There’s something about Palos Verdes that feels kind of like being transported from Southern California straight into some lush, far-off mediterranean village. For Angelinos and visitors alike, Palos Verdes is about as close as it gets if you’re looking for something coastal and removed from city life without having to drive for hours to get there.
I discovered Palos Verdes myself not too long ago (which is upsetting… because I live in the Los Angeles County area and had no idea this place existed for the first 7 years I’ve lived here) and since then, the region has served as my number one go-to on the weekends when I’m craving the outdoors but unwilling to make the trek inland to other spots like Big Bear or Mammoth. Palos Verdes is a gift for this very reason alone, and you might be surprised to know that this peninsula wasn’t always, well, here! That’s right – millions of years ago, Palos Verdes was actually part of the Channel Islands archipelago, and only recently (a few million years less, I guess) did it actually link up with the mainland.
Because of this, Palos Verdes is home to some unique plant and animal species that can only be found here, on Catalina, and in Channel Islands National Park.
While Palos Verdes can easily be visited in a day (it’s a short 30-minute to 1-hour drive from Los Angeles and Long Beach), it also makes for an ideal staycation spot, and if you can manage to spend a night here, you should. Palos Verdes has so much to offer for nature-lovers and relaxation-seekers, and in two days, you’ll be able to get a pretty good feel for it all.
Read on for my tips on how to staycation in Palos Verdes over a two-day weekend!
Los Angeles Staycation Idea: Two Days in Palos Verdes, California
Day One: Taking in the Scenery
Enjoy the Scenic Drive Into Palos Verdes
On your way into Palos Verdes, you’ll quickly be welcomed with some seriously impressive views without even leaving your car. The main road along the coast here, Palos Verdes Drive, weaves around the peninsula’s neighborhoods and craggy coastline, and it is a stunning drive.
From end to end, Palos Verdes Drive is only 12 miles long, so theoretically you could drive around the perimeter of Palos Verdes in like 20 minutes. But you shouldn’t.
Are you visiting Los Angeles and considering a trip to Palos Verdes? Rent a car here!
Go For a Hike
The first stop you should make on your 48-hour Palos Verdes trip is a hike! Pick one, or pick several, because Palos Verdes is actually home to more than 42 miles of hiking trails spread out around the peninsula. Many of these trails link up at different points along the way, so you could easily turn a 20-minute loop into a 2-hour stroll if you wanted to.
No matter which hike you choose, the views are quite similar and equally stunning, providing you with an epic vantage point for the peninsula and the ocean beyond. But of course, the choices can be overwhelming, so here are some recommendations to start you off:
- Abalone Cove Trail (1.4 miles)
- Paintbrush Trail (5.7 miles)
- Klondike and Portuguese Canyon Trails (5.0 miles)
- Pescadero Trail (0.6 miles)
- Shipwreck Hiking Trail (4.6 miles)
Catch the Sunset
The sunsets here are unmatched, and the beauty of Palos Verdes is that there isn’t really a bad place to watch the sunset from. Along Palos Verdes Drive, you’ll find several opportunities to pull over and sunset-gaze. Abalone Cove, Lookout Point Park, and Malaga Cove are some great options.
However, if you’re staying overnight in Palos Verdes, you’re probably staying at Terranea Resort, the only major accommodation on the entire peninsula. If you are staying at Terranea for the night, I suggest checking into your room and planning to watch the sunset from your balcony or from one of the resort’s many trails, pools, or terraces. The resort’s unique location at the peninsula’s edge provides a clear, straight-shot view of the sun setting every evening that honestly gives me tingles just thinking about it.
Day Two: Water Sports, Brunching, and Sight-Seeing
Head Out On the Water
While the peninsula itself is spectacular and ecologically diverse, it’s only half the fun. Kick off day two by getting out on the water, because the area adjacent to Palos Verdes Peninsula is a protected area and therefore, booming with biodiversity and marine life. Depending on when you visit, it’s not out of the question to spot everything from dolphins and harbor seals in the summers, to whales breaching along the shore during winter migration.
Terranea Resort offers paddleboarding and kayaking in the mornings on their own private beach. It’s a little pricey, and you have to take a guided tour rather than just renting the equipment for yourself, but the payoff is getting to see all of this biodiversity up close and personal, and I can say without a doubt that floating above Palos Verdes’ kelp forests is unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
Get Your Brunch On
Especially if you’re visiting Palos Verdes on the weekend, who doesn’t love a good Sunday brunch? Despite the smaller number of restaurants on the peninsula, there are definitely some solid breakfast spots around if you know where to look. Here are a couple to choose from:
- Yellow Vase Cafe (tasty red velvet french toast and breakfast sandwiches)
- Mar’sel (all the options you could possibly want, plus a raw bar and caviar because well, brunch is the fancier version of breakfast, after all)
- Lighthouse Cafe (a classic breakfast diner)
- Omelette & Waffle Shop (more than 80 omelets to choose from – I know – plus a unique selection of waffles and other breakfast bites)
Squeeze in Some Sight-Seeing
After a day and a half of outdoor adventure and eating, spend the last few hours checking out some of Palos Verdes’ other epic spots. If you’re pressed for time, look no further than Point Vicente Lighthouse. This lighthouse has been standing here since 1926, and has since been placed on the National Registry of Historic Sites. You can drive right up, park, and take in the view from Point Vicente Park. Or, you can lay out a picnic and spend the afternoon here instead.
Another interesting spot to see is the Dominator Shipwreck. This Greek freighter was caught off the rocky coast of Palos Verdes in 1961, and was unable to be freed. Ever since, the shipwreck has remained underwater off the coast, but various remains of the ship can be found scattered along the shoreline.
Other Things to Do If You Have More Time
- Check Out The Spa at Terranea: The Spa at Terranea overlooks the Palos Verdes coastline, and offers a range of massages, baths, wraps, and treatments.
- Go Horseback Riding: Take a trail ride during the day or at night to enjoy a different perspective of the Palos Verdes trails. You can book a ride with PV Horse Rentals.
- Visit Long Beach: For a change of scenery, head 30 minutes southeast to downtown Long Beach. This coastal city has an impressive bar and restaurant scene, plus a selection of cool boutiques, breweries, and museums.
Where to Stay
- Terranea Resort: The go-to destination for a Palos Verdes staycation, thanks to its central location and amenities.
- Airbnb Options (New to Airbnb? Use this link to save up to $65 on your first booking!)
- Other Hotel Options Near Palos Verdes: Rancho Palos Verdes, Hermosa Beach, and Long Beach
Where to Eat and Drink
- Black Bamboo Sushi
- Giorgio’s Italian
- Babouch Moroccan Restaurant
- Yellow Vase Cafe
- Lighthouse Cafe
- Omelette & Waffle Shop
Tips to Know Before You Go
1. GETTING AROUND: Because it’s a bit removed from the rest of Los Angeles, you definitely need a car in order to get around Palos Verdes. You can try Uber or Lyft, but you may have to wait longer to get a driver to accept.
If you’re visiting Los Angeles, rent a car on Expedia here.
2. PARKING: Parking availability varies greatly around Palos Verdes. Sites like the lighthouse and the chapel have big, dedicated lots. But at many beaches and lookout points in the area, you’ll find tiny lots that can fill up easily, especially near sunset.
Several trailheads and popular hiking spots in Palos Verdes begin in residential areas. Here, you’ll want to pay close attention to signs and make sure you’re parking somewhere legal that’s not designated for the people that live there (usually marked as ‘permit only’).
3. ETIQUETTE: Speaking of not parking in spots meant for residents, since Palos Verdes is a residential area, it pays to be mindful and respectful while you’re visiting, which should go without saying. Don’t trash the beaches, don’t block or slow down traffic (no matter how pretty the view is), and try not to be loud or disruptive if you find yourself walking through neighborhoods in order to access trailheads. Common courtesy, sure, but a reminder never hurts!
4. GAS, GROCERIES, AND OTHER ESSENTIALS: There aren’t many gas stations in Palos Verdes, so make sure you’re filled up prior to visiting. If you need groceries or other essentials (for a picnic or a beach day), there’s a grocery store, a pharmacy, and some restaurants at Golden Cove Center (31176 Hawthorne Blvd) which is just off Palos Verdes Drive, not far from the lighthouse.
5. WHAT TO PACK: If you plan on hiking or visiting Palos Verdes’ beaches, plan on packing clothes you don’t mind getting a bit dirty, as the trails here can be dusty. Also, I strongly recommend wearing long pants when hiking, as there are catci and other poky (technical term, right?) plants in the area. Last but not least, the beaches here are rocky, so water shoes will be your best friend.
Are you planning on a Palos Verdes staycation? Let me know!
Tours in Palos Verdes
Shop Travel Essentials
Read This Next:
- A Guide to Los Angeles’s Best-Kept Secret: Palos Verdes
- Where to Stay in Palos Verdes: Terranea Resort
- 10 Scenic Road Trips to Take in California