LOS ANGELES is an iconic city from the Hollywood sign to the pillar of lights at the Los Angeles International Airport. Wilshire boulevard and the Sunset Strip also make Los Angeles an iconic city. However these treasures do not tell me that I am in Los Angeles.
Hermosa Beach is my Los Angeles. It is fifteen minutes south of LAX and is only one mile wide and one mile long. The town has never received the same attention as the towns and beaches of Santa Monica, Venice or Malibu and remains a hidden gem. However as Hermosa Beach evolved over the years it has attracted more and more tourists, typically from surrounding Los Angeles areas.
I grew up in Hermosa and may be a little prejudiced, but the area where Pier Avenue meets the Strand is the center of an iconic beach town. The pier and the strand separate the town from the beach. Walkers, runners, bikers, surfers, skaters, and dogs, can be seen on either the pier, the strand, or the beach, and they are all as friendly as the California Tourist Board says they are. Hermosa embodies the ideal beach lifestyle. The atmosphere of Hermosa Beach is more relaxed and humbled compared to the glitz and glam our associated with the city of Los Angeles. The locals all know each other, including the homeless living under the pier, and people are dressed in Vans, bathing suits, and shirts made by locals.
Like Los Angeles, Hermosa Beach has evolved and morphed over the years. When I was growing up the people of Hermosa Beach took a lot of pride in being local. However, as more outsiders began visiting Hermosa and as my generation of locals grew up, the local pride began to decline, although it can still be seen. Although Hermosa Beach has always been a beach town that loves to party, it has evolved from a more relaxed beach town to a town dedicated to catering to entertainment needs. Local restaurants have closed down as more nightclubs cropped up. Pier Avenue was built for fun and entertainment. There is something going on in Hermosa almost every night, whether it’s going to a bar or a nightclub on the pier or catching a local band or a comedy show at the Comedy and Magic Club on Hermosa Avenue, adjacent to the pier.
For me Hermosa Beach is an escape from the stresses that are interlocked with Los Angeles. It is a much slower lifestyle with the tranquility of the crashing of the waves and the sea air. However, if I were to say that Hermosa is an escape from the notorious L.A. traffic, my neighbor would point out that the limited parking and the city’s propensity for issuing parking tickets any chance they get is a very good substitute. Parking in Hermosa can drive you as crazy as any 405 commute.
L.A. sunsets are iconic and they are breathtaking to watch from the beach with the sound and smell of the ocean. I love walking west on Pier Avenue and onto the beach when the sun is low in the sky and getting ready to fall behind the ocean. The low L.A. sun shines a beautiful orange light on everything and time and problems seem to fade away.
At this time I begin to appreciate the Los Angeles smog as it contributes to make the colors change in the sky. The sunset’s soft pinks are streaked across the clouds, vibrant reds and oranges paint the clear blue sky, and then finally the sky is dark with a handful of stars and airplanes that are mistaken for stars coming in and out of LAX. The sunsets in Los Angeles, especially when by the beach, makes me more appreciative of the natural beauty that can be found, but often goes unnoticed in the large city of Los Angeles. Nothing smooths my day more like my hometown Hermosa Beach and the beautiful sunsets I see everyday there.
Photo: Hermosa Beach
Credit: Nastassja Habers