Things To See And Do In San Pedro
San Pedro California sits next to Long Beach and is a unique and historic community.
This is a place to go if you want to experience something different from all the other Southern California beach towns. Mostly known as a port and harbor town, San Pedro has a lot of interesting sights to see. The main attractions include the very busy cargo port and cruise ship terminals. There is also the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the Ports O Call Village, and the Waterfront Red Car. Other sights to enjoy include the Maritime Museum, downtown galleries and shops and Cabrillo Beach.
San Pedro California is also one of the major departure locations for catching the Catalina Island Ferry.
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
For a modest five dollars suggested donation (a dollar for children), makes this a place you can take the kids if your budget doesn’t have room for the larger, more expensive Long Beach Aquarium. It’s a casual little place, with a tidepool touch tank and a gift shop. It also has a very cool Interactive Exploration Center the kids will love. This aquarium is closed Mondays. For more info call 310-548-7562 or go to www.cabrilloaq.org.
Unfortunately, this beach has a reputation for dirty water, so swimming isn’t really advisable on the calmer, bay side, but the Port of Los Angeles has been working on the problem. You can still enjoy the sun and the sand and tidepools. The nearby salt marsh has a trail.
Cabrillo Fishing Pier
The Cabrillo Fishing Pier extends out at the end. On the ocean side of Cabrillo Beach, you can sometimes watch windsurfing. The quieter side protected by the breakwater is good for picnicking and playing within view of the marina. There’s a Doubletree Hotel at the marina as well.
Cabrillo Beach Bath House
Walk towards the beach from the aquarium and you’ll see an interesting old building called the Cabrillo Beach Bath House. The old Cabrillo Marine Museum was housed here. It is now being refurbished.
Ports O Call Village
This New England style shopping area has cobblestone walkways amongst waterfront restaurants and shops. Harbor tours and whale watching excursions depart from here as well.
There is quite a large fish market here, where you can order from numerous vendors and sit at the open air tables, indulging in large platters of seafood. Or, for a quieter setting where you will be waited on, try one of the restaurants with waterfront outdoor seating, where you can watch the container ships and cruise ships pass through the Main Channel.
Downtown San Pedro California
You can stroll around the old town section of town where you’ll find a variety of shops, galleries and restaurants. It is generally bordered by Pacific Ave. and Center Street, between 6th and 7th Streets.
The Red Car stops right in front. It’s at the foot of 6th Street in the historic 1941 Municipal Ferry Terminal. See www.lamaritimemuseum.org.
This glass chapel was made by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is surrounded by redwoods. Find it at 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South. Learn more at www.wayfarerschapel.org.
Vincent Thomas Bridge
This looks like a smaller and green version of the Golden Gate Bridge. It connects the two sides of the harbor and is tall enough to accommodate a ship that is eighteen stories high!
The Waterfront Red Car and Trolleys
This 1920’s vintage open air trolley is a rare sight and a unique blessing to San Pedro California. It goes from Ports O Call along the waterfront to the cruise ship terminal. From the downtown station, you can transfer to the rubber-tired trolleys that go around the historic downtown, or to one that goes down to Ports O Call Village (closer in than the electric Red Car does). Or transfer at the Marina Station onto a rubber-tired trolley that goes down to Cabrillo Beach and the aquarium.
The trolleys cost a dollar and run Friday through Monday, 10-6, plus some other days if cruise ships are docked.
Point Fermin Lighthouse
You’ll find this Victorian style lighthouse in Point Fermin Park at Gaffey Street and Paseo Del Mar. It was built in 1874. See www.pointferminlighthouse.org.
Port Of Los Angeles
This is the third busiest port in the world and the busiest passenger port of call in the west. The harbor breakwater is nine miles long! For more info, see cruises from Los Angeles.
Where to Eat
- San Pedro Fish Market – One of the last restaurants left at Ports O’Call, this place continues to flourish thanks to their massive Instagram following.
- Niko’s Pizzeria – Great spot to stop if you’re in downtown SP and are craving some pizza. Try the calzone, you won’t regret it.
- Busy Bee Market – Local Hack: grab your sandwich and enjoy it by the coast
- Gaffey Street Diner – featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives!
- Brouwerji West – Located in a renovated warehouse this is a great spot to grab some craft beers. What makes it even better is that fact you can bring the kids and pups!
- Pappy’s Seafood – One of the newer establishments downtown, Pappy’s serves seafood, beer, and live entertainment.
- Chori-Man – If you’re a fan of SonoraTown than you need to check this place out. If you’re not familiar with the area, it may be a little hard to find but it is definitely worth it!
- Pacific Diner – This place gets PACKED so plan accordingly since there is usually minimal street parking.
San Pedro History
When ever I’m asked where I am from I always answer “from a small town in LA.” Seems a little contradicting but that is exactly what San Pedro feels like. Unlike most towns and neighborhoods in Los Angeles, San Pedro has managed to stay a very tight-knit community. Most of the small business are family owned and have been for generations. Everyone just seems to know everyone. My family, for instance, has had three-generations graduate from San Pedro High School and soon enough it will be four!
Besides having multi-generational families still inhabiting it’s street, San Pedro has quite an extensive history.
Predating the founding of the Pueblo de Los Angeles in 1742, San Pedro was first discovered in 1542 by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo of Spain. A point of port from the beginning, Rancho San Pedro was the site of the first Spanish land grant in Alta California and was labeled officially labeled a township two years after being under United States control in 1860.*
Home to the Port of LA and the US Navy, San Pedro became such a valuable asset it was consolidated with the city of Los Angeles in 1909.
Getting to San Pedro California
Take the 110 Harbor Freeway south until it pretty much ends. To get to the Cabrillo Beach and aquarium, get off at Harbor Blvd. and go right. Go south on Harbor to 22nd St. and go right. Go west to Pacific and go left. Continue south on Pacific. At Stephen M White Drive and 36th St., go left to the parking lot.
There is really so much to do and experience in the small community of San Pedro. This mini-guide is just the tip of the iceberg! So next time you find yourself in the area, EXPLORE! I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find and see.