Known for its beaches and relaxing atmosphere, the South Bay region of Los Angeles has a ton of attractions that are very worth exploring. There is definitely no shortage of things to do in South Bay Los Angeles. From relaxing on the beaches playing volleyball to visiting the interactive museums, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a local looking for something new to do or you’re new to the city, here’s the ultimate guide and travel tips on the best things to do in South Bay LA.
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What is considered South Bay in Los Angeles?
The South Bay is located in the Southwest corner of Los Angeles County. The region includes the cities of El Segundo, Carson, Hawthrone, Gardena, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Wilmington, San Pedro, and Palos Verdes.
What is South Bay California known for?
The South Bay is known for a lot of beautiful beaches, surfing, and outdoor activities. It’s also known for the aerospace industry since it’s home to many major aerospace companies including SpaceX and Boeing.
Fun Things To Do In South Bay Los Angeles
The top 5 things to do in South Bay Los Angeles
1. Whale Watching at Redondo Beach Pier
Whale Watching is a really popular activity to do in South Bay. The best spots for this activity are Newport Beach and Redondo Beach Pier. The best time to see whales is usually around January to April. For the highest chance of spotting whales, book a whale-watching tour.
Newport Beach Cruise: While not in South Bay, it’s a very close distance away and you are likely to spot whales and dolphins here. It’s a 2.5-hour cruise.
Redondo Beach Tour: Similar cruise as the Newport Beach one.
2. Manhattan Beach Pier
Manhattan Beach Pier is one of the most popular beaches and best things to do in South Bay. It’s a 928-foot-long wooden pier that extends out into the Pacific Ocean. It’s an amazing spot for beautiful views of the ocean. At the end of the pier, there is a small museum called the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium.
If you’re into surfing and water sports, Manhattan Beach is a great place for doing those activities. Once you’re here, you can also visit the Beach itself to relax, hang around Downtown Manhattan Beach, and relax at the Strand, a paved pathway that runs along the beach. One of the most popular restaurants here is the Strand House, a popular fine-dining restaurant overlooking the ocean.
3. South Coast Botanic Garden
This Botanical Gardens is for all nature lovers. It’s an 87-acre botanical garden. There are many different species of plants from around the world including some rare ones. You can spot collections of cacti, succulents, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, a Mediterranean garden, and more.
If you want to bring your pet, they have dog-walking hours where you can bring your dog in with an entrance fee.
4. Rent a Bike at The Strand
The Strand is a popular walking and biking path that goes from Pacific Palisades to Torrance. You can rent bikes at a bike rental shop along the Strand and take a bike ride to explore the beautiful coastal scenery. Another popular spot for cycling is the Palos Verdes Donut Loop which is a 23-mile difficult trail.
If you prefer walking, the Strand is a great place for taking a casual stroll as well.
5. Shopping at Del Amo Fashion Center
This Fashion Center is a large mall in Torrance, California, and is one of the largest malls in the United States. There are over 200 stores inside the mall so you can spend the entire day there. In addition to retail shops and restaurants, there is also a movie theater, a children’s play area, and a fitness center.
Date Ideas South Bay Los Angeles
6. Sunset Cruise
What is more romantic than catching the sunset on a ship? There are quite a few sunset cruises you can choose from including some that take off from Marina del Rey. It’s the ultimate relaxing and beautiful way to enjoy the coastal scenery.
This is a popular boat cruise where you can catch the sunset on an electric boat: Marina Del Rey Boat Cruise with Wine & Cheese
7. Hike at Palos Verdes Peninsula
This area has a variety of hiking trails that are suitable for all types of hiking preferences. There are long hikes, shorter hikes, and with different levels of difficulty. Here are some popular hikes:
Abalone Cove Trail: This is a 1.1-mile out-and-back trail and takes around 30 minutes to complete. It’s considered an easy route. Dogs are allowed but need to be on a leash.
Terranea Resort Trail: This is a 2–mile out and back trail and takes around 50 minutes to complete. It’s considered an easy route.
Point Vicente Beach Walk: This is a 5.6-mile out-and-back trail and takes around 2 hours to complete. It’s considered an easy route.
8. Watch a Movie at The South Bay Galleria
The South Bay Galleria is a shopping center and houses an AMC theater inside. Before or after the movies, you can shop around at the mall and dine at one of the restaurants.
9. Go to a concert at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center is a popular venue for plays, concerts, and other performing arts events. The theater can seat around 1500 people. There are local bands and up-and-coming artists that perform here. Check out what’s on the schedule for the next performance here.
10. Manhattan Beach Art Center
Manhattan Beach Art Center is located in Manhattan Beach and offers a variety of art workshops for all ages. You can take art classes here, and partake in workshops such as bookbinding and screen printing. A few times a year, they host exhibitions to feature local artists’ works.
11. Have a Picnic at Veteran’s Park
Veteran’s Park is a public park and is only a short walking distance from the pier so you can plan a date with both places. There’s a huge grassy area and it’s perfect for having a picnic. Just bring a picnic blanket and some finger food and you’ll have an amazing time here.
Sometimes, they may have some community events or festivals going on so if you plan to come here, check if there are events happening so you can plan ahead.
12. Visit a Local Brewery
Grabbing a beer at a local brewery and chatting away is definitely a fun date idea. If you want a more interactive activity, a brewery tour could be really fun too. Here are some ideas on what to wear to a brewery.
Here are some popular breweries in South Bay Los Angeles.
Smog City Brewing: It’s located in Torrance and they have a tasting room and also offer brewery tours.
The Dudes’ Brewing Company: They have locations in Torrance and Manhattan Beach. You can get beers including IPAs, lagers, and sours here.
El Segundo Brewing Company: They have a taproom and offer brewery tours.
13. Go Kayaking
Since South Bay has a lot of nice beaches, there are a lot of great spots for kayaking as well. If you’re looking for a fun interactive activity for a date idea, this is it.
Here are some popular places for kayaking – Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach, and Palos Verdes Peninsula.
This one is a popular kayaking tour in Marina Del Rey: Kayaking with Sea Lions in Marina Del Rey
14. Roadium Flea
This is an outdoor marketplace in Torrance and vendors sell a variety of clothing, jewelry, antiques, toys, and more. You can definitely find some very unique and one-of-a-kind pieces here at an affordable price. It’s a great date spot also because there are tons to explore and you can spend a long time here.
15. Watch a Performance at Armstrong Theater
Armstrong Theatre is an auditorium in Torrance and hosts a variety of performances including plays, musicals, concerts, and more. Check online to see what shows are coming up at the theater.
Museums In South Bay Los Angeles
Museums In South Bay Los Angeles
16. Roundhouse Aquarium
Roundhouse Aquarium is a small public aquarium at the end of Manhattan Pier. It features informative and interactive exhibits about the ocean and environmental information. The aquarium also houses lots of marine life including tidepools, starfish, sea anemones, crabs, and more. It’s free to go and they accept donations.
17. Automobile Driving Museum
For those who have an obsession with cars or are just simply curious about cars, the Automobile Driving Museum is the perfect place to explore them. There are over 130 vintage cars from the 1920s to the 1970s. They also offer guided tours of the museum, educational programs for students, and events including car shows and cruise-ins. There is a fee to enter.
18. Getty Villa
Getty Villa is a museum in Pacific Palisades and features ancient Greek and Roman art pieces. This includes a collection of over 44,000 artifacts consisting of sculptures, jewelry, pottery, and more. There is also beautiful gardens, fountains, and courtyards that represent ancient Rome. There are also a few temporary exhibitions that occur throughout the year.
Entrance is free but requires a timed-entry reservation. There’s also a fee for parking.
19. Torrance Art Museum
This museum features contemporary art including paintings, video, and various installations. They display works from a variety of different artists and are frequently rotated out to bring in new works. Admission is free.
20. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is located in San Pedro. This aquarium showcases exhibits of diverse marine life including fish, sharks, rays, sea stars, and more. What they’re known for is the tidepool touch tank where visitors can get close to and touch a variety of creatures like sea urchins and hermit crabs. They also have a Kelp Forest exhibit where they stimulate the underwater environment of a kelp forest. In the kelp forest, you can see fish swimming.
It’s just a few dollars to enter and they accept donations.
21. Museum of Latin American Art
Museum of Latin American Art is a museum in Long Beach that showcases contemporary and modern art created by Latin America artists in the United States. They feature rotating schedules of exhibitions so you can frequently find new works inside the museum. You’ll find photography, sculptures, paintings, and installation art.
They also have a permanent collection of over 1300 works of art from Latin America from famous artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Admission is $15.
22. Japanese American National Museum
Japanese American National Museum is a museum in Little Tokyo in downtown LA. It’s technically not in the South Bay region of Los Angeles but it’s very close and worth a visit if you’re into Japanese American history and culture.
In this museum, you can find exhibitions that feature Japanese art and contemporary art by Japanese American artists. There’s a permanent collection of photographs and artworks that convey the story of the journey of Japanese arrival to the United States. Admission is $16.
23. Battleship USS Iowa Museum
The Battleship USS Iowa Museum is located in San Pedro and is dedicated to showcasing the history of a battleship that served in World War II called USS Iowa. In this museum, you can take a self-guided tour of the battleship and see the ship’s decks and rooms. You can also find exhibitions that feature the history of the USS Iowa through photographs and interactive displays. It’s around a $20 fee to enter.
24. Western Museum of Flight
Western Museum of Flight is a museum in Torrance and it’s dedicated to sharing the history of aviation. Since South Bay Los Angeles is popular for the aerospace industry, there is a lot you can find about it in this museum. It includes exhibitions that display aircraft and photographs of aviation history. There’s also a collection of historic aircraft that were flown by famous aviators.
Free Things To Do In South Bay Los Angeles
25. El Segundo Art Walk
This is a free bi-annual event. The event showcases local artists’ works including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more. There are also live performances from local musicians and you can hear them play jazz or classical music. This event doesn’t happen often so make sure to check the dates!
26. Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market
This Farmer’s Market is an outdoor market that happens every Thursday from 8am to 1pm and you’ll find vendors selling locally-grown produce, handmade goods, and ready-to-eat foods. You can find some of the freshest produce here and usually most of the produce sold is in season. It’s free to walk around, explore, and just enjoy the atmosphere.
27. Hermosa Beach Farmer’s Market
Hermosa Beach Farmer’s Market is another popular farmer’s market in South Bay LA. They sell similar items and food as Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market but is held every Friday from 12pm-4pm.
28. Play Beach Volleyball
This is a very popular activity to do on the beaches in South Bay. On the beach, there are usually volleyball courts available for public use. These are the best spots to play: Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Dockweiler State Beach.
29. Free Movie Screening
Occasionally, Hermosa Pier and Manhattan Beach host free movie screenings on the beach during the summer. Just bring a blanket, chairs, and snacks. Torrance also hosts free movie nights in a few parks. Do a quick search of the upcoming movie screenings.
30. “Wings of Life” Mural in Hermosa Beach
“Wings of Life” mural and is painted by artist Jonas Never in 2018. The mural shows a variety of birds including pelicans, seagulls, and herons. This is a popular spot for visitors to take photos.
31. Visit the Korean Friendship Bell
The Korean Friendship Bell is a large bronze bell in San Pedro. It’s a gift from South Korea in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States and also to symbolize the friendship between the two countries. The bell is rung on Korean New Year’s Day and Independence Day.
It’s a really unique piece and it’s free to see.
32. Wayfarer Chapel
Also known as “The Glass Church” it’s a chapel made mostly of glass located in Rancho Palos Verdes. It was designed by the famous Llyod Wright in 1951. Its unique glass architecture brings in many visitors and if you love stunning architecture, it’s absolutely worth a visit. The chapel is a common place for weddings and special events as well.
Adventurous Things To Do In South Bay Los Angeles
33. Go Surfing
There are plenty of spots that are great for surfing in the South Bay area. Some of the most popular spots are Manhattan Beach, El Porto Beach, and Torrance Beach.
For private surf lessons, check out this 2-hour surfing lesson in Santa Monica.
Paddleboarding is another popular activity to do in LA’s South Bay. The surfing spots usually have paddleboarding available as well.
This one is a popular paddleboarding tour in Marina Del Rey: Paddleboarding with Sea Lions in Marina Del Rey
35. Go Scuba Diving in Palos Verdes Kelp Forest
This place has one of the best kelp forests in Southern California and it’s a popular activity to go scuba diving. To get started, you can rent or bring your own scuba gear. That usually includes a wetsuit, regulator, buoyancy control device, and tanks. There are also dive shops where you can do guided tours and get a scuba diving certification.
36. Go Paragliding in Torrance Beach State Park
A popular paragliding spot is Dockweiler Beach which is one of the only beaches where paragliding is allowed. To get started, a paragliding company can provide you with the equipment and an experienced instructor to assist you. Malibu also is a popular spot for paragliding.
This 30-minute Tandem Paragliding Experience in Malibu comes with a professional instructor, paragliding equipment, safety equipment, and weather gear.
Out of all the activities mentioned in the last few points, this one is probably the most adventurous. There aren’t any skydiving facilities in the South Bay area but there are a few in other parts of Los Angeles. A popular spot is Skydive Taft and which offers skydiving for beginners.
38. Go-Kart Racing at K1 Speed in Torrance
If you’re in the mood for some go-karting, K1 Speed in Torrance is a popular spot and the go-karts can go up to a speed of 45mph. They provide all necessary safety equipment including racing suits and helmets. Get tickets here.
39. Rock Climbing at Rockreation Sports Climbing Center
Rock climbing at Rockreation is one of the best adventurous things to do in South Bay because it offers over 12,000 square feet of climbing terrain. It’s also suitable for all levels. You can also rent or buy climbing equipment here including shoes, chalk bags, and more.
Best Things To Do At Night In South Bay
40. Live Music at Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach
The Lighthouse Cafe is a historic jazz club. It’s popular for its jazz performances performed by a variety of musicians, local and international. In addition to music performances, you can also enjoy food and drinks there. You can purchase tickets in advance or at the door. It’s a great activity for things to do at night in South Bay.
41. Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach
This club is a popular venue for stand-up comedy and magic shows. Many big names in comedy have performed here including Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld. The venue also serves dinner and a full bar.
42. Go Bowling at the Bowlero in Torrance
Bowlero is a bowling alley in Torrance that has 32 lanes and top-notch scoring systems. There’s also a big arcade in the bowling alley with the ability to win prizes. They also offer food like pizza, hot dogs, and even sushi. It’s great to spend a night here after dinner.