9 mi / 15 km
Los Angeles (LAX)
The Palos Verdes Peninsula rises in a series of honey-hued bluffs south of Los Angeles. Coming here is about trading the concrete jungle for a land of wave-smashed beaches, rocky reefs dotted with lazing sealions, and historic cattle ranches that date back to the age of Mexican rule in California. It's the City of Angels at its very wildest.
Start on the north side of the headland, cruising down wide Palos Verdes Drive, the main vena cava of the district. Now and then, glimpses of the cobalt-blue Pacific Ocean open up between the stone pines and the big mansions.
Things get even more interesting when you hit Point Vicente. The Point Vicente Lighthouse stands watch there, just as it has done since 1920. Tours of the site aren't common – they're run just one day each month. But no matter if you're not on time…
The Point Vicente Interpretive Center is right next door. That's where you'll find the glimmering lens that once shone atop the lighthouse. And what a lens it is! Constructed from prisms of hand-crushed glass in Paris at the turn of the 19th century, it was capable of casting a beam of light some 24 nautical miles out into the Pacific.
The Vicente Bluffs that surround the center have weaving walking trails that navigate the precipitous cliffs all the way north to Golden Cove. You won't want to blink as you hike those, because pods of grey whales can be spotted off shore between December and April each year! Afterwards, hit the next-door Terranea Discovery Trail to glimpse sealions sunning themselves in Pelican Cove.
The final stretch of this scenic drive is the most dramatic section of all. It enters the affluent city of Rancho Palos Verdes, a place consistently rated among the most livable spots in California. There are lookouts here at Portuguese Point and Inspiration Point that will take your breath away, especially around the sunset hour as the ocean begins to glow a pinkish, orangey red.
This area also hosts the curious Wayfarers Chapel. It's a unique church that's built like a greenhouse, complete with glass roofs and twisted pine trees engulfing it on all sides. The architect? One Lloyd Wright, son of the great American designer Frank Lloyd Wright.
Beyond the end of the route at Point Fermin, there's an interesting place aptly named the "Sunken City". In 1929, a massive landslide caused houses and land to collapse straight into the Pacific Ocean, rendering an entire neighborhood uninhabitable.
Left abandoned and forgotten, the Sunken City became a haunting and surreal landscape, attracting urban explorers, graffiti artists, and photographers who were captivated by its eerie beauty. Despite being off-limits to the public, the allure of this ghostly urban relic persists nearly one-hundred years later, as discussions continue regarding its future and the possibility of opening it to visitors whilst preserving its historical significance.
As your scenic drive through Palos Verdes nears its end, the captivating beauty of the peninsula reaches its crescendo. The tranquility, the grandeur, and the sheer wonder of this coastal paradise will leave you itching for your next road trip adventure.
If you're seeking a bed and breakfast experience, the Green Meadows Farm Bed & Breakfast offers charming accommodations and a serene atmosphere amidst rolling hills and lush gardens. Additionally, the Ayres Hotel Manhattan Beach/Hawthorne provides a stylish and comfortable stay with convenient access to both Palos Verdes and nearby Manhattan Beach.Parking fees may apply to some areas - see signage on site. Got a tip to share for this route? Send us yours! The roads in Los Angeles are sealed. View current alerts and warnings from the City of Los Angeles.
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