You’re on an emergency vacation, a three-day break from work or just want to get away to a fun place for a short amount of time.
Here is what to do and where to go if you only have 72 hours to spend in Manhattan Beach, CA, a fun and lively Los Angeles beach town. Instead of providing a day-by-day itinerary, these PubClub.com 72-hour guides provide a list of things to do, places to visit and recommendations on restaurants and bars. It’s up to you in what order to do them and in a place as intimate as Manhattan Beach, you’ll probably do the same things all days during your visit.
But first, here’s a little about this small slice of Southern California paradise.
About Manhattan Beach, California
This small town of about 40,000 residents is located five miles south of Los Angeles International Airport. There’s no need to worry about the weather because it’s 70 and sunny 320+ days a year but do bring a sweatshirt or light jacket because it gets cool at sunset and in the evenings all 12 months. You won’t need or even want a car when visiting here.
How small is Manhattan Beach? Less than 1.5 square miles. You’ll be spending most of your time along the beach, which is 45 blocks long. The streets are numbered 1st through 45th. There are two main areas of Manhattan Beach, by the pier area and North Manhattan Beach (Manhattan Ave., 35th to 39th streets) in what locals affectionally call El Porto.
The dress code is beach casual. In fact, the girls often complain the guys wear nothing but shorts, sandals and t-shirts while they like to show off a little fashion glamor from time to time.
While there are many young families here it clings to its roots of being of singles’ party town. Age doesn’t matter; having fun does, tho.
Fun Things to Do In Manhattan Beach
Here’s a rundown of the top fun must-do activities in Manhattan Beach.
• Spend Time On The Strand
The Strand is the lifeblood of Manhattan Beach. It’s a strip of concrete (and thus please do NOT call it a boardwalk) that runs between the sand and multi-million houses. There’s a break at the pier (approximately 12th Street) with the main beach street that runs parallel to The Strand. This, and the connecting Manhattan Ave., is where you will find most of the bars, activity and in the immediate area, the restaurants.
The Strand is ideal for walking, running and riding a bike.
• Go To The Beach
Well duh, right!?
The beach is wide, about two blocks long to the ocean. Unlike Florida beaches there are not any beach rentals such as umbrellas, watercraft or parasailing so it’s a good place to work on your tan and watch the surfers. There’s also a LOT of beach volleyball; it’s the king of sports in Hermosa.
The Pacific Ocean can be a bit rough if you go out too far and the temperature is often chilly. It’s a refreshing 70 or so July-September and a downright cold – upper 50s-upper 60s – the rest of the year.
Alcohol is not allowed on the beach and cops are well clued into adult beverages in red solo cups.
• Watch The Spectacular Sunsets
This is a daily must-do event in Hermosa because they are spectacular.
• Rent A Bike
Riding a bike along The Strand is one of the great pleasures of being in Manhattan Beach. You can rent a bike in neighboring Hermosa Beach at Hermosa Cyclery for $30/day. You’ll only need the one-speed beach cruiser. Do like the locals do and cruise up and down The Strand. Take it south to neighboring Hermosa and Redondo Beach. If you want an all-day adventure, go to the Santa Monica Pier, which is approximately about 30 miles round trip.
Visit The Movie Locations
Several movie has been filmed in Manhattan Beach, including Tequila Sunrise and Blow. You can see Mel Gibson’s Tequila Sunrise beach house at 9th and The Strand and the hairdressing salon in Blow is at Rosecrans and Highland.
• Watch The Surfers
One of LA’s top surf spots is in El Porto; top times to see surfers are in the mornings and evenings. The El Porto parking lots and The Strand above it are great viewing spots.
• Take A Walk On The Pier
It’s easy to spend an hour each day walking on the pier.
A Quick Guide To Manhattan Beach Bars & Nightlife
To get immersed in Manhattan Beach’s bars, all you need to do is go to the pier area. Know before you go: the bars here are small, many with a capacity of around 100 people. There are no mega nightclubs – this isn’t Vegas – and a lot of the action is the bar areas at the restaurants The bars close at 2 a.m., with the first last call taking place at about 1:15 a.m.
Here’s a quickie guide to the bars: Star at Shellback Tavern, the off-the-beach dive bar. Across Manhattan Beach Blvd., is the higher-scale Strand House which kind of goes back to its La Paz roots every other Friday when it has the band that played for decades at Pancho’s, another good bar that is a mile north on Rosecrans and Highland. After about 10, people abandon the nice restaurant bars and go to Ercoles, the oldest bar in Manhattan Beach that is a great dive bar.
Across from Ercoles, Sand Bar 66 is a small and cozy lounge with cool Euro-style music and great cocktails. OB’s (34th and Highland) is a casual beach bar with peanut shells on the floor that has the best locals’ scene for Taco Tuesdays.
In the Manhattan Village Mall (PCH and Rosecrans) a couple restaurants are really rocking as bars, chief among them JOEY.
A Quick Dining Guide To Manhattan Beach
The best burgers in the world are always in dive bars and in Manhattan Beach that place is Ercoles. The meat is super fresh, never frozen and cooked on an old open grill. Locals flock there on Wednesdays for the 2-4-1 deal.
There’s a lot of fine dining in Manhattan Beach. Among them are Fonz’s (steaks), the aforementioned Strand House, The Arthur J and MB Post. We like Mangiamos just up from the pier, Esperanza Cocina de la Playa a little further up Manhattan Beach Blvd., and up in El Porto, the nice-but-casual Fish House.
For breakfast, locals and visitors alike go to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, a local institution. After the bars close, The Kettle just up from the pier is the hottest place in town. An off-the-beaten path for good food – the pork chops in particular – at The Castle, a classic old dive bar at PCH and Marine Street,
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