SAN PEDRO CONNECTS LOS ANGELES TO THE OCEAN.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, LOS Angeles has waterfront property. San Pedro (pronounced pee-droh, not pey-droh) is about 25 miles south of downtown and sits right on the Pacific Ocean. If you are wondering how Los Angeles managed to acquire such valuable property, the explanation is simple: The residents of San Pedro actually voted way back in 1909 to become a part of the city of Los Angeles.
There are many things to see and do throughout San Pedro, but a one-and-a-half-mile stretch of attractions draws crowds of locals and tourists alike, especially the “nauti” ones. This area, known as the Waterfront, sits on the west shore of Los Angeles Harbor, which includes Port of Los Angeles, one of the busiest shipping ports in the world. Across the harbor, you can see large container ship cranes similar to the ones rumored to have inspired characters in Star Wars films. At almost any time of day or night, you can see container ships, cruise ships and motor tankers slowly making way through the harbor.
The Waterfront could be known as Mariners’ Mile, for all of its boating- related attractions. There is a Santa Catalina Island boat terminal, a cruise ship terminal, a battleship, a historic fireboat, a maritime museum, a wharf and numerous commercial vessels offering harbor cruises and sportfishing.
If you prefer wheels to props for this trip, you need to find Interstate 110. San Pedro is at the southern end of I-110, also known as Harbor Freeway. Interstate 10, Interstate 405 and Pacific Coast Highway are all major access points for I-110. Take I-110 South to the Harbor Boulevard exit, which ends at Catalina Sea and Air Terminal. Take a right onto Harbor Boulevard.
From Long Beach, you can take Highway 47 across the Vincent Thomas Bridge to the Harbor Boulevard exit and take a right. The bridge is near the northern end of the Waterfront, and, like many things in the L.A. area, the bridge is famous, having been featured in many film and television productions. It is the fourth-longest suspension bridge in California and the first welded suspension bridge in the U.S.
Along Harbor Boulevard are many parking lots, but Ports O’ Call Village 1 near the southern end of the Waterfront offers free parking.
If you want to avoid concrete navigation, San Pedro is a wonderful trip by boat. Use chart number 18740 (San Diego to Santa Rosa) for a high-level view of the Southern California coast. Depending on your direction of travel, chart numbers 18744 (Santa Monica Bay) or 18746 (San Pedro Channel) will give you better coastal details. While cruising along the coast, monitor VHF Channel 14 for information about vessel traffic. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for northbound and southbound ships.
Use chart numbers 18749 (San Pedro Bay) and 18751 (Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors) to enter Angels Gate and transit Los Angeles Harbor. Switch to VHF Channel 13 for harbor traffic broadcasts. Continue down the main channel to the Waterfront. There are courtesy docks between the Los Angeles Maritime Museum 2 (Berth 84) and Fire Station 112 3 (Berth 85). Ports O’ Call Restaurant 4 (Berth 76) has a dock for its customers, but you must call in advance to secure space.
TOUR DE FOOT
You can explore the Waterfront by any combination of foot, trolley and rail car. The free trolley follows a route throughout the Waterfront and travels to other parts of San Pedro. The historic Pacific Electric Red Car railway runs north and south along the Waterfront.
Probably the best way to experience the Waterfront is to start at the north end and work your way south. Your first point of interest will be USS Iowa 5 , a decommissioned battleship that was converted into a museum. USS Iowa was the only battleship that hosted four presidents and featured a bathtub. Adjacent to Iowa is the historic Fireboat Ralph J. Scott and Fire Station 112. Next, you will see the courtesy docks and then the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. The museum has numerous artifacts, displays, exhibits and photographs about maritime history, especially Southern California’s. The museum is located where an automobile ferry operated before the Vincent Thomas Bridge opened in 1963.
Before continuing south to Ports O’ Call Village, be sure to visit the memorials along Harbor Boulevard 6 that pay tribute to the fishing industry, Harry Bridges (the founder of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union), USS New Jersey and American Merchant Marine Veterans.
By the time you finish viewing attractions at the Waterfront, you probably will have worked up quite an appetite. Just past the Maritime Museum, your first dining option is Acapulco Mexican Restaurant Y Cantina 7 . From there, Ports O’ Call Village has several restaurants, seafood markets, sidewalk vendors and beverage stations. It is easy to get lost like “a kid in a candy store” in The Village. By the way, there are candy stores there that you actually could get lost in! After spending time at the Waterfront, you will understand why its “location, location, location” has significant value, especially when it comes to entertainment value. You can count on being awestruck, informed and well fed. What more could you ask for from one location?