In the land of Endless Summer, there are endless things to do in Manhattan Beach.
Manhattan Beach is the birthplace of beach volleyball, home of one of LA’s top surf spots – just listen to the Beach Boys sing “all over Manhattan” in “Surfin’ USA” – and a living series of Instagram posts to the true Southern California lifestyle.
With a beach as wide as two city blocks, a deep blue Pacific Ocean under a Dodger blue sky, the signature walking/running/biking bike path along the sand known as The Strand, one-of-a-kind shops for shopping and sensational spots for dinner and drinks and some of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever see, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
So put on some shades, apply some the sunscreen and experience why “life’s a beach” in Manhattan Beach.
The obvious treasure of Manhattan Beach is its beach, so coveted that the sand from here was used to build Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. And with 325 days of sunshine a year, you can take full advantage of it.
The water is clear and beautiful and the sand is as smooth as a groomed ski slope. In fact, it’s groomed daily.
In the good ‘ol summertime, head to the beach to spend time in the water swimming or even surfing. You can rent a surfboard from Spyder Surfboards just up from the pier. “Manhattan Beach is a world-renowned surf spot, the Beach Boys and all that,” Spyder Owner Dennis Jarvis says. “It’s one of the best beaches in the world.”
For watching the surfers, standing on the pier is the place to be downtown, although the true surfers can be found a mile and a half north in what locals refer to as “El Porto.” A fast-moving break creates a sudden surge leading to the surfers’ mantra of “if you can surf El Porto, you can surf anywhere.”
One of the “must do” daytime activities is to ride a bike along The Strand. From one end of Manhattan to the other, it’s an easy and flat two-mile ride that takes you past million-dollar mansions, rented beach houses and of course gorgeous views of the beach and ocean. As you approach North Manhattan Beach, be sure to notice how some home owners have turned the median into public playgrounds. There’s manicured mini-lawns with beach chairs, a one-hole golf course and at one time there was even a piano. Shade Hotel and the Sea View Inn provide bicycles to guests.
Manhattan Beach’s newest attraction is its remodeled roundhouse, an aquarium at the end of the pier where kids can touch sea creatures and you get up-close looks at some of the animals swimming below you. It’s free, too (donations are accepted).
The King Of Beach Volleyball
When in Manhattan Beach, you can’t help but notice all the volleyball courts on the sand. There’s a reason for this – Manhattan Beach is where the sport of beach volleyball was born.
It’s as much as part of the culture as wearing flip flops and board shorts. Any given weekend, you’ll find some type of tournament going on at the pier, be it with local weekend players, top junior amateurs, college teams or – on the weekend of Aug. 16-19 – the Association of Volleyball Players (AVP) professional tournament.
The Manhattan Open AVP has long been regarded as the sport’s top event and is even known by the players as “The Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball.” A tribute to all the past winners can be found on plaques placed along the Manhattan Beach Pier, the city’s version of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
The AVP comes on the heels of the zany Manhattan Beach 6-man, a unique event that encompasses two main elements of the laid-back Manhattan Beach lifestyle: beach volleyball and spirited socializing. Hundreds of players, ranging from local amateurs to the country’s top indoor collegiate players dress in themed costumes and play for two days in a lively, laugh-a-minute event you have to see to believe (Aug. 3-4).
The Manhattan Beach Parks & Recreation Department also runs beach volleyball classes for all levels of players, as well as an incredible variety of other programs, including pilates, yoga, swing dancing and a fitness boot camp.
Additionally, the city has public tennis and basketball courts, the Skatespot for skateboarders and the challenging Sand Dune Park, a grueling run up a steep mound of sand where many professional athletes conduct off-season training.