Palos Verdes Peninsula Tour + ADD NEW ROUTE
61 in California California35 Miles
By Bill Belei
on August 1, 2003
- Trip Toolbox
I suggest starting in the town of San Pedro, CA. San Pedro is just about 40 minutes from downtown LA. To get to San Pedro you basically would just take the 110 south till you see the exits for San Pedro. Take the last one which will drop you off on Gaffey street. You'll have to cut through San Pedro by taking Gaffey street south. After about 5 minutes you'll start to climb a large hill and Gaffey will basically dead end into Paseo Del Mar/Sheppard St. Note: If you want to see the Korean Bell (AKA Friendship Bell) then look for Angel Gate park on the right ... you can't miss it. Otherwise, once 25th dead ends, take a right on to Paseo Del Mar and head east. Take this about 10 miles, all the way past White Point Park and then you want to look for Western Ave. which will be on road that veers off to your right. Take Western Ave only for a mile or two and then take a left on to 25th street and head west on Palos Verdes Drive south. Now the directions are less tricky and you can really start to see some of the coastal scenery. Head west for about 10 miles and you'll see a road off to the right that is cutting back up steeply into the hills. That road is Palos Verdes Drive East. I highly recommend you take a detour there and head up into the hills. Although its not very long, it has some great switch backs that will be a lot of fun as you lean and twist into the turns and accelerate up the hill. Take this road up until you come to a stoplight at which you want to take a left on to Crest Road. Follow Crest Road right up to the crest of the hill and enjoy the great view as you take a break. Follow your same route back down hill to get back on to Palos Verdes Drive South and continue to head west along the coast line. Now you'll have about 25-30 miles of great coastal driving with relatively minor traffic congestion. Hopefully Catalina Island will be in full view for your trip!!! At the end of the route, Palos Verdes Drive South will turn into Palos Verdes Drive West and will dump you off into Torrance and South Redondo Beach. There if you want to continue along the coast (not nearly as majestic and much more crowded, you can take Catalina Ave or the Pacific Coast Highway. This is the perfect end to the drive as you will have plenty of places to pull over and eat or shop at. Good luck and enjoy this hidden gem in LA!
The scenery on this route is the best coastal scenery you are going to find in LA County. The Palos Verdes peninsula with its hills, cliffs, and impressive elevation offers breathtaking scenery and its only 40 minutes or so from downtown LA. If you live in/near LA and haven't discovered it yet, you've really been missing out on an incredible coastal area. If you follow the path that I spell out below in my directions, you'll start out on a large hill overlooking the southern coast of LA. From there you can see the Port of Los Angeles and all the huge commercial ships coming in and going out as well as smaller pleasure boats. As you drive you'll wind your way around to the southwest and eventually western coastal areas along high cliffs that give you a great view of the ocean scenery (especially beautiful during sunsets!!!). If you're lucky and the weather is clear over the water, you'll see the beautiful and mysterious Catalina Island. Many people in LA have no idea that such large and beautiful island is parked just off shore because the island often is not visible. However, when the ocean air is clear enough, you'll be amazed at the large island sitting only 20 or so miles of shore. You'll also get a great inland view high above LA's south bay towns (Rolling Hills Estates, San Pedro, etc.) if you take Palos Verdes Drive East detour that I recommend in my directions below. This road will take you nearly to the very top of the Palos Verdes hill where you'll be at a great vantage point over the areas below. This is especially pretty at night with all the lights. Also, since this area has some of the most dramatic ocean views near LA, you'll see some magnificent houses in some really upscale neighborhoods that are positioned to take advantage of the wonderful coastal views.
The road conditions couldn't be much better when you compare them to the normally overcrowded LA streets. This road is relatively smooth with gentle twists and turns. If you take the Palos Verdes Drive East detour I recommend, you'll get into some fun tighter turns with steep elevation gains. Keep in mind that some road construction was taking place in the summer of 2003 ... should be ideal when they get done and have all the brand new smooth pavement in place.
Overall this is a great road with on IMPORTANT exception. Just after 25th street becomes Palos Verdes, there is a 1/8 mile stretch of road that runs by the coast where there is constant land shifting toward the ocean. The road has some SEVERE dips which can easily dump you if you don't know they're coming. If you are prepared for them with slower speed you'll be fine. Sections of the road in that area are constantly under repair from the cracks in the road where it has shifted toward the ocean. After that the road is beautiful!
As far as things to do when its time to pull over and take a break, there's enough stuff to do to keep you busy for a full day or weekend if you look around. If you like seeing large commercial ships as well as smaller private boats, just head down the hill and find the Port of Los Angeles. There are two large tourist areas near the port that offer parks, restaurants, shopping and some very inexpensive and enjoyable coastal cruises. One of the tourist areas is the Port's O Call Village which is a vintage New England style port replica (apparently filming for TV and movies takes place in this area). Also, the Port of LA has an annual Lobster Festival (in mid September) that is ideal for lobster lovers. At the start of the directions I provide below, you can visit San Pedro's "Korean Bell" or "Friendship Bell" which is located in Angel's Gate park. This huge bell was donated to LA from the South Korea back in 1976. It has a park and sits up at the crest of a hill offering a great view. Also, if you like history, this park has the Fort MacArthur Military Museum which highlights a fort that was built back in 1916. Just about a hundred yards away from this park is another park named Point Fermin park. This park offers tours of an old lighthouse and has a long walk/jogging trail around the perimeter of the park. If you like shopping, then you'll find a couple boutique centers that are found toward the tail end of the road when you start getting back into the more crowded areas. These boutique areas are great places to pull over, get some ice cream, and walk around looking at the arts and crafts. Also, if you want to do something really exciting, take a boat to Catalina Island which by itself, Catalina Island could turn into a week's vacation if you wanted it too.
- View the weather forecast for this area from Yahoo weather .
Nickname (optional) : Bill Belei