With the beach, playgrounds, kid shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities all within 1.4 square miles (doable with a stroller and/or little legs), Hermosa Beach is perfect for the whole family. Ideal as a day destination from anywhere in LA, the fresh ocean air of one of California’s most beautiful beach communities is waiting for you. Here are our tips for finding all the pint-sized fun in Hermosa Beach.

hermosa beachphoto: Mimi L. via Yelp

Playing

The Beach, The Pier & The Strand
In Hermosa Beach life centers around the beach (duh), and that’s a great place to start exploring. If you park near the Pier, you are perfectly situated to relax at the beach, stroll down the pier or bike (scooter, rollerblade or use any other wheels your family prefers) on the Strand.  In the summer, the beach beckons for lazy days of splashing and castle building, while in the winter sand berms stretch out from both sides of the Hermosa Pier providing plenty of ocean-front real estate for your little sand bunnies to try some SoCal beach sledding.  Wherever you wander from here (and we’ve got loads of suggestions below) be sure to come back to catch a breathtaking sunset over the ocean from the end of the pier, which is blissfully free of anything to do but gaze at the views.

The closest places to park are the two public metered lots on Hermosa Avenue at 11th and 13th Street. Public restrooms are available on the pier.

Where: 1 Pier Ave.

south-park-pathways1-e1457932908248photo: South Park Playground by Melissa Heckscher

South Park Playground
This newly renovated, environmentally sensitive, natural and universally accessible playground is one of our favorites in town. And while you appreciate all those buzzwords, kids adore the giant cement slide, several climbing structures and grass tee-pees. There’s also a massive lawn to run around on, or play an impromptu game of soccer. Basically, it’s kid paradise.

Where: Valley Dr. & 4th St
Learn More: redtri.com/los-angeles/south-park-playground-hermosa-beach/

Valley Park
This park has a little something for everyone: a playground for the littles, picnic tables, a soccer field and basketball court. It’s also immaculately maintained, with restrooms on site and 6-hour free parking. Valley Park also hosts special summer events like “Movie in the Park” and “Shakespeare By the Sea,” so check the schedules to see if you can cap your day by the beach with a little culture.

Where: Valley Dr. & Gould
Online: hermosabch.org/index.aspx?page=256

photo: Play Hive via Facebook

Play Hive
If you’ve exhausted the great outdoors and are looking for some indoor fun, check out Play Hive. It’s a clean, super fun indoor play space that entertains babies and toddlers alike. Open weekdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., it’s $10 per kid, siblings $8. They also offer special weekend activities for kids, like “Super Hero Training.”

Where: 307 Pacific Coast Hwy
Online: playhivela.com

photo: Art Zone via Facebook

Art Zone
The Art Zone is a great way to spend quality time with your little ones. Check out the drop-in Studio Art class, for kids aged 18 months and up ($15 per ticket). Paint, finger paint, clay-play, printmaking, drawing materials and an exciting variety of collage and assemblage materials are available for kids to explore. Your tyke will be guided by an instructor who provides support and several project choices. Little ones will love expressing their creativity not only via art, but through imaginative play in the mud kitchen and water wonder room.

But the real reason it’s on our list is the Parents Night Out every Friday.  After a day at the beach catering to kids, parents can drop off the kiddos and enjoy a night out in Hermosa Beach as grownups, knowing the kids are having just as much fun as you. Each Friday night is centered around an art theme & activity, and pizza and pasta are also provided. $29 for the first child, $20 per additional sibling.

Where: 1102 Aviation Blvd.
Online: artzone4kids.com

ophoto: Hermosa Beach Cyclery

Hermosa Cyclery
The Hermosa Beach Strand is the perfect place for a bike ride, with a smooth cement path that connects the beach cities for miles; you can even bike to Santa Monica if you have the pedal power.  But if you don’t live nearby and you don’t want to load a zillion bikes onto the car, renting for a few hours is a great option. Rent tandem bikes (kids love to feel grown up on the back of an “adult” bike), or individual ones (training wheels available), strap on those helmets and get pedaling. In about a mile you can arrive at the Manhattan Beach Aquarium, or you can simply enjoy the wind in your hair and ride around until your quads get tired.  Then you’ve really worked up an appetite for something tasty…

Where: 20 13th St.
Online: hermosacyclery.com

photo: La Playita’s Facebook page

Eating

La Playita
Offering the very best view in town (and great margaritas), you may never want to leave. It’s super casual, hasn’t changed in at least 25 years and offers both indoor and outdoor patio seating. There’s a public park between the restaurant and The Strand, so it’s an ideal spot to let your kids run off energy pre-or post meal. La Playita is right next to The Beach House Hotel (a gorgeous place to stay if you decide not to rush back home).

Where: 37 14th St.
Online: laplayitacafe.com

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The Green Store
Beach provision packing: this is the spot to stop at if on the way to the beach you realize you didn’t pack food and you don’t want to drag wet and sandy bottoms to a restaurant.  22nd Street boasts a swing set and public bathrooms where kids can stretch legs and use facilities while you stock up on sammys and snacks at this great little deli.

Where: 2151 Hermosa Ave.
Online: greenstorehb.com

Martha’s 22nd Street Grill
This breakfast will fuel your whole day. Sip your espresso at one of the groovy outdoor tables and enjoy the palm trees and beach view (only a half a block away). Kids adore their buttermilk pancakes, and you’ll dig into of the fresh California-style omelettes. If you can wait until you’ve soaked up your sun and need a treat for the ride home, swing by for one of their Oreo shakes.  They’re beloved for a reason.

Where: 25 22nd St.

photo: American Junkie via Facebook

American Junkie
With extended happy hour on Fridays, and drink specials on weekends too, American Junkie is a great place to grab an outdoor booth, hang out and enjoy the fresh sea air. The $6 kid’s meals (including a drink), not to mention grown-up happy hour food specials, make it a wallet friendly option. Generous portions, freshly made, good prices and an atmosphere that welcomes kids: it might be your new neighborhood joint, whether or not this is your neighborhood.

Where: 68 Pier Ave.
Online: americanjunkiehb.com

Good Stuff
Good Stuff boasts one of the best kid’s menus on the Strand (or frankly, anywhere in town), so it’s a perfect choice when you’re in the middle of a beach day.  Or at the beginning (Mickey pancakes!).  Or end (mac & cheese, steak bowls and more for the kids, beer and tacos for you!).  You get the picture.

Where: 1286 The Strand
Online: eatgoodstuff.com

Hot’s Kitchen
Loud and crazy means kids don’t have to sit quietly at this dinner place. With a delicious selection of 50 tacos, ranging from the most traditional “Mom’s Taco” to the exotic “Duck Confit Taco,” Hot’s serves up a casual-cool menu that ignites the taste buds and surprises the senses. The kid’s menu includes chicken fingers and hamburgers (in addition to kid-sized tacos). It’s a great spot to hang out and not worry about the noise your little ones create—it’s all a part of the “surfer meets sophisticate” buzz.

Where: 844 Hermosa Ave.
Online: hotskitchen.com

photo: The Source Café via Facebook

Sweets & Treats

The Source
Eating at the beach doesn’t have to mean burgers and tacos. Sometimes being in your bathing suit makes you yearn for something extra healthy. The Source specializes in handcrafted salads, smoothies, juices and other delicious health conscious fare. With a wide selection of gluten-free, paleo, and vegan baked goods (that actually taste amazing!), your kids will be delighted, and not even know they’re eating what’s good for them.

Where: 509 Pier Ave.
Online: thesourcecafehb.com

Paradise Bowls
So how about a sweet treat you can feel good about? Check out Paradise Bowls and order up a sinfully delicious (yet incredibly healthy) acai bowl. Kids will love the fun names like “Chocolate Tide” and “Electric Pink”, and will happily go for the mini sizes. With fresh ingredients like goji berries, bee pollen, cacao nibs and hemp seeds, your sweet tooth will be filled with good-for-you energy.

Where: 1246 Hermosa Ave.
Online: paradisebowls.com

Paradis
Or maybe you just want ice cream, because a day by the sea demands it.  Our favorite local scoop shop is the mini-chain (there are 7 SoCal locations) Paradis, which serves Danish style ice cream. Many, many tasting scoops later, we’re not really sure what makes it Danish (other than the 43 shops in Denmark) but it sure is delicious.  Kids particularly like the Rocky Road and Stracciatella (chocolate chip), while parents flip for the fresh sorbets that change with the season.  The sorbets are vegan and light, so you don’t have to feel guilty indulging alongside the kids.

Where: 1246 Hermosa Ave.
Online: paradis-icecream.com

photo: Lori Ford

Shopping

Gum Tree Kids
This shop feels like you wandered into the Hamptons with adorable, unique clothing and darling gift options for kids. Everything in the store is pretty to look at, whether it’s hand-made knitted dollies or humorous kitsch. (Where else can you buy a tub of beautifully sparkly “Unicorn Snot”?) Lots of charming retro items in cool packaging, like Cat’s Cradle and natural beeswax crayons. If you’re looking for a darling memento for your little darling, you’ve come to the right place—let your little one choose something charming to take home.  You can also eat (deliciously) at the next door Gum Tree Cafe with open air seating, healthy, largely organic fare with an Australian twist (yep, you can get Vegemite here) and friendly staff.

Where: 323 Pier Ave.
Online: gumtreela.com

Curious
Interested in some odd-ball shopping? Curious (and the next door shop, Still Curious) offers one-of-a-kind finds. A home décor and novelty store, older kids will have fun browsing through the unusual items. Curiouser and curiouser.

Where: 128 Pier Ave.
Online: curiousworkshop.com

photo: Hermosa Beach Farmers Market

 

Hermosa Beach Farmers Market
You just can’t beat a farmers market with a stunning view of the beach. Stroll through the market and check out the nearby shops too while you pick up your grocery list of fresh fruits and veggies. With train rides for the kiddos, balloon art and free samples, this is a must-do if you happen to be in town on Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Where: Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza
Online: farmermark.com/hermosabeach

Stars Antique Market
Do a little antique shopping and buy a unique vintage item from Stars Antique Market, which has over 7,000 square feet packed to the brim with gorgeous items from various antique sellers. While you browse with an eye on making your home Pintrest worthy, kids will  the unique nick-knacks and huge range of new-to-them stuff to discover.

Where: 526 Pier Ave.
Online: starsantiquemarket.com

Hermosa Beach flickr parker knightphoto: Parker Knight via Flickr

Have a blast exploring Hermosa Beach, and be sure to let us know what activities are favorites for your family in the comment section!

—Elena Wurlitzer Fenegan

additional image by Foodie K. via Yelp