This SoCal beach town provides a way for families to recharge away from the bright lights of L.A.
Redondo Beach is southern California beach town with family fun activities and stunning sunset views away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Besides long stretches of glorious California beach, there’s also a pier, several marinas, plenty of restaurants and shopping, and even a mini aquarium.
What to do?
First, I suggest that you rent bikes. It’s the best and easiest way to get around. We did not, and it was a huge, sweaty regret. Marina Bike Rentals is right on the bike path that stretches from Redondo Beach all the way to Santa Monica. This path leads to every activity that you could want: beach, pier, and restaurants. Cost: Beach cruiser $27/day, 7-Speed $30/day, children’s trailer $39/day.
KidTripster Tip: For those with children under 18 months old, Hermosa Cyclery (just north of Redondo Beach) is the only place that has bike seats and helmets for kids that young.
Now explore the Redondo Beach Pier and Marina with its fish mongers, souvenir shops, and even a kids’ arcade. The Pier stretches out and up over the water with great views of the Pacific and back down on the marina. From the marina, you can rent kayaks, standup paddleboards or paddle boats to cruise around King Harbor from Fast Kayak. You also can book a trip on the Looking Glass Boat. It’s a semi-submersible underwater viewing boat that has two large windows for sea life viewing. My 3-year old loved it and couldn’t stop talking about all the fish and the “stinky” sea lions that he saw. The crew also feeds the fish off the boat, so you’re almost guaranteed a good show. Know that there’s a 25-pound weight minimum for life jackets; children under 25 pounds are not allowed. Cost: Youth $10, Adult $15.
KidTripster Tip: Boat tours leave every hour but can fill up quickly. If you head there in the morning, you can reserve tickets for later in the day.
For those with little kids, or ones that just go a little crazy at the beach, check out the Seaside Lagoon, a gated, shallow water lagoon with lifeguard supervision, sand toys, and playground. There’s also a snack bar, grassy area, and coveted shade. Cost: Youth (2-17) $6, Adults $7.
Get hands-on with sea life at the SEA Lab. On the north end of Redondo Beach, visitors can feed fish, tour touch pools, and even pet some friendly puppy sharks. It’s small, a little shabby, but definitely worth your time. Cost: Free; $2 donation suggested.
Need a break from the beach? Check out Hopkins Wilderness Park. The 11-acre park includes four ecological habitats: forest, meadow, streams, and a pond. There’s also picnic areas and an amphitheater. Or stroll through Riviera Village with over 300 unique restaurants and shops, located at the south end of Redondo Beach. Wander the art galleries, get a massage or even take a yoga class.
Where to eat?
With two small kids, I like to start each morning with good coffee. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to my lattes, but Catalina Coffee delivers with tasty espresso drinks brewed from house-roasted beans and a breakfast menu that includes pastries and bagels. It was our go-to every morning. With plenty of seating, games for the kids, and books to borrow, it’s an easy spot to spend a relaxing morning.
In Riviera Village, the HT Grill is a popular spot. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner with outdoor patio seating, it’s easy to see why. The flatbreads on the appetizer menu pleased mom and child, while the flat iron steak with butternut squash purée kept me happy. And it’s vacation, so don’t skip dessert. Go for the brownie and ice cream.
At the Redondo Beach Marina, R10 Social House has views of the water and American pub grub on the menu: pancakes for the kids, big burger for dad, and chicken and waffles for mom. There are a couple of outdoor tables, but huge picture windows make the indoor booths almost seem like you’re outside.
Up Harbor Drive overlooking the Portofino and King Harbor Marinas, the Bluewater Grill has tons of seating, glorious views, and great healthy food options for the kids. The 3-year-old loved the grilled salmon dipping sticks with edamame for his side. Grilled chicken, steak, fish, and shrimp are also available, as well as a bunless burger, sliders, pasta, and grilled cheese. And dessert? Bring on the cup of dirt with worms - vanilla ice cream, Oreo cookie crumbles, and Gummi worms.
It may seem silly, but the best, perhaps the most joyful experience of the whole trip was simply getting a lemonade with my son at Craig’s Hot Dog on a Stick on the pier. It was just a father and son with two lemonades in hand, walking along the pier and feeling the cool ocean breeze. So simple and timeless. It’s a great feeling when things slow down enough to be able to simply watch my 3-year-old take in and experience the world around him. Note: Craig’s only takes cash, but there are several ATMs on the pier.
Where to stay?
Centrally-located Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina makes for a comfortable and enjoyable stay with traditional rooms and suites, on-site restaurant, European Day spa, and pool. The staff was friendly and helpful, and the hotel itself was immaculate, enough to let the kids run around barefoot. The outdoor pool is on top of the parking structure with food service and views of the ocean. The central location means that it’s an easy bike ride (or walk) to almost anywhere in Redondo Beach. Rooms start at $175/night.
Just across the street is the Redondo Beach Hotel with suites, complimentary breakfast, and heated pool. Rooms start at $210/night; discounts for stays more than 3 nights, so inquire when you make reservations.
For something a little cheaper, Best Western Plus Redondo Beach Inn provides nice rooms and plenty of action close to the hotel. Located in Riviera Village, there’s of shopping, art galleries, and restaurants to check out. Rooms start at $125/night.
Redondo Beach is a 45-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles.
Michael Benkoski is a former journalist and current stay-at-home dad with two kids in Westlake Village, California. His fondness for coffee has turned him into the neighborhood barista.
This writer received a complimentary stay plus some complimentary activities and meals for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.