How Locals Spend a Sunday: Surf's Up Along L.A.'s South Bay

by Pete Halvorsen
Beach cruisers. All photos by Pete Halvorsen.

If you're Fathom's guest Instagrammer Pete Halvorsen, you're a professional photographer and a proud Manhattan Beach resident. And this is your perfect Sunday of sand, sun, and food in the South Bay.

MANHATTAN BEACH, California – Fifteen years ago, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. I immediately received sage advice from a savvy veteran of the industry: If you're going to work in Hollywood, don't live in Hollywood. Having salt water in my veins, I was drawn west of the 405 for the ocean breeze and the much cooler climate than Hollywood and the Valley. My wife and I found South Bay and eventually settled in Manhattan Beach, a place where a Hollywood movie star, an NHL hockey player, a beach bum, and a retired teacher can all be neighbors. And if you were a Manhattan Beach "loc," your typical Sunday would look something like this.

Sunrise Yoga

Sunrise yoga or sunrise surf? Tough choice.


Mom wakes up for a sunrise yoga session at the beach with a few friends, followed by the coconut yoyo açai bowl from Paradise Bowls.

Dad is off for a "board meeting" with a sunrise paddleboard session from pier to pier. If you're a surfer, El Porto is the best break in the South Bay. Just get there early, as it gets crowded and there are only so many metered parking spots.

North End Caffe

Well-fed kid at North End Caffe.


Now it might be time to carbo-load the kids with a visit to their favorite uncle's house. Uncle Bill's Pancake House has been stuffing faces with their pancakes since 1973. Pancakes with an ocean view. Hard to go wrong.

If you are in the mood for something a bit more non-traditional, head to the El Porto section of Manhattan Beach and visit Laura and John at North End Caffe and order their amazing Genovese toast (pancetta, pesto and mozzarella grilled toast, and checca scrambled eggs). After breakfast, a short two-block walk down to the sand is in order to work off some of that amazing food.

Bikes on the pier

Bikes line the pier.


Midday, the tourists start to show up, so it's time to stake your claim at the beach and get ready for volleyball. If volleyball isn't your thing, take a beach cruiser for a ride along The Strand (also known as the Marvin Braude bike trail), twenty miles of beautiful beach stretching from Marina Del Rey down to Palos Verdes.

If you choose to ride south, park your bike in Hermosa Beach at Good Stuff or Sharkeez and grab a quick bite to fuel your way back north.

Other good lunch options in Manhattan Beach include Wahoo's for fresh fish tacos, Simmzy's for the best burger in town, and Fishing With Dynamite, a great new oyster bar and seafood spot.

Alternatively, making wraps to take down to the beach is always a good call, especially when you include a post-wrap siesta on the sand.

Neighborhood photo

The only road signs that matter.

MB Post

Dinner at MB Post.


At 3 p.m., beachgoers head home to rinse off the sand and get ready for dinner. One of the local favorites for fine munchies and fantastic wine in a very hip environment is Barsha.

Top dinner spots in Manhattan Beach are MB Post, with Michelin-starred chef David LeFevre at the helm; Mama D's, an Italian-style family favorite where kids can literally make their own pizza; and Petros, a high-end Greek restaurant four blocks from the beach. (Disclaimer: I may be biased because I'm half-Greek and my name in Greek is "Petros.")

In the summer, stop by Polliwog Park for live music every Sunday.


Sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.


Sunset. While it happens every night, no two are ever the same. The best spot to watch it is on the 100-year-old Manhattan Beach pier. You feel like you're on a large ship at sea as the sun slowly sets on the horizon. I may or may not have reenacted the "I'm the king of the world!" scene from Titanic a few times.


A moonlit walk on the beach with a glass of wine (please use a reusable thermos) is a nice nightcap. Or head to Shade Hotel for martinis in their modern lounge.

Hey, tomorrow is Monday. You know what that means? We wake up and do it all over again. It's the Beach Life.


See all the locations mentioned in this story. (Google Maps)


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