San Pedro is currently having a bit of a renaissance. The neighborhood's waterfront is set to undergo a massive transformation, from a $100 million-plus Ports O' Call renovation including 16 acres of restaurants, shopping and markets, to the creation of AltaSea, a 35-acre campus focused on marine science being built through a partnership with the Port of Los Angeles and the Southern California Marine Institute. With the anticipation of San Pedro’s revitalization, some have already invested in the area. Crafted, a handmade artisan marketplace, opened in a warehouse in the Port of Los Angeles in 2012. Four years later, Brouwerij West opened in the warehouse across from Crafted, creating a must-visit weekend destination with food trucks, beer and occasional live entertainment. Other San Pedro gems have been adding value to the city for decades. So whether you're looking for something to do outside or where to see local theater, we have your guide to how to best enjoy San Pedro.
Things to do in San Pedro
There's a quiet history that pervades the San Pedro coastline through the Point Fermin Lighthouse, Sunken City and the last vestiges of Fort MacArthur, with its decommissioned battery of heavy artillery that once protected the port. But just up the hill, perched over the Pacific, sits one of the most idyllic spots in all of L.A.: the Korean Bell of Friendship. The mighty metallic bell's rusty green finish complements the ornately painted chipped roof—its paint job has seen better days, but that doesn't detract from the beauty of the 1976 goodwill gift from South Korea. The exposed, grassy bluff is an ideal spot to fly a kite or just lounge in the grass of Angel's Gate Park.
She carried FDR across the Atlantic Ocean during WWII, and nearly 60 years later the USS Iowa found herself docked in San Pedro as a museum. History buffs can embark on a self-guided tour of the battleship every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Parking is available in the adjacent lot for $1 an hour. Check out the ship's website for super cool events that take place onboard throughout the year, from concerts to tasting events.
Dedicated to Southern California marine life, this low-key aquarium is home to a jellyfish farm, a hands-on tidal pool exhibit and 30 ocean-life tanks. Special seasonal events include two-hour whale-watching trips, occasional guided walks to the tidal pools at Point Fermin Marine Life Refuge and grunion runs (held during the migrating season of this small, pencil-sized fish).
When you're done at the aquarium, head over to Cabrillo Beach. Cabrillo is actually two beaches: one facing the L.A. Harbor and the other facing the ocean. There's plenty of space on the beach to set up camp for the day and there are playgrounds and spots for family picnics. Cabrillo is also a prime spot for windsurfing and other water sports.
Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles is a permanent handmade artisan marketplace inside a restored 1940s-era warehouse. Here you'll find work from more than 100 artisans, including everything from art to bath and beauty to home decor and accessories. Want to become an artisan yourself? Crafted hosts various workshops and events of all kinds throughout the year, from flower-crown workshop to jewelry making. right next to Crafted is Brouwerij West, making this a popular weekend destination.
This seaside fishing village is home to restaurants, gift shops and various events throughout the year, including San Pedro's Lobster Festival. The area is set to undergo a massive renovation that will include shops, dining and entertainment options. It's currently where many crusies and whale watching excursions depart from and is a popular spot for fishermen. It's incredibly popular on Saturday nights and Sundays, when you'll see mariachi bands performing and people dining on the freshest catches.
The White Point Nature Preserve is 102 acres of restored coastal sage scrub habitat with hiking trails throughout and beautiful ocean views. On the other side of the street, you'll find White Point/Royal Palms County Beach. With a playground and baseball fields along the bluffs, you'll have to drive or hike down to the beach below, where you'll find some surfers on the right hand side and children exploring tidal pools on the left. Plenty of picnic areas make it a great summertime destination.
These are L.A. County’s very own ancient ruins, minus the ancient part. In 1929, a landslide caused a few blocks of seaside San Pedro to crumble into the ocean. Today, you'll find graffitied slabs of concrete that once functioned as streets and house foundations. The once semi-secret site has become a popular spot since the rise of social media. It's technically illegal to access the site and decidedly unsafe—let's not forgot how it became sunken in the first place—but you can walk along a fenced-in trail to peer in from steady ground.
With all of the flak Los Angeles gets for being a hostile environment, we take solace in the fact that the city’s southernmost border greets the ocean with a humble, wood frame lighthouse from the 1800s. One of a half-dozen similar Victorian structures across the state, Point Fermin is like an idyllic East Coast export with all the natural beauty of the South Bay. You can visit on your own or take a guided tour, offered at 1, 2 and 3pm Tuesday through Sunday.
For more than 80 years, the Warner Grand Theatre has been hosting films, performances and special events. The Art Deco-style structure was built in 1931 by architect B. Marcus Priteca, who is also responsible for Hollywood's legendary Pantages Theatre, and remains one of the last great authentic theaters from its era.
Little Fish Theatre is a community gem in the heart of San Pedro. At the 65-seat venue, the theater company presents a variety of plays, from classics to contemporary to their annual Pick of the Vine series which features shorts from a variety of playwrights, some of which get turned into full-length shows later on.
The largest maritime museum in the state covers the history of fishing in California and the story of San Pedro's canning industry, and boasts an array of model boats and ships. Check online for details on temporary shows, which cover related topics. The handsome 1940s Streamline Modern building that houses the museum once acted as a ferry terminal.
Where to eat and drink
Located inside the Ports O' Call Village, the San Pedro Fish Market is as traditional of a fish market as you'll get in Los Angeles. The world famous market offers fresh seafood, often caught right off the coast, and beer, wine and a limited cocktail list. You can either eat it there or take it to go. The market has become so popular, it was one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in the country in 2016 and now the owners have their own reality show online called Kings of Fish. It's a unique experience, for sure.
After nearly five years without a permanent home, Brouwerij West planted roots in one of two WWII-era Navy warehouses at the Crafted at the Port of L.A. site, a massive 120,000-square foot building built in 1944. Here you'll find plenty of saisons, blonde ales and wits, all with beautiful artwork from various local artists donning the bottles. The brewery is dog friendly, with most owners opting to set up shop at one of the picnic tables outside. Various food trucks come throughout the week and the brewery also hosts live music on occasion.
Thanks to San Pedro being a popular destination for Italian immigrants back in the day, there are a number of traditional Italian restaurants throughout the area. Raffaello's is as traditional as they get from the moment you walk in the door. The menu is stacked with classic Italian dishes, from spaghetti alla carbonara to gnocchi al pomodoro, and everything in between. They have gluten-free pasta available as well for those with dietary restrictions and they give a large bread plate to start.
In this British pub with its Victorian decor and oak paneled walls, you'll feel like you've traveled across the pond. The food is traditional pub fare, including fish and chips, shepherds pie and bangers and mash, as well as some seafood (we are on the coast, after all). There is often live music on the weekends too, but if you're coming here, you're coming for that traditional British pub environment, and boy do you get it.
If your go-to breakfast foods are omelets or waffles, this diner is a destination you'll want to visit. Only open for breakfast and lunch, this quaint diner on Gaffey Street looks nondescript from the outside, but the food it serves will leave you in a food coma the rest of the day. Though they do offer breakfast food other than omelets and waffles, they are definitely the specialty, and there's a wide variety to choose from.
San Pedro Brewing Co. offers a wide variety of food, from a delicious Greek salad to steamed mussels and tri-tip, and a full bar. Sit at the bar or outside on the patio, especially on a weekend night when local bands take to the stage—punk rock is a popular genre at the restaurant—making it impossible to have a conversation, if that's what you're after. This spot has definitely become a local go-to place, so it can get pretty crowded. They offer brewery tours every Friday at 4:30pm, which include beer samples.
Serving excellent seafood and entrees, the 22nd St. Landing Seafood Grill and Bar is a popular establishment with both locals and visitors. WWII bomber pilot Frank Hall first opened the restaurant in 1990. The waterfront location and proximity to a number of local attractions makes the 22nd St. Landing ideal for meals before and after events. The restaurant offers an array of dishes including oysters Rockefeller, soups of the day, pacific snapper, scallops scampi, New York steak and Alaskan king crab. Plus, who can complain about a meal with a view?
Wine lovers will be attracted to the vast amount of wines this place has. Whether you prefer red, white, rosé or sparkling, there's something for everyone here. With couches and little tables set up, this is the perfect place to come with friends or on a date. The food menu may be small, but the business's goal is to bring a taste of gourmet wine and food to the San Pedro area, which we think they are doing pretty well. And just in case you're not a wine drinker, they have craft beer as well.
Ports O’ Call Restaurant is waterfront dining in a comfortable, unrushed atmosphere. The menu is varied, but seafood definitely dominates. On Sundays, the restaurant hosts a Champagne Sunday Brunch with an omelet station, unlimited bacon, eggs Benedict, a seafood station and so much more. The happy hour here is Monday to Friday from 3 to 8pm with $4 house wine, domestic beer and premium well drinks.