On those final days of business trips when there’s just enough time for an adventure—but not enough to justify braving Los Angeles’ notorious crosstown traffic before your flight from LAX—the city of El Segundo delivers. The Los Angeles County city, directly south of LAX on Santa Monica Bay, boasts a host of thrills for travelers with a thirst for science, engineering, art, antiques, international cuisine and more. Here, five must-see spots in El Segundo, California.
The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
Blast back to the past as you peruse The Zimmerman’s collection of more than 130 antique and muscle cars. Highlights include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s chauffeur-driven 1932 Plymouth Brewster Town Car, the 1955 Packard Caribbean convertible driven by Jean Peters, wife of reclusive magnate Howard Hughes, and a prime example of American muscle: the 1968 Chevy Impala. If your extra day happens to fall on a Sunday, you’ll be able to hop in one of the museum’s prize cars and ride shotgun around the block with a professional driver. End your visit with a cherry on top by stopping by the Zimmerman’s 1950s-themed ice cream parlor for a scoop.
El Segundo Beach
Leave your bathing suit in your luggage, as El Segundo Beach is dozens of miles south from the crystal-blue waters in Malibu favored by locals, but don’t forget to snag a pair of earplugs. El Segundo Beach is a hotspot for aviation aficionados who gather on the sandy shores to watch airplanes from LAX fly into the horizon. Southern California’s painterly light extends from golden hour to sunset, adding elements of art and beauty to this display of engineering prowess.
Old Town Music Hall
It’s a shame you can’t drive a car from The Zimmerman off the lot, because pulling up in an antique would make the perfect entrance to this long-standing El Segundo cultural institution. At Old Town Music Hall, silent films like Buster Keaton’s 1928 The Cameraman are given live accompaniment by the theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. Crystals drip from a pair of massive chandeliers lighting up the regally decorated space full of red velvet and gold accents, where visitors can also take in newer film screenings and live jazz and ragtime concerts.
The lush, leafy landscaping surrounding Tapizôn sets the tone for this “Tropi-Cali” restaurant, whose décor and menus pay homage to both Rio de Janeiro and Southern California. Owners Almir Araújo and Eric Petterson pair Brazilian ingredients and recipes with Southern Californian cuisine. Highlights include traditional Brazilian feijoada served vegan, sliders made from meats smoked for at least half a day, yucca fries, and guava-infused ketchup.
Experimentally Structured Museum of Art (ESMOA)
This experimental artistic center aims to reimagine how we interact with art in public spaces and challenge what we expect to see at museums—old masters like Da Vinci are paired with contemporary LA graffiti artists, and one interactive installation asked visitors to draw on the walls with charred twigs. On view at the ESMOA until March 25, “Time” is a 25-foot-high multimedia work of paintings, drawings, collages, photos and movie memorabilia created by Rick Carter, a Hollywood production designer who won a pair of Academy Awards for his work on blockbusters like Back to the Future, Forrest Gump and Jurassic Park.