L.A. Day Trip: South Bay

For laid-back beach culture and pure relaxation, head to the South Bay. Start with a morning hike at Del Cerro Park, relax with a massage and a light bite at Terranea Resort and then head north through Manhattan, Redondo, and Hermosa beaches for brunch and an activity like a boardwalk bike ride, surfing, or hang gliding lessons.

Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275, USA
On arrival at Terranea, it’s natural to release a big, tension-melting sigh. The resort occupies 100-plus acres along the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, providing expansive views of the Pacific and a sense of spaciousness that’s rare in the city. The Mediterranean-style resort hotel spent $40 million in 2017 to upgrade the property, which includes 582 guest rooms and suites, eight bungalows, four swimming pools (take the kids to the 140-foot waterslide at the Resort Pool), and one acclaimed golf course. At its upscale wellness-minded spa, ingredients grown on the grounds go into the treatments, which are designed and timed to improve the body’s circadian rhythm.

Pure pampering aside, regulars return in part for the unparalleled access to dozens of postcard-pretty hiking trails, including a naturalist-led walk (there’s also a falconry program). One of the resort’s nine restaurants can meet virtually any craving that hits, but the mar’sel‘s scallops with basil risotto should be non-negotiable. Pro tip: Book a visit in December or January to watch the sun rise and set from the same vantage point—and maybe even spot some humpback whales.
4129001902, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293, USA
Biking the boardwalk is the best way to experience the beaches and coastline of L.A. Rent a bike in the middle at Dockweiler Beach and either go the 10 miles north through Marina Del Rey, Venice, and the Santa Monica Pier (or keep going to Malibu) or go three to six miles south to the more relaxed local life of Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beaches. Whichever way you choose, make sure you have the stamina to bike back.
1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, USA
The seasonal small-plates sharing menu at M.B. Post brings out the social side of dining. Upon entering, the liveliness wraps you in a friendly bear hug. The decorative accents pay tribute to the space’s post office past and are as thoughtful as the ingredients in each dish. From the pop of the candied ginger in the granola parfait to the lemony freshness of the Belly Button lox bagel, each bite has a distinct flavorful burst. The drink selections, whether cocktails or tea, are as just as carefully crafted and even the most basic breakfast item, biscuits, are transformed into a delicious must-have plate of its own.
805 West Manchester Boulevard
Randy’s massive donut sign atop the roof of its drive-thru and walk-up bakery has been an L.A. landmark since it opened in 1953. It even reached celebrity status and was featured in films, including Iron Man 2 and Mars Attacks! While the giant donut may be the most obvious trait, Randy’s surprisingly light and flakey “Glaze” donut is a defining feature and is personally the best I’ve ever had. Their apple fritters are also popular, and with most items under $1, it’s also a great deal.
12659-12799 Vista Del Mar
Beneath the path of planes taking off from LAX is an oceanfront runway for beginner hang gliders to get some air of their own. Sign up for a full (seven flights for $140) or half lesson (four flights for $85) with Windsports, which has been operating with A-class instructors since 1974. The experienced Greg DeWolf, whose longest flight clocked in at 6.5 hours, is a recommended guide. His passion, thoroughness, and humor are just what a novice needs to feel comfortable and confident piloting this new flying contraption. Relaxing is key, and once you do, the flights are a calming enjoyable ride. Just make sure to look up so you remember the experience!
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