For many Angelenos, The South Bay may seem like an eternity away. The very idea of traversing the 405 divide seems daunting, but the truth is the drive is quicker than you think, and there’s a TON to do in the area once you get there. In fact, it may be one of the best staycation destinations in all of Los Angeles County.
To prove it we embarked on a two-day, one-night excursion with an eye to explore the beautiful variety of what the South Bay has to offer, from sandy beaches to unique landmarks, tasty food spots to thirst-quenching breweries. Our activities took us through many of the incorporated cities that encompass the region: Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance, and Ranch Palos Verdes.
Playing host for the adventure was the Homewood Suites by Hilton Los Angeles Redondo Beach. The hotel offered a perfect home base, with a roomy suite, convenient freeway access, Plus, we’re suckers for free breakfast (more on that later!).
Below we’ll take you through our two-day trip to offer a little insight on how to plan and what to do. Hope you enjoy!
If you’re checking in around 3 p.m. that still leaves an entire morning of activities. Our plan was to start at the south end of the South Bay, specifically exploring a couple of sites of Rancho Palos Verdes. For sake of logistics, it made sense to us to start there and then work our way back north towards the hotel over the course of the day.
The Wayfarers Chapel
This “Glass Church’ designed by Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s son) features a stunning glass-paneled ceiling that pours sunlight into a serene, tree-topped space. The chapel grounds include a lovely little rose garden, a meditation area, and a small terraced amphitheater. Plus, there are multiple lovely vantage points for views of the Pacific Ocean. There is free parking and it’s free to wander the grounds, just be sure to call ahead if you’re planning to stop by just to ensure there isn’t an event booked for the day of your visit. -> More information
The Point Vicente Lighthouse and Interpretive Center
Drive up the coast and you’ll scope out the idyllic Point Vicente Lighthouse adjacent to a cliffside park. The free nearby interpretive center offers exhibits on the natural history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. If you were going to do a morning picnic there are plenty of benches and green space, plus the bluff that overlooks the Pacific is one of the premier whale watching spots in SoCal, specifically for the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale from December through April. Note that the lighthouse itself normally offers monthly tours (each second Saturday) but those offerings have temporarily been suspended as of November 2019, so if you’re planning to actually go inside you’ll have to wait until they reinstate the tours. -> More information
Lunch at Fishing with Dynamite Manhattan Beach
Ok, so you’ve had your fill of chewing the scenery, now it’s chow time, and nothing beats enjoying fresh seafood just walking distance from the beach. Continue your drive up the coast and arrive at Chef David LeFevre’s cozy seafood cafe Fishing with Dynamite. Here you’ll enjoy chilled seafood platters of Peruvian scallops, oysters on the half shell and jumbo cocktail shrimp. Mains are divided under two concepts, the “Old School” eats on the menu include New England Chowdah’, Maryland Blue Crab Cakes and Steamed Prince Edwards Mussels. On the “New School” side, Grilled Octopus topped on a bed of kale, pine nuts, and mint; flakey Alaskan Halibut with LeFevre’s version of Succotash and Mary’s Fried Chicken Sandwich. We suggest ordering from each side of the menu and to save room for one spectacular Key Lime Pie for dessert. → More information
Beach and Pier Time
With bellies full take a walk from the restaurant over to the nearby Manhattan Beach Pier where you can take in the scene, explore the free Roundhouse Aquarium at the end of the pier, or bring a blanket to chill out on the sand.
Check-In and Relax
The Homewood Suites by Hilton in Redondo Beach is only about 15-20 minutes from the beachside areas, but it makes sense to drive over before rush hour takes hold. The location, just a stone’s throw from the 405 freeway and a Metro stop, makes getting to and from the hotel a snap no matter where you’re coming from on the Westside of L.A. As the name of the hotel suggests, every room is here is a suite, and the spacious accommodations provide a nice resting spot while you recharge for dinner. If you’re thinking you need to slow it down for the evening after a full day of activities, you could grab a bite at the hotel’s evening social (Monday – Thursday). Of course, there are plenty of delicious dining options in the nearby vicinity, and that’s what we opted for.
Love & Salt for Dinner
Love & Salt is an Italian-inspired restaurant with Southern California flair. Executive Chef Christopher Feldmeier will have you feasting on a wide variety of things from a Speck & Melon antipasti to savory pastas of pappardelle in short-rib ragu, Cacio E Pepe and a decadent Creste Di Gallo Midollo with bone marrow scooped and mixed in table-side. In true Italian dining style, the aforementioned is just the beginning of your meal. You’ll move on to the beloved wood-fired pizzas at Love & Salt. The Krikorian South topped with Calabrian sausage, fior di latte, fontina, taleggio, parmesan, fried sage and honey is especially unique. Main entrees include a whole roasted Branzino Bistecca, bone-in pork chop and a Alla Fiorentina 21 day aged bone-in ribeye served with roasted root vegetables and creamed spinach. → More information
What better way to cap off a day or exploring and eating than with a tasty brew. Thankfully, the South Bay is brimming with excellent breweries. Counted among the taprooms in Torrance are Smog City Brewing, Monkish Brewing, Cosmic Brewery, and The Dudes’ Brewing all conveniently within a one-mile-radius from another. You could also check out King Harbor Brewery in Redondo Beach, Phantom Carriage in Carson, the El Segundo Brewing Company and Three Weavers in Inglewood. It would be hard to go wrong with any of these spots, so really it’s just a matter of where in the area you want to end your night.
Gather your gear, pack your bags, and hit the road early (for us by 8 a.m.). But first, you gotta eat.
Breakfast at Homewood Suites Redondo
The Homewood Suites breakfast buffet (complimentary for guests) is always a home run, so that was our option to fuel up before we did a little more sightseeing in the South Bay.
The South Coast Botanic Garden
This 87-acre botanical garden is one of the most serene spots in all of Los Angeles. On a hot day, a morning visit is recommended, as shade will be at a premium throughout the grounds. Of course, if you’ve had your fill of walking you can always opt for the tram tour, which costs $5 per person and runs about 30 minutes. -> More information
Lunch at Madre in Torrance
Walking a few miles at the garden builds an appetite, so we wanted something substantial (and a potent beverage wouldn’t hurt either!) Oaxacan restaurant Madre fit the bill. Madre carries over 300 types of mezcals, so if you love margaritas this is the place to get one. We especially like the Smokey Margarita made of Mezcal Joven with a spicy Sal de Gusano rim. As for the food, it pairs perfectly with the drinks on the menu. Start with Molotes, a savory fried pastry of hand-made masa, stuffed with chorizo and potato. For the mains, you can’t go to a Oaxacan restaurant without trying the moles. At Madre, they offer five types of moles from an herbaceous Verde Mole to the sweet Negro Mole made of Uaxacan Chocolate and dried chilies. We opted for the Tamal Oaxaqueno a banana leaf-wrapped tamal stuffed with chicken and mole negro served with white rice. → More information
King’s Hawaiian Bakery for Hawaiian Paradise Cake
How do we wrap up a Staycation in the South Bay? How about by trying the most colorful cake in the area. The King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant located in Torrance not only gave us the Hawaiian Sweet Rolls we’ve all grown to love but also an internet-famous dessert. Stop into their bakery and order up the Hawaiian Paradise Cake, comprised of three chiffon cake layers each with a different flavor (guava, passion, lime) and color. Don’t forget to snap that picture before you dig in! → More information
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