A visit to Redondo Beach can be much more than lying on the sand and dipping ones pinkies in the ocean. Think of it as a life-style with a myriad of choices in many sea related activities.
These include kayaking, pedal boats, stand up paddle boards, and harbor cruises both above and below the water. Segway Tours are also available Wednesday through Sunday with the guided tours cruising in the newest Segway through the Strand and on to Riveria Village.
If you prefer to keep feet on solid ground there are miles of boardwalks and paths for leisurely walks or for bicycling. The choices for restaurants and eateries seem endless with all type of ethnic choices and you can even select your own favorite seafood raw and then have it cooked on site for you.
Special events crowd the calendar, especially during the summer. Every Friday there is the Farmer's Market with a whole street blocked off for the produce stands and strolling customers. The Market located on Avenue l in the Riviera Village. We were invited to the 'Shop with the Chef, joining Chef Steve Mathrea who was shopping the ingredients for his Halloumi Cheese Salad. Each week a chef brings one of his recipes and then moves through the Market to find what he needs. We soon discovered that moving through the stalls with the Chef meant that we were treated to sample goodies where ever we went. We also enjoyed the music of the entertaining duo.
Very popular is the Seaside Lagoon Water Park where toddlers can splash and play in a sandy pool carefree and safe. Did we say this Park was popular, the day we were there the toddlers seemed to extend forever. Our conclusion was 'god in his wisdom gives children to the young."
Car buffs are a special breed as we discovered as we wandering into a car rally of vintage automobiles. The cars were classics showing many hours of tender, loving care by their proud owners. This Rally takes place each Friday evening during the summer. We viewed this Rally from our Crowne Plaza mini suite with balcony. Actually the view extended to the whole of the Palos Verde peninsula.
On Sunday there was a rally of vintage Cadillacs, many from the 1960s to 1980s, most looking like they had just left the car dealer's showroom. For us this involved lots of ohs & ahs and a great photo opt. As we left proud owners were still dusting the last invisible flecks of dust from glistening surfaces.
The weather during our visit can only be described as ideal, clear skies, a warm sun and refreshing light ocean breezes. Exactly 25 degrees cooler than the San Fernando Valley where the temperature hovered in triple digits. Which explains an excellent reason to seek ocean shores.
Redondo Beach has a long history, first as a port, but also since it did not take residents of inland Los Angeles to discover the relief of ocean shores in summer. Today this attraction extends year round since the activities extend to all seasons. There is the huge selection of restaurants, the Performing Arts Theater and night clubs with live entertainment.
Then there is the South Bay Galleria for shopping. Everything from department stores to specialty shops are to be found here as well as an AMC Theater, a Kid's Club and a long list of eating places.
Our three day visit to Redondo Beach started with check-in at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We thought it the perfect place for such a visit not only for the location, directly across from the Marina, but also for its ocean view balcony rooms and all the amenities of a four star hotel. We then met with JoAnn Turk of the King Harbor Association who gave our group of Journalists some background on Redondo and led us on a walking tour of the waterfront area.
If you have not been to Redondo Beach for some time it is a good idea to obtain a free copy of the 'Harbor & Pier Walking Map' from the King Harbor Association. For details use the web at facebook.com/kingharborassn.
'King Harbor Has It All' is the slogan of the Association and that is an accurate description. It includes the Marinas, King Harbor, Portofino, Port Royal and Redondo Beach. Our tour started at King Harbor directly across from the Crowne Plaza. After surviving the toddler Park, officially entitled Seaside Lagoon Water Park, we moved on to the Redondo sport fishing pier. Next, still stepping lively, we got to the Redondo Beach Marina and Basin lll which is departure dock for Voyager Excursions.
Our one hour cruise on the Voyager was a great learning experience for us as well. Leaving the dock we were quickly out of the harbor and viewing the south bend sweep of Santa Monica Bay. Soon we were watching frolicking pods of dolphins. The Voyager Captain explained that they were circling to crowd in a school of fish for it was feeding time. Then we moved out to the rim of the Continental shelf. Here the Captain explained that the depth was two hundred feet but just beyond the Pacific marine canyon began where the depth is almost two thousand feet.
Most of the large Grey whales migrate north in the Spring but the Captain said that a smaller species of whale might possibly be seen and sure enough we soon saw the backs of these creatures as they briefly surfaced. The Captain explained that where the canyon meets the shelf results in an upwelling of deep water that has the krill which the whales feed on. Everyone took lots of photos and the view to shore was huge extending from Palos Verdes to several of the beach cities to the west. For us this hour cruise ended much too soon.
Our group pedaled the way from the beach to our lunch site in Riviera Village. The Barcycle is a new attraction at Redondo Beach and is ideal as a group activity. Our group made much of the Barcycle and it proved a great photo opt. Just who pedaled hard and who didn't was not revealed. There are a few seats available without pedals for those wishing a free ride and enjoying the efforts of their hard working cohorts
Lunch one day was at H T Grill located at the Riviera Village. At this luncheon we had the opportunity to meet with some of the principals of the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. The Riviera Village Certified Farmers Market is located on Avenue l, adjacent to H T's, and since it was a Friday we had the opportunity to view it all in action and sample many of the goodies. That evening some of our more adventurous Writers went to Brixtons Night Club to see the Missing Persons Band starting at 9:30 p.m. At that hour my king size bed at the Crowne Plaza was beckoning.
The Crowne Plaza is planning a total redesign this Fall for all 376 rooms as well as the public and meeting banquet areas. We thought our room was just fine as is but then when we had the opportunity to view one of the rooms that was already redecorated we could appreciate the changes that are taking place. The redesigned rooms offer a more contemporary look with bright color walls and furniture. The redesign is also paying close attention to environmental concerns with increased recycling and energy and water conservation.
Another day we toured a reinventing restoration taking place at the first Redondo Pier first built in 1889. It was called Redondo Landing since at that time Redondo was a port of entry for Los Angeles. When finished Redondo Landing will tell of its history both by decor as well as displays of old photographs, historical personalities and tie ins to the earlier eras. We chatted with Kip Kelly, architect on the project, who told us that it was nearing completion. We told him we thought that the blending of the old decor while incorporating all the new features was indeed well done.
We studied with much interest the sculpture head of George Freeth which is located at the Pier Plaza. For he was the man who introduced surfing to Redondo Beach and America. Born in Hawaii of Hawaiian and Irish parents he first reintroduced Polynesian surfing in Hawaii. In 1907 he was invited by Henry Huntington to Redondo Beach to introduce surfing there bringing with him his two hundred pound wooden surfboard.
Surfing was not Freeth's only claim to fame. He also became the first 'official' beach lifeguard on the west coast and saved several lives. He also introduced water polo.
The Redondo Beach Pier sweeps out into the ocean from Pier Plaza and is relatively new. In summer it is the site of evening free concerts. These concerts include groups playing a wide assortment of modern music, everything from blues and jazz to rock and roll and new wave. These concerts are on Thursday and Saturday evenings and continue through Labor Day. It is also the site of an annual Chalk Art Festival. Located here is the Voyager and the Looking Glass boat which allows submarine views of local sea life. Shortly after our visit a celebration on the Grand reopening of the Pier took place. The place to keep up with the constant round of events is the web at RedondoPier.com.
Another special event that took place during our visit was the Sea Side Art Walk. This featured original art by exhibiting artists. All kinds of art were included in this event--photography, jewelry, paintings, ceramics and sculpture. It took place on the Plaza and called Avenue of the Arts. Our interest and appreciation of paintings has been much increased since we started working with oils on canvas ourselves. Looking at some of the paintings here was enough to deflate my own paintings even more.
To learn about special events at The Pier in Redondo Beach you can go to www.redondop;ier.com, enter your own e mail address and then receive the latest pier updates.
We also learned much about Redondo Beach's early beginnings which originally was a 75,000 acre cattle ranch. Then Henry Huntington, the railroad tycoon, built the Redondo Railroad which started bringing people to the beach in 1890. That year Hotel Redondo was built with all the eloquence of that era. In 1907 surfing arrived with George Freeth and a ballroom for 500 couples came into being.
Since then Redondo Beach has never looked back.
In the next issue of Vittles we will review the restaurants that we visited and explore some of the culinary delights offered in Redondo Beach.
Graphic Design by Impact Graphics