Enjoy a mix of urban amenities with a laid-back beach lifestyle in Manhattan Beach, California. With its energetic pace and spectacular shoreline, this fun-loving city is a great place for kids. No matter which of the many Manhattan Beach vacation rentals you stay at, you’re never far from sun-soaked adventures and renowned cultural activities. These child-friendly attractions are a great way to see the city and experience the unique southern Californian culture.
1. Jump in the Ocean
As soon as you unpack, drive down to the Pacific Ocean to see Manhattan Beach’s clean and well-maintained waterfront area. Splash around with your kids in the surf, play catch, and watch the locals go about their days. The sizable waves are perfect for boogie boarding and bodysurfing with older kids and teenagers; little ones can have plenty of fun in the shallows.
2. Watch Surfers From the Pier
Watch local surfers ride the legendary Manhattan Beach waves from the large pier that rises over the ocean. From this high vantage point, you can see the area’s best riders carving through the whitewater and performing awe-inspiring tricks. The wide pier provides plenty of space for little ones to explore, and tall railings keep them safe. Stop into the small onsite aquarium for an engaging look at life under the water’s surface.
3. See a Show
Experience the local rich cultural scene at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. This large, modern theater hosts a variety of family-friendly productions throughout the year. Catch a Broadway-style musical by 3D Theatricals, or watch the dancers of the Los Angeles Ballet. A great option for kids is “The Nutcracker,” which comes to the Center every holiday season.
4. Bike the Waterfront
Explore the Manhattan Beach waterfront with a fun, fast bike ride along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which is better known as The Strand. This paved bike path extends more than 22 miles along the coast, so you can stay local or head to surrounding cities. Rent beach cruisers from Hermosa Cyclery, which sits close to The Strand. If your kids prefer a different mode of transportation, the shop also rents rollerblades and adult trikes.
5. Experience Beach Volleyball
Experience Manhattan Beach’s vibrant beach volleyball scene with a class or spectator event. Take a youth, teen, or adult class, or head down to the courts on the beach and join a pick-up game. If you prefer to watch, games happen frequently throughout the week. In August, don’t miss the Manhattan Beach Open, a massive beach volleyball tournament that brings in world-class athletes and enthusiastic crowds.
6. Watch an Outdoor Movie
If you’re visiting Manhattan Beach in the summer, don’t miss the Summer Surf Movie Series. Each week, head to the courtyard of the Manhattan Beach Library to watch a large-scale projection. Each movie is suitable for kids and features free admission. Before the film, enjoy a musical performance and a raffle. Feel free to bring snacks and drinks; food vendors are also available at each event.
7. Play at Polliwog Park
Set your kids free on the playground at Polliwog Park for an afternoon of active fun. The large structure features a variety of play elements, including a lighthouse-shaped tower and spiral slides. Small children love the separate toddler play areas. Then, take a hike around the park’s beautiful shaded trails, or set up a picnic on the park’s large lawns.
8. Climb a Sand Dune
Play on a sand dune that stands 100 feet tall at Sand Dune Park. The massive dune is a favorite among locals, who come to hike up using the nature trail and slide or run down the steep sand slope. Access to the sand dune is limited to preserve the area; make your one-hour reservation on the city’s website. Kids 12 and under are free, and each person 13 and older must pay a $1 admission fee. The park also features a fun playground, a tot lot, and restrooms.
9. Check Out the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
Walk among the wildflowers at the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden. Take the winding path through the different areas, stopping to read the educational interpretive signs along the way. If you’re interested in birds, take the garden’s free bird walks on Sunday morning. Admission to the garden is free year-round.
10. Take an Art Walk Among the Butterflies
Celebrate Manhattan Beach’s public art with a walk along the Mariposa Pathway. This short, flat path is easy for even the smallest kids to navigate. Along the way, look out for seven different butterfly totem poles that are nestled into the trees. The eucalyptus trees that surround the totems are home to hundreds of monarch butterflies; the best time to see these colorful creatures is from October to March.
11. Visit the Library
When the weather turns cool or wet, head indoors to the Manhattan Beach Library. This beautiful facility hosts a series of free family events. Stop in for toys and music at the baby and toddler playtime, or come on a weekend for an afternoon concert. The library brings in a variety of kid-friendly speakers on topics ranging from girls’ empowerment to animal adoption.
12. Hit the Pool
When the ocean waves are too big for kids, cool off in the Begg Pool. Drop in for a recreational swim session, or attend one of the pool’s seasonal parties. If you’re in town in August, look out for the Kids Extreme event. During the race, kids power through an obstacle course in and out of the pool while parents cheer them on.