This breathtaking coastline is one of Southern California’s best-kept secrets. Fortunately, guests at Terranea Resort get to experience these views firsthand from their room balcony. Just beyond the resort and starting at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, this easy but vista-rich hike takes you north on the coastal bluffs. Enjoy 1.5 miles of natural wonders, with the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy to one side and the hills of Catalina Island to the other. Plan to see tide pools, native flora and fauna and, depending on the season, a migrating grey whale.
How to Get There: From Terranea Resort, head north on Palos Verdes Drive West in the direction of the Pointe Vicente Lighthouse. Easily reachable on foot from the resort.
Before You Visit: Dogs are welcome, but leave your bicycles behind.
SEASCAPE TRAIL, PALOS VERDES PENINSULA
If you’ve spent some time on the coast in Southern California, you know there’s really no such thing as a “bad view” along this attractive stretch of the Pacific shoreline. But in this celebrity-minded region of ascending stardom, some of these vistas shine brighter than others. Here we explore a few of our favorite vantage points, from sunny San Diego to seductive Santa Barbara.
It’s located in San Diego city lines, but it also holds the distinction of being on the “wildest” stretches of coastline in Southern California. Why? Foresight. Before San Diego became the city it is today, efforts were already underway to preserve—and keep preserved—the 1,500 acres that make up this stunning natural reserve.
Unlike a park, a reserve seeks to protect threatened plants, animals, habitats or unique geological formations that call the area home. As a result, visitors may enjoy beautiful walking trails, unspoiled beaches, rare Torrey pines and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.
How to Get There: 12600 North Torrey Pines Road in San Diego. From either direction on I-5, take the Carmel Valley Road exit and drive west for about 1.5 miles until you reach S. Camino Del Mar. Turn left (go south) and proceed along the beach for about ½ mile. The entrance is on your right just before the road begins to climb up the North Torrey Pines grade.
Before You Visit: Leave your furry friend at home. Dogs are not permitted in the reserve at any time.
TORREY PINES STATE NATURAL RESERVE, LA JOLLA
This little piece of paradise tucked right in the middle of the action is your afternoon respite in stylish Laguna Beach. Stretching along the bluffs on Cliff Drive from Aster Street to Diver’s Cove, here you’ll find the perfect perch to breathe in that salty Pacific air and admire a patch of Orange County’s romantic coastline. The park is also home to walking trails, gardens, a marine refuge with tide pools, sculptures, barbecues and lawn bowling greens.
How to Get There: 375 Cliff Drive in Laguna Beach. Take Pacific Coast Highway South into the heart of Laguna Beach.
Before You Visit: Pack a lunch or grab something at a nearby eatery to enjoy an oceanfront view from one of the picnic tables.
HEISLER PARK, LAGUNA BEACH
Though called a park, these 100 acres of land in the Santa Monica Mountains are stewarded much like Torrey Pines in order to protect their natural integrity. In fact, Bob Hope once planned to build a home and golf course on the site, but the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy purchased the land first and opened it to the public.
Filled with glorious walking and hiking trails, the summits will give you a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and plenty of opportunities to spot quail, deer and hawks along the way. For an accessible hike, try the Sara Wan Trailhead, a 2.5-mile loop with parking and picnic facilities.
How to Get There: 25623 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Take Pacific Coast Highway north toward Malibu and turn inland 4.5 miles west of Malibu Canyon Road. There’s a parking lot on north side of highway.
Before You Visit: Bring some cash, as there might be a small fee to enter and park.
CORRAL CANYON PARK, MALIBU