The only Los Angeles, California-based luxury oceanfront resort, Terranea is the best when it comes to stunning views, 5-star accommodations, family-friendly activities, and experiential dining
Located on the Palos Verdes Penninsula—a smooth 31 miles from DTLA—Terranea is LA’s best-kept secret. And while other nearby destinations may get a lot of attention (we’re looking at you, Palm Springs and Big Bear), no destination comes close to offering what Terranea has at its fingertips. Not only is there a roster full of activities to choose from (more on that below), it has four heated swimming pools to choose from. And not just heated a little bit like those “heated” pools you find in Europe. They are heated enough (according to some staff, they said it was 80 degrees) that swimming outside, in the middle of winter, is downright pleasurable. And that’s just the tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula—add to that 102 acres of explorable oceanside cliffs and trails, picturesque views of the ocean and Catalina island just across the channel, dining options galore, and a secluded beach all within steps of your room. Spoiler alert: You’ll never want to leave.
7 Unique Reasons Why You Should Stay at Terranea Resort
1. One-of-a-Kind Family-Friendly Activities at Terranea Resort
The resort offers so many things to do; they have an Experience Center to help you navigate all the fun things to do. Here, you can learn more about each activity and reserve what you’d like to do both on-and-off site. It’s the first place you need to swing by when you get here to get an overview of everything happening at the resort. If you need some help, talk to the Experience Concierge, who can help you plan your activities, make the reservations—and especially help with timing. Not only do they know which activities work best for all types of kids, but they also know the resort inside and out and can offer insider intel like the best spots to go stargazing.
Noteworthy Adventures at Terranea: When we say one-of-a-kind activities, archery class is just one of the unique possibilities you can explore. Add to that, a wonderful instructor who taught both my kids—and ended up getting multiple bullseyes along with a newfound appreciation for the ancient sport. There are also guided kayaking tide pooling adventures (you can also get a guided tide pool adventure without the kayaks if you have little ones), and a ton more activities to choose from, including horseback riding, tennis, golf, plein air art classes, etc…basically if you can dream it, it’s probably already here. Check the resort’s calendar for the full list of things to do in Terranea—including exclusive activities you won’t find anywhere else.
The Coolest Activity at Terranea You Don’t Want to Miss: Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, you can attend the free ‘Meet and Greet’ with the Falconer. This takes place just outside the Experience Center, and for 30 minutes, you’ll learn all about majestic birds of prey and how, since 2009, the resort has used the ancient art of falconry to provide a natural bird abatement program, making sure seagulls, pigeons, and crows stay (naturally) away. PS: You can also book a private session with the Falconer.
Good to Know: The resort’s activities are available to book even if you aren’t staying here! So if a stay isn’t in the cards at the moment, you can still experience all the wonderful activities exclusive to Terranea.
2. Kid-Pleasing Dining Options Galore at Terranea Resort
The resort has eight dining options—from oh-so-casual to downright elegant. For families traveling with small kids, here are our recommends.
For breakfast, we loved sea beans—a casual cafe where you can order specialty coffee drinks, grab-n-go muffins and croissants, or if you’re here on the weekend, order one of their made-to-order waffles with all the toppings your kid could ever desire. Yes, that is in fact, Oreos and M&Ms on a morning waffle—when on vacation right? Seating is cafe-style and outdoors—perfect for little ones who would rather run around and look for lizards.
Sea beans is also located next to the Experience Center, so after breakfast, you can go and peruse the activities for the day or if you eat late enough, you can wait for the Falconer to show up.
Good to Know: You can also get lunch, as well as beer, wine, and other sundry items here.
For lunch, head to Nelson’s or order pool-side from The Grill.
Nelson’s: This casual, cliff-top eatery has picnic-style outdoor seating right up to the cliff’s edge—you’ll get the glorious sound of the crashing waves below as part of your background noise. Nelson’s also has fire pits and is one of the best spots on the property for a sunset, so it’s also a great spot for dinner. What to order at Nelson’s: The Bavarian Pretzel, the Lobster Roll, Fish and Chips, and a S’mores Kit for dessert!
Good to Know: Make a reservation (especially if you want outdoor seating to take in the view). This spot is popular, and the wait times can exceed an hour if you don’t plan accordingly. Call 310.265.2766 for a reservation at Nelson’s.
Insider Tip: If you aren’t staying as a guest, you can still receive complimentary parking with validation from their on-site restaurants.
The Grill at the Resort Pool: If you’ve got a picky eater, this is the place to go—thanks to a menu full of kid favorites like hot dogs, burgers, quesadillas, and grilled cheese sandwiches. And with its poolside location, kids will want to stay here all day long.
We recommend trying two kid-friendly Terranea spots for dinner—Catalina Kitchen and Bashi.
Catalina Kitchen: While Catalina offers a la carte menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we tried their seafood buffet dinner and it was a total dream for the kids. They were able to try lots of new things that they hadn’t had before—from crab legs to shrimp cocktail (plus a variety of bite-size desserts of course), but it was a great, low-pressure way to explore new foods.
Good to Know: Are you a fan of magic? Every first Friday of the month, renowned magician David Groves puts on a spectacular show at the Catalina Kitchen for adults from 10 p.m.-11:30 p.m. He walked around while we were eating dinner and put on a mini show for the kids, and, gotta say, it was jaw-droppingly good. Advanced tickets recommended.
Bashi: This Asian-style restaurant offers Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian dishes, but the wow factor are the grilling tables. If this is your first-time table grilling, the friendly staff will walk you through the menu and help guide you—especially if you’re nervous about your items being cooked throughly. It’s a super fun, interactive experience. Best for kids who are good listeners and don’t wiggle around so much. Advanced reservations are required. Seatings are available daily (closed Tuesdays) at 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 8 p.m.
3. The Pools at Terranea
We mentioned it before, and we’ll mention it again. Heated pools FTW. And not just a smidge over the outside air temperature. Legit, heated to 80-degree pools (and handy glass-wall windbreakers). But that’s not all. There is a 140-foot waterslide at the pool, and a splash pad for little ones. And hot tubs. And cabanas you can rent! And lawn games like ping pong, Connect Four, and foosball! The list goes on and on. Seriously this spot has everything, and while we said your kids won’t want to leave, we’re confident the adults won’t want to leave either.
Good to Know: If you’re traveling here without the kids, there are adult-only pools that are equally divine as the main pool. And if you’re about to have a kid? Terranea Resort makes our list of best destinations for babymoons in LA!
4. The Spa at Terranea Resort
If you have time and the opportunity to step away from the family (read more about how kids will love hanging at The Kid’s Club below), head to the spa and indulge in one of their exclusive treatments. We tried the Citrus Glow Facial—a restorative treatment that nourishes, boosts collagen, and restores firmness, providing a renewed glow.
Insider Tip: Day memberships are available Monday-Thursday, for the use of The Spa amenities, fitness center, and pool for $110 per person. FYI: If you can’t get away for a girl’s weekend, this is definitely the next best thing.
5. Why You Should Book a Bungalow at Terranea
While hotel rooms are available at the hotel, they also offer specialty accommodations—think two and three-bedroom suites. And unlike regular hotel rooms, guests are treated to 1000+ square feet of space, a full kitchen, living room, and dining table, separate bedrooms (both with en suite bathrooms), plus additional amenities like a washer and dryer. Ideal for families—whether you’re traveling with babies or big kids, the extra space is a godsend, along with having access to a full-sized refrigerator, coffee maker, an in-room gas fireplace, and all the accouterments that give parents the best of both worlds—a luxe stay with all the needs they require from home (no need to cram in all those snack pouches in the refrigerator). We can’t but help mention the washer and dryer again—not that we want to do laundry on vacation, but babies (and big kids) have their accidents—it’s so nice to be able to clean those onesies before packing everything into a suitcase before heading home. The rooms come with patios (ours opened up onto a vast green lawn space that also overlooked the Pacific Ocean), open the door and the kids could run around all they wanted.
Good to Know: If you book a stay at one of the Bungalows, you’ll receive free access to the spa that includes the use of the spa pool and the amenities.
If you are looking for even more space, Terranea’s Villas & Casitas offer 1800+ square feet of space. And the 3-bedroom Resort Villas all come with a private hot tub (another godsend if you have a baby who is sleeping and you want to relax but can’t go to the pool).
6. The Kid’s Club
As well thought out as the rest of the resort, this Kid’s Club has it all to please both kids and parents alike. The facilities are clean and modern and filled with games, toys, and crafts that would delight anything your kid may be into. The staff is friendly, and offer loads of opportunities for outdoor games, science-based learning, feature films, and on-site field trips. (Full disclosure: My kid has never been excited by a kid’s club and this is the first time she wanted to stay). If that’s not an endorsement for doing a kid’s club right, I don’t know what is.
Good to Know: Meals and snacks are provided during various sessions.
7. Time Stops When You Visit Terranea
Not literally, of course, and not to wax poetic, but there are a few magical places where when you arrive, time slows down. I am happy to report that Terranea is one of those spots. So whether you spend the day, a weekend, or longer, and whether you like a lot of activities or just lounging around—it will feel like the best, well-spent vacation for both your time and money. And that is the magic that envelops this resort.
100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
—This trip was paid for by Terranea Resort but all opinions belong to the writer.