On the coast of Southern California at Terranea Resort, I take my first deep breaths in what seems like ages. Perched at the edge of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, cerulean waves crash into golden coastal bluffs below and pods of pelicans fly by in intervals across a cloudless sky above.
I’ve just finished a five-mile, pulse-pounding run on a trail that skirts the stunning coastline as far as the eye can see. Now, I’m one of three women taking a morning seaside yoga class where the Pacific Ocean serves as our backdrop, the waves as our playlist, and the ocean breezes as our fans. After this? The spa.
Let me be clear: This is not my typical routine. In real life, my daily schedule is planned to the minute like a carefully executed game of Tetris that fills every block on my calendar. There’s usually not much space left for deep breathing and quiet reflection, and I honestly cannot remember the last time I took a yoga class –– never with these views.
But as soon as I set foot at Terranea Resort with my husband earlier this month, I could feel a long-lost calmness immediately wash over my body. And over the course of our five days there, my stresses slowly and steadily slipped out to sea.
Situated on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, one of Southern California’s most scenic coastlines, this 102-acre luxurious property overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Santa Catalina Island in the distance. While it feels a world away, Terranea Resort is conveniently located just 30 minutes from both Los Angeles International and Long Beach airports and sits 30 miles southwest of downtown LA. We left Austin just after lunch, and thanks to the three-hour direct flight and a two-hour time difference, we arrived at the property in time for afternoon check in.
If Southern California’s sunny skies, ocean breezes and temperate weather sounds dreamy, consider escaping from reality for a few days at Terranea Resort. Here are just a few things to look forward to while you’re there.
History and nature
Long before Terranea Resort existed (the resort opened in 2009), the Palos Verdes Peninsula was once a part of the Channel Islands, shifting slowly over millions of years until fusing to California’s mainland coast. As a result, the area is home to a diverse natural habitat, rock and plant species and rich history and heritage.
Take a seaside stroll or run along Terranea’s tranquil Discovery Trail, fringing the cliff sides above the Pacific. It’s the best place to soak in the jaw-dropping swirl of blue seas and skies, green grasses and plants, and golden coastal bluffs. The dramatic landscape has served as the backdrop to numerous television series and film productions over the years, spanning The Beverly Hillbillies to Pirates of the Caribbean. But the area is also a prime viewing point for spotting dolphins and whales including blue, gray, minke, orca and humpbacks, which make their annual migration from the California Coast to the warmer breeding waters closer to the Equator every December through April.
Relax and rejuvenate
Terranea Resort was designed with relaxation in mind. I spent two blissful days at The Spa at Terranea, a 50,000-square-foot oasis of tranquility featuring 25 treatment rooms that overlook the ocean. Whether it was my 90-minute relaxation massage that soothed my sore muscles with Swedish techniques and lavender and eucalyptus oils, my refreshing citrus glow facial infused with vitamins designed to nourish skin and boost collagen, or the opportunity to read all afternoon in a private poolside spa cabana, I cannot recall a time when I’ve felt more rested. Other fabulous ways to while away your days at Terranea Resort? Lounging at one of the resort’s four heated swimming pools, including the adults-only Cielo pool, or playing a round or two on the nine-hole, par-3 golf course.
Dining with a view
Your palate won’t get bored at Terranea Resort, which boasts nine distinctive dining options –– each accompanied by postcard-worthy ocean vistas. Don’t miss the coastal cuisine and views at Nelson’s, where highlights included the warm, buttery and enormous Bavarian pretzel followed by the blackened salmon salad and Maine lobster roll. Between spa treatments and poolside lounging, I loved lunching on the healthy, organic, vegan dishes made with locally grown ingredients at Solviva. One day, it was a light lunch –– a colorful bowl of seasonal fruits and berries accompanied by a glass of sparkling brut rose. Another, I tucked into the avocado sweet potato –– a hearty and healthy twist on avocado toast –– stuffed with a Terranea farm organic poached egg, pico sofrito, pomegranate seed and kelp sea salt flakes. If you’re craving fresh sushi, reserve a seat at Bashi, which also serves inventive Asian-inspired wok-style dishes and an expansive sake and cocktail list. Favorites included the vibrant poke bowl featuring fresh tuna, salmon and yellowtail atop seasoned seaweed, avocado, cucumber, edamame takuwan, scallion, sesame seeds and sushi rice, and the Bashi hamachi roll with spicy albacore and yellowtail, serrano and cucumber.
Experience and Explore
Head to Terranea Resort’s on-site Experience Concierge to arrange everything from guided tide pool and whale watching excursions during the seasonal gray whale migration to painting classes, surfing lessons, ocean kayaking and fishing tours, and archery. One morning, I joined other guests in a complimentary falconry experience led by one of Terranea’s falconers who introduced us to a few of her young birds of prey including a 5-year-old Harris’s Hawk named Hollywood and a 3-year-old Eurasian Eagle Owl named Owlin. Since opening, Terranea Resort has used falconry as a natural bird abatement program, ensuring pesky birds like seagulls, pigeons and crows stay away in an ethical and eco-friendly way.
While it’s difficult to want to leave the resort, you don’t have to rent your own set of wheels to explore the surrounding Palos Verdes Peninsula. Overnight guests can enjoy complimentary use of a luxurious Lexus for up to three hours through the resort’s Destinations by Lexus program. We set out one day in a white Lexus convertible, stopping in Redondo Beach for shopping, beach strolling and brunch at The Rockefeller. Just a little farther down scenic Palos Verdes Drive sits Hermosa Beach, followed by Manhattan Beach –– a popular “Surfin’ USA” beach town located on the southerly end of Santa Monica Bay.
If You Go
Terranea Resort is conveniently located 30 minutes from both Los Angeles International and Long Beach airports and sits just 30 miles southwest of Downtown Los Angeles. We booked direct flights on Delta from Austin to LAX, but I’m a big fan of Long Beach Airport, and Southwest Airlines offers nonstop service from Austin.
Terranea Resort’s 102-acre property features 582 guest rooms and suites, including spacious bungalows, casitas and villas. We stayed in a casita at the edge of the resort and enjoyed the more remote and secluded vibe.
Eat + Drink
Terranea Resort boasts nine dining venues, serving everything from gourmet to casual fare accompanied by ocean vistas. For a spicy sunset cocktail, try Terranea’s jalapeño margarita made with Tanteo Jalapeño blanco tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime and agave.
Spend your morning walking or jogging along Terranea’s Discovery Trail that runs along the property and down to its secluded beach cove, or take a seaside yoga or cycle class at the fitness center. Spend the day lounging at one of the four heated swimming pools, playing golf at the nine-hole, par-3 golf course, or getting pampered at the 50,000-square-foot spa.