What is the South Bay? The South Bay is a region of Los Angeles County containing 19 neighborhoods. The three most notable neighborhoods are Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach.
My Discovery of the South Bay
I discovered the South Bay after living in the San Fernando Valley for several years. I was dating a girl who took me down to Hermosa Beach for the day. We rented some roller skates and skated the Strand, which is the bike/walking path that extends from South Redondo, through Hermosa Beach, Manhattan beach, and all the way to El Segundo.
The air was so fresh, and people were out enjoying the beach in the middle of the week. People were biking, playing volleyball, sunbathing, and the restaurants and bars were full. I think this was in March – a winter month. My date and I roller skated right into Sharkeez on Hermosa’s Pier Avenue, where it was happy hour. They had two for one draft beers and all kinds of other specials. Their fish tacos were delicious. The place was jamming with young, good looking people in the middle of the day. I thought to myself, this is great, but I could never afford to live down here.
A few months later, my girlfriend moved to Hermosa, and I followed her down. To my surprise, the rents were not that much more than they were in the Valley. I looked at several places and I finally settled on a one bedroom apartment in Hermosa Beach, just two blocks away from Pier Avenue for $1,000 a month.
That was about $300 cheaper than everything else I looked at, but there was one catch – the shower was in the kitchen. Hey, for $300 less a month, I’ll take showers in the kitchen all day long. Once I moved in, I couldn’t believe it. I was only two blocks from the beach! I had always wanted to live by the beach, and now I was for roughly the same price I was paying in the Valley. I could hear the waves crashing on the shore at night, and the foghorn on the Pier in the morning.
I lived in that apartment for five years. Many days I had to pinch myself to remind myself I wasn’t dreaming. Living in the South Bay is like living in a resort 365 days a year. It is rarely hotter than 75 degrees, or colder than 58, there is always an ocean breeze blowing, and there is a myriad of things to do. I got to see all of the changes the ocean goes through during the year; from red tide, to sardine invasions, schools of dolphins, whales, jellyfish, and sharks.
The South Bay can be a bit distracting…
That being said – all of those things can end up being a problem for the undisciplined. When I first moved down there and would walk down to Pier Avenue in the daytime, I would see all of those people down there and wonder what they did for a living. Do they ever work? I don’t know if I ever quite figured that out. I was working at home as a writer, but had a hard time concentrating, and was always taking “breaks” to go bike riding, walking along the beach, or going to happy hour. Happy hour is from 3-7 at most of the bars on the Pier. All of these pleasant distractions became a problem for me.
There is just too much to do all the time. I couldn’t get anything done and was constantly partying. I had to return to the Valley after five great years in the South Bay. I will always cherish that time.
Are you in Entertainment?
Another thing I should mention is that if you are planning a career in entertainment, perhaps the South Bay is not the best place to settle. The South Bay is physically hard to get to. Going south on the 405, you still have to take a good 20 minutes worth of surface streets to get to the beach areas. All of the auditions/meetings in the entertainment biz are in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood or West LA. Most of the jobs are in those areas too. If you have to commute in and out of the South Bay, it is probably best to live somewhere else. Another thing – the locals can be tough to deal with. I don’t blame them as they grew up there and they must get tired of being invaded by newcomers all the time.
Things to Do in the South Bay
- Bike riding, walking, and jogging on the Strand. Roughly 6 miles from Torrance State Beach to the south and El Porto to the North.
- Kayaking from the Redondo Pier. Rent a kayak for $15 an hour.
- Whale watching. Daily boat tours from King Harbor in the winter months.
- Volleyball. Numerous nets available and leagues going all the time.
- Surfing, swimming, body surfing, and sun bathing. Great surf breaks all over the South Bay, surf board and body suit rentals available, as well as lessons.
- Deep sea fishing. Fishing trips daily from King Harbor, and continuous fishing from the Redondo Pier, the Hermosa Pier, and the Manhattan Pier.
- Numerous gyms, fitness camps, and jogging trails.
- People watching – just sit at one of the Piers and watch the local wildlife mix with the tourists.
There are numerous bars and nightclubs on Pier Avenue, in South Redondo, and Manhattan Beach.
- Sharkeez has the famous happy hour in Hermosa Beach. There is live music at the Lighthouse on the Pier. The new venue, St Rock has some fantastic live acts every week. There are also several dance clubs to frequent throughout the week in Hermosa Beach.
- The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach features top comics from around the country, and has Jay Leno almost every Sunday night.
- Hennesy’s Irish Pub has locations in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach.
- Big events throughout the year include Saint Patrick’s Day, the AVP Beach Volleyball tournament, Fiesta Hermosa, the Lobster Festival, and many more.
- All kinds of restaurants featuring great cuisine from all over the world.
In any case, visit the South Bay. The Beach experience is more relaxed and less crowded than at the beaches to the north. You can rent a bike, roller skates, or even a surf board. I still believe that the South Bay is LA’s best kept secret!