The picturesque Palos Verdes Peninsula at the south tip of the LA County offers visitors and Angelinos alike an opportunity to reconnect with nature. The key words are ocean views and hiking. Plan ahead: bring binoculars, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, hat and water to spend a day or two checking these five points of interest and relaxing from the hectic pace of Los Angeles. Have fun!
1. Abalone Cove
This is an ecological reserve with beaches and tide pools, caves, difficult hikes on rocks. Check out the tide reports to plan your visit for a low tide. The children will enjoy this. Bring sturdy shoes, lots of sunscreen, and bathing suits. Parking and hours of operation are very limited. Obey signs for falling rocks, and closures.
Hiking this strenuous trail is probably my favorite thing to do in the Peninsula. Head early in the morning to enjoy the view in solitude listening to the many birds that call this nature reserve home. Parking is limited, but a few spots might available at or near DelCerro Park early in the day. Make sure to carry enough water for the round trip, which runs five miles downhill from the end of Crenshaw Blvd to the beach on the other side of the peninsula and back. Less confident hikers should stay on Burma Road. Pay attention to closed trails signs, trespassing could jeopardize your safety. Sit down on any of the semicircle lookouts built in several points around the reserve to enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. If you only have a few minutes to check it out in the late afternoon, consider the time needed to find parking and stay in Del Cerro Park to watch the sunset.
Somebody had the brilliant idea of transforming a landfill into the spectacular display of plants from around the world. Known as the Jewel of the Peninsula, these 87 acres of pure horticultural delight is divided in several unique areas: Children’s, Cactus, Rose, among others. Additionally it has a lake, albeit dried, and several short trails. Little kids will enjoy smelling the many fragrant species in the Garden of the Senses. Come in spring to admire the bloom of the cherry trees while listening to music in the amphitheater. Or hike to the shade of a magnificent grove of Moreton Bay Fig Trees with an intricate net of superficial roots. The park also has a Xerophilous (Cactus) Garden and a Rose Garden. ($9 adults, $4 children, $6 seniors and students. Open year round except Christmas Day, from 9 to 5, last entrance at 4:30 p.m.)
Point Vincent Interpretive Center houses a small collection of geological and archeological artifacts, from a fossil uncovered in the early 1900 to objects associated with whale hunting. Outside of the center, there is a semicircular lookout favored by whale watchers with binoculars and scopes. Unfortunately, summer is not the best time of the year to watch the whales, but dolphins don’t have a fixed schedule. Beyond the lookout, there is a trail that runs several miles parallel to the south rim of the peninsula. To the East stands the lighthouse, which opens only second Saturdays; otherwise, it makes for beautiful pictures. Continue walking about half a mile to the East of the lighthouse, and go down to the Vincent Bluffs Reserve to explore the rare bluffs scrub and black basalt rocks. Or stroll west as long as you desire, breathing sage and other species of this harsh landscape. Or simply come here to have a picnic bathing in the magnificent view.
If you are tired of nature, and need to relax in a beautiful indoor setting, go to this extraordinary gallery on Crenshaw Blvd. It opens from 10 to 4 from Mon through Sat, and from 1 to 4 on Sundays, and closes all major holidays. Palos Verdes Art Center has year round exhibits showcasing artist in all stages. It also provides art classes, programs, and special events. Don’t leave your credit card at home. The boutique has an AMAZING collection of handmade jewelry and clothing that is difficult to ignore.