Redondo Beach is family-friendly beach town
Text and photos by Phyllis Steinberg
The hustle and bustle of city life was left far behind and I was in a place and time where a community welcomed me. When I arrived in Redondo Beach, CA after my short cab ride, seven miles to be exact, from Los Angeles Airport (LAX), I couldn’t believe the beauty surrounding me. The sights and sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, the mating calls of the birds and wildlife and the leisurely pace of the population were breathtaking.
Redondo Beach is a family friendly town, a town that caters to families and those with disabilities. There is a free bus that takes disabled residents and travelers around the city. There’s even a dog park where pets can roam free without being on a leash. And yet, Los Angeles and its multitude of attractions are less than 45 minutes away!
In the 1700’s, Redondo Beach was the home and a trade center for Native Americans. In 1889, this coastal tract of land was sold to the Redondo Beach Improvement Company and land development began. The population grew in the late 1960’s and today more than 65,000 inhabitants call this beautiful beach community home. Residences range from the modest to the multi-millions but the “small town atmosphere” remains the same. Couples are seen walking their dogs in the daylight and the moonlight and families often spend sunny days at the beach next to the Redondo Beach Pier.
Others bike the 27-mile stretch along the beach with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Some scuba dive and other take to hiking the scenic trails. There are a bevy of boats for charter and I enjoyed taking a cruise on the Looking Glass Water Tour. The bottom of the boat has windows to the sea where passengers can look at the many and varied species of fish that swim nearby. The cruise also makes a visit to a sea lion nesting area. This was my favorite part of the cruise. It was reminiscent of a visit I made to the Galapagos Islands. Only there I was on land surrounded by sea lions and a mother sea lion chased me for getting too close to her offspring.
The Redondo Beach Pier is a fun way to spend the day. There is sport fishing, whale watching and excursions. People stroll the interesting shops, stores and restaurants. Shops sell everything from seashells and sportswear to hats and jewelry. Mie Pearl Jewelry, offers guests a chance to pick their own oyster that houses a precious pearl. The proprietor, who has been there for more than two decades, fishes out the oyster from a tank of water, pries opens the shell before your eyes, measures it and describes its value. Of course, there is an additional charge if you want to mount the pearl in a piece of jewelry.
Others prefer to spend the day at the pier fishing. They bring their chairs, throw their lines in the water and wait for the fish to bite. There are kayak, bike, wave-runners, paddleboat and Segway rentals at the pier along with the magnificent view of wildlife, the sea, the surf and the sunset. There is also a seaside lagoon with heated, sea water where children play in the calm, shallow water that is always warmer than the ocean that surrounds it. Try Ruby’s restaurant next to the lagoon for tasty salads and super old-fashioned sodas and sundaes.
Redondo Beach residents love festivals and there is usually at least one a month. When I was there, it was the Riviera Village Summer Festival. There were scores of artists selling their art work, handmade jewelry, sculptures, clothing, leatherworks and clothing. Live bands, food and carnival rides entertained the throngs of festival goers. Riviera Village is a unique area of one-of-a-kind boutique stores selling a variety of items from beads and bows to aromatherapy items and antiques. The Harmony Works store offers craft classes throughout the week including jewelry-making. If you like to shop, Riviera Village is an interesting place to get unusual gift items and trendy fashions as well as beachwear.
Redondo Beach has several choices of accommodations, but if you want to stay near the Redondo Pier where many of the activities take place, the Crowne Plaza Redono Beach and Marina Hotel and the Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club are the best choices. I stayed at the Crowne Plaza and enjoyed the high level of service and amenities. The resort has a huge swimming pool and whirlpool overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It also has a spa and a massive Gold’s Gym attached to the property. I stayed on the fifth floor, which is the concierge floor, entitling guests to a free breakfast with all the trimmings. Internet usage is free and the hotel offers free daily shuttle service to area shopping malls.
The Portofino Hotel has a gourmet restaurant, Baleen, which serves up delicious seafood and steaks. Executive Chef, Jesse Souza, formerly headed the kitchens of Florida restaurants at La Playa Resort in Naples and Chispa in Miami. Now, he has brought his culinary talents to the West Coast.
Music fans will enjoy a visit to Brixton South Bay, which features live music evenings at the Redondo Beach pier. There is also a dance floor, private V.I.P. lounge and free parking. Tickets to the shows are available online.
There are many restaurants on the pier and I wasn’t there long enough to try them all, but Kincaid’s Fish, Chop and Steak House is on the top of my list. It has tables inside and out on the pier, excellent food at reasonable prices. Maison Riz restaurant offers fabulous views along with a mix of French and Japanese cuisine. Tony’s On The Pier is a landmark restaurant serving top quality seafood for more than 50 years. Check out all the movie star’s pictures on the walls and see how young they look. You’ll know how long Tony’s has been around. If you order a margarita, they’ll even let you take the glass home.
Ortega 120 is a Mexican restaurant in Redondo that has become a favorite of the locals. The eatery features 120 different kinds of Tequila and innovative Mexican cuisine.
Theater lovers don’t have to go to Los Angeles to see top notch theatrical productions. The 1,450 seat Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center offers outstanding musical and dramatic theatrical productions. I experienced an outstanding Polynesian show at the Center while I visiting the area.
The glitz and glitter of Los Angeles is nearby and many tourists that I spoke to said they enjoyed staying in Redondo Beach and making day trips to LA. The hotels are less expensive in Redondo Beach. There is less traffic and the laid back atmosphere allows vacationers to recharge and rejuvenate. Yes, I was able to travel to LA in less than an hour, but this traveler preferred to stay put in Redondo Beach and just enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of this picturesque beach town.
Redondo Beach Pier, www.redondopier.com
Brixton South Bay – Live Music Venue, www.brixtonsouthbay.com
Kincaid ’s Fish, Chop & Steak House, www.kincaids.com
Maison Riz, www.maisonriz.com
Mie Pearl Jewelry, 310-379-8818
Tony’s on the Pier (Old Tony’s), www.oldtonys.com
Redondo Beach International Boardwalk, www.redondoboardwalk.org
Redondo Beach Marina,www.rbmarina.com
Looking Glass Bottom Boat Tours, www.fastkayak.com/lookingglass.html
Crown Plaza Redondo Beach an Marina Hotel Resort, www.crowneplaza.com
Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club, www.hotelportofino.com
Gondola Amore, www.gondolaamore.com
Marina Bike Rentals, www.marinabike.com
Pacific Star Dive Boat, www.pacifistardiving.com
Toy Box, Jet ski segways, waverunner rentals, www.4toybox.com
Voyager, boat ride, www.redonoceansports.com
Seaside Lagoon, www.redondo.org
Captain Kidd’s Fish Market Restaurant, www.captainkidds.com
Polly’s on the Pier, www.rbmarina.com
Riviera Village, www.rivieravillage.org
Redondo Beach International Boardwalk, www.redondoboardwalk.orgRedondo Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau,310-376-6911, www.redondochamber.org