Photo Girl Travels

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Taking Flight: Manhattan/Hermosa Beach CA

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You’re looking out over a beach and see a gathering of sea gulls nestled, deep in meditation. Suddenly, you have this urge to run through them, wild and free, feeling their wings flap around you as they take flight.

This morning I was in that exact situation and before I knew it I was sprinting toward those gulls, zero to 1mph in less than 5 seconds. Legs flying around like extra-long egg beaters, I scrambled across the sand. (In my mind I was moving fast – but running in sand is a lot like running in water. I’m sure I wasn’t setting any records.)

Regardless of the speed, those poor birds scattered. Think of the calories they shed not only from being forced into a frantic take-off. But through the shear stress of seeing me coming toward them. How about you? Have you ever scared a few ounces off a bunch of gulls? If not, then maybe it’s time to be a little spontaneous. Let your hair down and “take flight“.

So where do you find that perfect spot where the ocean breeze ruffles your hair and the sand is dotted with sea gulls? There are a lot of places but the one that I’m going to recommend is Hermosa / Manhattan Beach in Southern California. I actually lived in Manhattan Beach for about 5 years so this part of the country is special to me. The energy is palpable and everywhere you look you see healthy people. Granted, everyone looks better with a tan but how can you not be ripped pounding a volleyball around all day in your favorite kini. A trip to Hermosa / Manhattan Beach isn’t just for the summer. If you are looking for a trip in December this is one to consider. The towns drape the shops with holiday lights. Even the palm trees don a little lighted bling. And this year the city of Manhattan Beach has not only strung holiday lights along the pier, they have lined Christmas trees in bright red containers along the entire pier.

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A trip to Hermosa / Manhattan Beach isn’t just for the summer. If you are looking for a trip in December this is one to consider. The towns drape the shops with holiday lights. Even the palm trees don a little lighted bling. And this year the city of Manhattan Beach has not only strung holiday lights along the pier, they have lined Christmas trees in bright red containers along the entire pier.

Things to Do: First, my favorite. Take a walk on The Strand. This is a path that hugs the beach and takes you from town to town. The houses are beautiful, everyone unique. In Hermosa Beach you share The Strand with the bikers, skateboarders and joggers. In Manhattan Beach The Strand splits and the bikers coast along the sand and the walkers are up high, looking over the beach. (Make sure you walk under the Manhattan Beach pier and out to the water’s edge. It is spectacular standing under the huge pillars, watching the wave crash.)

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Look for the green flash! When I was here I saw multiple green flashes each night. Green flashes are an optical phenomena that occur during sunset, just as the sun disappears behind the water. As the sun sets, keep your eye on it and as it dips and disappears in the water you may be lucky enough to see the flash. If you do, make a wish, I’m sure it will come true…

You can rent a bike and ride from Hermosa to Venice beach if you want. Or, get a beach chair and book and just chill.

Shop – Both towns have a quaint downtown with tons of shops. I absolutely love Tabula Rasa in downtown Manhattan Beach. www.tabularasaessentials.com/ If you need a new kini – Manhattan Beach is your town. Also, Riley Arts has some lovely local artwork. www.rileyartsgallery.com

Eat in one of the fabulous restaurants. I had breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. You can sit outside with a view of the water. www.unclebillspancakehouse.com (photo of eggs and bacon was taken there) When I lived here we’d go to the Local Yolk, another placed were the locals hang out. www.localyolk.com. There is a new place that looked really cool when I walked by – Main Street Cafe www.marinestreetcafe.com. Finally, there is El Tarasco where you can get inexpensive Mexican food. I’ve been eating here for years. (Every local in town has eaten here at least once.) I looked for their website but didn’t find one. Their address is 316 Rosecrans Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA. If you have any other places you’d recommend let me know! I’ll pass them on. PS – the Starbucks in downtown Manhattan Beach by the water has the nicest people who work there! And, they open at 4:30am which is great if you want a joe for your beach walk.

What should you pack? Sneakers, flip-flops and at least a sweater. Although the days can be warm, the nights do cool off. You can bring something sassy too; there are some great bars in both towns. Did I miss anything?

Best way to get there? Get a flight into LAX or drive. I drove down from Los Gatos and took highway 101 along the coast. If you’re not a driver then it’s an easy flight in.

Where to stay? I’ve listed a few below that I would recommend. If you go in December it’s off season so easier to find a room. I love the Beach House, it is the only hotel that is right on the water. The rooms have fireplaces and are absolutely lovely. www.beach-house.com Another place you may try is the Sea View Inn. They have beautiful rooms, some with fireplaces and full ocean views. www.seaview-inn.com) Any other places you’d recommend?

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I hope you take flight soon! As my Dad says, “Life if not a dress rehearsal.”

If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2012 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

5 thoughts on “Taking Flight: Manhattan/Hermosa Beach CA

  1. Ah, Hermosa. Me old stompin’ grounds! Lovely to see them adding touches like the trees on the pier! Who says you need snow to make it Christmasy!

  2. Beautiful pics….my two fav’s the beach and christmas time and now following the photo girl…great magical story telling 🙂

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