Tired of the big-city stresses of Los Angeles? Had enough of traffic jams, concrete sprawl, and smog? Then get yourself to Manhattan Beach, a beautiful coastal city south of LAX. Although it’s only about 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, it feels like a world apart: the capital of beach volleyball, bike rides along the boardwalk, and boardshorts, there’s good reason Manhattan Beach is mentioned in the Beach Boys’ song “Surfin’ USA.”

Stop 1: Paradise Bowls

Visit any California coastal town, and you’ll be sure to find surfers coming out of the water and searching for a breakfast acai bowl. Acai, loaded with antioxidants and deemed a “superfruit,” is blended with other fruits (banana, strawberries, mango, etc) or peanut butter, then topped with items like shaved coconut, granola and honey.

Paradise Bowls takes it a step farther with pitaya bowls: made instead with pitaya (also known as dragon fruit). You know you gotta be on top of California’s health trends! Whether or not you’re in a wetsuit, the food here is scrumptious.

We ended up trying the Monkey Business smoothie (banana, pineapple, mango, coconut milk) and the Kokomo smoothie (acai, banana, strawberry, mango, pineapple, pineapple juice). Delicious and nutritious!

(919 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 2: Shopping on Manhattan Ave

There are several budget-friendly shopping options on Manhattan Ave, including All Yoo and Pages: A Bookstore. D’Boutique is a favorite, offering a wide selection of designer jeans and affordable vintage clothing, purses and shoes. On our trip, we found a $120 Diane von Furstenberg dress and $80 Tory Burch top, both in fantastic condition. Lots of great finds!

Stop 3: Manhattan Beach Pier

The Manhattan Beach Pier is a must for any trip to the Southbay. You’ll see couples holding hands, gray haired men casting fishing poles, and kids with dripping ice cream cones. It’s a great place to watch paddle-boarders cruising by, and to visit the Roadhouse Marine Studies Aquarium (at the end of the pier). It’s open 3pm-sunset weekdays, and 10am-sunset on weekends. There’s also a cafe next door, where you can get a cup of coffee ($1.75) or frozen treats.

(2 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 4: FishBar

We were a little late getting lunch, which turned out to be a GREAT thing, because FishBar has a happy hour that begins at 2pm! We ordered Bay Shrimp Ceviche and oysters of the day from the happy hour menu, as well as blackened fish tacos from the regular menu. Service was a little slow, but the food was tasty and the tunes were good.

We will definitely be back for Taco Tuesday, which included over 15 kinds of tacos (fried lobster! buffalo shrimp! red crab!) between $5-12. Reverse happy hour also runs from 9:30pm-12am Sunday through Thursday.

(3801 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 5: Four Daughters Kitchen

We were itching for some caffeine after lunch, so wandered down to Four Daughters Kitchen, a cute cafe and bistro just down the street. They had just started brewing a fresh pot, so we ordered a couple of Americanos and sat out on the front patio (right next to a little vegetable garden). Happy hour and breakfast also recommended.

(3505 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 6: Bruce's Beach

There are few parks more beautiful than Bruce’s Beach. It was one of the few beach resorts that allowed minorities in the late 19th and early 20th century in California, and named after a prominent African-American couple, Willa and Charles Bruce. It’s a small park – a series of hills with spectacular views and the sound of waves crashing. There’s 3 basketball hoops, several benches for sunset viewing, and dogs are allowed in the bottom portion of the park. No better place to relax and take everything in.

(Highland Ave and 27th Street, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 7: Sand Dune Park

Looking for an intense workout? You will find it at Sand Dune Park, guaranteed! There’s a 100-foot high sand dune for walking or running up, as well as a series of trails and stairs. The park recently started requiring an online reservation to use the sand dune (find it here) and charging $1 (exact change only). Membership is also available! The trails are free, and there’s also a play area for kids (called a “Tot Lot”), as well as a few picnic tables.

You know we eat a lot at MyBestLADay, so we may be needing some runs up that sand dune!

(33rd and Bell Ave, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 8: MB Post

You know a restaurant is good when there’s people lined up outside at 4:55pm on a weekday. MB Post, the former post office, is one of the trendiest new restaurants in the South Bay. They are known for delicious and inventive small plates and craft cocktails – as well as hard-to-get reservations! We ordered the Avila’s Heir, a spicy margarita with mandarin, and the Pirate Ship, their version of a Dark & Stormy. Both were delightful, and the atmosphere is lively and fun.

(1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 9: Fishing With Dynamite

If getting a table at MB Post is tough, it’s nearly impossible at Fishing With Dynamite – it’s even newer, trendier, and only seats 33 people. This seafood restaurant is run by the same chef, David LeFevre, and features fresh and refreshing seafood plates. We saddled up to the bar and ordered the Cape Cod Squash Rolls – warm, salty squares of bed with whipped rosemary butter and Yellowfish Tuna Tartare – pickled pineapple on bottom, jicama and light-as-air yuca chips. Service was attentive, and the cozy restaurant is warm and inviting.

(1148 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach)

Stop 10: Manhattan Beach Creamery

Let’s be honest here. No meal is really complete without a treat, and when we walked by Manhattan Beach Creamery, we knew we had to stop. Cupcakes, ice cream sandwiches, candy, frozen bananas – a total dream for our sweet tooth! But the chocolate-covered bacon had us from the start. How could we resist? The salty and sweet combination was almost too good to be true. Heavenly!

(1120 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach)

The Details

We visited Manhattan Beach on a gloriously sunny day, and walked everywhere (nothing exceeded 25 minutes). If your dogs are barking, there is also Beach Cities Transit, which provides fixed routes between Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and El Segundo. Cash fare is $1.

A map of our day looks something like this:

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