A Solo Getaway Weekend in Hermosa Beach, California

A renaissance has taken hold of Hermosa Beach, California. A classic surfing and beach volleyball mecca by day and party town by night, Hermosa is known for its funky beach charm, mixed with a little grunge. A recent renovation of main drag Pier Avenue is breathing new life into the town and attracting hip, eco-friendly boutiques and restaurants. Between the beach and the avenue, the fun never stops in Hermosa Beach. Relax on the sand, work out on The Strand, or take in the shops and restaurants. As a solo traveler, you’ll feel perfectly comfortable amid the crowd, so sit back, grab a drink on a restaurant patio and watch the characters go by. Or, find friends without having to work too hard at it, by taking a class on the beach: yoga, surfing, you name it. Either way, this town’s friendly casualness and variety make it the perfect weekend spot for the solo traveler. Here are a few suggestions for planning a three-day stay in Hermosa Beach.

Friday Afternoon/Evening Arrival

This sweet little city is compact and easy to manage. Stay at a hotel on the beach in the center of town and you’ll feel not only part of the action, but also safe and within walking distance of any place you’ll want to go. Hermosa’s premiere hotel hangout is The Beach House, a luxury boutique hotel offering private balconies and up-close views of the sand and ocean. Room rates range from $250-$450. If you’re watching your budget, consider the Beach House’s no-frills neighbor, the clean, affordable Sea Sprite Motel. With simple rooms (starting at $125) and an outdoor pool deck overlooking the ocean, this place has a friendly staff and is all about spot-on location. Once you’ve checked in to your hotel, walk The Strand, a paved pedestrian path that runs along Hermosa Beach from neighboring Redondo Beach to the south and 20 miles north to Santa Monica. You’ll enjoy the ocean and the beautiful beach homes along The Strand, while working up an appetite for an early dinner. A step away from both hotels and along The Strand is the Hermosa Beach Pier Promenade, a collection of shops and restaurants adjacent to the Hermosa Beach Pier. Go early and grab an outdoor table for one at Mediterraneo, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and a selection of tapas. As I have learned from my many day trips to Hermosa, with so many people out and about along the promenade, you won’t feel conspicuous sitting alone. Or, sit indoors at the bar and chat with the friendly bartenders. Then go back to your hotel and enjoy the sunset.

The Beach House
1300 The Strand
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

The Sea Sprite Motel
1016 The Strand
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

73 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Saturday Sun and Fun

Breakfast is an event in itself at the beach. Go early to Good Stuff on The Strand, grab an outdoor table facing the ocean and enjoy the walkers, joggers and bikers passing by. This place has good egg dishes and homemade muffins, but it’s really all about the view. Now burn off that breakfast on The Strand or on Hermosa’s wide, flat sand. If you’re staying at The Beach House, the hotel can arrange a private beach volleyball lesson with local Olympic volleyball champ Eric Fonoimoana. (Reservations required.) The hotel will also set up surfing lessons, a yoga class or a hand, foot and head massage, all held on the beach. A 90-minute surf lesson is $125. Once you’re finished on the beach, head to lunch at Hot’s Kitchen, a casual, trendy taco shop with 50 varieties of tacos (ever heard of an ox tail taco?) and 36 craft beers on tap. For the afternoon, rent a bike or roller blades at Hermosa Cyclery and head north. Where Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches intersect, look for the big white house with blue awnings that you may recognize as the home used for outdoor shots of the once-popular television show “The O.C.” Speaking of shows, why not go to one? Hermosa Beach happens to be home to the Hermosa Beach Playhouse, a 474-seat venue that hosts top-notch plays and musicals. Walk or drive, and enjoy first-class entertainment in an intimate setting. If you’re hungry before you go, grab an early bite at Sangria, where you can enjoy a glass of that signature beverage along with a wasabi-drizzled ahi poke appetizer. This is another fine spot to eat at the bar and listen to some great music. If you’re up for more fun after the Playhouse, stop in at one of Hermosa’s more famous nightspots, The Lighthouse Cafe, a well-known jazz and rock venue. You’ll sleep well tonight.

Good Stuff on The Strand
1286 The Strand
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Hot’s Kitchen
844 Hermosa Ave.
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Hermosa Cyclery
20 13th Street
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Hermosa Beach Playhouse
710 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

68 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

The Lighthouse Cafe
30 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90266

Sunday: Shop The Avenue

Sleep in a little, get up and enjoy that view from the balcony one last time, then head to brunch at Martha’s 22nd Street Grill, an indoor/outdoor beachside favorite serving everything from tofu to pancakes for breakfast. Now it’s time for some shopping. Head up the hill to upper Pier Avenue, the sight of the renovation that brought wider sidewalks, benches and a pedestrian-friendly feel to an area that already had some great independent boutiques and restaurants. One of the newest tenants is Maison Luxe, a California beach chic home furnishings and interior design studio owned by Carrie Quinn and Michael Maloney, who is a regular designer on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Further up the hill, the new 200 Pier Avenue complex is home to several cute independent stores including Anthology, featuring unique women’s clothing, jewelry and some cool men’s clothes, and Oliovera, specializing in olive oils, vinegars, and some luscious body products made with olive oil. If you get hungry for lunch, you can shop and grab a bite at The Gum Tree, housed in a charming Craftsman bungalow dating back to 1911. An Australian native mans the The Gum Tree Cafe, offering teas, sandwiches and salads with an Aussie twist, while his So Cal wife runs the retail side of the operation, filled with eco-friendly knick-knacks, jewelry, baby gifts, and furnishings. Put those shopping bags in the car and grab one last look at the ocean. Hermosa may change a little over time, but that same great ocean view will be waiting for you when you return.

Martha’s 22nd Street Grill
25 22nd Street
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Maison Luxe
138 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 90266

200 Pier Avenue, Ste. 304
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

200 Pier Avenue, Ste. 206
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

The Gum Tree
238 Pier Avenue
Hermosa Beach, CA 9054