's Harbor, the salt water Seaside Lagoon is a popular summer destination for pool lovers and dwellers. There's a sand area available for sunbathers, a play gym for kids, volleyball courts, a grassy area, and a luau shelter. The lifeguard-supervised Seaside Lagoon is also an impressive engineering feat - water is chlorinated when entering the lagoon and de-chlorinated when returning to the harbor. From May to September, the Seaside Lagoon is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. 

The Strand House

This fine dining establishment in downtown Manhattan Beach is a destination like no other, attracting guest chefs from all over the world for its Culinary Masters Series - tickets to the one-off, unforgettable dinners consistently sell out. During regular service, owner Michael Zislis and chef Neal Fraser ensure guests are treated to a menu replete with traditional dishes with modern twists, employing fresh, local produce and other ingredients with classic technique.

Wayfarers Chapel

The stunning Wayfarers Chapel (aka “The Glass Church”) is located in Rancho Palos Verdes, situated on cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Architect Lloyd Wright, son of the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright, conceived of Wayfarers Chapel as a “tree chapel”, a natural sanctuary set in the middle of a forest. Lloyd Wright’s design is regarded as one of the foremost examples of Organic Architecture, which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world. Built between 1949 and 1951, the Wayfarers Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July 2005. A popular wedding venue because of its spectacular design and location, the Wayfarers Chapel was featured prominently on “The O.C.” and appeared in other TV series like “90210.”