Monday, April 16, 2012

SoCal So Cool: 50 Miles of Pure Pleasure

Redondo Beach: Always More to Sea


Part two of a series

Since the 1800s, Redondo Beach has provided more to ‘sea’ in Southern California, dubbed SoCal by the locals.  Located just 7 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport and 18 miles from downtown L.A., Redondo Beach has the character of an exclusive beach enclave…uncrowded, scenic, and miles from anything urban. 

This historic beach town, that typifies the Southern California lifestyle, is flanked by a county path that threads along 27 miles of oceanfront from Torrance Beach to Santa Monica. Once a commercial port, the City now has a pleasure pier with unique shops and restaurants, myriad water sport activities, marinas, and a sport fishing fleet. There's an attractive sea front esplanade that has been called one of the most romantic places in the world from which to watch a sunset.

You can build sandcastles on the beach, dine on the pier with a sweeping view of the ocean, bike the 27-mile strand along the beach, hike the scenic designated trails, scuba dive, or boat, and then take in a show at the classy Performing Arts Center.  Redondo Beach has a sterling line-up of annual events, including a free summer concert series on the famed horseshoe-shaped pier and the old-fashioned, fun-filled Riviera Village Summer Festival.

During June’s annual 2-day Riviera Village Summer Festival, you can purchase artisan crafts, sample great food, have the kids play on carnival rides, watch local acts perform on the Community Stage, and visit the Hawaiian Village, which features Polynesian dancing. Or you can just hang in the ocean view Beer Garden, listening to great live bands. There is entertainment for all musical tastes during the two-day festival.

And beside all that--you can eat, eat, eat!  Whatever your taste buds crave, you can appease them in Redondo Beach.

Begin your day at the iconic Polly’s at the Pier, where hungry fishermen eat breakfast and the in-crowd gathers for brunch. Diners can view the local fishing boats' daily catches while munching on hot and spicy huevos rancheros or a humongous omelet on the Sport-fishing Pier in the Redondo Beach Marina. 

A 1940’s start to your day can begin with burgers, fries, and milkshakes at the red and white Ruby’s Diner decked out with bright red vinyl booths, white Formica tables, soda fountains, and colorful 1940’s poster art.  Ruby’s is adjacent to the Seaside Lagoon, at the southwest corner of Harbor Drive and Portofino Way in Redondo Beach's King Harbor.
The large saltwater lagoon offers a large sand area for sunbathing, children's play equipment, snack bar facilities provided by Ruby's, and volleyball courts. There is also a grass area and luau shelter for day and evening events.
A short walk from the Lagoon is the Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club, a hidden gem overlooking King Harbor. The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club boasts breathtaking scenes from sunsets and sailboats to dolphins and pelicans and is home to its own colony of California sea lions. From our room we had a front-row view of the sea lions frolicking, feeding and basking in their natural habitat.  A coastal retreat for the senses.
A grand circular driveway and custom water feature frames Baleen, Los Angeles, the whimsical, yet elegant signature restaurant that brings an eclectic, eccentric fine dining experience to The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club.

In the mood for some South of the Border grub? Three life-size steel musicians will welcome you to Ortega120, a Frida Kahlo-colored restaurant that combines the charm of Mexico with contemporary SoCal style.  With a central bar stocked with 120 tequilas, its house-squeezed lemon and lime Margaritas are said to be the best in town.

Another Redondo Beach icon is Tony’s on the Pier at Fisherman’s Wharf. Known as Old Tony’s, this ship-shaped restaurant situated right on the Pacific Ocean has been family owned and operated since 1952.  It is the oldest restaurant on the Pier.  The Top of Tony's is the perfect place to enjoy one of the South Bay’s best Mai Tai’s and a sweeping view of the beautiful Pacific sunset.

Sunsets can also be enjoyed from Kincaid’s Bay House, a large first-class restaurant with a view that doesn’t quit.  If you want to select your own fish, try Captain Kidd’s Fish Market.  It is a bare-bones eatery where you can order from the menu or buy your catch from their Market side.  They will charbroil, sauté, deep-fry, or steam your selection free of charge.

When you’ve eaten enough, and feel it’s time for nature and a round of golf, head for beautiful, environmentally sensitive, Trump National Golf Club a few minutes drive from Redondo Beach on the luxurious Palos Verdes Peninsula. Even if you are not a golfer, Trump National features public access trails that meander through the golf course toward the bluffs. The trail system not only provides access to the beach and a public park that is located on the bluffs in front of the club house, but also gives its users the chance to see – up close – the native flora and fauna.  

Preparing to leave Redondo Beach and continue on my 50-mile journey down the coast of Southern California, I had an epiphany.  Why drive a rental car?  A one-day stop in Long Beach, and a hop on the Catalina Express, would take me to Catalina Island where no cars are allowed for visitors. 

So, for less than one day’s cost of a rental car, I arranged for Karmel Shuttle to take me directly to my Long Beach hotel. It was so pleasant that I instantly hired Karmel Shuttle to take me back to the Los Angeles Airport after I ended my trip in Laguna Beach.  And what a pleasure that was.  No tangle of freeways…no turning in cars at LAX…no shuttles back to the airport.  In other words…no stress.  However, you’ll read more about those delightful SoCal destinations in my next couple of articles.

And so, I bid a fond farewell to delightful Redondo Beach.  The SoCal place to “sea and be scene”.

JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer and Travel Consultant

No comments:

Post a Comment