The best things to do in Hermosa Beach, perfect California getaway for family

Hermosa beach plaza with ocean in the background

Our guide to the best things to do in Hermosa Beach, California and the many reasons you should choose this picture-perfect beach town for your next family vacation in California.

It took us about 1.5 seconds to fall head over heels in love with Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles.

We got to this beautiful coastal city on a late July afternoon, after a long drive from Utah and what we saw swept away all our road induced tiredness: the view that welcomed us was out of a California dream!

Over Hermosa, the sky was turning a warm shade of gold and the Pacific shimmered in the distance.

The city streets gently sloped towards the water, framed by beautiful houses and front gardens with that effortlessly perfect look Southern California does do well

At first glance, it was hard to believe that this was LA however, we soon learned that this is one of the great things about Hermosa Beach: this is a relaxing, fun beach town, but it has the whole of LA at its doorstep! 

We were in Hermosa Beach for a home exchange which meant that over the course the weeks, we were able to explore the city like locals.

Today, we are sharing the best things to do in Hermosa Beach based on our experience and the many reasons why we loved this corner of Southern California.

We love Hermosa Beach so much, it made our list as one of the best family vacation spots in the US!

best things to do in Hermosa beach California cover image of main Hermosa street

Where is Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach is in Los Angeles county, California. It is one of the cities that make up South Bay and borders with two more seaside cities, Manhattan Beach, immediately to its North, and Redondo, to the South.

Disneyland Anaheim is about 40 minutes away and San Diego is a little less than 2 hours by car, meaning Hermosa is also an excellent base for exploring beyond its city limits.

How to get to Hermosa Beach and closest airport

As mentioned above, Hermosa is immediately to the South of LA and is easy to reach from LAX by car or bus.

Pacific highway 1, the famous scenic coastal drive, passes across the city and parking is available in several locations, mostly with a pay and display system.

Once in Hermosa, the city is easy to enjoy on foot, a rarity in car loving California!

The local bus 232 brings you straight in/out of LAX and it is clean, air conditioned and reliable.

The best things to do in Hermosa Beach California

Hermosa has much to offer to visitors of all ages and visiting this area is one of our favorite things to do in Los Angeles with family.

This is our selection of Hermosa’s main attractions and our recommendations on how to enjoy this little corner of Californian heaven.

Go to the beach

As its name suggests, Hermosa Beach most distinctive feature is a large stretch of gorgeous sand.

You know those Southern California beaches with a wooden pier, beach volley nets and soft golden sands that seem to go on forever? Well, Hermosa has one of those and it is beautiful!

Here you can swim, surf, sunbathe and play under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards and you can also enjoy outdoor concerts, which often take place near the pier.

Hermosa many shops and restaurants are right beside the beach and there are showers and restrooms right at the beach entrance.

We adore the beach here, we think it is one of the best beaches in Los Angeles for families with kids!

California sunset over Hermosa beach, South Bay, Los Angeles

Cycle, walk or skate along the strand

The strand is a pedestrian and bike friendly road that connects Hermosa to the other beach cities, running alongside the beach.

The strand is sandwiched between the beach and seafront houses and many of them are beach-living architectural gems.

One looks like a Venetian palace, another like a Swiss chalet and most will capture your attention with clever and undoubtedly expensive designs.

We often took the walk to Manhattan Beach and one day we also rented roller blade from the city cyclery, a small rental shop just behind pier plaza.

 The lack of cars and very smooth surface make the strand approachable even if you are a beginner and made this one of the best things to do in Hermosa according to our kids as well as a quintessential Southern California experience!

Bikes in Hermosa beach, CA

People watch on Pier Plaza

Pier plaza is a large esplanade in front of the beach with a vast choice or cafes, bar and restaurants. 

If you sit here, you will quickly see the life of Hermosa Beach passing by, complete with dog owners, local children, skaters and tourists.

The cafe terraces make for a fantastic vantage point and they are easy to enjoy with kids and without: all bars are family friendly and, if you sit outside, you can have a drink while the kids play safely in front of you or tuck into the children specials.

Some of our favorite are Watermans safe house (bar with nice terrace and great value tacos nigh and kids menu) and Hennessy’s Tavern (Irish), which offer breath taking sunset views over the beach and the pier.

For a quick snack, we also grew fond of the Italian street food take out on the plaza: great for on the go pizza!

Pacific Highway 1 Hermosa Beach, California, USA

Go shopping on Pier avenue

Pier avenue gently slopes towards the beach and has some lovely shops worth seeing.

My favorite was The Gum Tree, a deliciously shabby chic interior and house decor shops that seems out of an Instagram feed. 

The shop has a anything from children clothing to house decor ideas and is a great pace for a special gift such as a book of jewelry.

My kids were also partial to ‘Curiosity’ which is a fun place to explore, full of books, knick- knacks, gifts and more.

Cute shops, restaurants, cafes and spas dot pretty Pier avenue

Walk along the Green belt 

If you feel like a walk or jog in a green area rather than the strand, head a few blocks inland and follow the Hermosa Beach green belt.

This is a lovely green path that runs parallel to the coast and it shady in parts, which makes it perfect for a light job or just a walk.

When here, I recommend take a moment to stop at the 9/11 memorial too, beside the library, which is a touching corner of Hermosa paying homage to those who fell on that fateful day.

Bring the kids to the playground

Young kids will love the beautiful Hermosa playground nearby.

Here, you have good climbing frames and something we do not get in Europe: the super fun super fast concrete slides.

This is a lovely place for children to play and mix with local children, an experience our two cherished.

Hermosa beach playground

Have gelato

One of our kids favorite pastimes is gelato tasting and Hermosa was the perfect place to indulge in an icy treat.

The two main contender were Paciugo and Baked bear, offering respectively Italian style ice gelato and ice cream sandwiches served with cookies and brownies.

Don’t ask any of us to choose a favorite, it’s an impossible choice (although I am partial to that buttery cookie dough….)

Stroll the pier 

Hermosa Beach has a long wooden pier offering beautiful views over the coast and oceans

Below you have nice photo opportunities with the waves crashing against its pylons and above, you can sit side by side the local fishermen and take in the large expanse of the pacific ocean or the beautiful views of Californian coast

See the murals 

Hermosa beach has some interesting murals that you will easily spot as you stroll around town.

The murals, we learned, are part of the Hermosa Beach mural project and the are not just beautiful but an interesting way to engage with and discover elements of the history and identity of this beach city. 

Take a photo of the Lighthouse cafe

If you are a fan of La La Land, you may want to pop into the lighthouse cafe and feel you are on location! 

The cafe, we learned, is a local institution and became even more famous after its Hollywood debut.

We didn’t get to experience a night here however, the cafe seems lovely and makes for a good photo opp

Shop at the Farmer’ market

Hermosa hosts a weekly local market with lovely local produce and gift stalls.

On Wednesday, when the market happens, Pier Plaza is even busier than usual and fills with a wonderful local feel.

You can come here for a peek or make the most of the market to get gourmet foods and local produce for a farm to table dinner.

Eat to your heart content

Hermosa have many restaurants cafes and food joints, many of excellent quality.

Photo shy as we tuck into the Fish Shop delicious menu!

Among the many, we grew fond of the Standing Room (excellent burgers and great music at night), the Fish Shop (their prawn special truly is special), which has the most delicious fresh fish and la Playita, which offers family friendly Mexican fare.

Things to pack for a family day or family vacation in Hermosa Beach

Find our handy list of toddler beach essentials so you know you will have all you need for long hours on the sand.

Grab our list of kid-friendly snacks and make ahead easy meals for the beach

Get our tips for a first trip to the beach with baby

Get a good beach cooler and pack it up with beach-friendly snacks and make ahead meals

Equip yourself with a good beach bag for mamas, so you can carry all you need and look good in the process

Consider getting a summer baby carrier, to wear your baby in hot climate and even water without overheating.

Equip your kids with rash vests and water shoes for sun and skin protection.

Consider a baby sun tent to protect your little one from sun and wind.

I hope you enjoyed this overview of the best things to do in Hermosa Beach California and you will soon visit. Safe travels!

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