I love exploring Los Angeles. One of my favorite ways to do that is by visiting landmarks in Los Angeles County. Throughout California, we are surrounded by incredible places to discover and explore but it is never lost on me how amazing it is that so many landmarks are here at our front door. The SoCal Landmarks project was started a few years ago and has introduced many people, including me, to some spectacular places. The main focus of this blog post, and accompanying LA Dreaming Podcast episode, is landmarks in Palso Verdes and San Pedro. However, I will also include general information about visiting landmarks in Los Angeles County.
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Because California is such a large state it makes sense that there would be a large number of landmarks. Even narrowing it down to landmarks in Los Angeles County is still overwhelming yet at the same time I find it so exciting. I love knowing that there is so much to explore that it will take years if not decades to do and see every landmark that I am interested in.
One of the other things I love so much about landmarks is how unique and different so many of them are. There is truly something for every age and interest. I think a lot of us hear landmarks and think of an old place but even newer buildings like the Walt Disney Concert Hall are considered landmarks. The landmarks range from local, regional, and national.
When I first reached out to Andy, the project manager for the SoCal Landmark Projects, he suggested focusing on an area where you can visit several landmarks and make a day trip of exploring them. I thought that was a fabulous recommendation. There are so many areas that we could have talked about in LA County but one area he mentioned that I was especially excited about is the Palos Verdes Peninsula. You can visit the SoCal Landmark Project website here and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Landmarks in the Palos Verdes Peninsula
Wayfarers Chapel is a glass church that was built in 1951 by Lloyd Wright. With stunning views of the ocean and gorgeous redwood trees, this area feels like something out of a fairytale. I love that the trees make you feel like you’ve traveled to Northern California. In addition to the church itself being stunning, the views of the ocean from the grounds are incredible as well. It is such an amazing place to visit and walk around. As someone who had a wedding at Wayfarers Chapel, I might be a tad biased when I say this is my favorite landmark.
Address for Wayfarers Chapel: 5755 Palos Verdes Drive South Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275.
Point Fermin Lighthouse
The Point Fermin Lighthouse is a beautiful place to visit. The lighthouse was built in 1874 and was originally run by two sisters. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 the lighthouse was blacked out and never lit again. It is open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday. There is no admission fee, but donations are requested for each visitor. Guided tours are available at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm. Free street parking can be found nearby.
Address for the Point Fermin Lighthouse: 807 W. Paseo Del Mar San Pedro, CA 90731
Korean Bell of Friendship
The Korean Bell of Friendship was gifted to the United States by the Republic of Korea to celebrate the bicentennial. The bell was dedicated in 1976 and underwent a full restoration in 2013. There is no clapper inside the bell. It is struck with the red log shown in the picture. It is only struck on New Year’s Eve, Korean American Day, the Fourth of July, Korean Liberation Day, and Constitution Day. The bell is located at Angel’s Gate park which is a beautiful spot for a picnic. There is also a basketball court that overlooks the ocean as well.
Address for the Korean Bell of Friendship: 3601 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731
Battleship USS Iowa
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The USS Iowa is a retired battleship located on the waterfront in San Pedro. The Iowa began its service during WWII and ended up serving in three different eras. During the ship’s 50 years of service, it earned 14 ribbons which are displayed outside of the bridge wings. You can visit the ship for a guided or self-guided tour, and they occasionally have special events. For the Super Bowl, you can actually watch the game from the ship for free. I have found the best way to stay informed about special events is to check out the calendar on their website.
Address for The USS Iowa: 250 S Harbor Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90731
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Warner Grand Theatre
This was one of three art deco theatres built by Warner Bros in the LA area. Jack L. Warner referred to this theatre as the castle of your dreams. I love all of the architectural details here. In addition to serving as a movie theatre and a stage for theatrical performances, it is also used as a filming location for productions like Pearl Harbor and The OC.
Address for The Warner Grand Theatre: 478 W 6th St (at, S Pacific Ave, San Pedro, CA 90731
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Please note that a visit here is considered trespassing so we are not recommending this. However, even though visitors can be fined up to $1,000 this is still a popular spot to visit. Sunken City was created by a landslide in 1929 which led to 2 houses, sidewalks, and streets falling into the ocean. Over the years it has been tagged in colorful graffiti.
There is no exact address but you can use this one for reference: 500 W. Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA, 90731
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Fort MacArthur is a former United States Army post that was in use from 1914 to 1974. The museum opened in 1985 and highlights the history of the LA harbor defense and the role of LA as a military port for the Army and Navy. During our conversation with Andy on the podcast he mentioned a reenactment event that takes place once a year called The Great LA Air Raid. The event had to be canceled for 2023 but I am really hoping they can have it in 2024. Through this fundraising event, they try to take you back to an evening in 1942 that is interrupted by what many thought to be an air raid. You can find out more information about the event and the museum here.
Address for Fort MacArthur: 3601 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731
In the podcast episode, we also talked about the Vincent Thomas Bridge and The Gerold Desmond Bridge. Since I live in Long Beach these bridges are how I get to and from San Pedro most of the time. Depending on where you are going/coming from you might see them but not actually go on them.
How to Support Landmarks
- Visit them/donate
- Find organizations like the LA Conservancy
- Send emails when sites are being considered for landmark status