When it occured to me just how little most Angelenos (let alone the rest of the world) know about Palos Verdes, it seemed fitting to include it as the first feature in my travel blog. P.V. is a small, upscale, ethnically diverse beach community on a peninsula located 30 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles. The Peninsula is an unspoiled piece of sedimentary rock that is surrounded on three sides by water and enveloped by the cities of Redondo Beach, Torrance and San Pedro. Breathtaking views of Catalina Island and the Channel Islands are visible from all sides and when it's not foggy, the sunsets are exquisite. The architectural style of the area is Mediterranean and you get the sense you are in the Mediterranean as you explore the area.
When I was a kid, P.V. was home to Sea World's rival park, Marineland and attracted visitors from all over the world. Since Marineland closed, It's former site has been an MTV Beach House and a major shooting location for the Disney film franchise "Pirates of the Carribean" starring Johnny Depp. Most recently, the Terranea Resort & Spa has opened on this sprawling landscape and just a few short minutes away is the Trump National Golf Club. Pro-golfers and celebrities flock to both of these resorts for world-class dining and rounds of golf in an unparalleled setting (and no paparazzi).
Despite the fact that P.V. is a low key tourist destination, many celebrities live here, and countless Hollywood films and television shows have been shot here. Growing up, I went to school with Tom Selleck and Deepak Chopra's kids. Chuck Norris lived just a few blocks away from our family home, as did dozens of sports figures from the Los Angeles Raiders (now in Oakland) and the Los Angeles Lakers. Pete Carroll, famed former coach of the USC football team (now coaching Seattle Seahawks) calls P.V. home, Julia Roberts was recently seen vacationing here with her family and Keanu Reeves is often seen visiting friends who live in the area.
The Wayfarer's Chapel is located just across the road from Trump National Golf Club. A non-denominational church built by Frank Lloyd Wright's son, it is also known as "The Glass Church" and is built entirely of Palos Verdes sedimentary rock, and glass. It's an intimate setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean that is extremely unique and has become a famous local landmark. My sister Jessica was married in the church in 2004 and if you stroll through the rose garden, you'll see the names of scores of couples who have been married there over the years branded into the cobblestone pathways.
The Point Vicente Interpretive Center is a museum and educational center that is home to many local artifacts and a site from which you can whale watch throughout the year as the great blue whales migrate from the Arctic to Mexico along the California coastline. Fields of wild mustard that were originally planted by Father Sera's Christian missionaries sprawl along the hillside cliffs.
One of the lesser known gems of the Palos Verdes Peninsula are the many marine preserves along it's rocky shores which offer hiking trails for all levels, tide pools, beautiful beaches, and fascinating ship wrecks. One of the most intriguing shipwrecks along the western United States is The Dominator which lies hidden around a cove in Lunada Bay and is a popular scuba dive. If you are interested in discovering some of these hikes, you can visit the website for the four cities located on the Peninsula (Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes and Palos Verdes Estates) and the site can provide you with maps. Palos Verdes is also a world-class surfing destination, but be you should be forewarned that the locals are very territorial here and 'The Lunada Bay Boys' have even scared away world famous surfing champion Kelly Slater from shooting a documentary here. If you have seen the film 'Point Break' starring Keanu Reeves, the scene featuring Anthony Kedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his surfing cronies bullying Reeves on the beach was loosely based on these guys. Author Joy Nicholson wrote a novel that chronicles the trials of a newcomer trying to assimilate into the surf culture here called 'The Tribes of Palos Verdes'.
If you are looking for some local eateries, The Admiral Risty in Rancho Palos Verdes is one of the best seafood restaurants I've been too. They also have a dynamite flank steak, delicious clam chowder, and mouthwatering homemade croutons & bleu cheese dressing. My family and I always order a bowl of extra croutons that we dip in the bleu cheese and devour like popcorn! In Lunada Bay, Raffaelo's Italian Food is a hole in the wall offering the tastiest Torpedo sandwich I've ever tasted. I recommend "The Deluxe" after a local beach hike. The Red Onion is a local favorite owned by the Earle Family and offers authentic Mexican food as well as classic American dishes. The homemade guacamole, mango salsa, fresh carne asada and Mexican hamburger are just a few of my recommendations, but whatever your favorite south of the border dish may be, The Red Onion's menu items will make your mouth water for more.
P.V. also offers a charming shopping experience, whether in Malaga Cove Plaza which showcases a fountain of Neptune , several local cafes, shops and local businesses, Lunada Bay, or The Promenade open air shopping center in the heart of the hill, it's the perfect place to spend some time relaxing by yourself, or with friends and family. You will likely see peacocks meandering about and hear them calling out to each other. P.V. is a haven for these majestic, docile birds. Many P.V. residents have horse property and the Peninsula with it's countless parks ad recreational facilities is home to many local and national horse shows throughout the year. As you drive through the area you'll see horse trails and bicycle paths following most of the main roads.
If you ask around, you will be surprised how many people have never heard of Palos Verdes even if they have lived in L.A. for years. It's funny because everyone goes north to Malibu instead and the fact is, Malibu really can't hold a candle to P.V., well at least that is my opinion. I took for granted what a truly unique and lovely place it was to grow up and I am proud to share some of it's secrets with you.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with our travel community!