With one of the most relaxed shorelines in Los Angeles' South Bay area, Hermosa Beach provides an upscale surfer's lifestyle. Residents enjoy all the outdoor activities available with more to offer than just sand. With a population of only 20,000, Hermosa Beach retains a small town vibe even with hordes of beach goers visiting on the weekend.
Located just south of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa conveniently lies 6 miles south of Los Angeles International Airport, but 20 miles southwest of downtown LA. The nearest freeway sits only 5 miles east, but getting to the 405 takes at least 15 minutes and traffic congestion makes it tough to connect with the rest of the region.
Many homes in Hermosa Beach, particularly those close to the sand, go for well over $1 million with some even passing the $10 million mark. A fair number of the 35 and under crowd enjoys the Hermosa Beach lifestyle, which includes a lively nightlife. Fun is easily found heading down the main strips of Pier or Hermosa Avenues with a number of bars and nightclubs just steps from the sand.
Restaurants & Nightlife
There are few spots in Los Angeles that match the activity along Pier Plaza. This pedestrian only area is lined with bars and restaurants filled to overflowing on weekends and holidays. Those who arrive after 10 p.m. need to consider other spots nearby.
On Hermosa Avenue, the Underground attracts the beach natives who like to avoid the regular frenzy on Pier Plaza. Underground provides everything for a complete evening, including no cover, a dance floor and plenty of flat screen televisions for sports. Happy hour prices are in effect every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., except on Taco Tuesdays where margaritas cost $3 and tacos go for $2.50 all night.
Abigaile, a tapas-styled gastropub, caters to a more upscale crowd. The menu changes daily, but all food has an Indian, Mexican and Vietnamese influence. Rooftop seating provides a view of the South Bay. Abigaile brewmasters are proud of the Drop it Like it’s Hops IPA, which is one of the highest rated in the southland.
Local's know Fritto Misto Italian Cafe as a place with exotic takes on Italian fare. The artichoke shrimp gnocchi and chicken cilantro ravioli are both popular, but the atomic pasta demands a diner's attention with chili linguini, peppers and red onions in a chipotle chili cream sauce. Locals know to bring wine and pay the $2 corkage fee.
One of Los Angeles' best kept secrets is the Comedy and Magic Club. Big name stand-up comedians like Joe Rogan, DL Hughley and Dave Attell enjoy performing in this intimate setting. Jay Leno is a constant face at the club who performs every Sunday night.
History & Culture
Hermosa Beach grew out as a subdivision from Rancho Sausal Redondo in 1900. The Hermosa Beach Land and Water Company built the original pier in 1904 and the city incorporated three years later. With the Santa Fe Railway and the Pacific Electric Railroad coming through, the South Bay began attracting new residents.
The city kept its modest roots growing up, embracing the beach culture. The pier has a sculpture and plaques honoring the greatest local surfers in Hermosa Beach history and the town is home to the Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame.
In the 1970s, the Punk Rock movement took hold in Hermosa. Legendary band Black Flag set up shop in a local church and issued their own albums. They influenced many other groups like The Circle Jerks, Pennywise and the Descendants.
Other than the local historical society, there are no museums of note in Hermosa Beach, but the arts scene is vibrant with many galleries and regular art walks through the year. The Hermosa Beach Arts foundation promotes local artists, while the Hermosa Beach Family Theatre, Inc. offers acting and music classes to youngsters in the South Bay.
With its smallish size, Hermosa Beach has limited parking opportunities. Any free street parking is usually snapped up as soon as it opens, but there is a parking garage downtown and metered parking on the street. Many beachgoers walk or bike as the convenient choice. The Strand provides uninterrupted cycling across the beachfront, but locals are accommodating to bikes taking the streets as well.
Public transportation doesn't play a large role in Hermosa. Beach City Transit provides local access throughout the South Bay, while the major Metro lines link to the rest of the city with routes on the Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard.
Just getting to the 405 is a hassle, but traffic in the entire Los Angeles area is usually congested. Drivers need to plan long trips carefully taking into consideration the time of day and traffic patterns. It takes about an hour to reach downtown LA via the Green and Blue Line rail system. The closest station to Hermosa is in Redondo Beach.
The good life never comes cheap and Hermosa Beach is no exception. Rentals average $2002 a month, almost twice that of a typical residence in Los Angeles County. The further away from the beach, the cheaper housing becomes. Studios under 500 square feet go for well over $2,000 next to the beach, while a two-bedroom apartment east of PCH rents for $1,800.
Outside of housing, other goods are about the same as in nearby communities. Gas prices are the same as other parts of LA, which is about 10 percent higher than the national average. Depending on the time of day and type of beer, a draft pint goes for around $6.
Overall, the cost of living in Hermosa Beach is about 66 percent higher than the rest of Los Angeles. Because of the high housing cost, the price of living in Hermosa Beach is almost 600 percent higher than the national average.
Shopping in Hermosa Beach offers two faces. West of Valley Drive leans towards boutiques and small businesses. Locals frequent Curious, a variety store selling cards, books, furniture and other oddities. Shoppers enjoy picking up unique gifts without breaking the bank and leaving with free gift wrapping.
The other side of Valley Drive features mainly chains and the necessities, but ET Surf on Aviation Boulevard acts as a superstore for skate, surf or snowboard needs. The store features outstanding customer service whether the customer is a novice or professional skater. If something is not in stock, they offer a 10 percent discount for the inconvenience of waiting for an order.
Grocery stores are off of PCH, with Vons, Ralphs and Fresh & Easy serving the greater community. The Hermosa Beach Farmers Market is held every Friday on Valley Drive from noon to 4 p.m., rain or shine.
Since most homes have limited yard space, locals enjoy all the outdoor options Hermosa Beach has to offer. The beach takes center stage, with the waves attracting surfers, volleyball players and families looking to enjoy the sun. The pier is a hub of activity with fishing and sight seeing commingling peacefully. The Strand is a paved path that covers the length of Hermosa Beach. It is very popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists.
For people who don't like the sand, the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt lays along the path of the former Santa Fe Railway. Connecting to both Manhattan and Redondo Beach, this 3.7 mile wood-chipped path functions as a protected thruway with limited street crossings. Right off of the Greenbelt sits the city's Skate Park, open to all for no cost. The city does require skaters to wear a helmet and pads.
Fiesta Hermosa takes place over both Memorial and Labor Day weekends beckoning over 300 artists and crafters to the closed off streets. Pier Plaza hosts a main stage providing live music and a charity beer garden throughout the day.