I’ve been a Los Angeles South Bay (Manhattan / Hermosa / Redondo Beach) resident since I first discovered this little pocket of paradise in 2005. Having lived in various spots in Southern California my entire life, I’ve had the pleasure of growing up with year round sunshine and the smell of the ocean on the breeze. Ask anyone and you’ll find that I’m a vocally proud Californian that can give a million reasons why I think where I live is the best in the US, after all, I live where everyone else vacations! I could give you a list a mile long of my favorite things to do in the South Bay, but for today I’ll try to stick with giving you a short local’s guide to family friendly things to do in Redondo Beach.
Fun Trivia: Way back in 1887, Redondo was described as “The Gem Of The Continent” and was used for the filming of the TV series “Baywatch”.
Watch dolphins surf at RAT Beach while getting fit
The southern portion of Redondo Beach starts as a wide stretch of sand sprinkled with lifeguard shacks separating the Pacific Ocean from the picturesque cliffs just north of Palos Verdes known as “RAT (Right After Torrance)” Beach. Also known as the “Avenues”, there is plenty of metered parking on Esplanade Street starting at Avenue A and going all the way down to Vista del Mar just after Avenue I.
A gorgeous walk in itself, the bench lined sidewalk sits high above the shore along the cliffs with daily free showings of dolphins playing in the surf. While there certainly *must* be days when they can’t be seen frolicking, I can attest that I have yet to be disappointed with a non-sighting. This is one of the reasons we chose this specific stretch of beach to say our wedding vows – where else can you say your witnesses were a family of dolphins?!
Right at Esplanade and Avenue C, you will find the local fitness attraction referred to as “the Stairs”. A steep incline of 72 steps takes you from the sidewalk down to the sand and guarantees a heart pumping workout when climbed repeatedly. Much better than the stair climber at the gym, this is a popular meet up spot for everyone who loves working out with one the world’s best views!
Spend the day at Seaside Lagoon
Tucked away where Beryl Street meets PCH at Redondo Beach King Harbor, you’ll find a great family play zone called Seaside Lagoon. Open during summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, this large saltwater lagoon is enclosed in a park-like setting at the edge of the harbor and requires a small fee for entry.
While at first you might wonder why in the world someone would want to pay to come here rather than just go to the free beach around the corner, there are plenty of benefits that are worth the $6-7 entry fee. With trained lifeguard supervision, the lagoon is free of unpredictable waves or undertow, offers both sand and grassy areas for lounging, a playground, volleyball courts, water slides and snacks can be purchased from the adjacent Ruby’s Diner.
When my son was younger, I felt much more comfortable bringing him here, than to the open beach because we could gently play in the calm water and wander as deep as we wanted. The beaches are usually filled with beach volleyball players during the summer months so this is a great place to avoid some of the craziness if you’re just looking for some more mellow family time. It’s also a great place to throw a summer birthday party because you can rent a picnic table with BBQ for a reasonable amount.
Catch the sunset with your dinner on the pier
The Redondo Beach Pier has a multitude of restaurants to satisfy just about any craving you may have. One of my favorites is Oriental Breeze. Only open for dinner, it is located about midway down one leg of the pier. Shabby and unassuming from the entrance, once inside you are faced with and immediately greeted by the Sushi Chefs and bar. Take a walk to the right into the dining area and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised by the cozy chic lounge dining tables along a wall of floor to ceiling glass.
Perched west-facing with the Pacific Ocean’s waves crashing under the pier below, this is the perfect spot for a romantic sunset dinner. This is the real deal folks – an authentic Japanese Restaurant where the menu is written in Katakana and Kanji and photos of the dishes are needed. If you’re a fan of Sake and Soju (the Korean version of Rice Wine), Oriental Breeze has a great selection and offers almost all by the glass.
Veterans Park and Memorial
Located at the corner of South Catalina Avenue and Torrance Boulevard, Veterans Park is a gorgeous spot to walk, play, read or just pay homage to those who have served our country. This large grassy area has a fantastic view of the ocean, a playground, the Veterans Park Community Center and the Veterans Park Senior Center.
TIP: Visit the Redondo Beach Farmers Market in front of Veterans Park every Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Stand Up Paddle Board in the harbor
Something I always tend to relate with Hawaii, stand up paddle boarding is quite popular here in Redondo Beach. Not only is it an excellent workout that is pretty easy to get the hang of, but you just can’t beat the serenity and calm you can experience – especially at sunset. The rental is reasonable at about $15 and some facilities also offer a guided tour.
Quite a few California Sea Lions call the Redondo Beach Harbor home so as an added treat you may be able to paddle your way by a few lounging on the buoys in the sun. (But of course, use caution as these are wild animals!)
Learn about the ocean at The SEA Lab
The LA Conservation Corps runs a quaint little marine conservation and hands-on science facility located at the end of Herondo on Harbor Drive called the SEA Lab. Not in the least comparable to a large aquarium, it’s a wonderful place to stop in for a quick peek at some fish and marine life if you have children who are interested. There are a few tanks in the main building and an outdoor tide pool/touch tank area. While there is no official entry fee, a $2 or $4 donation would be gladly accepted and go towards maintaining the facility. They also offer birthday party hosting and educational programs for the local schools. Living near the ocean, it’s a great way to get your children interested in taking care of the ocean and the animals that call it home.