There are towns that are great for living, and there are towns that are great for vacations. We discovered one of those rare places that is great for both.
Redondo Beach, is on the sunny southern California coast just seven miles south of the Los Angeles International Airport. It is a “happy-happening-hideaway” by the sea.
When it’s hot downtown and inland, LA folks head for the beach towns, which are frequently 10 to 15 degrees cooler. There’s a series of three beach towns north of the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula that are great places to enjoy the sea and sand. Making it even better, there’s a paved beachside walk called the “Strand” that connects tony Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach with our personal favorite, historic Redondo Beach.
Places to stay in Redondo Beach
We always prefer waterfront hotels, and the boutique Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach is one of our favorites. It is close to King Harbor and the Redondo Beach Pier, both excellent places for a fun date, or family outing.
Our suite at the Portofino had elegant seashore décor, and it overlooked the breakwater and open Pacific beyond. It was perfect.
We left our windows open and enjoyed waking to the sound of harbor seals, sea lions, and the call of seagulls. If you relish that kind of ambiance, this is the place for you.
Rather not hear the local wildlife? Ask for a room overlooking the marina where it is quiet except for the occasional gentle tapping of halyards against sailboat masts.
We had our first breakfast in Redondo at the outdoor patio at the Portofino’s BALEEN kitchen restaurant adjacent to the marina. What a splendid way to slowly wake to another day in this little slice of paradise.
The BALEEN is also one of our favorite southern California dinner restaurants. The menu is superb and the restaurant features some unusual and exciting dishes like a BLT Salad of sugar-braised bacon, jalapeno ranch and sherry/bacon vinaigrette dressings. Then there’s their famous Lobster Mac and Cheese (really).
A great main for REAL meat and potatoes aficionados is the Roquefort Crusted Filet of Beef with whipped potatoes, grilled asparagus, crispy onions, and natural jus. See the picture in the slideshow. The taste factor on this entrée is off the wow chart!
We have eaten at the BALEEN on several occasions and have yet to be disappointed.
A more traditional hotel
The Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina is a modern hotel that is a stone’s throw from the Portofino. It is also just across North Harbor Drive from the city’s popular Seaside Lagoon Park, a fabulous place for the kids to play safely in the sand and the gigantic salt-water pool. At the time of our visit, the parents looked to be having at least as much fun as the kiddies.
The Plaza is also near Captain Kid’s Seafood Restaurant and Market – a rustic landmark eatery that serves up a dynamite chowder, and sells the freshest ocean bounty in their market.
The rooms at the Redondo Crowne Plaza are very spacious with a contemporary flair. Most of the recently renovated 342 rooms and suites have private balconies with water views.
We tried a 75-minute Swedish massage at the hotel’s Body ETC European Day Spa. Marvelous, and a great way to loosen up for an evening of “clubbing” or dinner at one of the more than 15 local restaurants within walking distance. Redondo Beach offers a total of 200 restaurants and entertainment locations.
By the way
If you are an event planner, Redondo Beach, and the Crowne Plaza hotel in particular, is the perfect meeting venue. We toured 25,000 sq. ft. of newly designed meeting space at the Plaza that includes three ballrooms, and 12 break-out rooms.
There’s also a spectacular outdoor terrace with a swimming pool and a tennis court that overlooks the Pacific Ocean – a brilliant place for a large social or business event.
Time for lunch
We were invited to a media luncheon at the H.T. Grill on Catalina Avenue to meet some local business owners who are justly excited about what Redondo Beach has to offer tourists. The Chamber of Commerce did an excellent job of providing us with plenty of subjects that would be of interest to people planning vacations.
The H.T. Grill proved to be a great place for lunch and we can recommend it. Try the Prime Dip of shaved prime rib with a side of horseradish cream and French fries, served on a Milano roll with au jus. Delicious.
The Grill is located in an area of Redondo known as Riviera Village. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, it was called “Hollywood Riviera” because of the stars who visited the village’s many quaint boutique shops and great restaurants. The village is easy-going, charming, and a fine place to walk and shop.
The farmer’s market
Just outside the Grill they were setting up the Riviera Village Farmers Market – what a treat.
A great place to browse delectable fresh fruits and veggies, along with local artisan crafts, and finger treats – too soon after lunch, we wish we were at least a little hungry!
Tour the easy way
Having had previous experience on Segways in Pacifica, California, and Reno, Nevada, we were happy to find South Bay Mobile Tours just around the corner from the Farmer’s Market. A few minutes of refresher lessons and we were off to see the Strand and oceanfront. This is a quick and easy way to view five or six miles of Redondo Beach attractions.
The Redondo Beach Pier and Boardwalk
With King Harbor on one side, and miles of beach on the other, the Redondo Beach Pier is the natural epicenter of fun beach activity such as the annual Kite Festival, Sunset Concerts, Classic Car Show, and Winter Holiday Concerts. There’s always a wide variety of dining, amusement, and entertainment opportunities.
We were in town just in time to catch the Pier’s annual Chalk Art Festival. Who would have thought that a chalk festival could be so much fun! Folks of all ages sprawled on their hands and knees showing their talents in clever chalk art drawings with dreams of becoming one of this year’s category winners.
Meanwhile, just behind the artists, the fishing on the pier was proving to be excellent on the slightly overcast day.
After the chalk art
It was time to eat again. This time we were at Old Tony’s, the iconic pier restaurant that has been operated by the same family for generations. This is the premier historic eatery in Redondo Beach for lovers of fresh food from the sea. We filled up on a medley of delicacies from local waters – all delicious.
King Harbor is for lovers of water sports
Our following day was spent enjoying King Harbor, one of the largest small boat marina on the west coast, and a favorite “Baywatch” filming location.
First up was a nature cruise on the Voyager where we had great views of the South Coast shore while navigating through a large school of playful dolphins.
Next we were on the Looking Glass for an opportunity to see the fishes beneath the waves.
If we had the time, we would have enjoyed more boating opportunities in the harbor. Friends rented paddle boats and kayaks, and some signed up for sport fishing. Still others took sailing lessons. This place has it all!
Lest we forget
The actual beach at Redondo Beach is one of its greatest assets.
Miles of pristine sand for beach volleyball, and a warm sunny spot to relax after a plunge in the waves. Did you know Redondo Beach was where Hawaiian George Freeth first introduced surfing to the mainland?
The city keeps the beaches spotless. When visitors are not sunning, the city is cleaning – and they do a superb job.
There is always something going on
Whether it’s sport fishing, boating, getting ready for the Super Bowl Sunday 10K Run, or just relaxing in the sand as you wait for the annual Lobster Festival, Redondo Beach is a true tourist mecca.
For more information about happenings at Redondo Beach, be sure to check out their website at http://www.VisitRedondo.com and have a look-sea at the video that accompanies this article.
We love visiting Redondo Beach and its many attractions, and we think you will too! Plan a vacation that includes this wonderful beach community in southern California – you won’t be sorry.
© Travels with Wayne and Judy Bayliff
Photos © Judy Bayliff
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