Feel your blood pressure dropping as you listen to the waves crashing along Manhattan Beach. Nestled between El Segundo and Hermosa Beach, this city provides the perfect backdrop to recharge for a few precious hours after a long week.
Don’t let parking take away your quest for calm. Plan ahead at downtownmanhattanbeach.com/parking so you know which lots let you park for five hours or more: You want to enjoy the day without being plagued with meter worries. (You can avoid parking drama altogether by taking Beach Cities Transit Line 109 to the Highland and 14th stop.)
Soak up some sun and joy. If food is the way to your heart, this area features eateries lauded on the L.A. Times’ notable burger, dive bar, doughnut, and ice cream lists. With the picturesque views of nature, the comforting smell of books and the luxurious feel of Gucci, your day will be a blissful one.
10 a.m. Welcome to the joy of brunch. If you plan to arrive at 1209 Highland Ave. with a large party, make a reservation, but with one or two you should beat the rush at the Rockefeller. Then your only dilemma will be deciding between sweet and savory. Why choose? Go with the chicken and waffles ($15); you’ll need to be fueled for the coming hours. Enjoy the meld of crispy chicken, hearty waffle, oozy maple syrup and the vegan’s nightmare: bacon butter. Treat yourself to bottomless mimosas, a steal at $12 for an hour, and mix and match your way through the variety of flavors on offer. Don’t miss the guava!
11 a.m. Now that you are pleasantly full it’s time for some leisurely cardio. Head toward the water to start your promenade along the Strand from 12th to 26th streets. Don’t dwell on counting blocks. With the street labels carved into the curb, you can never get lost. Stroll along, keeping an eye out for dogs amenable to a minute or two of petting. With the calming waves to your left and an endless row of beautiful houses to your right, you can’t help but feel soothed. Seek the butterflies among the blooms in the gardens lining the walkway.
11:30 a.m. When you get to 26th Street, stop at the Manhattan Beach lifeguard station to assess whether you are lifeguard material. Test your mettle by doing a few pull-ups. Too much? Reminisce about your P.E. fitness test and time your flexed arm hang. Don’t worry if upper-body strength is not really your thing; the lifeguard station also has a garden to enjoy.
11:45 a.m. Are you ready to get your toes in the sand? Switch to the beach to walk back toward the Manhattan Beach Pier. Stop along the way for a few carefree arcs on the swings near 21st Street or to cheer on some beach volleyball players breaking a sweat.
12:30 p.m. When you reach the pier, mosey to the end of it, stopping to peek at the surfers below. The giant shark statue at the entrance to the Roundhouse Aquarium begs to feature in a selfie, so be sure to document the moment. Inside you’ll also find sharks; they won’t be as big, but they will be alive. Flash back to your youth and rediscover the simple pleasure of watching critters in the tide pool. Before you leave, don’t forget to leave a donation to help keep the place afloat.
1 p.m. Head back into town to 904 Manhattan Ave. Grab your next beach read (or pick up the latest L.A. Times Book Club pick) at Pages: a bookstore. Browse the handwritten book recommendations and sink into one of the cozy, chocolate-colored armchairs to test out a few titles.
1:30 p.m. Search for treasure at Finders Keep Hers, a high-end consignment shop, at 1008 Manhattan Ave. You never know what might be on the sales rack in the back. Hate to break the bank just to have to break in a new pair of jeans? Check out the cubbies full of gently worn designer jeans. If you are lucky, the shop will have a pair of Louboutins or Jimmy Choos in your size. Go ahead and try them on; pamper your feet. They have served you well today.