Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Pacific Palisades, CA

  • Published 2023/05/02

Wouldn’t you love to live in a place where famous Hollywood actors spend time enjoying the bright sunny weather?

How about visiting the film locations of your favorite movie and TV shows?

Wouldn’t it be cool watching the squawking and exotic wild parrots?

You will surely love hiking trails in the parkland if you are into the outdoors.

And if you are into yoga too, look no further than the secluded coastal community of Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California.

Located in the west downtown of Los Angeles and also known as PacPal or Pali, the Pacific Palisades is a small town home to many Hollywood celebrities because of its sense of privacy.

If you want to experience the place, consider this list of the best things to do in Pacific Palisades, CA.

Admire the Beauty of the Getty Villa

Exterior of The Getty Villa

Joseph Sohm /

The Getty Villa is an educational museum center dedicated to Greece, Rome, and Etruria for its arts and culture from 6,500 BC to 400 AD.

Located on the Pacific Coast Highway, admission to the villa is free, but you must make a reservation.

A hallway at The Getty Villa

Hayk_Shalunts /

The billionaire J. Paul Getty opened the Getty Villa in 1974.

He opened his vast collections of Renaissance and Classical art to public viewing.

Not only will you enjoy the superb artistry inside the museum, but you can also shop for unique gifts, books, and jewelry inspired by ancient artworks.

Beautiful garden of The Getty Villa

Kit Leong /

Celebrate the 4th of July in “Palisades Rocks the Fourth”

Palisades Rocks the Fourth is a festival representing amateur and professional musicians and bands every fourth of July.

As people count the days before the fourth of July, Pacific Palisades becomes the perfect venue for commemorating Independence Day.

You’ll have the best time of your life with a great party.

The Palisades Rocks the Fourth officially started in 2009.

Its celebration consists of 30 minutes of live music, different activities for the kids, food trucks, and a crew of volunteers with an attendance of 6,000 annually.

The festival takes place at the Palisades Charter High School and is considered the best day in Pacific Palisades.

Conquer the Hiking Trail at Temescal Canyon Hike

Gorgeous mountain view from Temescal Canyon Hike

RossSheingold /

With lots of hiking trails to choose from in Pacific Palisades, ready your shoes for the Temescal Canyon Hike via the Temescal Gateway Park, one of the great city hikes in Los Angeles.

Direction sign for Temescal Canyon Hike

Arthur Matsuo /

The hike’s starting point is the Temescal Gateway Park, located on Sunset Boulevard.

The hike to Temescal Canyon spans 3.2 miles, with an estimated two hours of total hiking.

The trail is recommended for beginners as the route is short and the difficulty level is moderate.

Nature trail at Temescal Canyon Hike

Trldp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at the Sunset at the Point at the Bluffs

Gorgeous sunset over The Point at the Bluffs

Jon Bilous /

If you are looking for a place to chill at sunset, the Point at the Bluffs is spectacular!

After a day of strolling or hiking, watching the sunset will make you feel relaxed and refreshed.

The Point at the Bluffs is a great place to admire the stunning views of the orange skies.

Stroll around the Palisades Recreation Center

If you want to stroll around the Pacific Palisades, then the Palisades Recreation Center is for you.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks operates the center, which you can find on Alma Real Drive.

Its available programs are sports, fitness, and culture such as baseball, basketball, fitness exercises, badminton, football, and soccer futsal.

You can also try dance, flag, hobbies and games, camps, special events, educational tutors, parent-child, cooking, and arts and crafts.

The Palisades Recreation Center offers various facilities, including a football field, kitchen, stage, tennis courts, picnic tables, and an indoor gym.

They also have a children’s play area, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and barbecue pits.

Seize the Moment at Bel Air Bay Club

Aside from thetourist spots of Palisades Pacific, you can also find one of the best event venues in the entire state of California.

This spot is the Bel-Air Bay Club.

This club is an event venue perfect for weddings and social and corporate events.

With the mesmerizing ocean view, Bel Air Bay Club is an exclusive venue that can host from 75 to 550 people.

Alphonzo Bell conceived of the 31-acre project, built between 1927 and 1928.

Pacific Coast Highway separates the two facilities that compose Bel-Air Bay Club.

The Upper Clubhouse has views of Catalina Island and Santa Monica Bay, making the place even more beautiful.

You will have the entire estate to yourselves throughout the event duration, so the solemnity and privacy of your event here are guaranteed.

Bask in the Exclusiveness of the Riviera Country Club

If you are looking for a private country club that suits your interest in tennis or golf, then look no further than the elite Riviera Country Club.

Marukin Shoji Ltd bought the Riviera for $108 million in 1988, roughly equal to $230 million today.

Located on Capri Dr, this course is where the prestigious tournaments take place and where you meet the world’s greatest golfers.

Among the celebrity members here are Mark Wahlberg and Tom Brady.

Enjoy a Summer Picnic at the Will Rogers State Historic Park

Exterior of Will Rogers State Historic Park's old barn

trekandshoot /

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains on Will Rogers State Park Rd, the Will Rogers State Historic Park was a former estate of Will Rogers.

He was a famous actor, and humorist best known for his Broadway performances.

After the death of Mrs. Rogers, the ranch house became a State Park in 1944.

Interior of Will Rogers State Historic Park's old barn

trekandshoot /

In 1971, the Will Rogers State Historic Park got listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The grounds also underwent a significant renovation in 2002-2006.

You can join a free guided ranch house tour or reserve a picnic table at the ranch to enjoy an unforgettable summer moment.

For fewer than 25 people, reservation is on a first-come and first-serve basis.

The grounds of Will Rogers State Historic Park

Elisa Rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Historic Tour in the Business Block

The building of the Business Block is 30,000 square feet and is located in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.

The architect Clifton Nourse designed the historic building, which opened in 1924.

The building got its name because of the town’s early businesses.

Here, you can appreciate the humble beginnings of the businesses of Pacific Palisades in the 1920s.

Today, the building has Starbucks, Café Vida, Bank of America, and several other shops and restaurants.

See the Squawking Wild Parrots of Pacific Palisades

Parrots are cute and delightful to watch, and Pacific Palisades is home to a large population of California’s wild parrots.

In the aftermath of the 1961 Bel Air fire and the closing of the Busch Gardens, people who owned parrots decided to release them.

The ones that thrive here are believed to be descended from the different species of wild parrots in the Pacific Palisades.

You can find these wild parrots in the Sycamore-lined canyons of Palisades.

They have lived there since the 1960s.

Once there, you will likely see the Nanday parakeet, the commonly-sighted species known as the black-hooded parakeet, or nanday conure.

Swim and Sunbathe at Will Rogers State Beach

Welcome sign of Will Rogers State Beach

fivetonine /

The Will Rogers State Beach is a summer getaway in California you should never miss.

Named after Will Rogers, this state beach is a 103-acre beach located on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Compared to the shores of Santa Monica and Malibu, Will Rogers State Beach is less crowded.

It offers a variety of beach activities and facilities, so it’s perfect for family bondings, group outings, and even a date.

Scenic sunset over Will Rogers State Beach

etalei /

Beach activities include windsurfing, volleyball, swimming, surfing, fishing, diving, and biking.

The Will Rogers State Beach also provides showers, restrooms, playgrounds, picnic tables, and bike paths.

Here’s a fun fact: “Baywatch ” was filmed on this beach.

Aerial view of Will Rogers State Beach

fivetonine /

Play the Rich Man’s Game at the Will Rogers Polo Club

Field of The Will Rogers Polo Club

NewtonCourt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love horses, make your dream come true by visiting the Will Rogers Polo Club.

This polo club is located within the Will Rogers State Historical Park area.

Will Rogers also designed the original field.

It remains the only polo club in Southern California.

You’ll be in for an exciting outing if you have never witnessed a live polo match.

So grab some snacks and be amazed by the horses in the game.

You might even get a chance to meet the horses!

Shop and Dine at the Palisades Village

Shopping and dining complement one’s travels, as it imprints the memories made from the experiences of the place.

For your shopping spree, go to the Palisades Village, which you can find on Palisades Village Lane.

Unlike typical shopping centers where the stores are collectively inside the mall, The Village has outdoor storefronts.

They also comprise high-end boutiques such as Chanel Beauty and Sephora Studio.

Plus, there are numerous other shops to find here, such as Amazon Books, Bonjour Fête, Elyse Walker, Lululemon, Paige, Towne by Elyse Walker, Zimmermann, Flannel, and Brunello Cucinelli.

You’ll also find Buck Mason, Reformation, The Little Market, Vince, Erewhon Market, Madewell, Faherty, Gornik & Drucker, and Frame, A.L.C.

Then, you have Brandy Melville, Buck Mason, Cuyana, Carbon38, and Alo Yoga.

Not only that, but there are also tons of dining places to visit, including the Draycott, Hank’s, Alfred Coffee, Blue Ribbon Sushi, and Sweet Lauren Bakery.

Likewise, you can find Ombra, SunLife Organics, Erewhon Market, Edo Little Bites, and McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams.

Peek into an Artist’s Residence and the Library at Villa Aurora

Known as the artists’ residence since 1995 and the home of 22,000 books, Villa Aurora is the place to go if you’re looking for something European in style.

The German writer Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife, Martha, bought the home for $9,000 in 1943.

You can find the mansion on Paseo Miramar.

Villa Aurora was a rendezvous of the artists and the German community because this is where Lion Feuchtwanger wrote his historical novels.

All 30,000 volumes in his library are now under the care of the University of Southern California.

Villa Aurora offers tours by appointment as it is not open every day.

However, the wait is well worth it when you witness its public events held every month.

See the Falls at Santa Ynez Canyon Park

Santa Ynez Canyon Park is another beautiful natural wonder that you can access in Pacific Palisades, particularly along Palisades Drive.

The canyon park is home to the famous Santa Ynez Falls, making this a must-visit if you’re all about natural wonder.

The trek isn’t too challenging, making it a great family activity if you’re bringing children or teenagers with you.

While not challenging, expect a lot of nature along the way as you venture from the trailhead—there are tons of things to see here such as wildflowers and critters.

Trees are everywhere as well, and there’s a lot of creeks and streams that make Santa Ynez Canyon Park one of the most serene places to hike in Pacific Palisades.

Hike through the Los Liones Canyon Trail

If you want a less jungle-like experience, the Los Liones Canyon Trail is another great alternative in Pacific Palisades.

Located on the mountainous areas of the neighborhood, Los Liones Canyon Trail features more prairies and vistas.

It’s great if you’re up for a challenge, especially one that requires a lot of incline hiking.

There are a lot of hikers here as well as it’s one of the more popular spots, making this a great activity for socialization.

Los Liones Canyon Trail can be accessed along its namesake drive which is just a stone’s throw away from Getty Villa.

Take in the Views at Asilomar View Park

View of the water from Asilomar View Park

Jon Bilous /

Asilomar View Park gives you sweeping views of the ocean and the bluffs without having to venture far from the urban heart of Pacific Palisades.

This makes it one of the best and most intimate places in the neighborhood, especially if you want to do something that isn’t strenuous.

Perched high above everything else surrounding it, Asilomar View Park is a haven for photography as well

There are benches here and lots of walking trails to see different angles of Pacific Palisades, making it a great 1-2 hour stop.

You can easily access it by driving along Asilomar Boulevard.

Have a Scenic Lunch at Gladstones Restaurant

Gladstones Restaurant is one of the best dining establishments in Pacific Palisades, even drawing a lot of customers from Malibu Beach.

They’re famous for a ton of surf n’ turf dishes, most notably their lobster items such as the lobster roll.

They’re also famous for their clam chowder bread bowl along with their fried seafood sampler.

Gladstones Restaurant is also a great place to get your fix of alcohol; their mai tai is one of the best in the area.

Situated by the oceanfront, you can expect great vibes no matter if you visit during the day or at night.

Watch a Performance at Pierson Playhouse

Whether you’re a big lover of performance arts or you simply have spare time, Pierson Playhouse is a great bonus to your itinerary.

It’s a go-to place in Pacific Palisades to watch an intimate show, whether for a date or for some quality time with the family

The theater is small, so don’t expect any grandiose architecture but a simple and quaint one that’s perfect for a laid-back evening.

Pierson Playhouse makes up for its small size by having excellent productions by the Theater Palisades organization—tons of notable shows are available year-round.

You can find Pierson Playhouse along Temescal Canyon Road.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Side Trip to the Santa Monica State Beach

View of Santa Monica State Beach pier

Natalia Macheda /

Just five minutes away from Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica Beach is a drive away that one should go for.

Every beach has its unique way of making your summer exciting, and Santa Monica Beach offers no less because it is the best beach in Los Angeles.

This magnificent beach is located west of Downtown Los Angeles and spans 3.5 miles.

It’s also large enough to be divided into two sections: the north and south of the pier.

Aerial view of Santa Monica State Beach

TierneyMJ /

North of the pier, you can find the Annenberg Community Beach House and the North Beach Playground.

On the south of the pier, you can find the Carousel Park and the Original Muscle Beach (featuring gymnastics equipment).

Activities you can enjoy on the beach include surfing, swimming, volleyball, and stand-up paddleboarding.

However, smoking at the beach is not allowed.

If you are not in the mood to swim, Santa Monica State Beach also has picnic areas, parks, restrooms, playgrounds, concessions, bike rentals, and a bike path.

Colorful houses at Santa Monica State Beach

lunamarina /

Final Thoughts

From hiking and historical places to sports events and beaches, a trip to the Pacific Palisades is simply one of a kind.

A good pair of shoes is a must for your trip to the Pacific Palisades, so don’t forget to bring yours.

Make sure to schedule the trip for more than a day to get enough of the fantastic places you can visit.

So, what are you waiting for?

Book that trip now!

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