The panoramic view from San Pedro's Angels Gate Park is unlike any other you'll find in Southern California. Take in giant, clawlike cranes at work at the nearby Port of Los Angeles; sailboats heading out to blue-water destinations; and in the distance, the golden hills of Catalina Island. Below, in the harbor, high-speed ferries and luxury ocean liners mix it up with putt-putt tugboats and container ships.
It's the same casual blend in San Pedro's downtown, which is becoming increasingly upscale while maintaining a few choice vestiges of the town's raffish maritime past. San Pedro's not big on pretension ― spend a day and add your own pitch to the town's slow-paced seaside ambience.
Info. San Pedro is at the eastern end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, 5 miles west of Long Beach. www.sanpedrochamber.com or 310/832-7272.
Ports O'Call Marketplace. These New England-y fishermen's cottages turned souvenir shops are good for a quick waterfront stroll and a single scoop at Dryer's Fun Ice Cream (no, not Dreyer's). Open daily. 1100 Nagoya Way; 310/548-8077.
Papadakis Taverna. An upscale but truly authentic Greek taverna, right down to the folk dancing, plate-smashing, and shouts of "Opa!" Dinner daily. $$$. 301 W. Sixth St.; 310/548-1186.
San Pedro Brewing Company. Try the aptly named Harbor Hefeweisen and smoky pulled-pork BBQ sandwich. Lunch and dinner daily. $$. 331 W. Sixth St.; www.sanpedrobrewing.com or 310/831-5663.GO
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. An interactive exploration center, research facilities, and touch tanks. Join a naturalist-led outing to nearby tidepools and salt marshes. Tue-Sun. $5 donation suggested. 3720 Stephen M. White Dr.; www.cabrilloaq.org or 310/548-7562.
Angels Gate Park. This prime waterfront overlook is often missed by casual visitors. It's a popular movie location ― The Usual Suspects was shot here. Be sure to stop at the park's enormous Korean Friendship Bell, set in a colorful pagoda. Gaffey St. at 37th St.; Park Cultural Center, 310/519-0936.