20 Things To Do In Manhattan Beach

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Manhattan Beach is by no means the first place most people think of when it comes to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. As a largely residential neighbourhood, there isn’t a great deal to draw in tourists but that is exactly why it’s a perfect destination for travellers looking to experience the real Californian beach lifestyle.

With beautiful beaches that are considerably quieter than the more popular tourist options in Los Angeles, as well as a great range of bars and restaurants, Manhattan Beach is an ideal choice for a relaxing vacation. However, it isn’t just the beaches and bars that sell the neighbourhood either.

The Pearl of L.A.’s South Bay shot to fame in the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.’ song and is the quintessential California beach destination to enjoy the state’s laidback outdoor lifestyle. So try these things to do in Manhattan Beach to get you surfing the California dream.

things to do in manhattan beach woman in white swimsuit holding a surf board
Discover the best things to do in Manhattan Beach.

Manhattan Beach, California

20 Things To Do In Manhattan Beach

1- Relax On The Sands Of Manhattan Beach

things to do in manhattan beach this weekend Aerial View over Manhattan Beach in California
If you’re looking for a quieter community to explore while visiting LA, these things to do in Manhattan Beach might be just up your alley.

Manhattan Beach is the eponymous beach that runs the neighbourhood’s entire 2.1-mile (3.3 km) length.

With beautiful stretches of uninterrupted sand, it is the ideal spot for a relaxing day at the beach in considerably quieter surroundings than other places in the Los Angeles metro.

More active visitors will also enjoy exploring the Manhattan Beach sand dunes.

It is even a hotspot for surfers and volleyball players, and the International Surf Festival and Manhattan Beach Open Volleyball Tournament are held here each year.

Manhattan Beach 699 North The Strand, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

2- Walk On The Manhattan Beach Pier

things to do in manhattan beach today a blue sky day on the pier
Exploring the pier is one of the top things to do in Manhattan Beach.

Stretching 928 ft (282 m) out into the Pacific Ocean, the Manhattan Beach Pier is a California Historic Landmark and the oldest pier on the west coast of the United States.

With a beautiful aquarium and café at its end and the Volleyball Walk Of Fame along its length, the Manhattan Beach pier provides the perfect opportunity to stroll out into the ocean.

Soak in the history and stunning views, then sit back and relax for a while in your scenic surroundings.

Manhattan Beach Pier is at 2 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

3- Learn About Local Marine Life In The Roundhouse Aquarium

things to do in manhattan beach california golden sunset with pier and palms in silhouette
One of the things to do in Manhattan Beach in winter is to photograph the sunset at the pier.

At the far end of the Manhattan Beach Pier, the Roundhouse Aquarium is a fabulous aquarium opened in 1920.

Housed in a Mediterranean-style, octagonal building, the Roundhouse Aquarium is a free attraction that features a shark tank, a tide pool touch tank, and tanks containing a variety of marine animals.

With study labs, classes, camps and parties, it is a great way to learn about California’s marine wildlife enjoyably on a budget.

The Roundhouse Aquarium is at Manhattan Beach Pier, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

4- Discover California Cuisine

best things to do in manhattan beach seafood meal
Dining on seafood is another top thing to do in Manhattan Beach.

Manhattan Beach has a range of delicious cuisine and is an excellent place to eat well and healthily.

The Farmers Market is every Tuesday from 11 am to 3 pm and is the place to shop for food straight from the farms.

It also has some excellent food trucks selling healthy snacks and street food from around the world, such as Venezuelan arepa, crepes and Mexican empanadas.

A delightful way to enjoy the tastes of California is on a progressive meal downtown with a local. Find out more here.

From seafood to Mexican to the Mediterranean and trending California healthy dishes, there’s a range of fantastic restaurants in Manhattan Beach.

4- Admire Art At The Manhattan Beach Art Center

The Manhattan Beach Art Center is the perfect stop for those who want to appreciate the arts and styles synonymous with the area.

Hosting pieces by local emerging artists and nationally and internationally acclaimed talents, you have the opportunity to see a full range of Californian style art.

It’s an excellent place to learn a little more about the methods of producing the pieces and the influences that inspire them.

Manhattan Beach Art Center is at 1560 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

5- Spend A Day Exploring Polliwog Park

Polliwog Park is, by far, the largest park in Manhattan Beach.

This makes it the perfect opportunity to enjoy some time relaxing outdoors for those who aren’t the biggest fan of sand.

With a large pond for water activities, an amphitheatre for public performances, a nine-hole disc golf course, multiple sports fields, a playground and a dog park, it has lots to keep you entertained.

There’s even the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden, which is delightful to explore.

Polliwog Park is at 1601 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

For more California ideas, see:

6- Wander Around The Botanical Garden

things to do in manhattan beach, ca tropical flowers
Taking a stroll around the Botanic Gardens is a tranquil thing to do in Manhattan Beach.

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden is a free attraction where guests can enjoy seeing and learning about various native plants.

With a range of flowers, grasses, and trees, as well as features like a waterfall and picnic tables, it is a great place to take a relaxing stroll, learn about the Californian landscape, and enjoy a little fresh air.

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden is at 1237 North Peck Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

7- Attend An Event At The Polliwog Park Amphitheatre

The Polliwog Park Amphitheatre is the premier destination for outdoor performances in Manhattan Beach.

Regularly hosting plays and musical performances, it gives you the chance to see up and coming talent from the surrounding area and further afield.

With the ability to bring food and drink and many of the events charging no admission, it is also a fantastic spot to spend a fun evening out for those on a budget.

Polliwog Park Amphitheatre is in Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

8- Uncover Local History At The Manhattan Beach Historical Society

fun things to do in manhattan beach surfer riding a wave
One of the things to do in Manhattan Beach is to go surfing and there are excellent surf beaches here.

The Manhattan Beach Historical Society is a small museum tucked away opposite the southern end of Polliwog Park.

Located in a traditional Californian beach cottage, it hosts several quaint exhibits and archives dedicated to the local area’s culture and history.

Manhattan Beach Historical Society is at 1601 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

9- Enjoy A Performance At The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

free things to do in manhattan beach sunset over the pier at Redondo Beach
Another thing to do in Manhattan Beach is to watch the sunset at Redondo Beach.

The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center is located just on the eastern outskirts of the area, in neighbouring Redondo Beach.

A large, modern, stylish performing arts theatre, it hosts everything from musicals and ballets to speeches and lectures.

With a great range of facilities on-site, low entrance fees and performances by both local and more established talents, it is well worth seeing if there is anything of interest taking place here while you are in town.

Redondo Arts Center is at 1935 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Redondo Beach, 90278.

10- Put Your Fitness To The Test In Sand Dune Park

Sand Dune Park is a recreation area located just a few blocks from the beach that features a 100-foot (30 m) high dune.

With multiple trails up the dune, it is a perfect place to test your physical skills while enjoying panoramic views of the area from its summit.

There is even a playground to keep younger members of your group entertained while you do the climb.

Sand Dune Park is at 3299 Bell Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

11- Catch The NFL Stars Of Tomorrow At The Waller Football Stadium

The Waller Football Stadium is a fabulous sporting venue where the Mira Costa High School athletics teams host their home events.

Featuring a football field surrounded by an athletics track, you can enjoy some of the best sporting events in Manhattan Beach, cheer on the young athletes, and perhaps see some future stars of the NFL and Olympics before they are famous.

Waller Football Stadium is at 501 South Peck Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

12- Take A Hike Along Veterans Parkway

Veterans Parkway is a scenic trail in the northwest corner of Manhattan Beach, which separates North Ardmore Avenue and Valley Drive.

With trees, benches, picnic tables, fitness stations and public art displays, it is the ideal place to take a relaxing stroll.

Veterans Parkway is even friendly to dogs on leads so that you can enjoy a walk with your four-legged friend as well.

Veterans Parkway is at 400 North Ardmore Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

13- Enjoy Some Sport In Marine Avenue Park

top things to do in manhattan beach Hermosa Beach lifeguard tower
Another activity around Manhattan Beach is to head to Hermosa Beach. Pictured here is the lifeguard tower at dusk.

Marine Avenue Park is a 7.5-acre (3 ha) city park that is ideal for those interested in sport.

With baseball and soccer fields, basketball courts, the Pay-N-Play Racquetball centre, and the Manhattan Beach Skatepark, whether you want to take part yourself or sit back and watch others play, there is almost always something going on to enjoy.

Marine Avenue Park is at 1625 Marine Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

14- Be Amazed By The Beauty Of The Pacific Coast Highway

things to do in manhattan beach ca Long exposure.
Bixby Bridge and Pacific Coast Highway at sunset near Big Sur in California.

California Route 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway, is one of the most scenic roads in America.

With the southern end running through Manhattan Beach, this is the perfect opportunity to see a little of the highway for yourself.

Drive the stretch that runs through the neighbourhood and beyond its limits to be amazed by the ocean views.

Then visit some of the themed attractions along the way, such as Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum.

Once you get a taste for this iconic driving route, you may even decide to drive the whole way to experience everything California has to offer.

The Pacific Coast Highway is at California Route 1.

15- Embrace African American History At Bruce’s Beach

Bruce’s Beach is a beautiful neighbourhood park known locally for its prominent role in African American history in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area.

With wide-open green spaces, stunning views of the ocean, and historical markers to teach you about the importance of Bruce’s Park over the years, it is a great place to combine education, relaxation, and natural beauty.

Bruce’s Beach is at 2600 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

16- Treat Yourself To A Meal With A View At The Strand House

The Strand House is a fabulous restaurant that is perhaps the best in Manhattan Beach.

Serving modern American cuisine using farm-fresh ingredients, it is among the neighbourhood’s hippest and most popular eateries.

The restaurant is in a fantastic position on the corner of Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Ocean Drive, at the base of the Manhattan Beach Pier, where you can sit back and enjoy a meal while admiring sweeping ocean views through its floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Strand House is at 117 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

17- Go For A Stroll Along The Strand

things to do in manhattan beach sunbakers on the beach wide shot
Enjoy sun, sand and sea at Manhattan Beach on a warm sunny day.

The Strand is a scenic, concrete walkway that runs along the back of Manhattan Beach, in front of rows of traditional Californian beach houses.

Those who aren’t a fan of sand can take a stroll along its length to feel the sea breeze on their face, take in the stunning ocean vistas, and enjoy a little of California’s traditional style.

The Strand is at 500 Ocean Drive, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

18- Dine Outdoors In Live Oak Park

Live Oak Park is a small neighbourhood park at the southern end of Veterans Parkway.

With tennis courts, a dog park, and a children’s playground, it is the perfect spot for a little outdoor recreation for all ages and species.

There is even a great collection of picnic spots with grills, so it is a fabulous opportunity for those who want to make the most of California’s fantastic weather and dine outdoors.

Live Oak Park is at 1901 North Valley Drive, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

19- Grab A Drink At The Downstairs Bar

things to do in manhattan beach at night cocktails at a bar
Going on a cocktail bar hop is one of the fun things to do in Manhattan beach at night.

The Downstairs Bar is one of the best bars in Manhattan Beach.

With a cosy atmosphere, stylish décor, and a great range of drinks and cocktails, you can sit back and sip while taking in the tropical vibe of the surrounding neighbourhood.

They have a great range of food, and their events for occasions like Halloween and St Patrick’s Day will rival any in the area.

The Downstairs Bar is at 900 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

20- Play A Round At The Westdrift Golf Course

things to do in manhattan beach ca area lady golfer swinging a club
Playing a game of golf is one of the top things to do in Manhattan Beach.

Located on the northern edge of Manhattan Beach, the Westdrift Golf Course is the premier golfing destination in the city.

The nine-hole course spread over 24 acres (9.7 ha) features hills, lakes, sand traps and palm trees that create the ultimate opportunity for players of all abilities.

A 27 par course that runs a total of 1,209 yards, you can enjoy a busy morning getting your competitive juices flowing while making the most of the sun and fresh air.

Then retreat to the clubhouse to relax and enjoy a fabulous meal and a well-deserved drink.

Westdrift Golf Course is at 1400 Parkview Avenue, Manhattan Beach, 90266.

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.