When you tell people you’re from LA, they usually have a thing or two to ask you about the beach. They’ll mention Santa Monica and Venice. That’s nice and all, I’ll say, but keep going south. Nope, farther. Farther. There we go.
Welcome to Redondo Beach.
I didn’t choose to become enamored with Redondo Beach for any particular reason. It just happens to be the closest from my parents house. When I was in high school and didn’t have a car, it was the only beach with a direct bus route. (Shout out to Torrance Transit, Line 7!! I think I’m giving a bit too much away here.) But all the things I never thought about, took for granted about Redondo Beach as a kid are the reasons I love it now.
First of all, It has the best vibe. As established, Santa Monica and Venice are for the tourists. Manhattan is too bougie. Hermosa is very fratty. The beach is clean and suitable for swimming or surfing, and the pier is a eclectic mix of weird, old kitschy places and the slightly more upscale. The beach itself is only crowded on the hottest summer months, and even then it’s always possible to find a place on the sand.
Redondo is full of families fishing on the pier, so it always smells like salt and fish (as a beach should). Every weekend you see yuppies alongside families going to brunch anywhere from the cheap seafood stands, to the still cash-only Polly’s, to some fancy newer restaurant with craft bloody marys. And it truly gets weird in the best way if you go out bar hopping.
Even after many attempts to re-develop the whole place and turn it into another Riviera Village or Manhattan Beach, it’s still got all the weird places that make it so fun, like the Fun Factory, an really old-school arcade on the International Boardwalk. I mean, actually old-school. I’m pretty sure all the games in there are at least 20 years old, and the prizes…
Maybe it doesn’t seem quite the same to outsiders, but the fact that a fancy redevelopment plan years in the making hasn’t managed to change the pier really means something to me. Sure, maybe they add a restaurant or two, but its fundamental character hasn’t changed: the fishing, the cheap seafood joints, the ice cream window, the breakfast place that only takes cash, the dive bar with a bunch of old people putting their heart into karaoke. That breeze off the Pacific always reminds me that when I’m here, I’m home.