The South Bay of Los Angeles is actually the southern part of the Santa Monica Bay, but it is better known as simply “the South Bay.”
There is also a South Bay area of San Francisco, but I don’t know anything about that South Bay, so don’t ask!
I was born, raised, and still reside in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. I can confidently say it’s the most “anti-LA” area of LA, in a good way. It is where the suburbs meet the beach and it’s a 20-minute drive to Downtown with no traffic (which is only at 3 am).
The South Bay area starts just south of LAX. If you have flown into and out of LA, you have seen it from the air. It stretches from El Segundo in the north down the coastline to Palos Verdes in the south and ends at the Port of Los Angeles. If you have noticed that beautiful green hill jetting to the Pacific Ocean during takeoff, that is Palos Verdes. If you are familiar with freeways in LA, it’s west of the 110 and south of the 105.
Being a native of Los Angeles, I have already noticed an increase in the city’s population in my 30 years of life. It’s sometimes hard to not get angry at the influx of people, since it raises rent and housing prices and increases traffic (which is so bad that we have plenty of friends who have fled to less populated parts of the state or have found a new home state). But to view things in a positive light, we have the most epic weather ever, Southern California is insanely beautiful, and Los Angeles offers just about any activity you can dream of. We really do have something for everyone! I can’t and don’t blame others for wanting to live here, too.
Anyways, back to the South Bay…
Where to stay when visiting
If you are planning a trip to Los Angeles and looking to come down to the South Bay to stay for a few nights, look for somewhere in Hermosa Beach. Hermosa is a tiny beach town nestled right between Manhattan Beach (a pricy beach town) and Redondo Beach (a more more residential beach town). Hermosa will offer the most as far as nightlife, eating options, and walkability. The entire city is within walking distance. Pier Avenue is where most of the shops and restaurants are located. You will get the California beach vibe without the influx of tourists you would find in somewhere like Venice.
If you are looking for more a family-friendly atmosphere, Redondo is perfect. There are not any beach front hotels, but you can get a room close to the harbor or look for a rental house.
What to see if you are making a day trip
If you live in LA and still haven’t ventured down to the South Bay, it’s about time! You will get a nice dose of authentic California. I highly suggest either starting in Palos Verdes and making your way back up the coast or vice versa. Palos Verdes is great for a drive or a drink at Terranea. You can take the coastal route from Palos Verdes up to Redondo, stop at the pier for a bite, then head into Hermosa for a bike ride. The strand that starts in Redondo Beach goes all the way to Santa Monica. I suggest riding from King Harbor, where you can rent a bike, past Manhattan Beach and back. It’s a nice ride with plenty to stop and see.
Why is it so different than the rest of LA?
Remember when I said that the South Bay of LA was the most unlike-LA part of LA? Are you wondering what that was about?
Well, Micah and I always get told, “you don’t seem like you are from LA,” when in fact, we were both born and raised here, and both our mothers were also born and raised here. So when people tell us that we don’t seem like we’re from LA, I assume they really mean that we are very down-to-earth and practical, not at all pretentious or bougie. In other words, “very unlike a good bulk of people who now call LA home.”
The South Bay has a way keeping families here, unlike other areas of LA. It is also sort of a hidden gem–when people come flocking to LA, they usually want to live on the west side or in a trendy neighborhood, not necessarily in the beachy suburbs. The truth is, the South Bay is still filled with down-home people just like any other town in America. With our great beaches and epic towns, we can only wait and see how long that hometown feeling sticks around. But for now, I am hopeful it will stay for a long time!
Come on down and check out the South Bay for yourself! If it’s your first time to LA be sure and give this a read first!