Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in San Pedro, CA

  • Published 2021/11/03

If your next destination is southern California, the first place that comes to your mind would be Los Angeles.

However, there’s a small coastal community within there that stands out amidst the glitz and glam of Hollywood.

Nestled within L.A. is the coastal community of San Pedro.

San Pedro is home to around 70,000 people and is about 25-miles south of Los Angeles.

The community was formerly a separate city from Los Angeles but was formally consolidated with the latter in 1909.

Known for its massive international port, San Pedro also has a lot of things to be proud of, which a traveler like you should explore.

It is home to numerous historical sights, art galleries, good food, and coastlines teeming with natural wildlife and scenic beaches.

It’s highly guaranteed that you’ll have a fantastic time in San Pedro.

So, to give you a teaser of what’s waiting for you in San Pedro, here are the 15 best things do in and around this vibrant community.

Take Photos at the Historic Korean Bell of Friendship

View of the Historic Korean Bell of Friendship

TyFongPhotography /

Historically, Koreans have a deep tie with the United States.

During the Korean War, Americans and South Koreans fought shoulder to shoulder to stop North Koreans from invading the south.

After the war, thousands of Koreans migrated to the United States for greener pastures.

View of the Historic Korean Bell of Friendship

MSPhotographic /

To commemorate the Korean War veterans and symbolize the two countries’ companionship, the Korean Bell of Friendship was built on October 3, 1976.

Over 17 tons of melted gold, copper, nickel, gold, lead, tin, and phosphorus make up the entire bell that’s also known for its distinguished tone.

Today, the bell stands tall along Gaffey St. in downtown San Pedro.

If you find yourself along Gaffey St., be sure to stop by at the famous bell for photos.

Learn Different Arts at the Meaning-Full Art

If you want to experience and learn art at the same time visit, San Pedro’s Meaning-Full Art, a place to have fun and understand different kinds of skills through its interactive classes.

The in-house artists there are known for their popular galleries and exhibits and their step-by-step art classes for visitors.

Their classes include painting, decorating, abstract arts, and many more.

To have a complete art experience, head to Meaning-Full Art, located at the Crafted Studios in Port of Los Angeles.

Pay Tribute to the Battleship Iowa Museum

View of Battleship Iowa Museum

Darryl Brooks /

The renowned USS Iowa is one of the most-celebrated battleships in American military history.

For 50 years, it has served several wars in World War II, the Korean War, and other significant military operations of the United States Navy.

View of Battleship Iowa Museum

Andy Choinski /

It was decommissioned in 1990 and converted into a popular tourist attraction and museum.

The museum tells the battleship’s daring missions on the seas through its exhibits, while a guided tour within the ship will fully immerse you in how sailors live their daily life in the U.S. Navy.

The USS Battleship Iowa is docked along S. Harbor in San Pedro.

Dine at the Iconic J. Trani’s Ristorante

The restaurant’s been serving delicious traditional Italian food since 1925 in San Pedro.

It was formerly the Majestic Cafe of Filippo Trani, but it was renamed J. Trani’s Ristorante.

Filippo’s son, Jim, took over the restaurant after the passing of his father.

Today, Jim continued his father’s legacy in serving Californians top-notch Italian food cooked and prepared by the Trani tradition.

Almost a century later, the restaurant remains one of the sought-after places to dine in Los Angeles and, of course, in San Pedro.

They are best known for their pizzas, grilled seafood, and pasta.

To get there, J. Trani’s Ristorante is at 584 W. 9th St. in San Pedro, Los Angeles.

Discover San Pedro’s Rich Seafaring Culture at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum

Outside View of Los Angeles Maritime Museum

Walter Cicchetti /

San Pedro has its own distinct community that thrived through seafaring.

Most of its residents were seafarers who have significant roles in Greater Los Angeles’s rich maritime history.

The seafaring and maritime culture in Los Angeles and San Pedro lives on through the region’s culture.

Vessels at Los Angeles Maritime Museum

Daniel J. Macy /

To find out about San Pedro’s history, you should head to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

This museum has been welcoming visitors from all over the world for four decades.

It houses well-preserved artifacts, documents, photos, and equipment that testifies to Los Angeles’ vibrant seafaring culture.

The museum’s centerpiece is the scale model of the S.S. Poseidon, while you can enjoy strolling through the fishing industry exhibit.

View of Los Angeles Maritime Museum

David A Litman /

Surf at the Royal Palms State Beach

Compared to the white sands in Venice Beach in Santa Monica, the Royal Palms is a bit of rocky shoreline.

However, it is still an excellent place to do outdoor activities such as surfing, swimming, and fishing.

Most of San Pedro’s locals spend their afternoon here to get a glimpse of the majestic sunset while relaxing after a busy day at work.

Families usually go here to picnic and park their vehicles roadside conveniently and enjoy the beautiful view the beach offers.

Drop by the Famous Port of Los Angeles

View of Famous Port of Los Angeles

Philip Pilosian /

Last on our list is the famous Port of Los Angeles, one of Southern California’s biggest international ports and an important international gateway for commerce.

The port is also considered the country’s busiest cargo terminal.

It is also home to the World Cruise Center, a passenger port-of-call wherein most major cruise liners from Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Baja California, and Panama Canal dock.

View of Famous Port of Los Angeles

Debbie Ann Powell /

When you’re already there, don’t miss to visit the 1,500-foot-long suspension bridge, the Vincent Thomas Bridge that links the main harbor, and the San Pedro Terminal Island.

Also, visitors shouldn’t miss the 50 plus fountains that greet them at the San Pedro Gateway fanfare before entering the port.

Mingle With Marine Animals at the Center for Marine Studies

The Center for Marine Studies has been a sanctuary for sea lions and seals, which require medical attention and rehabilitation.

Opened in 1992, the facility has already rescued thousands of marine animals aside from seals and sea lions along the San Pedro coastline.

Usually, the marine animals taken care of at the facility are stranded, malnourished, or ill.

Thus, the facility and its volunteers focus on treating and rehabilitating these animals until they are fully recovered and fit enough to be released back to the wild.

The Center for Marine Studies is a must-visit place in San Pedro if you want to see marine animals such as sea lions, seals, and dolphins up close.

After touring the facility, be sure to stop by at its gift shop and visitor center to engage in more activities and purchase exciting souvenirs.

The Center for Marine Studies is at 3601 St. Gaffey #8 in San Pedro, Los Angeles.

Eat Fresh Seafood at the San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant

View of San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant

Debbie Ann Powell /

This place is so trendy for being listed on the Guinness World Records as the fifth “Most Instagrammed Restaurant in the U.S..”

It has a massive open-air dining hall that fits 3,000 people who all crave fresh seafood.

Making the place very popular is not just for its fresh seafood but its picturesque view fronting San Pedro’s waterfront.

You won’t run out of choices in terms of food as they serve lobsters, prawns, crabs, clams, and other delicious stuff from under the sea.

What makes it a popular culinary destination in San Pedro is the experience as you get to choose how you like your seafood cooked and prepared.

The San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant is at 1190 Nagoya Way along San Pedro’s waterfront to get there.

Level-up Your Dining Experience at the 22nd St. Landing Seafood Grill & Bar

For more than 30 years, the 22nd Street Landing Seafood Grill and Bar have put big smiles on the people of Los Angeles and San Pedro through its mouthwatering seafood menu.

Owned and operated by Vietnam War veteran Dick Mannila, this restaurant is renowned for its seafood fusion dishes, while the place offers you the picturesque waterfront view of San Pedro.

For a complete experience, head to the restaurant every Sunday for its signature brunch and try out their popular Blackened Bay Shrimp Frittata and the Blue Crab Cake Benedict.

To get there, the 22nd St. Landing Seafood Grill & Bar is at 141 A. W. 22nd Street, San Pedro, LA.

Explore the Underwater World of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Outside View of of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Steve Cukrov /

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium houses dozens of marine animals that are mainly indigenous to Southern California.

Established in 1941, this popular attraction in San Pedro has grown more enormous and more beautiful over the years.

Outside View of of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Steve Cukrov /

Thanks to architect Frank Gehry’s design, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is more extensive and stunning after having significant renovations and upgrades.

To complete your experience there, visit their Kelp Forest, Sandy Beaches, Open Ocean, and Rocky Shores that feature different kinds of marine animals and plants.

If you want to get up close with marine animals and exotic fishes, head to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium at 3720 Stephen M White Dr, San Pedro, LA.

Outside View of of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Steve Cukrov /

Tour Around San Pedro Through the Thursday Art Walk

Since the 1990s, the San Pedro Arts District has organized a weekly art walk on the streets of San Pedro to showcase different art attractions in the town.

Usually, the art walk happens every first Thursday of the month.

Thus, the weekly gathering is named after it.

This fun-filled activity started when artists residing along with 7th and 6th streets in San Pedro decided to take their passion on the streets.

At first, they put up galleries and exhibits, but they eventually leveled up their activities by adding the art walk.

More than 40 studios and galleries host the art walk featuring fantastic art, gourmet food, vendors, and musical performances.

The art walk usually starts at the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce along 7th Street and traverses different routes, highlighting three to four galleries or exhibits a month.

Unwind at the White Point

View of White Point

Nature’s Charm /

Locals love to go to the White Point beachfront to relax and sunbathe on its rocky shoreline.

Like the Royal Palms State Beach, the White Point is also famous for its various outdoor activities such as scuba diving, swimming, and surfing.

View of White Point

David A Litman /

During low tide, people enjoy tide pooling and fishing while families have picnics at their tables and benches that line up along the shoreline.

Plus, White Point is adjacent to a hiking trail that leads to its nature preserve, wherein native flora and fauna flourishes.

Enjoy Whale-watching With the L.A. Waterfront Cruises

Suppose you’re done strolling around San Pedro’s art galleries, museums, and its vast aquarium.

In that case, you can take your adventure to the next level with the L. A Waterfront Cruises.

They offer whale-watching cruises off the coast of San Pedro the entire year.

Fill your day with sightings that include bottlenose dolphins, gray whales, blue whales, California sea lions, and harbor seals.

Plus, they offer educational tours for the entire family about marine life, while for those who want more excitement, they have sports fishing tours aboard their state-of-the-art boat.

To book an open sea tour, visit their office at the Ports O’Call Village: Berth 79, 1150 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, CA.

Relive History at the Fort MacArthur Military Museum

View of Fort MacArthur Military Museum

Angel La Canfora /

The famous Fort MacArthur stood as a guard to the Los Angeles Harbor from 1914 to 1974.

Today, the fort situated in Battery Osgood-Farley has been converted into a military museum that displays numerous exhibits about the fort’s important role in Los Angeles’s history.

Most of the exhibits display American military artifacts and memorabilia belonging to the Civil War, World War 1, and World War 2.

The museum also hosts numerous activities throughout the year, including the ‘Old Fort MacArthur Day.’

View of Fort MacArthur Military Museum

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Final Thoughts

San Pedro’s distinct beauty makes it stand out from the lights and sounds of Los Angeles.

With these 15 places and activities to visit and do in San Pedro, you will indeed treat yourself to a memorable experience.

Its calming city vibes and natural attractions make San Pedro a wonderful place to visit for relaxation.

So, be sure to visit any of the places we’ve listed above when you’re in San Pedro!

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