March 30

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James Respondek

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Pacific Palisades: A Southern California haven for outdoor enthusiasts

Outdoor Enthusiast

Whether you look north to the mountains or south to the Pacific expanse, there are a lot of fascinating places to discover in Los Angeles’ Pacific Palisades, especially for lovers of the Great Outdoors.

An idyllic and charming L.A. neighborhood, Pacific Palisades is well known for its affluence, the remarkable luxury homes that offer both top-tier amenities and panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, a rich cultural tapestry, clear skies all year round, a network of roads that weave through mountainsides and beaches, and, most of all, a unique terrain that boasts some of the most beautiful natural settings in Southern California. Not only is Pacific Palisades one of the best places to live in California but it is also paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

This article will delve into Pacific Palisades’ appeal as an epicenter of all things outdoorsy in Los Angeles, as well as the best activities to engage in when visiting or living here.

PACIFIC PALISADES AT A GLANCE

Pacific Palisades Aerial View

Situated about 20 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades is an idyllic neighborhood that offers an irresistible blend of natural beauty and upscale living.

The idea for Pacific Palisades can be traced back to Huntington Hartford, a patron of the arts and a visionary in the aspect of architecture. In the early 20th century, he envisioned the area as a resort destination for wealthy urbanites. Not long after its inception, Pacific Palisades quickly became a haven for Hollywood celebrities, artists, and affluent families who were drawn to the community by its breathtaking views and serene atmosphere.

Much like the rest of California, the climate in Pacific Palisades is characterized by mild, Mediterranean-like conditions, with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. This, coupled with the abundance of natural attractions, makes it an ideal destination for those looking to maximize their time exploring the Great Outdoors in any season.

THINGS TO DO IN PACIFIC PALISADES

Sandwiched between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Pacific Palisades puts residents and visitors in a unique position where they could engage in land-based activities or water-based thrills – or both – within a span of at least one day. Here are some of the most popular things to do in Pacific Palisades:

Go hiking in the mountains

Friends Hiking

Some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the region are found in Pacific Palisades going toward the Santa Monica Mountains – each one tailored to hikers of varying skill levels. These include the following:

LOS LEONES TRAIL. A favorite among locals and visitors, this is a moderately challenging trail that features a gradual ascent through shady canyons and offers glimpses of local wildlife, including the mountain lions that give the trail its name. This 4.5-mile trail also rewards hikers with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Bay upon reaching the summit, resulting in a hiking adventure that’s unlike any other.

TEMESCAL CANYON LOOP TRAIL. Experienced hikers seeking a challenging ascent will find what they’re looking for at this loop trail. Spanning a total of 3.8 miles, it takes hikers through gorgeous vistas of lush vegetation, streams, and ancient trees, as well as the Los Angeles cityscape upon the hike’s conclusion.

WILL ROGERS STATE HISTORIC PARK. Known for being home to remnants of the early days of Pacific Palisades, this park features a network of trails that take hikers through rolling hills and coastal bluffs. The park’s Inspiration Loop Trail, for instance, offers a stroll through scenic meadows; while the Backbone Trail provides a more challenging trek for seasoned hikers. Park visitors may also explore historic landmarks and picnic areas, making it a fine destination for both families and seasoned hikers.

RUSTIC CANYON LOOP TRAIL. For those seeking adventure through rugged terrain, the Rustic Canyon Loop Trail promises an immersive journey through untamed wilderness. This challenging trail, which connects Will Rogers State Historic Park to Sullivan’s Ridge, meanders through dense foliage, rocky terrain, and historic ruins dating back to the early 20th century. Hikers are rewarded with a sense of solitude and discovery as they explore this hidden gem of Pacific Palisades.

Enjoy the beach

Brothers Playing with the Waves

Enjoying a day at the beach is one of the best things to do in Pacific Palisades, thanks to its coastal location. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a fun-filled day by the sea, the shores of Pacific Palisades won’t disappoint. Here are some of the best activities in the area:

SUNBATHING. Pacific Palisades boasts miles of pristine sandy beaches that beckon sun-worshippers to bask in the warm California sun. This is where the most beautiful people of SoCal come to see and be seen. Not as touristy as other California beaches, the shores here are less crowded and may even provide a more secluded atmosphere. That’s why every now and then, you’d find some celebrities enjoying the sun, sand, and sea by Pacific Palisades’ coastline.

SWIMMING AND OTHER WATER SPORTS. The waters along the fringes of Pacific Palisades are great for swimming and other water sports. Especially at Will Rogers State Beach and El Matador State Beach, one could take a dip in its inviting waters knowing that lifeguards are patrolling the beach and keeping beachgoers safe. A favorite sport here is surfing as the area sees a variety of waves to suit every skill. Newbie surfers may take to the gentle waves of Will Rogers State Beach while those looking for a challenge may try out the waves over at nearby Topanga Beach.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL. The consistently sunny weather and the beaches’ powder-soft sands make Pacific Palisades the perfect venue for beach volleyball, the perfect sport for those who want to stay dry while still enjoying their day at the beach.

BEACHCOMBING AND TIDE POOLING. Residents and visitors looking to channel their inner David Attenborough may want to explore Pacific Palisades’ beaches, especially during low tide. During this magical moment, one could find all kinds of marine life and other treasures like driftwood and sea glass lying along the rocky coastline.Just make sure to follow catch-and-release ordinances, especially for marine creatures you may find in the area’s shallow tide pools.

Explore Pacific Palisades’ parks and green spaces

Will Rogers State Historic Park

Those who love being one with nature will find Pacific Palisades’ parks and green spaces to their liking. Listed below are some of these stunning outdoor destinations:

PALISADES PARK. Located atop the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this park is where you’ll find meticulously landscaped gardens, which is why it’s a popular destination for picnics and romantic strolls. Maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Palisades Park is also home to the Palisades Recreation Center which offers an array of features catering to families and those who lead an active lifestyle. It has barbecue pits, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a children’s play area, a football field, an indoor gymnasium, tennis courts, and volleyball courts.

TEMESCAL GATEWAY PARK. Tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains, this park is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts due to its rugged terrain, diverse ecosystems, and abundant amenities. Boasting miles of hiking trails, shaded picnic areas, and a fully-equipped recreation center, this 141-acre park allows visitors to enjoy nature’s serenity while remaining close to urban centers.

WILL ROGERS STATE HISTORIC PARK. The former estate of Hollywood legend Will Rogers was converted into this beautiful park nestled amid rolling hills and verdant meadows. This must-visit Pacific Palisades destination offers everything from equestrian trails to guided tours of the historic ranch house, giving guests the chance to enjoy the lovely natural surroundings and learn about the beginnings of this coastal L.A. neighborhood.

SANTA YNEZ CANYON PARK. Also located in the Santa Monica Mountains, this park is known for its tranquil ambiance and lush riparian environment, making it perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of nature. While hikes in this part of Pacific Palisades are often characterized as “chill” and laid-back, experienced hikers have the option to climb above Santa Ynez Canyon Falls for an added layer of thrill and adventure.

Take part in nature conservation efforts

Tree Planting

Given the abundance of diverse natural habitats in the area, participating in conservation efforts ranks high among the list of things to do in Pacific Palisades.

Chief among these is the Pacific Palisades Garden Club’s native plant restoration projects. Founded in 1944, the Pacific Palisades Garden Club has worked tirelessly to restore native vegetation in the area, thereby creating safe havens for local wildlife and preserving the locale’s natural beauty. Their initiatives involve garden tours, civic beautification projects, and, most importantly, community planting events where residents and visitors may get their hands dirty, all for the sake of contributing to the restoration process.

Pacific Palisades residents are also deeply involved in eco-friendly practices, such as using reusable bags, reducing water consumption, and participating in community-led recycling programs that bring the community closer together.

Additionally, joining local nature walks, bird-watching outings, or environmental workshops provides participants with valuable insights into the area’s unique ecosystems and the importance of preserving them for future generations.

Tour the area on two wheels

Cycling

Pacific Palisades offers some of the most scenic and diverse cycling routes and bike trails along the Pacific Coast, making it the perfect spot for any biker with a sense of adventure.Even if you don’t own a bike, you still have the opportunity to get mobile on two wheels in Pacific Palisades due to the abundance of bike rental services in the community.

Some of the best bike trails in Pacific Palisades include:

INSPIRATION POINT TRAIL. Covering a total of 3.5 kilometers, this loop trail near Pacific Palisades is generally considered an easy route, with a bike trip taking an average of just one hour to complete. This trail is one of the most popular destinations for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking in Pacific Palisades, which means it could sometimes get a little crowded. The trail is open year-round and is dog-friendly, provided that your canine companion is on a leash.

PASEO MIRAMAR TRAIL. An 8.5-kilometer out-and-back trail near Pacific Palisades, this is considered a moderately challenging route that takes an average of roughly three hours to complete. This is a popular area for birding, hiking, and mountain biking, so it’s best to come and visit early in the morning before the crowds come in. However, you may have to leave your dog at home for this one.

PALISADES HIGHLANDS TO TRIPPET RANCH. Those who want to push their biking skills to the extreme will do well to check out this route. Spanning just a little over 20 kilometers, the Palisades Highlands to Trippet Ranch route is considered one of the most challenging in Pacific Palisades, with trips taking an average of almost six hours to complete.

Aside from being a popular spot for bikers, the TRAILER CANYON TO TEMESCAL PEAK route is also a favorite spot for birders and hikers, especially from December to August.

Take part in festivities

Independence Day

Aside from having an abundance of outdoor attractions, Pacific Palisades also brims with various events and festivals throughout the year that allow people to go out and celebrate. The most popular among these events are:

LIVE MUSIC EVENTS AT PALISADES VILLAGE. Fans of live entertainment troop to Palisades Village, one of the major lifestyle destinations in Pacific Palisades, for engaging performances by local talents. The Village hosts free shows every weekend from Friday to Sunday.

ANNUAL 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION. This is probably the most anticipated event in Pacific Palisades. A community tradition that dates back to the 1940s, the annual celebration of the 4th of July includes the big parade complete with marching bands and colorful floats, 5K and 10k runs and Kids on Bikes events, and the highlight of the celebration: a stunning fireworks display as the night comes to an end.

Enjoy outdoor dining

Restaurant

Pacific Palisades uses every opportunity to feature its stunning natural setting, even dining out. That’s why one of the best things to do in Pacific Palisades is to check out local food spots that offer outdoor dining. Below are some of them:

BLUE RIBBON SUSHI BAR AND GRILL. Located in Palisades Village, this vibrant restaurant and sushi bar serves excellent Japanese specialties such as A5 wagyu steaks, traditional nigiri, sashimi, and hand-crafted maki rolls. It also has a carefully curated beverage list which includes sake and beer sourced directly from Japan, wines from California and Europe, and house cocktails.

EDO BITES. The brainchild of chef and restaurateur Edoardo Baldi, this Italian café and bakery offers one of the best outdoor dining experiences in Pacific Palisades. It serves light yet scrumptious food, including fresh pastries, salads, and both hot and cold sandwiches. Make sure to try their specialties such as the lox-stuffed bagel, grilled salmon salad, caprese sandwich, and truffle mac and cheese.

HANK’S. Those with cravings for classic, all-American food, meanwhile, will do well to check out Hank’s at the Palisades Village. A local favorite, Hank’s menu consists of American classics such as burgers, steak frites, and sandwiches that are best complemented by the restaurant’s selection of hand-crafted cocktails, beer, and wine.

THE DRAYCOTT. This family-friendly Brasserie aims to bring the flavors of Europe to a convivial all-day dining destination. The Draycott takes great pride in its menu of French and British-inspired dishes, all made using produce and ingredients from local farms and suppliers.

PORTA VIA PALISADES. This contemporary California bistro and bar located in Palisades Village boasts a menu that’s both classic and creative, with dishes made from ingredients hand-picked by owner Peter Garland at many of Southern California’s farmers markets. Porta Via also has an impressive wine menu composed of around 150 wines from all over the world.

Check out other highly recommended dining spots for your Pacific Palisades food crawl here [link to blog on food spots, Month 9A].

EMBRACE THE EXCITING SOCAL LIFESTYLE IN PACIFIC PALISADES

Mountains, seas, and everything beautiful in between – this is Pacific Palisades in a nutshell. This is where nature and the good life perfectly meld, which is why properties in this area are highly sought-after.

You, too, could make Pacific Palisades your new address by working with one of the most passionate and highly respected real estate professionals in the area: James Respondek.

Equipped with over four decades of experience in the luxury real estate market, James strives to provide top-tier end-to-end service to luxury home buyers in Southern California. With him to guide you in your home-buying journey, you’ll be living in Pacific Palisades in no time at all, minus the stress.

Ready to make Pacific Palisades your new home? Give James a call at 310.488.4400 or send him a message here to schedule a consultation.