A Perfect Day on the Peninsula

The Local’s Guide to Palos Verdes for First-Timers

The Palos Verdes Peninsula is one of those special, under-the-radar destinations that offer a welcome change of pace to the everyday. Here are five tips for getting the most out of your first visit to the area from a local Angeleno, Rachel-Jean Firchau of Rachel Off Duty.

1. Bring a Car

For first-timers road tripping or arriving from one of the local airports, the best way to experience the Palos Verdes Peninsula is by car. While there is so much to do at Terranea Resort, the greater area is every bit as worthy of exploration in its own right. Due to limited ride-share and taxi services in this more remote part of Los Angeles County, having your own transportation (and carpooling when possible!) is the easiest way to go.

When visiting Rancho Palos Verdes, keep in mind that gas stations are more scarce, but the peninsula itself is just 13.5 square miles in size, so you shouldn’t have any problems fueling up when needed.

2. Pack The Right Gear

If you plan on hiking or visiting the beach, plan ahead and pack the right gear. Trails in Palos Verdes are generally well maintained, but they can be dusty in the drier months. Also, Palos Verdes’ unique landscape means the area is home to all kinds of plant life, including cacti. Bring clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty, and wear long pants.

The beaches in Palos Verdes are absolutely breathtaking, but they are rocky. Water shoes will be your best friend for spending time on the beach and enjoying any water sports in the area.

3. Pick Up a Hiking Guide and Hit the Trails

There are more than 42 miles of hiking trails spanning across 1,600 acres here in Palos Verdes, so there’s a lot that can be explored and enjoyed on foot! Pick up a hiking guide to get acquainted with the different trails in the area, or stop by Terranea’s adventure center at pointe discovery for a personalized itinerary. Many trailheads can be found as close as across the street, and no matter which you choose, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best coastal views in Southern California.

4. Get Up Close and Personal with Kelp Forests

While the beaches in Palos Verdes are rocky, the water here is a can’t-miss experience, especially for first-timers. The beach immediately in front of Terranea is home to a lush kelp forest that serves as a habitat for hundreds of different species of algae, invertebrates, and marine life, from top smelt and harbor seals to dolphins and whales.

The best ways to appreciate these kelp forests are from above. Paddleboarding and kayaking allow you to get up close and personal with the marine life native to Palos Verdes, and on a clear day, you might even be able to see straight down to the bottom of the kelp beds, too! Getting out on the water will also provide you with a unique vantage point for the Point Vicente Lighthouse and Terranea Beach Cove’s Sea Cave.

5. Have a Picnic By the Lighthouse

The Point Vicente Lighthouse isn’t just a sight to see from the ocean. It’s also a worthwhile visit on land, and one that you can easily walk (or bike) to from Terranea. To make an afternoon out of it, pick up a picnic lunch from sea beans or walk down to Golden Cove Center and stock up on snacks, then make your way to Point Vicente Park for a perfect picnic setting, with front-row seats to the lighthouse itself. The lighthouse here is on the National Registry of Historic Sites and has been in operation since 1939.

When visiting Palos Verdes, please be mindful of the peninsula’s delicate environment and respect the local plants and animals. No matter what you do, you’re bound for an unforgettable adventure and incredible views that will transport you far, far away from the city!