Manhattan Beach is where all the pretty people hang out. Not in an intimidating way, but more in awe-inspiring sort of way. The beach is packed with activity-volleyball nets line the stretch of beach and two paths (one for bikes and one for pedestrians) follow the sand to encourage strolling, running or just taking in the view.
The town of Manhattan Beach leads to the pier. In town there is plenty of great places to eat, shop and browse. The streets are steep down to the pier, so if you park in town, it's a bit of a hike back to your car. Street parking is metered and there is a small lot near the pier but it is usually full.
Down on the beach, there are two sets of swings where my children love to go and watch the sunset. It's a beautiful time when the daytrippers are packing up from a full ocean visit, couples are bicycling to their romantic dinner in town and the sky lights up in orange and pink.
The water (like all Southern Californian beaches) are fun to dance around to your knees, but always be careful with your kids and the under tow.