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Everything you need to know about Manhattan Beach, CA.

You are obviously on this page because you either just moved to Manhattan Beach, CA or you are visiting this beach town. Either way, I am so excited to tell you all about this beautiful city.


If you are looking for specifically food-related information in Manhattan Beach, check this shorter article.


Otherwise, read along.


Manhattan Beach is an affluent town of about 40,000 people. It is one of three ' Beach Cities'. It is part of an area called ' South Bay' but technically, South Bay is part of Los Angeles County. The temperates here are moderate year long due to the city's proximity to the Pacific Ocean. If you are comfortable in a wet suit and like to surf, you can enjoy the waves practically all year round.

The Beach

The beautiful beach is a fantastic community resource and is generally less touristy than the Santa Monica, Hermosa or Malibu beaches. The pier is clean and beautiful and is just gorgeously decorated around Christmas. The cherry on the top is the Roundhouse Aquarium right on the pier. The beach is pretty long and stretches about 2.1 miles. There is a walking path and a bike path throughout this entire way with clean restrooms along the way. Sunrise and sunsets on the beach are probably among the best in the country!


























TIP: If you want to rent bikes, drive a little further to Hermosa Beach to Hermosa Cyclery, which is right by the beach in Hermosa. Park in the parking lot or on the street.


You can grab a quick bite at one of the restaurants on the beachfront too. For your bike ride, you can drive south to Redondo Beach or you can drive north to Manhattan Beach or all the way to El Segundo.



BE IN THE KNOW

The best kept secret in town are the Sketchers Fireworks. They happen right on the pier! They were canceled in 2020 due to COVID but generally, every year they delight residents during the holidays.


The second best kept secret in town is the Pumpkin Race that the whole city gears up for! It takes place downtown, right by the beach front. The next annual PUMPKIN RACE will take place Oct 2022 and it is always quite a spectacle to see. The town gives out free kits and residents make their own pumpkin racers and race them downhill.

Kids love to check out the 'Light Gate' in front of the library. This structure was installed in 2015 by artists Mags Harries and Lojos Heder. As viewers move around and through the sculpture, it shift from transparency, to prismatic refraction, to mirror reflection. On two days of the year, the sun sets perfectly through the Light Gate sculpture.






































Beach Volleyball is a thing here! The city is known for its beach volleyball tournament, the Manhattan Beach Open (by AVP) which has been played since 1960s. The Open is the only professional volleyball tournament in which amateurs are able to "place into" the event through pre-qualifying rounds. It draws well over 60,000 people and it is a very prestigious event. It usually takes place in August.


Santa comes every year in Manhattan Beach. Even the adults believe in him!


The cops honk a holiday tune to alert people to step out of their home to greet Santa. It is the cutest event ever!























The Sand Castle Design Contest in Manhattan Beach is also a fun event. 2022 is their 60th year.
















LIVING HERE

Manhattan Beach consistently ranks as one of the best small towns in America. It has a beach town feel - A laid-back, relaxed vibe! Given its proximity to the beach and the quality of schooling, Manhattan Beach is no doubt expensive. The cost of living here is high - Property prices are high, groceries are priced higher, utilities are tad more expensive than other parts of the state.


According to Pay Scale, Manhattan Beach's housing expenses are 436% higher than the national average. The beach-front homes are priced higher than most other homes in the city. As of April 2020, the median price of a Manhattan Beach home is $2.5 million. Most homes here are single-family but there are newer townhomes near busier streets. In general, it is harder to find apartments to rent but reach out to a real estate broker, and you may get lucky!


Manhattan Beach is divided into 5 sections:


The Sand Section

This part of MB is by the coastline. Great beach views, smaller lots and pretty pricey. Parking is a headache but if you are just visiting, this is where you should be. Lots of rental properties on Air B&B. Homes that are west of Highland Avenue are most expensive. Downtown is this area.


The Tree Section

This area is close to the downtown but residents get a little more space. All the streets here are named after trees! This area is desirable.


Hill Section

Luxurious and crazy expensive is how I would describe this part of town. Huge homes, great ocean views or mountain views, depending on where the home is situated. You won't see cute beach homes here, just mansions! If you are into driving around cool homes, check out this section!


Manhattan Village

This is a gated community, with a variety of homes. It shares a wall with the Manhattan Village mall.


Manhattan Heights / Liberty Village

They call this East Manhattan. Bigger lots, cheaper homes. Some real estate folks have separated an area called ' Mira Costa section' because it is a bit hilly compared to the Manhattan Heights and Liberty Village that are on flat terrain.


Manhattan Beach is a safe city. According to a SafeWise analysis (2018), there are 35,955 residents living in Manhattan Beach, but only 1.47 violent crimes per 1,000 people, and 28.65 property crimes per 1,000 people. For the total crime in Manhattan Beach, 5.15% was violent, and 94.85% was property.


Manhattan Beach is within driving distance from Santa Monica, Playa Vista and El Segundo, cities where people tend to work. It is an hour from Orange County and 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. It is only 15 minutes away from LAX, LA's biggest airport. It is a convenient location for folks in film, technology and finance industries who need to commute for work.


Hotels

The Shade Hotel is a great place to stay if you are visiting. Other hotels are the West Drift by Marriott (which has a nice bar as well), The Sea View Inn at the Beach, the Best Western Plus, The Residence Inn on Sepulveda, The Wave Hotel, the Crimson Hotel and The Belamar Hotel.


Schooling

Manhattan Beach is a great place to raise a family. Manhattan Beach has five elementary schools, one middle and one high school. All of them are highly rated, with amazing teachers and staff. The school system (MBUSD) is separate from the Los Angeles system and the funding per child as of 2020 is about $14K per child which is way higher than most school districts in Los Angeles. Of late, there have been funding issues due to lower enrollment and lack of support from the state government but a city-based educational foundation called MBEF has managed to bail us out. The city also has substantial support from companies such as Chevron and Sketchers and local groups such as Zislis which has been incredible for the school community.


Sports & Recreation

The city has many parks. Polliwog Park with its playgrounds, duck pond and dog run is a popular spot. The city-organized Summer Concert Series takes place here and on concert days, you see folks with their folding chairs making their way toward the park. The Live Oak Park has basketball courts, ping pong tables, dog run and green space. The Sand Dune park is unique and should be checked out. Then, there is Bruce Beach (open green space with a great view), Manhattan Heights Park with its tennis and paddleball courts, and Marine Avenue Park with its cool skate spot, basketball, racquetball courts, battling cages, etc. If you have teenage kids, check out the Teen Center. If you have younger kids, the after school programs are also quite affordable.


The city also has a public pool called the Begg Pool with open lap swim times but also just fabulous swim lessons, water aerobics, and Jr. Guard Prep classes. Check out the city's Parks and Facilities page here. Remember, everything needs reservation. Finally, the city also offers summer camp as well as weekly and monthly classes. Things are quite in demand and fill up real fast!


Celebrity Sighting

You may see a celebrity or two in this town. Zooey Deschanel, Vincent Vaughn, Chris Fenton, Maria Sharapova, Mia Hamm, Mike D'Antoni, and Laker Luke Walton are some of the many sports and Hollywood celebrities who live here.


Retail

Manhattan Beach downtown has so many nice stores! Stores such as Tabula Rasa, Aviator Nation, All Yoo, Beehive, Cami, Catwalk, Lorna Jane, Growing Wild, Pages and Kalihi provide a lovely small-town feel. There are also bigger brand names like Free People and Sketchers (which is HQ here). In addition, Manhattan Beach has a sweet mall which has recently been renovated. It is easily accessible and even has Tesla charging stations. You will find the usual suspects like Apple, Macy's, William Sonoma, Gap, Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters etc. It is also home to restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen, Urban Plates, Chilis, Olive Garden, etc. Called the Manhattan Village Mall, the new expansion is sophisticated and adds several more restaurants, stores and parking facilities to the compound. And yes, we have a Target in town! A short drive away, you will find bigger stores such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Container Store, H & M, Banana Republic, Nordstrom Rack, etc.



















Grocery (Food and Wine)

Gelson, Ralphs, Bristol Farms, Trader Joes and Vons are right here in the city. Residents like shopping local at the neighborhood GROW, Mother's Market and at Manhattan Meats. Within driving distance, you will find Lazy Acres, Costco and Whole Foods.


Barsha deserves a mention for their curated collection of wine (you can also drink there!). Uncorked has wines that are hard to find elsewhere. There is also MB Wine as well as Manhattan Fine Wines. Culture is a new addition to the neighborhood. At driving distance, you will find speciality shops such as HopSaint, LA Ale Works, Hermosa Brewing, etc.


Restaurants

The Kettle is the most iconic restaurant in town and is always open! Uncle Bill's is the favorite breakfast / brunch spot. Manhattan Beach Post (by Iron Chef David LeFevre) is fancy and farm to table. Nick's MB has great service. Tacolicious is new in town and very inviting. The Stand House provides the best beach view and turns into a little sexy dance club on non-COVID weekends! El Sombrero is a local gem. Fishing with Dynamite is great for seafood. Petros MB is charming (I had my first Greek wine there!) Love & Salt, Mangiamo's and II Fornaio are romantic. Slay has an extraordinary chef and their pizza is great too. The Rockefeller has good burgers and a happy hour! Tin Roof Bistro is a great lunch spot.


There are also a bunch of Japanese and Thai places in town such as SugarFish, Rice, Thai Dishes Fusion Sushi and high-end The Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya.India's Tandoor offers a delicious Indian dinner. Mercado and Esperanza Cochina de la Playa have fantastic ambiance and great drinks. And then there are pizza places like Brooklyns, Lucifer's, Fresh Brothers and Pitfire Artisan Pizza. Worth checking out are also restaurants in towns next door - Hermosa, Redondo and El Segundo have wonderful food options as well.


Yes, Manhattan Beach has the regular coffee spots like StarBucks, Peets and Coffee Bean, but the local Two Guns Espresso is worth a visit with its Kiwi influences. Nitro calls itself the World's Smallest Cafe and is interesting too! For the health-focused, Pressed Juicery, SunLife Organics and Kreation are sure to impress.


Manhattan Bread & Bagels is known for its green bagels on St. Patrick's Day and Beckers has been around for ever! Lido Bakery has lovely Mexican flavors. Manhattan Beach Creamery, Susie Cakes, Gelato & Angels are some of the dessert places that locals like to visit. Hit those spots if you can!


Services in town

There are two post offices in town - One in downtown on 15th Street and the other on Sepulveda Avenue. There are two fire stations in town, one on 15th Street and the other on Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Both fire stations respond to mutual aid calls to neighboring cities. Manhattan Beach's police station is also on 15th Street. The police are friendly, dedicated and capable and also have social media accounts where they provide regular updates, notifications or warnings. The partnership that the police and fire departments have with the community is exceptional. The city assists in finding lost pets. They have a program for older adults and their Dial-A-Ride program is noteworthy. Even during the pandemic, the city continues to assist older adults in picking up medication, with necessary doctor visits and essential groceries. The City Hall folks are quite receptive and helpful.


Let's also not forget the library! The new library was inaugurated in 2015, and it is a masterpiece. The library has an inter-loan program so it is easy to find and read books of your choice. They also have program for kids and adults that you can participate in.


Country Clubs & Athletic Facilities

The Manhattan Beach Country Club, now owned by Bay Club is a family hangout space for the more affluent residents. It has nice pool facilities, lots of tennis courts, gym, wining and dining and family activities to indulge in. Bay Club also has sophisticated facilities in neighboring towns such as El Segundo and Redondo Beach. So does Equinox. Some fitness centers in town are RockIn Body Pilates, Yoga MB, Fight Academy, Built Gym, Coreyology etc. The West Drift has a Par 3 public golf course. Nearby El Segundo had 'The Lakes' but it is being turned into Top Golf. At a little driving distance, you can find the Westchester Golf Course and the Palos Verdes Golf Club. For something fancy, check out The Links at Terranea and the Trump National Golf Club.

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