Sometimes, especially when wasting away valuable hours reading bumper stickers on the 405, it can be easy to forget that our Southern California boasts some phenomenal natural wonders. But next time you're hemming and hawing about life in this freeway-entangled part of the world, take a junket to Rancho Palos Verdes.
We did just that yesterday, a wonderfully warm Sunday afternoon. Our destination was Abalone Cove Shoreline Park.
After picnicking in a wildflower-speckled grassy meadow, we hiked 5 or so minutes down a dirt path, then walked over rocky stretches of beach to reach Sacred Beach to the southeast. Besides its former claim to fame as a nude beach (a "no nude sunbathing" sign is posted, though my toddler -- pictured here, in the buff -- chose to ignore it), the star attraction are the AMAZING TIDEPOOLS.
Yes, traverse the rocky outcrops and you'll see all sorts of marine life...starfish, shellfish, crabs, sea urchins, itty-bitty fish. To see the utmost, you'll need to go at low tide.
Admission to the park is free, but parking in the lot (which I recommend, if you've got anything, or anyone, to carry) costs $5.
Familes: Picnic at tables in the meadow near the parking lot. There are no bathrooms down at the beach, so you'll want to utilize the facilities in the lot. Bring your camera, and take this opportunity to go snap-happy (new Facebook-profile pic, anyone?). Verdantly green, wild meadows backed by sprawling ocean as a backdrop? I guess it'll do.
Penny-pinchers: If you want to avoid the $5 parking charge, look for a space on the street in front of the fire station, which is a 5-minute walk northwest on Palos Verdes Dr. At the Wayfarer's Chapel across the street from the park entrance, there is a sign in the lot forbidding beach parking. I know that I saw more than a few beach-goers using the church lot yesterday, though you didn't hear it from me.