Terranea’s landscape is the stuff of dreams, particularly in spring, when the panorama of the cerulean Pacific Ocean and azure sky are framed by rolling meadows blanketed in yellow wildflowers.
In March, I visited this resort property, set on a bluff overlooking Catalina Island in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, about 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles, for the third time and was once again instantly enamored with the sheer beauty that emanates from its 102 acres.
If you’re planning to visit California, here are five reasons to consider a stay at Terranea.
1. Whale of a time
Every year, from December to May, about 20,000 gray whales trek from Alaska to Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, passing by the Palos Verdes Peninsula – and Terranea – as they go. Spying whales while sipping a microbrew and nibbling on a supple pretzel at Nelson’s, which features casual Californian fare and is one of a half-dozen restaurants on the property, has become one of my favorite pastimes. Want to learn more about the local marine life? Stroll through the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, which is located next door and includes information on everything from the number of gray whale sightings each season to displays on the city’s former life as a home to Marineland, once the world’s largest oceanarium that closed in 1987. The inside of the center has been temporarily closed due to COVID-19; check website for latest updates.
2. See the light
One of the most picturesque places to snap photos during a visit to Terranea is at the adjacent Point Vicente Lighthouse, which was built in 1926 to keep ships from running into the craggy California shore. The lighthouse grounds are typically closed, but they’re open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month except March, when the lighthouse is open on a different date. These hours are subject to change due to the pandemic, however, so be sure to check the website or call ahead. And even if the grounds are closed, you can still get close enough to the lighthouse to marvel at all of its 67 feet.
3. Hollywood gold
I may love Terranea, but I’m not the only one – the property has also been a Hollywood darling for decades. Its ocean coves, located directly under Nelson’s restaurant, were made famous by the 1950s television series “Sea Hunt,” and the property has since popped up in everything from the 2012 Judd Apatow comedy “This Is 40” to a 2020 episode of the NBC drama “This Is Us.” For me, catching an unexpected glimpse of it in a movie or TV show now instantly evokes a happy nostalgia, like running into an old friend while on vacation or catching a whiff of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies through a bakery window. Even during our early-morning checkout in March, dozens of trucks and trailers filled one of the on-site parking lots, preparing for yet another day on the set.
4. Grab a bite
Having rarely eaten out over the past year due to the pandemic, visiting Terranea in March was refreshing – each of its six restaurants offer al-fresco experiences that are not only safe but stunning. Helmed by Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra, the dining options at Terranea are fresh and diverse, from the seasonal, gourmet menu at mar’sel, which incorporates locally sourced ingredients and is home to an elaborate Sunday brunch, to the family friendly Catalina Kitchen, where flatbreads, seafood and steak are among menu highlights.
5. Relax and reset
Terranea is frequently named in best-of awards for its spa program – including “best massage with a view” by Los Angeles Magazine – and with good reason. In a nod to its location, many treatments here incorporate aspects of the sea, from the Revitalizing Marine Massage, which uses Mediterranean algae to stimulate and detoxify the body, to the Ocean’s Renewal Massage that incorporates mineral-rich Laminaria Seaweed Oil. Reservations are required and amenities are limited currently due to COVID-19; call ahead or check website for details. Additional options such as seaside yoga and seaside cycling are also available.
If You Go
Multiple airlines offer direct flights from Austin to Los Angeles. Terranea is a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport.
Terranea is a luxury resort on the Southern California coast that offers accommodations ranging from standard guestrooms, all with private balconies, to expansive villas.