It was like this place I always knew existed but never paid attention to. It's so easy here to just drive by, hum along on the 110 or the 405 or even the PCH, and not take the slightest peek at what you're missing. That was my relationship with Palos Verdes for the first 7 years or so that I livedCalifornia, although I've always lived less than 50 miles away.
I can't remember what made me decide to go for the first time. If I had to guess, it might be because a friend or two stayed with usTerranea Resort, and seeing her photos made me wonder what the heck was going on in LA that I didn't know about. Or maybe it was my colleague who lives in Palos Verdes and his postcard-worthy,I wish you were herewatch regularly on Instagram. Whatever it was, I finally decided to make the short drive to Palos Verdes and I was completely blown away.
Palos Verdes isn't one of those places, like many of Los Angeles' "hotter" hotspots that inevitably scream "look at me." It is remote with no convenient freeway. The beaches are rugged and for the most part not suitable for swimming. There's no booming hotel scene or cluster of dining or nightlife spots to congregate at. Instead, it's just a beautiful place with a fairly affluent neighborhood of South Bay LA residents that still manages to be both approachable and unexpectedly welcoming.
If you are an outdoor lover and more adventurous, Palos Verdes is the chicken soup for the city dweller's soul.
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Palos Verdes is south of Los Angeles and is part of the city's South Bay. Its real name is the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and it's divided into a few different neighborhoods - Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and Rancho Palos Verdes. If you're familiar with the area, you might agree that, like most must-see beach towns in California, Palos Verdes is a little remote. But that's part of what makes it so special!
Of all the neighborhoods on this peninsula, Rancho Palos Verdes is where the most activity in terms of things to do is found.
If you've visited Palos Verdes without getting out of your car, which I've done countless times, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. This peninsula is wild and rural in the best sense of the word, a world away from the sights and sounds of the rest of LA. The road follows the coast, meandering up and down and winding along the rugged, rugged terrain of the area.
Take Palos Verdes Drive (east-west or vice versa) which is approximately 20 minutes (12 miles) non-stop drive. But there will be a stop. Lots of it!
There are miles of hiking trails throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Because everything is near or within a residential area, most trails are generally well-maintained and well-marked. The Palos Verdes Peninsula is said to have a true Mediterranean climate, with mostly dry, temperate days. The surrounding chaparral and shrubs are vaguely reminiscent of other coastal shrubby areas in distant lands like Spain,Italyand Greece, resulting in some truly unique California hikes.
Abalone Cove Trail(1.4 miles)
brush mark(5.7 miles)
Klondike and Portuguese Canyon Trails(5.0 miles)
Fishmonger's Walk(0.6 miles)
Shipwreck Trail(4.6 miles)
You don't actually have to hike for incredible views if that's not your thing. There are several viewpoints worth stopping at that will reward you with scenery you may never have seen before, even if you've lived in Los Angeles all your life.
- Bay of Malaga
- Lookout Park
- Bluff Bay
The beaches in Palos Verdes are a bit difficult. You'll find that many beaches here have limited parking or a steep walkway to the water. Many more also have stones and pebbles instead of sand. But they're all beautiful nonetheless because they feel so pristine and robust compared to everything else you'll experience near LA.
- Sacred Cove Beach
- Terranea Cove-Strand
- Portuguese Bend Bay Beach
- Abalone Cove-Strand
- Pelican Cove-Strand
The Dominator was a Greek freighter that was trapped off the rocky coast of Palos Verdes in 1961 and could not be freed. Since then, the shipwreck has remained submerged offshore, but various remains of the ship can be found scattered along the coast. To see the shipwreck, take theshipwreck trail.
Terranea Resortis a luxury resort in Palos Verdes, spread over a vast area of 102 hectares. You can stay here if you are looking for a posh coastal getaway with uninterrupted, sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Or, if you're just stopping by for the day, you can visit the resort's spa, golf course, or restaurants open to the public. Terranea is known as an eco-friendly resort with an emphasis on having a minimal impact, preserving the surrounding ecosystem and educating guests on sustainable practices.
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Point Vicente Lighthouse
Point Vicente Lighthouse, which is listed in the National Registry of Historic Sites, has been around for almost a century. In its early years it was one of the brightest landmarks on the west coast and had to be blacked out during World War II to keep enemy submarines from finding land. Today the lighthouse still works with an automated light and has even starred in a few Hollywood movies! You can't go inside, but the view of the lighthouse from the nearby hiking trail is amazing. And there's an interpretation center and museum on site so you can learn more about its history if you'd like.
Wanderer Chapellooks like it's straight out of a fairy tale. This small chapel has glass walls and ceilings surrounded by giant sequoia trees, making you feel like you're standing in the middle of a forest. The chapel functions as a normal place of worship and a popular wedding destination. When church services are not in session, the architecture designed by Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright's son!) is worth a visit.
1. ON THE ROAD:A bit remote from the rest of Los Angeles, you definitely need a car to get around Palos Verdes. You can try Uber or Lyft, but you may have to wait longer for a driver to accept.
If you visit Los Angeles,Rent a car from Expedia here.
2. THE PARK: Parking availability varies greatly around Palos Verdes. Sights such as the lighthouse and chapel have large dedicated lots. But many of the area's beaches and viewpoints have tiny lots that can easily fill up, especially near sunset.
Several trailheads and popular hiking areas in Palos Verdes begin in residential areas. Here you should pay close attention to the signs and make sure you are parking in a legal space that is not intended for the people who live there (usually marked as "permission only").
3. LABELS: Speaking of not parking in spaces designated for residents, as Palos Verdes is a residential area, it pays to be mindful and respectful during your visit, which should go without saying. Don't trash the beaches, block or slow down traffic (no matter how nice the view), and try not to be loud or disruptive when walking through neighborhoods to access hiking trails. Politeness, sure, but a reminder never hurts!
4.GAS, FOOD AND OTHER ESSENTIALS:There aren't many petrol stations in Palos Verdes, so make sure you have a full tank before you visit. If you need groceries or other essentials (for a picnic or a day at the beach), the Golden Cove Center has (31176 Hawthorne Blvd), which is right on Palos Verdes Drive, not far from the lighthouse.
5. WHAT TO PACK:If you plan on hiking or visiting the beaches of Palos Verdes, plan on clothing that you don't mind if it gets a little dirty, as the trails here can be dusty. Also, I highly recommend wearing long pants when hiking as there are catci and other stubborn (technical term, right?) plants in the area. Last but not least, the beaches here are rocky, so bathing shoes will be your best friend.
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Tours in Palos Verdes
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