My Happy Place in Redondo Beach

By Karen Czuleger Strgacich | July 2nd, 2024

‘This little beach town will forever bring me joy’

sandals on the redondo beach esplanade, a happy place. Image by kirk stouffer

Writer Karen Czuleger Strgacich takes us to her hometown, her happy place, and shares what makes the town so special.

Gosh, I love walking along the shore in Redondo Beach. It is my happy place. The smell of the sea and the sounds of life around me as people walk their dogs, ride their bikes, and live life with an air of simplicity and joy. This beautiful little beach city in Los Angeles County, which in earlier years was only known to locals, is just so special to me.

I walk the esplanade; the street that runs above the pristine sandy shore below, which overlooks the 23-mile bike path. A bicycle super-highway that runs along the sand’s edge and ends in Santa Monica. I realize as I see so many people that this town has indeed been discovered. There are many happy people calmly enjoying the majesty of this quiet little beach town that I was born and raised in.

I grew up in an area called Hollywood Riviera, a neighborhood that sits up high above the shores of Burnout Beach. My parents bought their ocean-view home in 1959 for $20K and raised their five children in it. It is now worth well over $2.7 million.

I know every nook and cranny of this town because as a child I rode my bicycle on every road throughout the Riveria Village, a place known to locals as “The Village,” at the bottom of the hill. The penny candy stores and 31 Flavors that we frequented have now been replaced with high-end boutiques and a plethora of sidewalk cafés where you will find amazing and yet casual cuisine.

Aside from the fact that this little beach town has turned into a high-value real estate mecca with a median home price of $1.4 million, it still has a quiet, local, and polite feel to it. It has evolved over the years to be more affluent than when I was a child here. Growing up here, my friend’s parents were teachers, shop owners, and aerospace workers. Now there are doctors, lawyers, and stockbrokers. But it has retained its casual feel. Even though the people who live here now can afford to wear Prada, they prefer to wear flip-flops and yoga pants to their Chanel. They are authentically beach people. The people I pass along the bike path are of all ages too. There is a fountain of youth air about everyone I pass. A skip in their step, a smile on their face, and a friendly greeting by all. I love that about them!

So, what is it about this town that just fills me up?

It’s a town in which my roots run deep. My uncle was the mayor of this city when I was a kid. He held this office for 16 years, in a time before term limits. He made his mark on this town by supporting its growth through beautification projects and urban renewal. He transformed it from a small sleepy beach city to one of the most desired places to live in LA County. Now a park sits above the shores named in his honor: Czuleger Park.

He followed my grandfather, his older brother who came to this town in the early 1920s from South Dakota, where he was a veterinarian for horses, aka a horse doctor. A Penn State graduate who owned every level of the meaning of the word “patriarch.” He took a risk and invested his fortune in this town by starting a small business called the Redondo Trading Post. The business was developed because he saw a need for a mercantile for the citizens of this town, a city that was originally incorporated in 1892 – three years before he was born.

As his family grew to nine children, his three oldest sons oversaw running the three divisions. That included an appliance store, a home hardware and paint store, and a marine store. All three stores were connected and lined the city block on Diamond Street. It was an establishment at a time where handshakes meant something and where locals would just stop in to say hi – always greeted by my grandfather.

The urban renewal that my uncle adopted as mayor forced my grandfather to move the business to a location farther north, so he bought a parcel of land and planted new roots there. The marine store has withstood the sands of time and still stands there. The other businesses were swallowed up by the big conglomerates where volume pricing overrode a need for an intimate neighborhood small business.

Community meant something to my family, and that’s what I still feel whenever I am back in my beloved Redondo Beach. Sadly, I no longer live here. A divorce forced me to leave my beautiful home by the sea. I could no longer afford to reside here on my one income with two children, so I moved 15 miles away to a nearby city. Perhaps it was a result of my uncle’s vision of a renewal for this city that I had to leave. I couldn’t afford it.

This little beach town will forever bring me joy and will always be the place to which I am most drawn. It is a place where my sisters and I all meet and feel the camaraderie of a shared upbringing. We all feel the safety and warmth that our parents gifted to us by letting us live there and become who we were supposed to be. It just feels good.

When life becomes too much for me in a day, you will find me sitting on a bench on the esplanade above the shore looking at the waves below. I will breathe in and out the peace that fills my soul and I know I will be smiling. Even though most of my family, which includes my parents, who planted their roots in this town, have now passed away, I feel their love and presence every time I come home to this beautiful little city on the beach. It is my home in my heart and always will be.

I hope you, too, have a happy place that you can always escape to and nourish your soul. Again, it just feels so good.

Karen Czuleger Strgacich, used with essays, including "My Thoughts"Karen Czuleger Strgacich is a national sales director in the hospitality industry, helping to bring meetings and conventions to the city of Los Angeles. She has worked in the industry for over 30 years. She loves her career and paying it forward by mentoring future hospitality and meeting professionals and helping them obtain scholarships. She raised two children as a single mom, a feat that was at times the most challenging thing she had ever done, but also by far the most rewarding. After work, Strgacich blogs her thoughts, experiences, trials, and triumphs to sites focused on single motherhood and professional working women. You can email her at

Also from Karen Czuleger Strgacich:

“Boom On” and “Boomers and Ageism”

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