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36 Hours in Hermosa Beach

By Shelby Benz, Editor

A quintessential trip through California surf cities and into the heart of silky beaches and passionate endeavors of beneficence.

Hermosa Beach is the epitome of the perfect California scene sensationalized in music by the Beach Boys. Popular for activities such as sunbathing, beach volleyball, surfing, paddleboarding, and bars, Hermosa is the symbol of “Surfin’ U.S.A”, where “You’d see ’em wearing their baggies/ Huarache sandals too.” Colorful sun umbrellas dot the long shores of powdery sand which run along a paved path called The Strand. Socially enveloped in the lax and careless dogma of Southern California, this small town has made strides in the commitment of art and music in defining the culture: Pier Avenue is the hub of festivity, cementing partying nature into historically consistent culture, acting as home to annual festivals, restaurants, and lounges like the historic Lighthouse, the citadel of Jazz on the south coast. While the nature of Hermosa is indeed lax, there is something special about a town that has the inherent need to do good.

Friday

1) NOON. MESH OF CRAFT AND CULTURE

Every Friday on Valley Drive, little vendors station themselves along baseball, tennis, and basketball courts and sell original and homemade items. Vendors sell colorful, weaved baskets, creamy goat cheese, oils, fruit like strawberries, blueberries, plums, etc., exotic shells as vessels for succulents to grow. Satisfy your taste buds by testing the various samples offered by the fruit stations and enjoying your purchases in the central eating area. Food vendors station themselves along the small lot and sell ethnic foods, baked goods, and the iconic kettle corn prevalent in all viable outdoor events, coated in sugar and salt.

2) 2:00 P.M. CHUTES AND LADDERS

A hop, skip, and a jump away is South Park on the edge of the Cypress art district. A large patch of grass is circumscribed by a cement walkway. Kids run across the field in bright sports uniforms, sports balls in hand. Children ride their bikes around the track, men and women walk or run their dogs on leashes, weaving through the trees that are clustered along the edges of the grass. In the northwest corner of the park, you see a playground that is proper for any child. Garden huts fleck the hillside and a polished, cement slide runs down the slope leading to playground equipment among patches of bouncy poured rubber and rubber mulch ground. The South park, with its faultless possibilities for fun and entertainment, is the perfect hang-out for people of all ages – play a sport, go for a walk, ride a bike, work on a lawn table, relax under the warm sun penetrating through the leaves of the trees above.

3) 3:30 P.M. SANDY SHORES

The wind becomes more of a constant and flicks pieces of your hair back as you walk toward the wide-spanning coast line of Hermosa Beach. It sweeps the crowns of each palm tree, lining the streets from all directions, and rustling through the feathered leaves as though pursuing the whisper of a gentle song. The beaches of Hermosa are impressively lengthy with plenty of room for far more than just swimming. People fly kites that twist and dance in the rapid, cool wind; they sit on lounge chairs wearing sun shades. You can smell sun-tan lotion wafting through the air and amalgamating with the salty breeze from the Pacific. People have sun umbrellas and wear sun hats in brilliant colors. Spend countless hours relaxing by the beach. Cup your hands and capture little sand crabs in the waves. Walk along the beach from the break wall of Redondo to the Hermosa Beach pier.

4) 6:00-7:30 P.M. TRUE COLORS

The only way to spend the end of the day is to take in the ‘beautiful’ ocean views of Hermosa Beach. Watch colors paint the sky in brilliant red, orange, yellow, and rosy shades. Rays of the sun dance with the caps of ripples in the everlasting extent of the ocean until finally, the crown of the sun meets the line of the horizon. Maybe see the fins of dolphins caper the surface of the water. Maybe see a pod of whales float past the beach. Watch the sunset while resting your body across the infamous Strand wall, or perhaps walk down the pier, the farthest extent from land to infinite sea. You can hear the lustrous waves crash over the legs of the pier masked with mussels. When your eyes sweep the panoramic view from the green mountains of Palos Verdes to Santa Monica – when you see Catalina Island layered in the rosy aura of the setting sun, surrounded by the boundless sea lashing incessantly, you can finally understand.

5) LOUNGE AROUND

Following the set of the sun and the settling of darkness in the sky, the Hermosa residents fill the various bars, restaurants, and lounges lining Pier Avenue, the designated cultural hub of Hermosa. The choices range from the conspicuous Mediterranean Mediteraneo to the irish pub Hennessey’s. The possibilities are limitless and the partying is incessant. It is traditional Hermosa style to revel in the culture and the people until the morn. Quaff in alcohol and indulge in surfer cuisine – fish of all kinds. There are people socializing, watching the game that is inevitably playing on the innumerable flat screen TVs lining the wall in sleek black. The people are special. They are passionate, they are fierce friends. They have been coming to this same spot for their entire lives.

Saturday

6:30 A.M. WAKE UP TO SUN AND SURF

Jump out of a restful night’s sleep, down a few cups of Joe and hit the surf – mother ocean calls.  Surfers, alike, truck down to the surf line, run down the beach, and mutually nod to all the early morning runners, jumping into the calling ocean. Paddle out, line up, and drop into the glassy water extending infinitely in all directions and note the inherent camaraderie among the surfing community, and the symbiotic relationship between the mother ocean and her devotees. This session invigorates one in unimaginable ways. People drop into the little ways of little challenge yet its the mingling of life with nature that sets the day. Indulge in this cultural staple of the South Bay.

6) 8:30 A.M. WAFFLES AND JOHN WAYNE

Get breakfast at the historic Eat at Joe’s breakfast joint in the neighboring city of Redondo Beach. Seat yourself at one of their cozy communal tables and refrain from the primitive urges of devouring the breakfast of your greatest dreams. Drizzle liquid sugar, syrup, onto a waffle that is curiously superior to others. Eat at Joe’s in Redondo Beach is additionally the home of the John Wayne special, a favorite of the man himself. The employees maintain quality preparation, and speedy, friendly service. The legacy of this Redondo Beach landmark is carried on by the loyalty of customers that come consistently to read their paper, drink a cup of coffee, and enjoy their favorite meal at any time of the day.

7) 10:30 A.M. CYCLE AROUND

Rent bicycles or other creative means of transportation at the the Hermosa Cyclery, nestled in a small pocket of Pier Avenue. Then proceed to ride along The Strand, the network lining the entire entity of Hermosa Beach. Ride past the pier emblazoned with the stone formation of a star on a silky slope ground. Skateboarders ride their boards around the circular slope of the star plaza, adjacent to the bronze statue of surfer, Tim Kelly, memorializing the lives lost in the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division. The plaque reads, “Their courage, professionalism and devotion to lifesaving is recognized worldwide.” Pedal past the diverse housing along the strand, variable panels of wood or stone, houses of sleek and modern or traditional austerity. See people of all ages travelling along the strand; occasionally see little children selling little plastic cups of acidic lemonade replete with sugar.

8) 2:00 P.M. FISH ARE FRIENDS

Commemorate ocean life restoration and protection with the marine constituents themselves by visiting The SEA Lab. Just past the Hermosa Beach boundary, the company has operated since 1997 under the Los Angeles Conservation Corps with the purpose of providing a hands-on science center for the community. Take a tour of the marine environment sustained by the lab and become aware of the causes and effects of polluting the oceans. Additionally, learn how to become a benefactor to marine life through conservation and reducing waste. The SEA Lab has effectively informed the public of the importance of maintaining our oceans and is part of a larger movement that works toward saving the planet from the lifestyle of humankind.

9) 3:30 P.M. Paddle Boarding

Just past the Redondo Beach SEA Lab are numerous surfer shops, that offer rentals for stand-up paddle boarding, traditionally adorned in wood planks and surfer memorabilia. The stagnant water of the port smells of salt and fish. The timber of the ports is wetted by the water and the protruding launch pads jounce on the surface of the water like the buoys that line the harbor and create an artificial barrier from the vindictive sea. Loyal surfer employees assist in launching into your venture through the waters. Hear the water slashing the rock barrier. Feel the slightest ripples under your feet and indulge in the vulnerability of knowing that only a board separates you from standing on water. Weave through cul de sacs of boats lacquered in all colors of polished wood. Huddled in colonies, sea lions bathe in the warm strokes of the sun and the trickling pools of water that caress their velvet skin in icier cool.

10) 6:30 P.M. Captain Kidds

One of the original establishments of Redondo Beach, before its more foofy renovations, is a unique fish market and restaurant called Captain Kidds. Within a cavity of the fish market room, employees listen to the orders and collect the selected variety of fish for the customers. Upon weighing the fish and produce, customers are directed to the cashier register where they can either check out, or have their fish cooked in subject-specific ways. The menu above chiseled in icy, white chalk lists endless possibilities. Visitors can enjoy their meal with an ocean view through windows fitted in whitewashed plank walls looking out toward the Pacific.

Sunday

11) 10:00A.M. Jazz and Blues

The Lighthouse is the citadel of Hermosa’s music scene.  According to the cafe’s historical page, in an article by Dick Williams, Entertainment Editor Los Angeles Mirror on October 16, 1954, it operates “… in a long, low, oblong, dimly lit room with an informal, easy atmosphere for shirt-sleeve jazz.” Plastered with muddied bricks, a collage of impressionist paintings and photos of the innumerable celebrity musician visitors, a bar spanning a small dance floor to be moved and swayed by the music of soul, the Lighthouse embodies the glamour and the beauty of aspiring Hollywood. Its atmosphere is even slipped into various scenes of the well-acclaimed La La Land movie.

Hermosa is jam-packed, young, and lively with a population of 19,000 people in 1.3 square miles. It is a small dot on the map – a hidden gem of the South Bay, constantly brimming with charity events, sports tournaments, bar bashes, and musical performances.

 

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Shelby Benz, Editor

Shelby Benz is a Senior at Modesto High School who is currently enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Programme. She is a very involved student who...

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36 Hours in Hermosa Beach