Point Fermin and Sunken City
LA Travel Guides,  Road Trips

Day Trips From Los Angeles: Point Fermin Lighthouse and the Sunken City

We’ve been cooped up inside our homes for too long. All around us the world seems to have gone mad. We need a vacation, but economics and travel restrictions make that impractical.

We get it and that’s why we are putting up a series of videos and posts on awesome places near Los Angeles where you can escape the madness, get some personal space and sunshine and revitalize your soul.

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The first is the Point Fermin Park, Lighthouse and Museum. This is the first of our videos on YouTube that we’ve uploaded in 4k.  We hope it helps you see the beauty of this peaceful place.  We’re not quite sure if the museum is open yet after the COVID-19 quarantines, but the real reason you want to go is to take in the vast space of the park and the breathtaking ocean views from a bluff high above the Pacific Ocean. You should be able to get there within an hour from most anywhere in Los Angeles or Orange County.

The second part of this post is the Sunken City. While most bloggers treat the Sunken City as an entirely separate attraction, part of it used to be a part of Point Fermin Park. And the main “access” point to the Sunken City is on the extreme east end of Point Fermin Park.

About The Point Fermin Lighthouse

The Point Fermin Lighthouse was the first navigational lighthouse into the San Pedro Bay. It was constructed in 1874. As you will note in the pictures, the design of the lighthouse more resembles a house than the typical tower lighthouse. Since the 1880’s the lighthouse has been open to the public and offered tours.

Admission to the the lighthouse is free, though a donation is requested. It’s closed on Mondays and special holidays, but otherwise open to the public from 1:00 – 4:00 pm (until coronavirus restrictions are fully lifted be sure to check the Point Fermin Lighthouse website or call 310-241-0684 first for museum access). Guided tours are offered every hour on the hour on the days the lighthouse is open.

The Point Fermin Lighthouse is located at 807 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731. It’s where Gaffey street ends in San Pedro.

The Sunken City

The Sunken City is an area at the eastern edge of Point Fermin Park that is now a jumble of streetcar tracks, chunks of old sidewalks and home foundations that slid off the bluff into the ocean in 1929.

The landslide moved at the rate of 11 inches per day. Though there were efforts to save the homes and move them, there simply wasn’t time to do so. The homes were exclusive beach homes built only a few years earlier and snapped up by wealthy people wanting the vast ocean views. The first sign of trouble was on January 2, 1929 when a waterline broke under the Ocean View Inn hotel on Paseo Del Mar. A few days later a gas main broke. Most of the houses on the 600 block of Paseo Del Mar were evacuated and moved before the collapse, but there wasn’t time to move them all. Houses, commercial buildings, streets and sidewalks all ended up on the beach far below. Part of Point Fermin Park slid in as well and this is where the “entrance” is located.

The entrance is a hole in an iron fence and the area is strictly off limits. No trespassing. This is routinely violated as you’ll see in a video where a group of adolescents are traveling toward the cliff beyond the fence.

The no trespassing order is for your safety. The land is still quite unstable and continues to move to this day. There are also steep cliffs and the terrain navigating your way down to the three different tiers of where the ruins remain doesn’t offer stable footing. There were about 18 deaths in a five year span of people that crossed under the fence.

Another Entrance to Sunken City

Sunken City
A house about to slide off the bluff into the ocean at Sunken City

I found another entrance to the Sunken City that I haven’t seen anyone else mention. It’s about a mile from Point Fermin Park that you access near the Cabrillo Beach Bath House. This won’t get your around to the main part of the sunken city everyone talks about but you’ll still find the remains of the houses… and one about to join them at the bottom.

From Point Fermin Park, go North on Gaffey Street. Turn right on 40th Street to Bluff Place and turn right again. Follow Bluff Place a couple of blocks, keeping to the right both times you have an option to turn. The second time you curve to the right the road will go in a little circle at Cabrillo Beach Bath House. Find a place to park and walk down to the beach keeping to the western edge of beach. You’ll come to a small wooden boardwalk with handrails. It was taped off with caution tape when I went there… but so was the beach itself due to COVID-19. I don’t know if the boardwalk is actually closed. Near the beginning of it you’ll see a house on the bluff that is about to slide off the embankment. They may be concerned that it could break loose at any time.

The boardwalk is rickety but was safe when I was on it. At the end you’ll see a sidewalk with a path to a house that no longer exists. Further along you’ll see the remains of the foundation of the house on the beach. There is also a very long wall that was once part of some structure leading out into the ocean.

This is not as impressive as the main part of sunken city the urban explorers go to, but it’s much safer. It may be possible to get over to the main part at low tide. I’m not sure. If you find out that it is, please leave a comment.

Take note of Cabrillo Beach while you are there. It’s one of the few beaches in Los Angeles County that have fire pits. Other places you’ll want to check out while you are there are: The Korean Bell of Friendship, Fort MacArthur Museum, the Cabrillo Marina Aquarium, White Point Beach (excellent spot for tide pooling), and the Point Vicente Lighthouse about 8 miles away. Again, check to ensure they are open if coronavirus restrictions haven’t been fully lifted. Beaches and open spaces are all open at the time of this post. It’s only the indoor spaces that might be in question.

See More Photos of Point Fermin Lighthouse and the Sunken City After the Break…

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Sunken City
The foundation of a home at the bottom of a bluff at Sunken City in San Pedro California
The opening in the fence to Sunken City from Point Fermin Park
Sunken City
A sidewalk and the remains of the foundation of a home on the beach at San Pedro
Point Fermin
The Historic Point Fermin Lighthouse and Museum

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