Bruce's Beach Belongs

Visit Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach

Woman sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean at Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach

Every community has heroes “really intent on making this a better place for all people,” as Maya Angelou once put it. For Manhattan Beach in southwestern LA, it was the Bruce family. Pay homage to part of their history on a 3-mile (round-trip) urban coastal walk starting at their namesake beach.

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Find street parking (or park in the lot, both metered) and head to Bruce’s Beach, the oldest park site in the area. The sloping hillside green space provides incredible ocean views from multiple benches among various trees. It’s perfect for a picnic. There’s a memorial plaque in the park that briefly explains the history. African American entrepreneurs Willa and Charles Bruce bought property here in the early 1900s and established a resort—the only one in the county at that time that was open to Black people. Unfortunately, as the Black community grew, hostility arose from white neighbors, and then the city took over the land, citing plans to develop a park. The Bruce’s resort was forced to close. 80 years later, in 2006, the city finally recognized this injustice by restoring the name of the park: Bruce’s Beach.

Woman walking down stairs at Bruce's Beach in Manhattan Beach

After paying tribute to Willa and Charles Bruce, take a stroll along the beach down to the pier, looking for gulls, terns, and sandpipers. After returning, we recommend walking (or biking or roller skating) down The Strand to Rosecrans Avenue. Head right here and, at the intersection with Highland Avenue, find Mia’s Kitchen, a Trinidadian spot that serves up mouthwatering traditional dishes, from Pholourie (split yellow peas fritter) to Doubles (bara flatbread sandwiches).

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Take some to go and head southwest on Highland, turning left onto 31st Street to the dead-end. Here you’ll find Sand Dune Park, a unique workout spot with views of the city. Head back to Bruce’s (27th Street and Highland) for the sunset.

Woman sitting at on overlook at Bruce's Beach

BONUS FOOD AND BEER: Visit nearby Inglewood for more delicious food, and beer from the first two Black-owned breweries in the region. For a big meal, consider Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, serving generous portions of tasty cooking.

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For beer (and a bit of art), head to Hank’s Mini Mart (3301 W Florence Avenue), a community-driven market that focuses on a safe space for public art and healthy food.

Woman standing in front of Hank's Mini Mart in Inglewood

They also carry brews from Crown and Hops and South Los Angeles Brewing Company, two local Black-owned breweries. We especially like the Elevated Cypher or Urban Knight at Crown and Hops (brick and mortar coming soon!), and South LA Brewing Company’s Catalyst IPA, the net proceeds of which go toward helping buy Chromebooks for South Los Angeles students who need them.

Beer by Crown and Hops in Los Angeles

To get to Bruce’s Beach, take the I-105 to the western end of the highway, turning left onto Vista Del Mar (south). After nearly two miles, this becomes Highland Ave., and you reach Bruce’s Beach after another mile. Dog-friendly (except the beach)!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik.

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