SAN PEDRO

So San Pedro doesn’t appear on too many tourist trails, that’s for certain. But we’ve become familiar with the community in the last few years for one reason, and one reason only: The San Pedro Fish market. You see, our years in Seattle and regular Sundays at Pike Place Market left us a little spoiled and constantly in search of the freshest seafood around. This fish market has a different feel: more Central American seafood market, with margaritas and beers, plastic cups brimming with ceviche, and snippets of conversations in Spanish. But it’s equally delicious and fresh.

And San Pedro may be the friendliest neighborhood we’ve visited so far: locals stopped us every step of the way to offer recommendations and speak on the history of the area. The craftsman homes and breathtaking views contribute to an adorable seaport village vibe, and at times we felt like we could have been wandering through a quaint New England town. San Pedro truly is picturesque – making us remember its closeness to places like Catalina and Rancho Palos Verdes, by far two of the prettiest locations in Southern California. Parts of downtown are a little downtrodden and less safe after sunset, but in the sparkling sun, San Pedro proves to be just the loveliest.

Although many of the long-time locals complained of change (mostly about the construction of new condominiums) so much of it appeared untouched to our big-city eyes, with areas and people and buildings that have remained the same for decades. Ready for a little adventure? Then San Pedro is the place for you.

Stop 1: The Corner Store

First things first: we were in need of coffee. We stopped off at The Corner Store, a quaint cafe and corner store in a residential neighborhood and ordered a Bacon Breakfast Sandwich on a bagel (for $3.95!) and two cups of coffee. The coffee was a little weak, but the breakfast sandwich – with cheese, egg, bacon and tomato – was stellar, and the patio was the perfect spot to sit in the sun with a friend and catch-up. Be sure to check out their Ciabatta Pub Burgers.

(1118 W 37th Street, San Pedro)

Stop 2: Fort MacArthur Museum

Now, usually a military museum wouldn’t be top of our list for places to visit. But the Fort MacArthur Military Museum includes some fascinating history of the area, which started as a military reservation in the late 1800s. It then become a training center during World War I and was an important part of anti-aircraft defenses during the Cold War. It’s a small museum, but definitely worth a visit before heading on to Angel’s Gate Park.

Insider’s Tip: there’s actually a youth hostel located in the refurbished military barracks, if you’re looking for a place to stay in San Pedro.

(3601 S Gaffey Street, San Pedro)

Stop 3: Angel's Gate Park

Angel’s Gate Park is truly a gorgeous place to wile away an afternoon. The panoramic views of the azure Pacific, which was positively glittering in the sun on our visit, are just stunning. You’ll catch couples having picnics, families flying kites, and grandmothers teaching young boys how to pitch a baseball. You’ll also be able to witness the 12 foot Korean Bell of Friendship, a massive bronze bell in an impressive stone pavilion (there was a wedding taking place right in front of the bell while we were there). Bring a picnic and your camera.

(3601 S Gaffey Street, San Pedro)

Stop 4: The Sunken City

We can easily say that The Sunken City is one of the coolest places we’ve visited on our Los Angeles adventures. Depending on your source, there was either a landslide or earthquake that caused parts of this San Pedro cliff to slide down into the ocean. Over the years, the rocks, concrete, pipes and other remnants have been covered with colorful (and quite beautiful) graffiti art, which make for a dramatic setting against the crashing Pacific waves. A stunning visual of street art and nature coming together in one place.

The area is officially closed off to visitors, but we bypassed the “No Trespassing” signs by climbing a wall from Pt. Fermin Park, then shimmied under a fence and hiked down into the Sunken City. Wear proper shoes, as the whole area is rather steep.

Stop 5: Mishi's Strudel Bakery & Cafe

It doesn’t get any more down-home, warm-welcoming than Mishi’s Strudel Bakery & Cafe. The adorable little bakery is owned by the sweetest of couples – Aniko and Mishi Schueller – and you’ll feel like you’ve just popped in to your grandparents’ home for a cup of tea and a treat. We devoured an apple and sour cherry & cheese strudel, both of which were sweet and warm and perfectly flaky. Mishi, a former NASA mathematician, seems to know just about everyone who walks in and introduces customers to each other from across the room. They host opera on the weekends, and also serve a mean goulash.

(309 W 7th Street, San Pedro)

Stop 6: San Pedro Fish Market

The San Pedro Fish Market is about more than just fresh seafood: it’s a whole experience. There’s a festive vibe – long cafeteria tables outside, margaritas and Micheladas being served, seagulls squawking overhead as people loudly sing karaoke. We ordered fish ceviche with tostadas (small, $13) and the famous shrimp tray with potatoes, vegetables, and garlic bread (half-order, $20), which was enough to feed a small army. One of the highlights of the day.

(1190 Nagoya Way, San Pedro)

The Details:

We walked a lot in San Pedro, parking our car at Angel’s Gate Park, and trekking by foot for most of the day. We took the 246 bus from Point Fermin Park to the San Pedro Fish Market (or you could also walk the 3 miles, if you were so inclined).

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Showing 4 comments
  • Unknown

    Excellent article on San Pedro. Thank you.

  • Laxfire1890

    Thanks for recognizing our fine city. We are very proud of our heritage and traditions. Great blog!

  • Point Fermin

    Great article about San Pedro. So glad you did not get hurt in Sunken City. The local lighthouse keeper reports >120 deaths in <25 years on those cliffs. Plus they are ticketing and prosecuting trespassers in Sunken City more these days. If you do go into that illegal area, please be careful and be respectful of the neighbors. Keep it quiet, don't get drunk, don't be foolish.

  • John M. Mavar

    Thank you thank you for a great article you certainly pointed out some of the best features of our historic waterfront. Our working waterfront with so many more attractions to see you welcomes you back and welcome all visitors to check out the rebirth of San Pedro's waterfront, downtown and events