A Weekend in the Life of a Manhattan Beach Local: By Jen Oliak

Manhattan Beach – Have you ever visited? Join me in this post where I share the life of a Manhattan Beach local. 

Manhattan Beach is located about 15 minutes from LAX airport and 35 minutes from Downtown LA. One of the many reasons it’s an interesting place is its small town feel within the large area of Los Angeles.
Many high profile individuals in the sports and entertainment industry live here due to its 2 miles of oceanfront, top performing school district, and short commute to Los Angeles. Our downtown area is filled with some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Add to this, the nearly perfect weather throughout most of the year, and we have pretty much – paradise!

Manhattan Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier and Roundhouse Aquarium. Photo by Benjamin Benoit Photography

Manhattan Beach

Per Wikipedia, GQ Magazine named Manhattan Beach one of the nation’s six best beaches in their July 2014 issue. CNN Money named Manhattan Beach #1 as the “2011 Best Places For the Rich and Single”, while The Travel Channel named Manhattan Beach the 9th sexiest beach on earth for its 2008 “21 Sexiest Beaches” show.


View of ocean front and sand section homes in Manhattan Beach.

Manhattan Beach Local Life

I’ve lived here for 14 years, since moving from New York City in 2002. My husband lived here during his residency in the 90s and was intent on coming back (when I met him in New York).

Over time and through building a family, I feel like I know so many people in town. In many ways, I can relive my childhood through my kids’ eyes. The community is very involved in our schools and I’m friends with many parents of my children’s fellow students. We’ve formed our groups. And we share the milestone moments from preschool graduation to the graduation of high school.

We are growing up again as adults, together, through our kids. And many of us will be growing old together too. It’s a special town that most who live here do not take for granted.


Manhattan Beach Pier. Photo by Benjamin Benoit Photography

Manhattan Beach Annual Traditions

Hometown Fair

One of the town’s annual traditions is the weekend of the Hometown Fair which occurs the first Saturday and Sunday of October.

It could be a great weekend to visit and get the flavor of our town and join in on the festivities.  And weather is usually still summer-like at the beginning of October.

The Hometown Fair was started by a group of residents in 1972 who wanted to promote community spirit within Manhattan Beach. It’s become the biggest community event of the year, headed by a 20 member Board and run by local volunteers who make more than $100,000/year to fund their local non profit causes.


Row of Woodies on display across from the Fire Station


Entry into the Fairgrounds. No Weapons, please.?!

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Rock Climbing

Justin at top of Rock Climbing Wall during Fair. See the stage with people dancing on the left? It was an Elvis show.

I asked the boys to send me selfies of them at the fair and this is what Justin decided to do. Jake completely ignored me. Did you happen to read my post of How to Raise a Good Decision Maker? We’re working on it!

The fair has kid country, arts/crafts, paid games and food/drinks run by the community’s non profits. The streets are filled with local vendors selling everything from jewelry and art to hand made furniture. The Beer Garden is the largest fundraiser, frequented by young and old alike.  A few years ago, they added a wine garden, but it hasn’t picked up the momentum of the infamous Beer Garden.

Manhattan Beach 10K

To kick off the weekend, the City holds the Manhattan Beach 10k, run by a separate group of volunteers than the Hometown Fair. About 5,000 people run this race each year. It’s a great way to feel the Manhattan Beach spirit as you run through the neighborhoods and downtown. This is a race many locals will run year after year as tradition, even if they usually don’t run at all!

Review of My Weekend at the Manhattan Beach 10K and the Hometown Fair


Justin and me, just before leaving for the race.

Race start!

My friend, Jodi shot some video of me running by around mile 5. You’ll see me holding the Go Pro in my right hand. I thought I was filming the whole time but the battery died after 10 minutes. Ha. Ha. I was giving commentary throughout the race and interviewed people while running and cheering on my friend Pauline. Justin ran ahead. So much for my “vlogging” skills. Lot’s of energy expended while running the race! I guess its all the same though, because the screen is bouncing so much it makes you dizzy.

Manhattan Beach, CA

Post Race! First 10K race for Pauline and 2nd for Justin! We ran into my BFF photographer Ben to join in on a group finisher shot. Check out my post on How to Use Your Camera in Manual Mode to see how I learned in Ben’s photography class!

After the race, we went to Zinc at Shade for some brunch, pear martinis and mimosas! It was only 10am, but we figured after running a 10K, this was acceptable mom behavior.

Manhattan beach Shade

Shade has delicious pear martinis. Almost as good as mine hehe! Check out my Post on How to Make the Best Pear Martini

Manhattan Beach Shade

Cold Thai Noodle salad with steak was delish!

Guys! I’ll be running a give away to Zinc at Shade for $100 toward “Shade Hour” soon! Stay tuned for more info!

Back to Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Firemen

Love the firemen hanging out with hats and stickers for the kids to wear and take tours of the fire truck!

Manhattan Beach 10k

Red Cross was there to accept blood donations.

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair

There was a pet adoption area at the Fire Station with dogs, all dolled up with hanker-chiefs and t-shirts.

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Animal Adoption

This guy was getting lots of attention. Hard to believe he is homeless. I hope he was adopted.

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Dietz Brothers

Local music store owners, the Dietz Brothers were playing on one of the many stages. One of the sons of a Dietz Brother came on to sing a song and his voice was lovely.

Pauline, always laughing and ready to dance when there is music!


With Owner of Coastal Coastions, Jimmy Romos, and my new Octopus Board!

Every year, I try to buy one favorite thing at the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair. This year, it is this gorgeous carved, re-purposed surf board in the shape of an octopus with wood finish.

Did you know surfboards take over 1 million years to decompose due to the styrofoam within the fiberglass boards? Awful!

I love the story of Jimmy Romos of Coastal Creations, who switched careers from architect to artist after his near death triple bypass heart surgery.

Upon flat-lining, the surgeon had to cut his chest open to pump his heart by hand when the resuscitator shocks didn’t work. He survived, and stumbled upon this idea when he was in recovery, was unable to work and looking for a way to re-use a bunch of his old surfboards. Through this process, an artist was born. I love his story.

Manhattan beach hometown fair jimmy romos coastal creations

I loved the wood finished boards best, but the ones with color were cool too. These were priced at $395

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Jimmy Romos Coastal Creations

Pic of my friends’ cool flag surfboard for their den (and their adorable daughter Tay!).

I ran into Jimmy the next day, and he said he sold 5 boards to friends who mentioned Ounce of Salt! This made me smile.

Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Wine Garden

Wine Garden

My hubby, Dave isn’t crazy about crowds, so he did not partake in the fair festivities. My kids are total free-range and were off galavanting with their friends. So Pauline and I went over to check out the Wine Garden.

Manhattan beach hometown fair. wine garden

I loved the Jason Mraz cover singer on stage in the Wine Garden. Pauline wanted more lively music.


Definitely a much mellower vibe in the Wine Garden than the Beer Garden (coming up).

They had choices of $5/$10/or $15 glasses of wine. But the $15 glasses were poured from wine I’ve seen for $15-for the whole bottle! And the plastic wine cups were filled to make barely half a real glass. Although I can appreciate this being a fundraiser for the Neptunian Women’s Club, I felt the prices were obscene. Better to make it cost a bit less and attract more people from the Beer Garden!


Beer Garden was crazy!

The Beer Garden had $6 beer or wine. It was like a big frat party, except people ranged from age 21 to their 60s! The fair holds a raffle each year for which non-profit group gets to sponsor the beer garden, as it is the biggest money maker of the fair by a landslide. I thought they were especially friendly while serving the drinks!


Wow, there were a lot of people.


Hanging with girlfriends at the Beer Garden.

I have to say, my Beer Garden days are over. It reminded me too much of my 20s which I’ve left behind. But still, it was fun to see friends and catch up for a bit.

Doesn’t my town look like a fun place to live? I’m grateful to be able to raise my kids here.  The challenge is to teach them that most of the world does not function like their small beach town. But they’ll learn soon enough.

I hope you enjoyed this post about my life as a Manhattan Beach local. Next time you are at LAX for a layover or to visit Los Angeles, consider a quick drive over to my town!  And if you live in LA, come down and hang! I promise you won’t regret it.

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A Lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.