So­cal’s fam­ily-friendly sea­side play­ground

Travel Guide to California - - REDONDO BEACH - BY MICHAEL SHAPIRO

PERCHED ALONG­SIDE the Pa­cific Ocean with glo­ri­ous coast­line and a lively pier, Re­dondo Beach is an ideal venue for liv­ing the Cal­i­for­nia dream, if only for the week­end. Just seven miles from LAX and not far from Los An­ge­les’ top at­trac­tions, his­toric Re­dondo Beach is a des­ti­na­tion in its own right.

Typ­i­cally sunny and in the 80s in sum­mer and com­fort­able the rest of the year, the beach is less crowded than bet­ter­known sands in Mal­ibu and Santa Mon­ica. Pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude sport fish­ing, whale watch­ing, div­ing, surf­ing and standup pad­dle board­ing; bik­ing and beach vol­ley­ball are avail­able too.

Re­dondo Beach rose to promi­nence early in the 20th cen­tury when Ge­orge Freeth came from Oahu and in­tro­duced surf­ing to the main­land. Known as the “Man Who Can Walk on Wa­ter,” Freeth at­tracted thou­sands of spec­ta­tors who gawked in amaze­ment as he rode his eight­foot-long wooden surf­board from sea to shore.

To­day the Re­dondo Beach Pier at­tracts vis­i­tors with events in­clud­ing the an­nual Re­dondo Beach Lob­ster Fes­ti­val, Sept. 22-24 (lob­ster­fes­ti­, a clas­sic car show and a kite fes­ti­val (re­don­

On the third Satur­day of each month there are free yoga ses­sions on the pier, which has more than 50 shops, rides and restau­rants, and there are more choices on the pier’s ad­ja­cent In­ter­na­tional Boardwalk.

Chef Tin Vuong re­cently opened Sub­ur­bia, a restau­rant in Re­dondo Beach’s Riviera Vil­lage fea­tur­ing global spe­cial­ties. There are lots of Amer­i­can stan­dards too.

The city’s cul­tural an­chor is the Re­dondo Beach Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. The 1,457seat venue hosts per­for­mances by the Los An­ge­les Bal­let, a slack key gui­tar fes­ti­val, and the­atri­cal mu­si­cals such as Ok­la­homa!,

which pre­mieres in mid June.

For lodg­ing, a top pick is The Portofino, a wa­ter­front ho­tel with ocean views in Re­dondo Beach’s marina. A new up­scale ho­tel called Shade, with yacht-chic de­sign el­e­ments and a rooftop pool, over­looks the marina.

While stay­ing in Re­dondo Beach, don’t miss SEA Lab, a marine sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter (la­­grams/sea-lab). If you’re in Re­dondo Beach be­tween Novem­ber and April, look out to sea and try to spot gray whales mi­grat­ing be­tween Cal­i­for­nia and Mex­ico. You can of­ten see the be­he­moths from shore; to get closer, book a whale watch­ing tour on a boat such as the Voy­ager (voy­agerex­cur­

But per­haps the best way to en­joy Re­dondo Beach is to sim­ply re­lax in the sand, watch the waves curl and en­joy some Cal­i­for­nia dreamin’ in one of the state’s premier beach towns.

RE­DONDO BEACH AND PIER, above; pad­dle board­ing in the marina, be­low.

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