A 10-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), this trendy, hill-sloping beach town spanning two miles worth of Pacific Ocean shoreline bears no resemblance to the Borough of Manhattan; back in 1902, it was named at the flip of a coin for the New York City home of its original real estate developer, Stewart Merrill. What Manhattan Beach does have is a wide ribbon of soft, white sand, tasty waves that attract local surfers, and a trendy commercial village of boutiques and restaurants.
The northernmost of L.A.’s three Beach Cities (along with Hermosa and Redondo), Manhattan was once merely a laid-back residential community, but is now home to some of L.A. County’s priciest real estate. To see some of the town’s loveliest/quirkiest homes, take a stroll along the ocean-side Strand, a pedestrian-friendly bike path that actually stretches 26 miles from Santa Monica to the far end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Manhattan Beach attracts almost 4 million visitors each year. Besides the Strand, it’s most popular for its shoreline, the historic Municipal Pier (which hosts a small aquarium with free admission), and two events held here every August, the Manhattan Beach Open volleyball tournament and the International Surf Festival.
The best route to take by transit: Bus 126.