Plenty of people disagree about many things when it comes to the topic of Los Angeles however one thing everyone can agree on is that the traffic in LA is awful. For me, as a tourist, the traffic is just another fun attraction of the area albeit, still awful lol... to think how many people are living in that city!? WOW, it just blows my mind every time I'm in the thick of it. We have traffic in the Bay for sure, but our freeways don't come close to near the size and congestion in Los Angeles.
One of the vast and always busy freeways on LA
In southern California it's always perfect beach weather, so when you visit a trip to the beach is a must! I believe the beaches are one of the main reasons so many people live out here. It's for this reason that if you don't go, you really are missing out on one of the gems of the area. Like all things in LA be prepared for a crowd though; every time I have spent a day in Manhattan beach it seemed like everyone else had the same great idea. Traffic is always slow going into to the area, parking is hard to find or in an overpriced parking lot, well, overpriced if you want to stay most of the day. Does all that sounds like too much? Don't give up the idea yet because I promise all of these minor annoyances will be totally worth it once you are walking the streets here.
My favorite thing about Manhattan beach is that you can have a fairly inexpensive way to enjoy a sunny day outside in LA by window shopping, packing a picnic, sunbathing by the pier and watching surfers OR you can be a little bit more of a boujee bee by fine dining, actually shop at the boutiques (to fill your beach vacation home, obviously) have a gelato at the local creamery and end the day watching the sunset at a local beachy bar. I have done a bit of both at different times and each time I left Manhattan Beach I was already dreaming of my next visit.
I just love window shopping in beach towns. They always have the chicest beach vibe decor. It is so fun to look at classic pieces and dream about how I would style them in my imaginary beach house. Furniture in Sky blues and white, natural fibers, sea glass, wind chimes made from delicate seashells and driftwood art - all beautiful items I would never need in my Airstream, but still lovely to admire, nonetheless. I could spend half a day trying on all the tiny beach clothes too in the shops that line the streets here - more things I don't need since I already own 5 suits too many for a city that is covered in fog for half the year, but oh how I love to look.
Top 3 favorite boutiques in the area:
Harper and Harlow
Need a new hat, some chic accessories or a fun top to rock at your next bonfire? Then this is the the boutique for you - a little boho, a splash of rock-n-roll and everything emanating beach life vibes. This store is full of swag that is timeless for the beach bum and free spirit alike. I'm always called into this store while in town as it's always fun to stop in and see what's new and try on a few things. Dogs are welcome and got some free pets and a treat or two while in store.
212 Manhattan Beach Blvd Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
The clothes and the general decor here scream beach town for sure and it's this reason I just love this little shop. I found a beautiful gold necklace here that is perfect for a strappy-tank or oversized t-shirt. Also full of all the beachy swag that never goes out of style. Definitely check it out on your visit. My dogs were also welcome here and given lots of pets and attention <3
912 B Manhattan Ave Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Calling all trend setters and influencers! If you love that upscale beachy look this is the spot for you. This store is full of more trendy items and is one of my favorite to play "dress up" in. I personally don't have enough space to buy the type of clothing, but I love everything in this store regardless and always stop in.
312 Manhattan Beach Blvd Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Top 3 Coffee Spots:
Goodboybob Coffee Roasters
The most "out of the way" Cafe on my list if you prefer sticking to the main Pier area, but worth walking the extra street or two to try this local coffee shop. I love a coffee shop that keeps it simple, and this spot does just that with a few good coffee options, simple roasted beans and a few sweets to pair with your drink. Not much to offer if you have any non-coffee lovers in the group though. They were dog friendly.
1300 Highland Ave Unit 109 Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Verve Coffee Roasters
I love this coffee shop because it is "so LA". It just has that vibe, it looks like the kind of local coffee shop you would see in a movie based in SoCal and the coffee is great too. So chic; you get your caffeine boost and can feel like an extra in a movie while you visit. Fun! It's a good spot for a small bite as well because they serve more than just typical cafe pastries here. I'm unsure if dogs are welcome inside as I didn't have mine when I tried this place out.
451 Manhattan Beach Blvd Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Un Cafe Altamura
Not a grab-n-go spot however they have some special coffee options here that are a must try. Its also a great brunch spot with many options. We stayed long enough for me to try both specials, one with lavender and the other was a cinnamon shooter- yummy! Not a dog friendly place.
1140 Highland Ave Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Top 3 places to chow down: Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, any time of day. No dinner spots on this list.
Uncle Bill's Pancake House
Just good classic American food here. No bells or whistles. Great spot for any meal. Decor inside is super fun and the staff is always friendly. Expect to wait a while if you don't have reservations because this is a local favorite and always busy. Close at 2. Dogs welcome outside seating area.
1305 Highland Ave Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Ocean View Cafe
More delicious classic breakfast foods and some more cultural options as well. Good brunch/lunch, but not a dinner spot. If you don't get to enjoy the ocean much where you live this is the place, I would recommend you dine at. Close at 3. Dogs okay in the patio area however it is pretty small so you may be waiting for a place to sit a longer time than usual.
229 13th St Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Un Cafe Altamura
I really had such a great meal here that I had to put Un Cafe Altamura in two spots on my list here. The servers really seem like they enjoy their jobs here and the food was great! Only a place for breakfast and a late lunch as most her as they close at 4. Again, not a dog friendly place.
1140 Highland Ave Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Bonus must visit (if you drink alcohol):
Great beachy dive bar at the end of Manhattan Beach Blvd with views of the local pier and ocean. Spent a whole day here once with friends in the area catching up and caught the sunset. It was spectacular as it was a perfect beach day with light clouds, so the sun painted the sky to perfection. Bar food and full bar.
116 Manhattan Beach Blvd Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
The way I see it, traffic is something you just can't avoid while in LA. No matter the time of day, it will be bad so YES sit in it to make your way to Manhattan Beach. Once you arrive, "beach mode" will set in and your road rage will fade. It will be worth sitting in traffic for a little while to enjoy some time here.
If you enjoy any of these recommendations next time you visit Manhattan Beach please leave me a comment! Thank you for the love and support.