San Pedro is a suburb of Los Angeles situated on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The city has the best of both worlds – proximity to a major urban centre with an abundance of attractions and services combined with a small city charm complete with historical buildings and seaside views.
San Pedro is mostly known for being home to the country’s busiest seaport at the Port of Los Angeles.
It’s also known for its quaint downtown area with a mix of artistic vibes and cultural influences. This is where you’ll find many of the city’s entertainment venues, galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants, such as the San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant, which is the biggest seafood restaurant in California.
There are many shopping centres in the area, including Superior Fashion Mall and Park Plaza. Throughout the year, a number of festivals and events occur in San Pedro, including Cars & Stripes Forever, Shakespeare by the Sea, Dia de los Muertos, and the San Pedro International Film Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around San Pedro, California.
1. Learn about Local Seafaring Culture at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum
San Pedro and the Greater Los Angeles area have a long maritime history, and its legacy can still be seen in the culture of the region today. The best way to learn about this history is with a visit to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.
For more than 40 years, this museum has been gathering and preserving the vibrant seafaring culture of the region. Some of the on-site displays include a model of the SS Poseidon and an exhibit dedicated to the fishing industry that once thrived there.
Even the building housing the museum has important historical significance.
2. Admire The Korean Friendship Bell
Situated in Angels Gate Park in a beautiful pavilion looking out over the Pacific Ocean – The Korean Friendship Bell. In 1976, South Korea presented the bell to residents of Los Angeles to honour the country’s centennial celebrations.
Today, the cultural monument is a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The bell itself weighs a whopping 17 tons and stands 12 feet tall, making it one of the biggest in the world.
3. Savour French Cuisine at Compagnon Wine Bistro
Whether you go for brunch, lunch or dinner, Compagnon Wine Bistro is where you’ll find top-quality French cuisine and wine.
This eatery honours the bistros of southern France by recreating the service, ambience, and dining experience of one of these traditional bistros.
The authentic French dishes are made with the freshest ingredients available. Some of the items available on the menu include a variety of appetizers, desserts, and entrees, such as shrimp pasta, steak and frites, and chicken Provencal.
The extensive wine menu features a variety of organic wines from France and California and a range of local craft beers.
4. Enjoy Sand and Sun at Cabrillo Beach
Walk with your feet in the sand and surf as you make your way down the mile-long Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.
Enjoy spectacular ocean views as you take in the salty air, or participate in one of the many activities enjoyed at the beach, including windsurfing, swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, volleyball, and scuba diving.
The fishing pier is a popular area for cycling and fishing or simply watching the sun go down. On-site, you’ll also find fire pits, picnic areas, a playground, and a canteen.
5. Spend an Afternoon at Point Fermin Park and Lighthouse
At Point Fermin Park, you get the best of both worlds – a day spent in the fresh air surrounded by spectacular ocean views and a history lesson.
The park itself is 37 acres of beautiful trees, lawns, gardens and pergolas, where monarch butterflies can be spotted in the colder months, and harbour seals and dolphins are often seen offshore. Park amenities include picnic areas, a playground, and an amphitheatre.
Point Fermin Lighthouse is also situated in the park. This historic lighthouse was built in 1874 and features Victorian architecture. Guided tours are available.
6. Take a Ride on an antique Trolley with Waterfront Red Car Trolley Line
At one time, the city of Los Angeles transported commuters via electric railway lines. The system was in place for 60 years. More than 40 years after the last trolley rode through the streets, a section of the system was revived.
Today, you can ride along the San Pedro waterfront on an antique trolley car, including an original one that was in use over one hundred years ago. Stops along the way include the LA Cruise Terminal and the 22nd Street Marina.
7. Watch the Water Dance at The Fanfare Fountains
Not many things are more relaxing than water fountains that dance to music. Visitors to San Pedro can take a break from exploring the area with a visit to The Fanfare Fountains. This site consists of two large pools of water featuring water jets that shoot 18 streams of water 100 feet into the air.
The fountains also feature a light show and are choreographed to the sound of classical and pop music. You can catch this show at various intervals throughout the day.
8. Brouwerij West
At Brouwerij West, visitors can sample a range of local craft beers, including Saison Extra Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale, Bears Ears Marzen, and Bounce West-Coast IPA.
This brewery in San Pedro also has picnic tables where you can sit outside and enjoy your beverages. Food trucks and live music are enjoyed on weekends.
9. Visit the Fort MacArthur Military Museum
Since 1985, the Fort MacArthur Military Museum has been welcoming visitors interested in learning the history of this fort that guarded Los Angeles Harbour for 60 years.
Inside the museum, you’ll see several exhibits telling the history of Fort MacArthur and Los Angeles during a time when it was an important military port. The history of various military campaigns is laid out in the form of documents and artefacts collected over the years.
Many events are held throughout the year, including Old Fort MacArthur Days, one of the country’s biggest military celebrations.
10. Learn About Local Marine Life at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Visitors of all ages can get a comprehensive lesson in local marine life at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. This museum is housed in a stately, beautifully-designed building and features a vast assortment of sea creatures that live in the waters off Southern California.
On-site are a variety of displays, including the Southern California Marine Habitat Hall, which has exhibits made to represent various ecosystems, such as Rocky Shores, Mudflats, Sandy Beaches, and Open Ocean.
Various interactive attractions are also available, including the Mud Walkthrough Tunnel, Naturalists Corner, and the Crawl-in Aquarium.
11. Start Your Day at the Omelette & Waffle Shop
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when you’re travelling. After all, you need as much energy as possible to be ready for shopping, exploring, and anything else that comes your way.
At the Omelette & Waffle Shop in San Pedro, you can fuel up on a wide variety of homemade, top quality items.
On the menu, you’ll find burgers, egg-based dishes, soups, salads, sandwiches, pancakes, waffles and more than 80 different omelettes, including Italian meatball, eggplant and Ortega & Jack cheese.
12. Pay a visit to The Battleship Iowa Museum
The USS Iowa served as a warship for 50 years, and visitors can learn about the history of this fascinating ship at The Battleship Iowa Museum on the Los Angeles waterfront.
This floating museum features exhibits detailing the ship’s many missions, which included various World War II missions and transporting presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.
13. Browse the San Pedro Farmers Market
The San Pedro Farmers Market is held once a week and features a wide variety of items for sale, including fresh local produce, honey, bread, cheese, flowers, and crafts. Visitors can grab lunch or dinner at one of the food vendors and hear live music by local performers.
14. Spend a Day Outdoors at Royal Palms State Beach
Although the Royal Palms State Beach is rocky, it’s still a great place to enjoy a wide range of activities, including surfing, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, scuba diving, and beachcombing. It’s also the perfect spot to enjoy beautiful days, have a picnic, or take in the lovely views.
The White Point Nature Preserve is right next door; this is where you can enjoy various nature trails.
15. Spend a Day on the Water Fishing or Whale Watching
A variety of boat tours are available departing from various ports in San Pedro. For a relaxing sail close to shore, you can embark on a harbour tour of Los Angeles.
The whale watching tours venture out into deeper waters, where you’ll see a variety of migrating whales and other marine species such as dolphins and sea lions.
If fishing is more your thing, there are sport fishing excursions available as well.