I’ve heard visitor horror stories of their first impressions of sunny Southern California.  A rude introduction to the 405, (aptly named because it takes 4 or 5 hours to get anywhere), hassles with parking, and getting lost.  You’re disheartened because the guidebook led you to another over-populated tourist hangout and The Avenue with the block of stores that is home to just another Swarovski Crystal and H&M.

But I wanted to find the Hidden Los Angeles! The places that are unique to LA!

If you can ignore the traffic and terrible urban planning, unique and beautiful LA can be found.  Here is my suggestion for a free and dirt cheap way to spend a few hours or a day in LA.

One of my most favorite, take-your-breath-away places is Palos Verdes.  Located just a short 20 minute drive south of Los Angeles International Airport, the community is made up of homes terraced and stairstepped, built on the cliffs of the pennisula that rises above the Pacific Ocean.

I like to ride my rode bike up through the hills for a great workout and stunning views.  Most of the roads have bike lanes, and where bike lanes do not exist, the speed limits are 25mph or less and have little traffic.

Biking PV at Sunset

Palos Verdes Bike Ride View

The drive to Palos Verdes is enjoyable, especially after a rain, as one can have a panoramic view of Catalina, Malibu, Santa Monica, and Downtown LA.  Stop at The Point Vicente Lighthouse & Interpretive Center, where you can browse the museum, take a walk, or do a little whale watching from the bluffs.

After the walk, meander almost directly across the street to the shopping center for a beverage or a snack.  There is a Trader Joes and Starbucks that boasts the multi-million dollar views.

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Only a few more miles down the road, you will pass Terranea Resort.  The Molly & Jason Bachelor Wedding took place at Terranea on one of the only rainy days LA has a year.  The resort offers public parking and beach access, with walking trails along the cliffs.  The photos on the website make you question if it really is that beautiful, and seriously, it’s not an exaggeration.  The views and the landscape are simply exquisite.  After an easy walk, watch the sunset at Nelson’s, relaxing by the outdoor fire pit, or grab a drink at The Pointe Bar, while listening to live music.

If you keep following Palos Verdes Drive West, you will arrive at my favorite place, Abalone Cove, where you can go hiking, explore the tide pools, or have a picnic.  The beaches and trails are mostly deserted, making it seem that you are worlds away from Los Angeles.  I always leave with a cleared mind and renewed spirit.  Parking at the entrance to the cove is $5, so I always on the street by the fire station because it’s free.

Abalone Cove

Continuing the drive, you will reach Trump National Golf Course, which has more free walking trails and public beach access.  Golfing is an option, obviously…hence the words “Golf Course”.  There are also dining options available, although pricey.

Palos Verdes has so much to explore, do, and see.  What is considered to be the wealthiest zip code in Los Angeles County doesn’t have to be expensive for you.  All of my suggestions except for coffee and food are free.

A different LA perspective

You may be interested in looking at the following links:

City of Palos Verdes Website: Information about The Peninsula
Southbay Wheelmen: Bicycle club offering rides through PV for intermediate/advanced cyclists
Peninsula Town Center: If you really do need the shopping…

  • itsamagicalworldolbuddy

    Great post! It looks like there are a lot of cool things to see in the Palos Verdes area.

    December 10th, 2011 17:38
    • Kara

      I looked through your blog and Southern California things to do. It’s great! Soltice Canyon and Getty Villa are still on my list:)

      December 10th, 2011 21:43

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