When you think of California, you might think of amusement parks, glitzy Hollywood, and sunny beaches.
California has so many ways to hit the beach, so you might ignore the small town of Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County.
However, it is a pleasant laidback coastal retreat, nestled on the Palos Verdes Peninsula bluffs, specifically in the Palos Verdes Hills.
Its name translates to Green Sticks Ranch, which overlooks Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island, and the Pacific Ocean.
The views from here are dramatic, which is one of the many reasons people flock to the town.
Rancho Palos Verdes is an affluent suburb known for its golf courses, spa treatments, falconry, kayaking, and surfing.
You can explore the town by horseback as you stroll along the nearby beaches of Manhattan, Redondo, and Hermosa.
From here, it's easier to explore Los Angeles, which is just 20 miles away.
You can also visit some of the country's most famous theme parks, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios.
When you drive through Orange County, you can catch the breathtaking sunset over the Pacific.
No words can sufficiently describe the beauty and offerings of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Here are the best things to do in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.
Admire the Stunning Beauty of the Point Vicente Lighthouse
If you want to see one of the town’s most precious jewels, you’ll have to visit the Point Vicente Lighthouse.
The lighthouse is a charm for both people on the land and mariners, with the former seeing it as a beautiful attraction and the latter using it for navigation.
You can’t miss the tower even if you wanted to, since it stands 67 feet tall.
It is similar to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands chain, built on plastered reinforced concrete.
Before remote control operators took over in 1971, the lighthouse had a keeper.
Lighthouse keepers have worked there since they transferred it in 1939 to the US Coast Guard.
An exciting story that goes around here is that you might see the shape of a tall woman pacing the tower’s walkway at night.
They have identified this figure as the wife of the first lighthouse keeper.
It is said that she fell from the edge of the cliff one foggy night.
Are you not sure whether the story is true?
Go ahead and check for yourself.
Enjoy a Restful Day at the Abalone Cove Park
Get ready to enjoy Abalone Cove Park's beautiful surroundings and amenities.
There are not just one but two beaches here.
Find the Sacred Cove and the Abalone Cove, trails, viewing areas from the bluff’s top, and tide pools.
The park also features a State Ecological Preserve, so don't take any protected marine life and animals from the garden.
Aside from the stunning beach, the park has numerous amenities, including a drinking fountain and tide pools.
You can bring along a picnic basket, so you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of the place while eating in the picnic area.
The trails here meander through the bluff, leading you to two prominent points offering breathtaking ocean views.
Experience the Trump National Golf Club
You can find one of the most luxurious public golf clubs in California—the Trump National Golf Club—at Rancho Palos Verdes.
The general public can experience the beauty of Rancho Palos Verdes by following the walking trails along the golf course, leading to the cliffs that offer views of the Pacific.
These trails also take you to the beach and the public park on the bluffs fronting the clubhouse.
The club isn’t just about playing golf with your buddies but is also known for its strong advocacy for environment-friendly practices.
The Trump National is dedicated to protecting and preserving the habitat of protected plant species and the small migratory bird called the coastal California gnatcatcher.
You can also bring your kids along and let them explore the beautiful surroundings of the golf club.
Visit the Point Vicente Interpretive Center
Point Vicente Interpretive Center is part of the Point Vicente Park, adjacent to the Lighthouse.
Established in 1984, it has since lived up to its mission of presenting and interpreting not just the history but also the town's unique features.
With an area of 10,000 square feet, it offers exhibits that feature the cultural and natural history of the Peninsula, emphasizing the Pacific gray whale.
The museum has also added interactive exhibits that let visitors enjoy the birds and gray whales as they journey through the Peninsula.
These new exhibits complement the exhibit on the whaling industry’s history as well as the Point Vicente Lighthouse Fresnel lens.
Visit the Palos Verdes Art Center
Also called the Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education, the Palos Verdes Art Center (PVAC) inspires people to appreciate and celebrate art.
It’s a non-profit community visual arts gallery and school that offers education and outreach programs that help make visual arts more accessible and affordable.
You can find free art exhibitions for local artists and lectures and workshops when you come here.
If you’re also interested in taking art classes, the Studio School offers them for all skill levels and ages.
You'll learn how to work with ceramics, painting, glass blowing, textiles, and digital design.
Best of all, PVAC supports differently-abled adults and youths through the Special Mornings program.
Have a Great Tee Time at the Los Verdes Golf Course
There are not just one but at least two golf courses in Rancho Palos Verdes.
The Los Verdes Golf Course is located on Los Verdes Drive.
Billy Bell designed this course.
This beautiful golf course offers visitors the best views of the ocean, with rolling terrain suitable for all playing levels.
It’s an 18-hole course that offers golf lessons, junior golf, greens, golf carts, driving ranges, banquet rooms, clubhouses, and coffee shops.
Even if you don’t come here to play, the views, landscape, and facilities are more than enough reason to visit the course.
Admire Unique Species of Plants at the South Coast Botanic Garden
The South Coast Botanic Garden is situated in an 87-acre space, a public botanic garden in California.
You’ll be delighted to find more than 2,000 species of plants and 200,000 plants from different corners of the world.
Interestingly, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors created the garden in 1959 on a sanitary landfill at the request of a citizens’ group.
Don’t miss checking out the Fuchsia Garden, Japanese Garden, Children’s Garden, and the James J. White Rose Garden, which spans two acres.
An artificial lake accentuates the garden at its center, which attracts different waterfowl species.
Plus, it serves as an oasis for birds that just want to stop by the garden during their annual migration.
Some birds have also found a home here.
Relax in the Serene Hesse Community Park
The Hesse Community Park is among the most famous parks in Rancho Palos Verdes, thanks to its well-manicured parkland.
In the upper park area, you and your kids can enjoy exciting activities with the park’s soccer and baseball fields.
You can also bring your kids to a playground with equipment for adolescents and kids.
Likewise, explore a range of picnic areas with barbecues, and a 1/4-mile walking path.
It’s not only about the amenities, though, for the Hesse Community Park also offers privatized recreation classes and some Peninsula Senior classes.
If you want to go on a picnic with your family, bring along your basket and relax in the ambiance of the Hesse Community Park.
Dine at the Famous Catalina Kitchen
Experience a luxurious dining experience at the Catalina Kitchen, located within the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes.
Its name surely fits, as the restaurant offers magnificent views of Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean.
This upscale restaurant boasts a lively atmosphere, complemented by its modern decor.
With an outdoor patio, patrons can experience a delightful meal surrounded by flowering bushes.
The patio overlooks the resort’s grounds and the Pacific Ocean.
Whether you want breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Catalina Restaurant always serves the most delectable dishes that will impress your discriminating taste buds.
Enjoy a Hearty Brunch with Your Family at the Mar’sel
Still located in the Terranea Resort, Mar’sel offers superb California cuisine with a twist.
It features a seasonally rotating fine dining menu, with meals using local ingredients that the restaurant sources.
The restaurant takes its citrus and herbs from the resort’s grounds; they also use local farm-fresh eggs, and chocolate.
Feast your eyes and palate on your food.
You'll admire the fantastic overlooking views of the ocean while you savor the delectable dishes.
Live the Life at the Spa at Terranea
At Terranea, you can find the Spa, offering superb ways to relax, rejuvenate, and feel luxurious.
Its unique Southern California setting is the perfect oasis for relaxation, designed by restorative therapy and wellness experts.
Its area of 50,000 square feet features 25 treatment rooms—plus state-of-the-art wellness and fitness center, a boutique, and a full-service salon.
This spa is unique because of the particular way it determines the proper treatment for you, which is the circadian rhythm, or the body clock.
It has separate outdoor and indoor spa lounges equipped with whirlpools, cold plunges, saunas, steam rooms, and fire pits.
Let your massage relax you, and the soft ocean breeze lull you to bliss.
Explore the Premier Terranea Resort
It's only right to talk about this premier luxury destination on the Southern California Coast.
Though it’s in a prime location in Rancho Palos Verdes, the resort boasts natural beauty, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
However, in terms of amenities, there’s nothing less than perfection here, as seen in their suites, guest rooms, villas, casitas, and bungalows.
It has four swimming pools, award-winning golf, boutiques, and land and sea adventures.
So, if you’re looking for your perfect holiday destination or Instagrammable location, Terranea Resort is what you want.
Enjoy the Outdoors at the Eastview Park
One thing about Rancho Palos Verdes is that it’s a place for the family.
So, it’s not surprising to find numerous community and recreation parks in the area, such as Eastview Park.
The Eastview Park features picnic tables, a playground for kids, restrooms, drinking fountains, and a dog park.
You can also do the walking paths and trails spread throughout its 9.9-acre area.
It’s an excellent place to visit when you want to skip a day of exploration or if you're going to take a break.
There are plenty of shaded areas for you to stay under to feel the fresh breeze and appreciate the blue skies.
Try an Italian Dinner at Avenue Italy
Who says you need to be in Italy to enjoy authentic Italian food?
At Avenue Italy, you will love the authentic Italian dishes that everyone who has eaten there has also loved.
From their antipasti to their main courses and salads, you can taste the difference in its authentic Italian ingredients.
Their pasta dishes, including their fettuccine, rigatoni, lasagna, and ravioli, are to die for.
Best of all, they have gluten-free pasta too.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Celebrate the Palos Verdes Street Fair and Music Festival
What is an excursion without experiencing local festivals?
The annual Palos Verdes Street Fair and Music Festival is a local celebration that everyone is always excited about.
You'll find the fair at Rolling Hills Estates, California, 12 minutes from Rancho Palos Verdes.
This fair brings together artisans, food vendors, nonprofit groups, retailers, crafters, and lots of music in one exciting time and place.
There are also thrilling carnival rides and lots of games to experience.
It’s a celebration for the entire family and community.
There is no doubt that Rancho Palos Verdes is a great place to visit.
Though it’s more expensive than most other Californian cities and towns, its offerings are also classy and luxurious.
It’s not too far from Los Angeles and has an outstanding balance of nature and modern amenities.
Start planning your Rancho Palos Verdes trip today!