As you enter Malaga Cove, the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles vanishes. It’s as if you have stepped back into time to a charming quaint town in an old European country… although it does have a healthy amount of beautiful Spanish architecture as well! The pace of life is different here. A bit slower. Less crowded. A lot more peaceful.
Malaga Cove is a relatively undiscovered treasure in the Palos Verde area of Los Angeles County.
The Miniature Castle – The Mirlo Gate Lodge
We start our day trip in the neighboring town of Valmont at the Mirlo Gate Lodge. This is actually a bit of a detour from what would be an easier route to the cove, but seeing the miniature medieval stone castle is worth it.
Called the Mirlo Gate Lodge Tower, it was constructed in 1926 to be the guard tower at the gated entrance for the Palos Verdes Project. It was never used as a guard tower, but a number of city employees rented it to live in over the years. One of them, a man by the name of John Doty lived there for almost five decades. I believe that it is currently unoccupied. The castle was addd to the National Register of Historic Places in April 2019.
You can find it at 4420 Via Valmonte, Palos Verdes Estates, 90274
The 9/11 Memorial
Continue on Via Valmonte a little ways until you come to Palos Verdes Drive North. Turn right and drive until you come to the intersection where Palos Verdes Drive West meets Palos Verdes Drive North. The divider in the road is called the Malaga Cove Triangle and it has two groupings of American Flags flying in memorial to those that lost their lives during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
It’s difficult to tell, but they are arranged in two groupings. One group of 9 flags and one group of 11 flags.
The Neptune Statue
Stay to your left and take Palos Verdes Drive West about a block down the road where you’ll see Malaga Cove Plaza on the left side. Turn into it. You’ll want to take a picture with the Neptune statue. The Neptune fountain is a replica of the original statue of King Neptune in Bologna, Italy. It was installed in Malaga Cove in 1930.
The original statue was minus the fig leaf which ruffled a few feathers in the community. The statue fell into disrepair and had to be replaced in 1969. The new statue had a fig leaf added.
The Malaga Cove Library
To name a library as a must see landmark might seem a bit odd. Until you see it. The Malaga Cove Library is reached by ascending stone steps into a stone courtyard with another large fountain. When I was there the fountain was not operational, but it is still beautiful. Up another flight of stairs is a large open green space perfect for relaxing and reading a book or having a picnic lunch. It’s called Farnham Martin Park.
To get to the library, drive under the arch in the plaza up Via Corta 2 blocks to Via Campesina. The address is 2400 Via Campesina.
To get down to the cove itself, go back the way you came on Via Corte. Cross Palos Verdes Dr W and follow it around the bend as it becomes Via Almar. Turn right on Via Arroyo follow it around the first bend and you’ll see the public parking lot. The parking is free.
As you face the ocean, you’ll see a large Spanish building with red tile roofs. This is the Neighborhood Church. This was originally the summer home of a wealthy merchant named J. J. Haggarty. It passed through a couple other owners and the church purchased the property in 1951. A local I met while there told me the previous owner was a mob or mafia boss, but I was unable to confirm that.
From the bluff you have amazing views across the Pacific Ocean up to the Santa Monica Mountains and the tide pools below. To your right you’ll see the Palos Verdes Athletic Club. There is a green gate that opens to a stairway down to the club. I didn’t attempt to enter the club, but if you take the stairs down there are several landings and benches where you have impressive views across the beach and ocean.
A little farther up you’ll see a wooden gazebo on the edge of the bluff. This is the Roessler Point Gazebo. Another place for some great views and pictures. Just beyond that you come to Malaga Cove Trail which is the path down to the beach itself.
To the south are tide pools that you can explore. To your north there is more of a sandy beach. This is actually called RAT Beach. This is a rather odd name for a beach and there are four stories as to how it happened. The most believable is that it stands for Redondo and Torrance Beach. Another is that it stands for the beach Right After Torrance as it is the southern extreme of Torrance Beach. The other two have to do with actual rats that were once in the area.
Malaga Cove is off the beaten tourist paths. This means a much more peaceful experience. But it also means you won’t find the usual shops catering to tourists. If you plan to surf, bring your own surfboard. Also bring things to eat and drink. While you can find dining establishments in town, you’ll have to hunt a bit for them.
We will probably do several more videos of things to do and see in the Palos Verdes area. It’s one of the most unique and beautiful stretches of coastline in California. Take time to explore along the coast more if you have time.
Some nearby places we recommend you check out are White Point Beach where you can do more tide pooling, Point Vicente Lighthouse and Point Fermin Lighthouse. These are all within about 10 miles of Malaga Cove.
We hope you have fun!