El Segundo means “the second” in Spanish, and the name is fitting for this Southbay neighborhood just on the cusp of Los Angeles International Airport — despite its proximity to the beach and much of LA’s Westside, it’s oftentimes passed over for nearby Manhattan Beach.

But we love to explore a little off the beaten path, especially in the parts of LA that the Fodor’s guide doesn’t cover. A lot of the businesses and restaurants have been around longer than a hot second, and you’re still a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean (bonus points for being able to get to the airport in under 10 minutes!)

The area was first settled by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, and became the site of an oil refinery in the early 1900s (today it’s where the Chevron refinery is located). Fun fact: the El Segundo Parks and Rec staff are the inspiration behind the NBC show “Parks and Recreation.”

It might not be as glitzy as its southern neighbors, but El Segundo still has the sun and surf (plus more available parking!)

Stop 1: Blue Butterfly Coffee Co.

“Eat, Drink, and Be Happy” is the motto at Blue Butterfly Coffee Co, and it’s certainly one we can fully get behind (cuz who doesn’t want alllllll of those things?!) Coffeeshops are — at their very best –a place to celebrate community, and this locals’ spot is where you wanna go to chat with friends over a few espressos for an entire afternoon.

We ordered their famous iced lavender matcha and a vanilla latte, and found a sun-drenched table on their back patio to enjoy. We saw many people sipping on their cold brew nitro (on tap!) as well as their blended coffee drinks (think oreo + vanilla or chocolate + peanut butter). Besides the fancy drinks, they pull a solid shot and make a mean cup of coffee.

(Fun fact: The coffeeshop is named after the blue butterflies from the coastal dunes around El Segundo — there’s one of three habitats not too far away, on the grounds of LAX)

(351 Main Street, El Segundo)

Stop 2: Frocks & Rocks

This sweet boutique offers a wide range of on-trend tops, pants, skirts, and dresses (plus jewelry and shoes!). Despite the beachside location, the shop caters toward a more sleek, monochromatic look. It’s locally-owned and everyone there is eager to help — a way better option to parking at the mall and trudging through one of those big-name fast-fashion shops.

203 W Grand Ave, El Segundo

Stop 3 & Stop 4: Havana Sandwich Co and Clutter's Park

We’ve got a thing for medianoches (Cuban “midnight sandwiches” on sweet bread), which is how we first learned about Havana Sandwich Co. This lively, family cafe is best known for its cuban-pressed sandwiches — made on cracked wheat bread from a nearby Cuban bakery and then pressed on the oh-so-important plancha.

We ordered the original Cuban with roast pork, ham, Swiss and pickles + the Havana Plate (roasted Cuban chicken with black beans and fried plantains). Even though the smell was tantalizing, we skated over to Clutter’s Park with our lunch bag to enjoy our spread.

For anyone who loves watching planes take off and land, Clutter’s Park is a dream. You have the perfect vantage point of the runway at LAX, and all those jets sailing in from the sky. The park has chess board-style tables, and is a great date spot or family picnic area.

(229 Main Street//Imperial Ave & Sheldon Street, El Segundo)

Stop 5: Sausal

The whole Spanish Ranchero vibe of Sausal is what originally drew us in, but it’s the MARGARITAS that have been bringing us back (forever and always, our cocktail of choice!)

The margs are included in their stellar happy hour: $5 specials every dang day of the week, from 3-6pm (the homemade apple sangria also deserves a shout-out!) We ordered the avocado toast, short rib picadillo empanada, and the potato, cheese & chili taquito from the happy hour menu, plus the kale and quinoa salad (you know, just to keep things healthy!)

This spot is the very best reason to make sure you get out of work on time, and put a drink in your hand before the clock strikes six.

(219 Main Street, El Segundo)

The Details:

We strapped on our rollerskates for this day (it had been a while!), since we mostly cruised around Main Street. You can also rent some pretty neat electric and folding bikes HERE.

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