We spent this past weekend in San Pedro. I know... what's in San Pedro, right? I've always thought of it as just a port town, so I figured we'd wave hello to superbuzzy shipments at the port and that would be it! But, I was pleasantly surprised with the charming Old Town and the kitschy 1950s era streets. There was a surprising lack of Starbucks and chain fast food joints in this area - just lots of cute mom 'n pop places.
We met family at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, which was also new to us. Wow! What an amazing place! Aquarium of the Pacific generally gets all the attention for SoCal aquariums, and it is indeed a wonderful aquarium. But, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium certainly deserves praise of its own. It is funded wholly by the City of Los Angeles (thank you tax dollars!), so admission is a donation. The exhibits are focused on Southern California sea life, and these are *usually* my least favorite exhibits at other aquariums - there are only so many Garibaldi and starfish one can look at, right? The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium goes far beyond the typical exhibits, featuring incredible nudibranchs, urchins like you've never seen, every bizarre type of crab, and of course, lots of fish. They also have a hands-on lab, nursery, and tide pool touch tank - all were very popular with Brynne. And, as if this wasn't enough, the aquarium is located on a huge stretch of beach, rich in tidepools at low tide. We were there during high tide, but next trip we'll make a point of arriving at low tide, bringing a picnic lunch, and doing some tide pooling. If you like aquariums and live in SoCal, this is a must see!
We did some other touristy things - rode the historic Red Line trolley car, toured the Point Fermin Lighthouse, saw the Korean Friendship Bell, and visited the Marine Mammal Care Center. We finished the day with a feast (and I mean feast!) at Papadakis Taverna Greek restaurant in Old Town, complete with belly dancing and lots of broken glassware!
I've recently realized how important these quick, local getaways are for us... we're together as a family so seldom, and when we stay at home, it tends to be a lot of tedium (laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.). When we leave the house and spend the day elsewhere, we have such a fantastic time, and we're learning about all the hidden gems within 2 hours of our house. I know it's not practical to getaway every weekend (at least, not unless I can hire some house-help!), but I'm going to make an effort to plan something like this at least once a month.