Hey, Want to Live in a Boho Paradise? Custom Build in Hermosa Beach, a Thriving Town with a Fascinating Counterculture History

Hey, Want to Live in a Boho Paradise? Custom Build in Hermosa Beach, a Thriving Town with a Fascinating Counterculture History 599 387 White Sands Design/Build


There are so many things to do in Hermosa Beach! Custom Build here and live in a vibrant small town, with a costal energy and an inspiring history.

Hermosa Beach is like Manhattan Beach’s spunky younger sister—just as stunning, but a little more boho, more into nightlife, a tad more funky. Although actually, Hermosa Beach was founded in 1907, which makes it five years older than Manhattan Beach.

With a population of just under 20,000, Hermosa has a quaint, walkable downtown, fabulous public schools, and plenty of activity. Things to do in Hermosa Beach include parks, restaurants, boutiques and music venues. Its creative, counter-cultural roots are memorialized in downtown murals and statues of legendary surfers.

The median age is 39, 75-percent of the adult population is college-educated, 15-percent is married, and 20-percent of households have children under 18. If you’re looking for a South Bay beach-town with an insatiable spirit, Hermosa Beach may be the perfect choice.


Scott Taylor

Hermosa Beach: Changing With The Tides


Hermosa Beach was founded around the turn of the 20th century, by developers who hoped it would become a seaside vacation community for wealthy Angelenos. It was originally a wind-swept 1,500 acres of dunes, a wooden boardwalk, a post office, a few bait stores and not much else.  The going-rate for beachfront property was $35 an acre, and the first homes were built on skids that could roll back to escape high tide.

In those days, there weren’t many things to do in Hermosa Beach. It was not a successful resort town, but by 1947, the PCH was delivering nearly 2 million tourists a year. In addition to the beach, many wanted to check out Hermosa’s new state-of-the-art aquarium. When the aquarium closed a decade later, Hermosa Beach was already a haven for artists. Beatniks read late-night poetry and comedians delivered off-color stand-up at the Insomniac Coffeehouse, which opened in 1958 and later expanded to include a bookstore. The rumor is that Linda Ronstadt was once a waitress there. World-renown jazz cats played at the legendary Lighthouse Cafe, where you can still catch a fantastic show. 

Hippies and surfers came in the 60s, along with the strange new trend of “sidewalk surfing”—soon to be called skateboarding. The first skateboarding competition was held at Hermosa’s Pier Avenue Junior High School in 1963, and the 1,000 foot Pier has a Surfer’s Walk of Fame.

The 70s brought punk, in the form of Black Flag and their do-it-yourself SST label, which supported other So-Cal bands from the old church it occupied. A large downtown mural celebrates Hermosa Beach’s punk history.


Audrey Watters

Hermosa Beach still has a vibrant music scene, as evidenced by over a dozen venues that book live performances and DJs. The Cypress District, home to surfboard manufacturers and punk musicians, has recently been revamped as a cultural center, with large gallery-cum-event spaces, design shops and artist lofts.

Things To Do In Hermosa Beach

There’s always something going on in Hermosa Beach. The city hosts regular volleyball tournaments, free summer sunset concerts and other events. People fish and rollerblade on the Pier, which is also an amazing spot to catch the sunset. On clear days, you can see the Palos Verdes Peninsula.


The beach is clean and wide, dotted with families under umbrellas and young adults with bluetooth speakers. Paddle-boarding is popular, and sometimes you can see whale spouts or tumbling dolphins in the distance.

All of Pier Avenue boasts great shopping and dining. Pier Plaza is a pedestrian-only stretch of Pier Avenue, with shops, restaurants, beach views, sidewalk cafes, street musicians and a busy nightlife. The Plaza hosts a weekly farmer’s market, with train rides for the preschool set.


Keith Yahl

Hermosa Beach Playhouse showcases local professional and amateur theater, and Jay Leno sometimes performs at the Comedy and Magic Club.

Fiesta Hermosa is a bi-annual arts and crafts fair that takes over Pier Plaza every Labor and Memorial Day weekend, complete with a kiddie carnival. Fourth of July is a city-wide celebration, with house parties and live music along The Strand (the beachfront neighborhood, named for a 22-mile bike trail), food and drink specials at restaurants, and the roughly 40-year-old tradition of The Ironman. Competitors run a mile, paddleboard a mile, then chug a six-pack of beer.

Hermosa’s Not Just Sandy—It’s Green

Hermosa isn’t just about beachfront lounging and nighttime parties. There are many neighborhood parks (beyond what we mention here!) and shady places to relax.

South Park Playground is a truly unique space that was developed over nearly a decade. It was designed to have low environmental-impact and be universally accessible to kids of all physical abilities. The big slide isn’t part of a stand-alone playground; rather, it’s built directly into a hillside. Paths wind around a community garden and into sensory huts, and there are ADA-approved swings and other equipment. The park was inspired by a real kid, a Hermosa resident named Casey Rohrer, who has Cerebral Palsy.

The Greenbelt is a three-mile shaded path for biking, walking or jogging, while Valley Park has ball fields, a basketball court, fire pits and BBQ stations. It hosts summer movies and free “Shakespeare By the Sea” performances.

There’s the South Bay Bicycle Trail, also called The Strand, a 22-mile paved path that runs all the way from Pacific Palisades to Torrance.  

Top-Ranked Schools & Kid Activities

Smoking is banned on Hermosa’s beaches and in The Plaza, which is a big win for developing lungs. Youth league sports are a big deal in Hermosa, and the South Bay Art Department is steadily training the next generation of creators.

Public schools get “A” rankings from Niche and nine or 10 out of 10 from Great Schools.

High school students can choose between Redondo Union High School or Mira Costa High School. Both are excellent options. In 2019, US News & World Report ranked Mira Costa among the top three percent of high schools in the nation.

Which Hermosa Beach neighborhood is perfect for your custom-built dream-house?

The Sand Section offers some “walk streets” (closed to vehicle traffic), and all of these properties have beach views. They’re a short stroll from the sand and surf and close to numerous cafes and bars. This is also the priciest part of town, with homes that have sold for as high as $14 million. Parts of the Sand Section are vibrant and lively, but the North Sand Section is a bit quieter and still feels like a retro, earthy beach community. The Sleepy Hollow part of the Sand Section offers larger lots, with room for pools and privacy.

The Valley Section is hilly, with both canyon and ocean views. Some of these properties border The Greenbelt, so you can step from your yard to the trail. Much of this neighborhood is within walking distance of Hermosa Valley Elementary and Middle School and Valley Park.

Hermosa East gives you more bang for the buck, in terms of lot-size. It’s flatter and further from the beach, so you may miss out on ocean views—although some lots offer glimpses. Hermosa East has more of a suburban feel and is convenient for shopping and dining options.

Ready To Create Your Dream Home?

Some of the White Sands Design/Build team live in Hermosa Beach and would be happy to speak with you about why they love it and why a design/build firm is the way to go.

We have a solid portfolio, and our South Bay building projects have received some amazing press.

Thanks for reading,

Hawlie Ohe

Hawlie headshot for home air purifiers

Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.