If Manhattan Beach is all sleek storefronts and Redondo Beach mostly strip malls, Hermosa Beach is somewhere in between—a charming hub that retains its counterculture vibe, even though starter homes sell for $1 million-plus. That’s thanks, in part, to its size (a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 1.3 square miles) and to its many longtime residents, who make Hermosa feel like a small town. Then there’s the beach: a blessedly uninterrupted stretch of white sand that meets some of Southern California’s best surf.
1. Lily Pad Floral Design
Fresh blooms are showcased alongside sculptural branches in this rambling, light-filled shop. Owner Rebecca Perry creates lovely everyday bouquets, but her arrangements for weddings and similarly special events are the standouts. » 901 Hermosa Ave., Ste. G, 310-376-2539.
Photograph by Mindee Choi
2. Becker Surfboards
Founded in 1980 by board-shaping master Phil Becker as a hole-in-the-wall outfitter for die-hard surfers, this storied shop now occupies five buildings and stocks a range of surf-inspired gear for men and women. Becker retired last year, but the place is still known for its custom board work, all of which is done in-house. » 301 Pier Ave., 310-372-6554.
3. La Sosta Enoteca
Billowing white curtains and farmhouse-style tables lend an easy elegance to this two-year-old bistro. Top-notch northern Italian dishes are prepared simply, and the wine list is thoughtful. Try the Cutting Board—a selection of cheeses and cured meats that makes for a generous antipasto or light meal for two. » 2700 Manhattan Ave., 310-318-1556.
4. The Spot Natural Food Restaurant
This neighborhood eatery is a favorite with locals craving vegetarian cuisine: hearty salads, tofu burritos, and veggie burgers topped with guac and chili. Most selections can be prepared in fat-free and vegan versions. » 110 2nd St., 310-376-2355.
5. Planet Earth
Yoga-mat-toting types kick back on comfy benches, recharging with healthful soups, salads, juices, and shakes that are vegan, organic, locally grown, or some combo of the three. The selection of delicious fair-trade java from such locales as Nicaragua, Tanzania, Timor, Uganda, and Ethiopia appeals to those who want to drink with a clear conscience. » 509 Pier Ave., 310-318-1888.
Photograph by Mindee Choi
6. Café Boogaloo
The quality Cajun-influenced menu is more “gastro” than “pub” at this lively spot, which sets itself apart from the pack of frat-boy-friendly watering holes lining the pier. Twenty-seven varieties of ale are on tap in this warehouse space, where grown-up patrons let loose to live rock and blues Wednesday through Sunday. » 1238 Hermosa Ave., 310-318-2324.
7. Sol Baby
This petite store carries infant garb for the Bugaboo set, like cheeky onesies, Technicolor dress shirts, tie-dyed frocks, and hats knitted by the owner. » 901 Hermosa Ave., Ste. K, 310-318-3960.
8. Yari Clothing and Jewelry
While many neighborhood shops stock a safe selection of Fred Segal-approved labels, this boutique does them one better with its upscale beachwear and baubles from on-the-rise L.A. designers. » 327 Pier Ave., 310-937-9800.
9. The North End
Choose a perch by the giant picture windows for prime people-watching at this historic building. There was a time when the vast horseshoe-shaped bar at the popular hangout rotated like a carousel. The bar spins no more, but we can’t say the same for the clientele—a mix of sunburned sorority girls and salty regulars—who hit the North End for inexpensive brews (and hangover breakfasts the morning after). » 2626 Hermosa Ave., 310-379-5379.