By Krista Simmons
July 30, 2015
Manhattan Beach
Credit: PATRICK T. FALLON/Reuters/Corbis

The South Bay has been oft-overlooked when compared to its hipper, more heavily visited Northerly neighbors like Venice Beach and Santa Monica, but there’s a lot going on in this bustling Beach City. Body surfing, beach volleyball, people watching, and dream-house hunting are just the beginning in Manhattan Beach. Here’s a look at the neighborhood’s best-kept secrets.

Where To Eat

The telltale sign that Manhattan Beach is going through a revival is the opening of a bevy of great dining establishments, like The Arthur J, a midcentury modern-style steakhouse that nods to the Mad Men era, firing perfectly seared steaks alongside updated dishes like the classic wedge salad, potatoes au gratin (an absolute must-order), shrimp cocktail, and pot roast appropriately served in an old-school casserole dish. If you’re after updated Italian fare with a California twist, Michael Fiorelli’s Love & Salt is sure to impress with the thoughtfully prepared dishes culled from the restaurant’s own garden. And for an Asian-inspired lunch that surely beats the average pier food, drop by Little Sister for sake and banh mi with a side of pho, followed by scoops at the classic Manhattan Beach Creamery.

What To See

Peruse photography and mixed media pieces at the Bo Bridges Gallery, showcasing works by the MB-based artist who has made his career shooting some of the top athletes and celebs from around the globe, traveling to 35 countries to create his work. Over at Pages Bookstore, there are regular readings and signings from local authors, with plenty of little nooks to tuck into their collection of literature. And of course, no trip to Manhattan Beach would be complete without a stroll or cycle down at least a tidbit of The Strand, a 22-mile bike path that goes from Pacific Palisades to Torrance, passing right through Manhattan Beach.

Where to Sweat

If the bike ride doesn’t tucker you out, take a lesson in the popular sport of stand up paddle boarding, also known as SUP, or surfing at Nikau Kai, which carries everything a waterman might need on their SoCal vacay, from rash guards and leashes to zinc-based sunscreen.

Where To Shop

When it comes to SoCal designers that truly embrace the seaside lifestyle, look no further than Trina Turk to deliver her signature spunky sensibility. You can’t help but smile when perusing the vibrant collection at her Manhattan Beach shop, which is just a skip away from the sand. Also in the area is the more moderately priced William B + Friends, an L.A.-based boutique that sells everything from drapey dresses to sexy sun hats, and the ultimate premium jeans junkie destination in the South Bay, Manhattan Beach Denim.

Where To Stay

Sleep soundly at the Shade Hotel, where amenities include Tempurpedic beds, spacious in-room Sanijet spas, and a rooftop pool with ocean views. Since many of Manhattan Beach’s wealthy homeowners have multiple properties, there are countless awesome Air BNB options too, especially by the ocean, but that’ll only be available until December when the service will be outlawed.

Krista Simmons is a culinary travel writer and native Angeleno; she covers the Southern California beat for Travel + Leisure. You can follow her adventures bite-by-bite on Instagram.